Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Poem about Company Q

 The Poets have sung in all Ages,
 Of heroes, both gallant and true;
But in spite of what's said by the sages,
Still give me old Company Q.

They'll live on in the pages of story,
Their history I'll now give to you;
More splendid than old Mother Morey,
Is the history of Company Q.

They come from all parts of creation;
Used to dig, play dandy, and hew!
They fought for the flag of their nation,
Here's the glory of Company Q.

Their deeds of high valor are written,
Where sunlight shall fall upon the dew,
Wherever the foe has been smitten,
Is the record of Company Q.

They number all sorts of professions,
They come from the old world, and new;
 They are rich, without others' possessions,
They are rich -- old Company Q!

They marched with the old Flag above them,
And they carried their colors straight thro';
Their dear ones at home to-day love them--
They are longing for Company Q.

But the shoulder straps wanted to show folks
How big young puppies could grow,
And they thought it one of their best jokes
To imprison old Company Q.

And now the country lies bleeding--
Whose heroes the enemy slew!
We imprison our veterans, not heeding
The valor of Company Q.

They pay splendid bounties for green-horns,
And conscripts, black, yellow and blue;
But through all the dark nights and dark morns,
Doomed to idleness is Company Q.

But Oh! give them the freedom of battle,
Wherever the Eagle e'er flew--
They'll make all the wild welkin rattle,
To the shouts of old Company Q.
 An unknown prisoner at Fort Delaware calling himself "Colonel Lester" wrote this poem sometime in October 1863. It was recorded in the diary of a certain Reverend Isaac W. K. Handy, who became friends with the mysterious man at the fort. This "Colonel Lester" never positively identified himself, and his origins and reasons for being imprisoned remain unknown.  It is not clear whether the "Colonel" was a nickname from the men, or if he ever was really a Colonel. I just like this poem because it refers to the joke behind my blog's title :) "Company Q" was a popular nickname for the stragglers, wounded, invalid and prisoners who were still in military service but unable to fight.

The above poem was reproduced from Fort Delaware Notes, Volume LII, February 2002. Published by the Fort Delaware Society, edited by William E. Craven.  Printed booklets of Fort Delaware Notes are available in the gift shop on Pea Patch Island.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Glow-in-the-dark wounded soldiers?

Did Civil War Soldier's Bodies Actually Glow in the Dark?

Scientific lab research has apparently proved the existence of bio-luminescent bacteria growing in infected soldiers' wounds, to account for strange reports from the period of wounds that visibly glowed on the battlefield at night. It was first observed after the Battle of Shiloh, where thousands of men were laying in freezing mud after a rainstorm.  Soldiers who had wounds that glowed noticed their wounds healed faster and more cleanly than those of others, calling the protective properties of it "Angel's Glow"  The culprit bacterium has been identified, it's been grown in lab cultures. And under the right conditions, it does glow brightly!  A friendly bacterium, a waste product of nematode worms, that attacks other microorganisms thus making infected wounds heal faster. It only grows under cold conditions, and soldiers who were getting hypothermia grew this bacteria and it saved their lives.

Looking at historical records of the battle, (they) figured out that the weather and soil conditions were right for both P. luminescens and their nematode partners. Their lab experiments with the bacteria, however, showed that they couldn’t live at human body temperature, making the soldiers’ wounds an inhospitable environment. Then they realized what some country music fans already knew: Tennessee in the spring is green and cool. Nighttime temperatures in early April would have been low enough for the soldiers who were out there in the rain for two days to get hypothermia, lowering their body temperature and giving P. luminescens a good home.
Based on the evidence for P. luminescens’s presence at Shiloh and the reports of the strange glow, the boys concluded that the bacteria, along with the nematodes, got into the soldiers’ wounds from the soil. This not only turned their wounds into night lights, but may have saved their lives. The chemical cocktail that P. luminescens uses to clear out its competition probably helped kill off other pathogens that might have infected the soldiers’ wounds. Since neither P. luminescens nor its associated nematode species are very infectious to humans, they would have soon been cleaned out by the immune system themselves (which is not to say you should be self-medicating with bacteria; P. luminescens infections can occur, and can result in some nasty ulcers). The soldiers shouldn’t have been thanking the angels so much as the microorganisms.

The weather, soil and immune conditions had to be just right for this bizarre phenomena.  Read more about it at the article below:


Science is cool!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

150 Years Ago Today:

On April 7, 1863: Admiral Samuel F. DuPont, of the famous DuPont gunpowder family of Wilmington Delaware, commences a full naval bombardment on the city of Charleston, South Carolina.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

My complete Union Infantry impression

Click on this Link to see a photo gallery of all the equipment & personal items I have collected for my Union soldier impression.

When I get the time, before the end of this month, I also plan to write a serious blog post about the first things you should buy if you want to get started in CW reenacting/living history. Since this blog is meant for military reenactors, I am leaving the civilian aspect up to Steph, who has far more knowledge in that area.

