Boonsboro, Maryland. Sept 16th 2012
It had rained overnight, the ground was soaking wet. Our wool clothes were wet too, we had no chance to dry them. We got up when it was still dark, stars were overhead. Reveille was at 4:30 in the morning. Without time for anything but a cup of black coffee cooked over the fires, we put on our uniforms and backpacks and picked up our muskets to join formation. A silent inspection and the General on his horse called out "Attention, Division. Forward, March!" Then we started to march down a long dirt road in the moonlight, in a long line of hundreds of men.
Everyone was quiet, except for shuffling feet and full canteens banging on our tin cups strapped to our haversacks. The march seemed to go on indefinitely, as the sky turned to grey and we could see our surroundings. A thick fog rose up, so we could barely see each other. A lone pickup truck drove on by us down the road, his red tail lights fading into the murky gloom. I only imagined what the driver thought of our line of ghostly soldiers marching to nowhere.
At long last, we reached the edge of a field of corn and the Division commander called for a halt. We formed ranks and stood there like statues, facing the cornstalks that loomed over us like ranks of silent soldiers. Then day broke...the sun climbed slowly behind the trees, shining golden rays through the thick white mist. As the morning got warmer, steam started to come off our wet jackets, off the hats on our heads, off the backs of the horses.
We heard a shout from the other side of the field, and a few shots. We were ordered to load and shoulder, then the first rank of men walked slowly into the corn and seemed to vanish into the white. The sounds of a skirmish came floating back at us through the impenetrable fog. We were next. Flanked on both sides by other men with deer tails stuck in their caps, I lowered my borrowed 1842 Springfield and stepped into the field, then the volleys from the other side started and I was instantly thrown back 150 years in time. The Battle of Antietam had just begun.