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Battle of Fort Sanders / An Open Report
On Thursday afternoon, October 1, 2008, I would receive an invitation from the Honorable Ron Jones Commander of the Longstreet- Zollicoffer Camp 387 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Knoxville, Tennessee to attend as their guest, the historical living history re-enactment of the Battle of Ft. Sanders. Prior to the days battle, I would be asked by the Honorable General Robert E. Lee (portrayed by the Honorable David Chaltas of Kentucky) to speak under the main tent alongside the Meet the Generals public event; I might add this is a very high honor to be bestowed upon any soldier. To a standing ovation, I would deliver Tennessee’s State Commander of the Sons, Doctor Bradley’s “I Am Their Flag” poem.
Later on serving as a Color Bearer, I would join in with the unit of the 2nd South Carolina for the assault on Ft. Sanders. As I reached the top of the trench surrounding the Fort, the first Sgt. would shout out that I had been wounded and to pass my colors back into the line. Reluctantly, I would do so. A young soldier by the name of Blake from the great State of Tennessee in Blount County would seize my flag and albeit foolish like all heroes do; charge head first right into the heart of the Union lines with everyone about shouting, no Blake, protect the Colors! However, like the heroes of old, Blake could not hear the shouts, without fear of being shot down , in his mind he had seen his comrade fall and in the heat of battle he made a heroic move. Young Blake ran right into the waiting arms of a very surprised General Ulysses Grant who would try and seize my flag from young Blake who fought him off until the sound and sight of the flag pole snapping brought a deafening silence from both the Union and Confederate lines. Neither side could believe what they had just witnessed; young Blake charging into the Union lines with the Colors in hand. Young Blake would scurry back to the Confederate line, broken pole in hand. However, broke may the pole have been, he had not let the Union General seize our glorious Colors.
Young Blake would later approach me with tears in his eyes and present me with one of the sincerest apologies I have ever heard. However, as I told this young soldier, it was not necessary, for like all heroes caught up in the heat of battle, “they will surely commit an act of heroism that most will consider dangerous and even more so foolish.” His ancestors would have been proud of young Blake.
Speaking of apologies, the day was not done after the Battle. As I sat under a tent having conversation with some of my fellow compatriots and I might add having a grand time wooing Mary Ellen, who would resolve that my conversation was foolish; I would be asked about the much talked about report I had written about the events surrounding the Battle of Chickamauga. I would recount them and be told by the young man whose wife had chaired the Activities committee that the Lincoln impersonator (Dennis Boggs) had filed a formal complaint against me. I told those gathered how Boggs had approached me in the lobby of the motel and then again at the Camp Church service later in with what I believe was a disingenuous apology for his actions as I had said in my report. Hearing his complaint only confirmed to me that just like the Lincoln he portrayed, he was a consummate politician who spoke out of both sides of his mouth, saying one thing to one audience and the opposite to another. My mission had been accomplished in Chickamauga; my Southern babies would be told a different tale than the one told to champion a man who had instituted an attack upon the Southland of America with no authority to do so, instituted an all out war policy to the likes that even barbarians would not reek upon innocent men, women and children, had in the Corwin Amendment pledge support of a Constitutional amendment that would have prohibited the federal government from ever interfering with Southern slavery, and in a letter to Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase on September 3, 1863 wrote that the Emancipation Proclamation had no constitutional or legal justification except as a war measure. He I believe was lucky that I did not tell the babies more.