Just 14 days until Neshaminy!

Big Round Top & Devil's Den at Gettysburg - Site of ancient war between Indian tribes?

In the course of my diverse and far-reaching research about the pivotal Battle of Gettysburg, less so online but mostly in out-of-print library books, I have repeatedly come across mentions that Gettysburg was always a battleground as far back as prehistory, and the region has always been associated with supernatural activity, even in times that predated the unparalleled slaughter of the Civil War.

...Are they true, I wonder? is there any modern archaeological evidence to support this? Or could it be just an old wives' tale? I am not sure of the date of these ancient remains either.  One source said the Indian tribe war happened 200 years before the battle of Gettysburg, another says the site is even older and may predate the discovery of America by Columbus.

True or not, it's certainly a subject that warrants more intense research.  Here are some mentions of it online found through Google search:

"According to early accounts from the area, the tangled, outcropping of rocks was a Native American hunting ground for centuries and some say that a huge battle was once fought here, called the "Battle of the Crows" during which many perished. A Gettysburg writer named Emmanuel Bushman wrote in an 1880 article of the "many unnatural and supernatural sights and sounds" that were reported in the area of the Round Tops and what he called the Indian Fields. He wrote that the early settlers had told stories of ghosts that had been seen there and that Indian "war-whoops" could still be heard on certain nights. In addition, he reported that strange Indian ceremonies also took place here." --  http://www.prairieghosts.com/gettysburg.html

"Throughout the early to mid 1800s, there have been reported stories from locals about hearing the sounds of Native American war cries coming from the Devil's Den.  Some claimed to have even seen the apparitions of warriors as if they were in the last death throes of battle." --http://mid-atlantichauntings.blogspot.com/2012/01/devils-den-at-gettysburg-battlefield.html

"As the Confederate line ends near the base of Big Round Top, Alabamians who fought in the Battle of Gettysburg entered a no-man’s land en route to their objective of Little Round Top. Excavation has shown, however, that the battle ground at Gettysburg, especially in this area at the base of the Round Tops, is not unique to the Civil War. Thousands of arrow heads have been found in this area, leading experts to believe that this place was once the ground for another, more ancient battle between warring Native Americans. Gettysburg is not the only battlefield to be reused – the Battle of Chickamauga in northern Georgia was so named because the creek flowing through the area was known to early tribes as The River of Death, where a battle was fought on that contested ground." --http://www.thegettysburgexperience.com/2012/august2012/battlebyways.html

The soil record shows that the whole geographical region was frequented by several distinct Native American tribes, including the Lenape (Delaware), the Shawnee and likely the Susquehannock, in the days before the settlers.  

The presence of "thousands" of arrowheads could indicate either a hunting ground, or the site of a battle.  There was little mention of human remains found, however.  When not embalmed, human bones can deteriorate or break down over many centuries. They are organic, unlike the arrowheads which are typically made of very hard volcanic rocks, like obsidian. 

I will update this post as soon as I have gathered more evidence.  Not to use a lame pun, but I really "dig" this kind of stuff.  I am fascinated by ancient things and the mysteries they intrinsically hold. 
I had an uncle who was a paleontologist and archaeologist once, who loved dinosaurs and ancient Indian stuff.  And a grandfather who was really into ancient Egypt.  Perhaps that's what gave me this predisposition toward very very old things.

I do remember as a kid my first visit to the Brandywine Battlefield near where I live.  It was while they were in the midst of an archaeological dig in which they had found relics from the Revolution.  We don't realize just how big the Battle of the Brandywine actually was, because most historians don't study it.  The Battlefield park we know today is just a very small portion of the land on which the battle took place. The actual battlefield covered many, many square miles, extending from the Delaware-Pennsylvania border up maybe as far as Newtown Square. There is no trace of it today, however.  It really makes one wonder how many modern shopping malls and restaurant parking lots may be the site of ancient battles, or what used to be there before our civilization.  Whenever I drive down the Concord Pike on Route 202 and pass through this area, I often wonder what the workers found when they were paving it.

Stephanie Ann of World Turn'd Upside Down fame has in her possession a rare published copy of the archaeological and historical findings related to the Battle of the Brandywine, a survey reviewed around the Bicentennial years.  Since she reenacts this battle every year at Brandywine Creek State Park, I thought it'd be an interesting gift.  Perhaps some of her future blog posts may be about it (wink wink)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Located Camp Brandywine

This sign is near a what is now a shopping center in Greenville, Delaware, right next to Route 52. It marks the location where 'Camp Brandywine' was. This was the camp of instruction where the Delaware Volunteer Infantries reported for school of the soldier from 1861-62.   Afterwards a Pennsylvania regiment was garrisoned here for the purpose of guarding the DuPont powder mills on the Brandywine River.

It's now a parking lot for retail stores.

...and here is what the place looked like in 1861.  (source: Hagley Museum's Civil War collection)

(Click to Enlarge)