Day 2 began with a leisurely morning, breakfast on the go, and a return to the Court House site. This day was filled mostly with pictures and wandering around the town. Fortunately there were many interpretive signs scattered through the town to read and many people to watch/overhear/interrogate. In the back of the town was a sign that said “Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Site” with an arrow, so naturally Mel and I had to go check it out, as our mutual affection and appreciation for Chamberlain brought us together in the first place. (It was a path that eventually led to the highway so it wasn’t very exciting.)
The highlight of the day was watching a reenactment of a cavalry surrender.
Many reenactors have their own horses. Whether the horse or the reenacting came first is anyone’s guess, but if you’re into history, one often leads to the other. For example, Al Stone, the Lee from Lee’s Lieutenants, was pretty much obligated to buy a white horse to portray Traveller if he wanted to do an accurate Lee impression. This event had the largest amount of cavalry I’d seen at an event. I think part of the battle included a cavalry engagement, which would make sense.
There were enough horses there to have several ranks. This was enjoyable because I’ve seen many an event where there are three horses to represent many times that, and it was nice to see the ranks actually filled out, rather than having to imagine them. I would hazard there were at least a couple of dozen present. During the surrender demo, it was interesting to watch how the ceremony was conducted and how the Union officer(s) receiving the surrender behaved. I also noted with interest the various weaponry between the different cavalry men and women and the equipment differences between them. There were a lot of women dressed as men, but a skilled horseperson with a horse who isn’t afraid of the bang and pop of weapons is something to be valued.
The cavalry didn’t stack their arms. Infantry have long muskets and rifles, with bayonets that can be interlocked to form a tent shape, from which their ammo pouches can be hung, but cavalry weapons are much shorter to be easier to use from horseback. So they had to be laid out on the ground. If a rider needed a blade, where an infantryman would use a bayonet, a cavalryman would use a saber. They were also drilling during the day, and it was kind of cool to see a force of some number practicing their saber movements or reloading at a gallop.
Afterwards, we spent a long time just sitting on the fence, literally. At first we weren’t sure what to do next, but the weather was gorgeous and it was interesting just to sit and watch all the different pieces of the day moving. There was a second cavalry surrender, there was the infantry camp from earlier, there were some trailers moving around that had to navigate between tents, horses, and fences, and there was a park ranger giving a lecture to interested visitors an an aspect of the weekend.
When the weather started to turn, we made our way back to the bus stop to get a ride to the parking lot. On the ride back, the sky darkened, it began to rain, and everyone on the bus was convinced we were going to die by a tornado on a secluded country road. To distract myself from the rain and green sky, I struck up a conversation with the guy in the seat next to me, an older gentleman visiting from Nevada. I think he was former military, but somehow he spent most of the ride telling me, in no uncertain terms, exactly how Reagan ruined Social Security. Ummm ok then.
The sky had cleared up by the time we got back to Lynchburg, so we walked to Kegney Brothers, an Irish pub bustling on a Friday night. The food was good but the service was a bit lacking because it was so busy. I would recommend the place during off-peak hours. Afterwards, we went down the street to a used bookstore that had some live music. It also sold wine and coffee and had a cat that didn’t like to be touched. Hopefully the were able to find a sustainable business model and stay open.
Then it was back to the apartment to get ready for Day 3!