Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Rebuilding The Salient - 2004. Looking back six years.
One of my most rewarding personal experiences was designing and directing the construction of a quarter mile section of reproduction trench for the 140th anniversary re-enactment of the battle of Spotsylvania in 2004. At the time I was serving on the fledgling Spotsylvania Courthouse Tourism and Special Events Commission. Up till that time Spotsylvania County had not been host to a large commemoration of the battle near the Courthouse, and the Board of Supervisors was eager to see it done right on home soil.
In 1994 I had worked with Hanover County to put on a similar event, replete with a reconstructed section of Lee’s inverted “V” trench line on the North Anna River, also of my design.
For Spotsylvania we had the good fortune of holding our event in connection with the fine folks of Belvedere Plantation, near the Caroline County line on Route 17, south/east of Fredericksburg.
In late February, with a drawing in hand I made during a pedestrian survey of the actual “Muleshoe Salient”, I paced out and marked the guideline the County backhoe would follow to prepare the rough ditch that would become our “Muleshoe”. Every so often along the length we would add a “traverse” trench.
The top image in this posting was taken at 8:30 AM on February 23, 2004 as the first scoops of earth were turned. The view is looking west. The work was done by the Spotsylvania County Department of Public works, under the veteran supervision of Mr. Ed Carneal.
Later in the day, noted re-enactor/preservation spokesman, Robert Lee Hodge arrived and posed on the earth moving equipment in full Confederate uniform, as seen below. Wide Awake Films, (of which until recently Hodge was a partner) had been hired on by the County in part to create three promotional videos the County could use for the future promotion of tourism. To this day, unfortunately, Spotsylvania County has yet to utilize to any appreciable degree, the wealth of raw footage created, nor the three video deliverables expertly produced by the Wide Awake crew.
Over the next two months (March/April 2004), the Public Works Department labored many long days to install log revetments to provide a finished touch to the trench. Again, Ed Carneal and his men did a fantastic job.
The picture at bottom shows a completed section, as well as a traverse. This labor of love provided an extra touch of realism for the May 7-9 event, that prior to then, had been rarely attempted. My personal experience at previous events during the 125th Anniversary cycle and beyond, provided little more than “ditch witch” channels cut across the event landscapes. In closing this posting, I must once again commend the Public Works Department and Mr. Ed Carneal for going the extra length that made the 140th Spotsylvania a special event for those who “fought” over our salient.