Today, my husband went on a couple hundred-mile bike ride with some friends, so our son and daughter-in-love and I went to Stones River Battlefield a few miles down the road. It was one of the deadliest civil war battle sites of the war years. Almost 24,000 lives were lost at Stones River Battlefield, 13,000-some Union soldiers, and 10,000-some Confederate solders…all Americans.
I had been there before, but only on the main walking paths, the asphalted ones. Today, we got off the main path and walked through the trails in the woods. We’d stop and read the plaques along the way. “The density of the woods and the fog makes it almost useless,” said one soldier. As we walked, it was pretty tough to imagine soldiers trying to walk through the “density” because it was truly dense. A hundred and fifty years and a national park later, it’s likely to be even more dense today than it was then because trees are thicker and growth keeps going, but still, it would have been tricky to shoot at someone through the trees. As we walked, I was amazed at the silence. We felt like we were in another world. We walked into a less dense area. All of a sudden, we came upon some Union solders sitting in the woods. Did we just enter the twilight zone?
While we were watching them quietly from afar, they moved. All of a sudden a cannon went off in the near distance. I’m sorry, but that was a little too much immersion in history. I screamed. My heart was pounding. I wanted out of the woods.
We still had about a mile back to the museum and parking lot. As we came out of the woods, we saw a crowd coming towards us from where the cannon sound came from. We realized they must be doing some type of demonstration, and we had come in the back way. I’m not sure that coming in the normal way could have been more real than what we had experienced by our unexpected encounter.
I learned a lot today about this particular battle, but I also learned again that my empathy gene doesn’t like war.
DAY 198 HOMEWORK: Despite my real-life war scare today, the walk was good for me. We did almost 9000 steps out there, and the fresh air and learning experience was good for my soul. Plan a walk and take someone with you.