The Dixie Rose Relief Society
There is more of a blessed release, more unprecedented exaltation in an escape to Virginia, particularly the Shenandoah Valley than my words may ever aptly express. Couple that with bivouacking with the boys, and darlin', you've got pure magic.
Two weeks ago I found myself on campaign again. This time, in Middletown Virginia. Ah, nestled near the Blue Ridge once more. This sojourn was for the reenactment of the Battle of Cedar Creek. With a joyful heart, I packed- JAM packed the car and was on my way. It wasn't until well after dark that I finally ventured alone into the campground near the battlefield (my temporary quarters). I crashed in my faithful little tent (oh, the wonder of a tent that sets up in less than ten seconds) and chased sleep.
Come morning, I awoke before the sun, packed up my little tent and set about my mission which consisted of showering and hot footing it down to Woodstock for some provisions. While there, I attempted to locate the site of Sandie Pendleton's death, but could not find the marker I recalled seeing on the internet.
Setting into camp (on the battlefield) was not without its excitement. Banged up the under portion of my poor, poor Sentra. Okay, so this time I SAW the boulder coming... I just... didn't know the ground dropped off so much right after it! (Battlefields: 2, Car 0) After some friendly inspections of my now wounded mount from various reenacting pals, I took daddy's advice and whisked my rattling Nissan to the nearest garage where the most delightful Asian mechanic took out some good old fashioned Virginia justice on the bracket holding my muffler in place and bam- good as new.
Windy may not accurately describe the conditions. Hurricane force reenacting. Now that's probably a little closer to reality! The cold did not keep me from sleeping. The greatest sleeping bag in the world did the trick of keeping me warm. The wind on the other hand, not as pleasant while sleeping in a canvas wall tent. I determined at some point in the night that if the tent fell down around me, I would resolve to stay right there in the sleeping bag atop my cot until morning light when someone would come and dig me out. Thankfully, it did not come to that. I awoke to reveille very early in the morning, with a broad smile on my face.
There were not many taters that happened by our tent at this event. At any rate, I did not feel my normal convivial self, so I counted that as all right. For some reason, I felt rather withdrawn. Pensive. Just, quiet. It is an odd thing for me to be. Most all who come in contact with me are accustomed to a cheeky remark, brazen opinions and rather constant joking. Personally, I do not mind the quiet in me, as long as others don't mistake it for being aloof.
Seems the 'Roses' did a fair amount of shopping during our time at Cedar Creek. I feel as though several times a day we simply "had" to go to the sutlers. If the weather had been more agreeable, I feel we would have had more quality time.
Some folks were concerned about my safety, tenting alone on the ole campground. (My ladies know better and only feared that I would freeze!) Anytime I camp solo, I always pack the good old cold steel. It is much safer "in camp" though, and it's especially enjoyable when bivouacked next to my favorite Civil War fellas- Lee's Lieutenants. Not only are they great company (and positively the most fun to dance with), they always ensure that I am safe and sound.
Grace provided new friends to be made at Cedar Creek, and as I had hoped, a lovely degree of fellowship as well. For me, it felt more like living the history than it did just 'living history'. My interactions were far more geared towards my contemporaries than the spectators which I think this go 'round, is okay. My drawl is decidedly more natural now, but perhaps that is only because I was so subdued. I did feel very attuned to my newly decided character, and enjoyed being addressed as such! It gave me an odd sense of pride.
Another source of pride comes from the name the Dixie Rose Relief Society seems to be earning for itself. The magnetic Abigale Stackhouse (our Pokey) has succeeded in garnering much attention for the group which the rest of us ladies back up with as much authenticity and charm as we can muster. The talk we gave on civilians of the Shenandoah went over extremely well. It's fair to say Carol (Abigale) carried us during the lecture because prior to my portion of the talk I was not of my usual mind and after my "big" speech- my everything was somewhere else entirely!!! The talk I gave was on Sandie Pendleton and his bride, Kate Corbin. And as we are Civil War living historians, I simply will not apologize for acting as herald to their tale. When I spoke of their story, people were engaged. They laughed, they gasped, and they groaned with breaking hearts at each devastatingly tragic twist. I take tremendous pride in being able to convey their story to people and hope to continue doing so for a long time to come. Naturally, there will be a blog to come pertaining to Sandie and Kate.
Of the camp dance, I will say this- it is almost more fun getting in trouble by "the dance kaiser" than it is actually being able to do the dance correctly. Although, by the time we got Soldier's Joy down- it was probably one of my favorite dances of the evening. Each general I twirled with was great fun and the best company a lady could ask for. And without fail, each was generous enough to say it was a pleasure- even though I'm dreadfully rhythmically impaired. On top of that, for some reason, my poor hoop drooped and by the last of the dances, and I found myself taking great awkward pains NOT to trip over it. Perhaps a triple knot next time around. My only other observation is this- I find it a little silly when woman wear straight up legitimate BALL gowns to camp dances... but hell, at least they look pretty!
The Battle of Fisher's Hill was the best I've seen to date. (Though admittedly, my battle repertoire is not all that staggering). Having the Cav go thundering by us and having gallant friends atop those gorgeous mounts was very entertaining.
As usual, the return to civilian life tugged on a sullen chord. (I will share that before arriving home, I actually rubbed Secret on the length of my arms and about my neck because sweet biscuits and gravy... it is not at all a dainty scent, coming home from camp.) "The season" is almost over, much to my lamenting and I find myself greatly looking forward to Remembrance Day and the highly anticipated sesquicentennial next year.