Sunday, May 22, 2005

What's with Me and . . .

. . . Gettysburg?
I spent most of this afternoon reading about the town, the battle, the ghosts. History has always fascinated me – especially Civil War history, especially Gettysburg – even when I was younger.
Abigail was her name – the woman on Cemetery Ridge July 3, 1863. Abigail was in Federal blue – in uniform – a rifle hoisted upon her shoulder – one of the many women who dressed as men to fight for their country. She had been in battle several times in the last few months – but this time was different. She squinted in the hot sunlight so she could see across the wide expanse of meadow to the other side – to the line of gray. The cannonade from both sides had stopped, replaced by the slow drum beat that always preceded an advance. The late afternoon sun was almost in her eyes but she could still see the slight movement of the rebel line – the stirring of meadow grass as thousands began the march.

“You all right, there, Ab?” The soft whisper was at her ear. Private Tom Marshall stood to her right – his shoulder nearly touching her own. Tom knew she was a woman. Many of the men did and the ones that did had kept her secret from the others.

“Scared. But who isn't?” she answered. The stench of the smoke from cannon fire lingered in the heat, making her eyes tear. She moved one arm slightly, still keeping her rifle high, to rub the sting out.

“I bet old Winnie ain't,” Tom answered trying to laugh. Winfield Scott Hancock was their division’s general and much loved by his men.

“ I hear the General has a friend over there.” Abigail nodded her head in the direction of the rebel army without taking her eyes off the advancing line.

“Old Winnie has a friend who’s a reb?” Tom’s voice rose slightly.

“Armisted. General Armisted. They went to West Point together.”

Tom turned to her. “You’re pretty smart for a girl,” he said.

“And a damn good shot, too.”

A few moments later Abigail would prove that by killing a young man in a tattered uniform who was aiming at Tom. A few moments after that she would be dead.

What’s with me and Gettysburg?


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