Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers

Company A, Inc.

150th Anniversary Bull Run

July 22-24, 2011
Manassas, Virginia

Moon Over Mannassas

I have been reenacting for 13 years and I have had my share of cold, wet, and sweat from the elements. We sometimes forget about the other difficulties that faced Union and Confederate infantry during the Civil War. Certainly we agree about the fear of battle, an injury, or even being taken prisoner, and of course death. What we often never think of is the other elements that faced the soldiers. Insects causing illness, infected drinking water, poor camp health conditions, measles, malaria, frost bite, and heat stroke. This article focuses on heat stroke and dehydration.

Next time you attend an event and feel the need for water, think of having to go find it. Not a water buffalo, but try to find a homestead with a well or a natural spring. I have read that soldiers who got so thirsty would drink what they could find, even if it smelled foul. Finding fresh water was a premium and even though the army carried some in barrels in the supply trains, they far behind the infantry. At Gettysburg, the 15th Alabama marched 32 miles to get into position on the second day. This regiment was one of the largest in the ANV about 550. Upon reaching their start off point, an entire company was sent out to forage for water. They found the water but got lost and where captured leaving the entire regiment without canteens or water to make 3 futile assaults on Little Round Top. Heat stroke took just as many Confederates as Union minie balls.

At the 150th Mannassas event this year I felt the feeling of heat stroke and dehydration. In the middle of a heat wave, Mr. Perlotto, Mr. Matt, and myself headed down to Leesburg. Arriving in good time Thursday afternoon we immediately felt the extreme heat setting up camp. The temperature was close to 102 and we spent the entire day as a human sun dial. We found whatever shade we could find and just waited until the sun got behind the tree line at dusk. That night I slept in my civilian closes outside on the ground. I have never done that as I always get the itch to get the kit on, make a fire and start the event. Not this time as I cringed at the thought of putting wool on.

We awoke Friday to the same heat and at 9am it was already 97 degrees. By 3pm the heat index was 115 degrees, brutal! We found some good shade and basically drank water all day and again waited for the sun to set. At dusk the camp came alive as we left the shade and began to suit up for the event. At 7:30 pm it was now 90 and felt much cooler if you can believe that. Friday evening we went over some early war manual arms and bedded down under a full Mannassas Moon.

Awaking Saturday, the temperature was already 94 degrees and the event went on with the battle starting at 9:30. It was extremely warm and the organizers did a great job with water and ice. Before we began our portion of the battle I felt the heat and needed to sit the battle out under a tree with water and ice. I can only imagine if I did not have the water and ice to cool me. During the war a soldier in this condition could eventually die! As the day wore on I got myself cool and at 4pm the three of agreed to make the trip home. Every night we had a full moon and every day there we just waited for the sun to set and the moon to rise. At this event the USV3 formed a square just as the 69 SNY did and it was performed perfectly.

So although warm, even Moon over Mannassas provided the same excitement even with the heat and I am glad I went.

Don Hamel

E-Mail Us for More Information!
Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Co.A, Inc.

Back to 2010 Archive

BACK to the 8CV Home Page.