In 9th grade, we had to watch the movie Gettysburg for class. We were all enthralled – a group of upper middle class girls who had probably never known there were experiences like that out there – and a lot of the girls cried at the end when the violins came sweeping in after a victorious conclusion. One classmate mentioned she had been reading the book it was based off of, Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara. Always a book purist, I had to go read it. Then I found out that it was part of a trilogy, bookended by two novels written by Shaara’s son Jeff, Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure.
The events in these three novels, while being tactically accurate, were nonetheless still fictional. That is, the dialogue, the thought processes, and much of the characterization came from the authors. So I had to start reading biographies, to get the facts. And I never stopped. Except recently, when I started school again and lost my discretionary time. But my focus has been very narrow so I must go read ALL THE BOOKS to catch up.
On our senior trip to DC in high school, our first stop was Gettysburg. After trying to sleep all night, the last thing anyone wanted to do was get off the bus and look around. In their defense, it was only 8 in the morning. The particularly obstinate kept sleeping on the bus. No one understood why I was practically jumping up and down in excitement. They gave me funny looks. I gave them funny looks. We were standing with the statue of Father Corby himself and nobody cared. Still not sure what was wrong with them.
After graduating, DC was the only location I considered, for the history. It’s easy distance to almost anywhere on the Atlantic coast and it’s chock full of Revolutionary and Civil War things. In the DC/VA/MD area, you can’t spit without hitting a historical marker. Only after I arrived did I consider important things like a job, which isn’t related to history at all but supports the hobby, sort of, because the hobby is about to get more expensive.
So that’s how it started. That’s how I got here. Add a parental fascination with old, Victorian graveyards and history things and the philosophical need to back every statement up with evidence.
But really, I do it because it’s fun and I can learn stuff. What more do I need?
Stay tuned for the discussion group, the crazy reenactor guy, the time-traveling chaplain and a serious lack of timely updates.
History nerds are the best kind of nerds.