Monday, November 19, 2012
Ghosts of Battles Past
Once upon a time, Camp Moore was the largest Confederate training camp in Louisiana. More than 30,000 troops passed through here on their way to places like Shiloh, Manassas, and Gettysburg. When the Confederate General John Breckinridge (a former vice president of the United States) launched his attempt to retake Baton Rouge in August of 1862, Camp Moore was his staging area. It remained the center of resistance to Federal efforts to conquer Louisiana until the fall of 1864, when the site was finally overrun.
Virtually nothing is left today--just a cemetery, a small but excellent museum, and a lot of ghosts. But once a year it's the site of a Civil War reenactment, and this past weekend Steve and I finally made it up there to watch.
I know people who place reenactments--especially Civil War reenactments--somewhere on a sliding scale between weird and disturbing. But I find them an odd mixture of fun and profoundly thought provoking. For a writer of historical fiction, they can be fascinating. Did you know that artillery changed very little from the time of Sebastian St. Cyr to the Civil war? If you want to write about about canon fire and musket volleys, nothing beats actually hearing them.
Over 800 men are buried in the cemetery there, most of them laid low not by Yankees but by measles, pneumonia, and dysentery. Many of their names are known, but the locations of the actual graves were lost when the victorious Federals pulled up the wooden grave markers and burned them. How nasty is that?
And for the record, the only Civil War veterans I've found on my family tree were all Yankees!