CORRESPONDENCErnLetter From thernLower RightrnJohn Shelton ReedrnDeo VindicernOne day last September I was visited byrna couple of guys who were writing a coverrnstory on the South for a Dutch magazine.rnThey had been to Darlington,rnTuskegee, Oxford, Charleston, and otherrnshrines of Southern culture, and I wasrnpleased to see that Chapel Hill was stillrnon the list. Over Allen & Son’s barbecuernwe talked about their travels.rnThey had just come from witnessing arnWar Between the States reenactment atrnFlat Rock, North Carolina, they said,rnand they were struck by the utter seriousnessrnwith which reenactors pursuerntheir calling. It is an every-weekendrnevent for many of them, with thousandsrnof dollars spent on uniforms and equipmentrnand travel to battles. My visitorsrnwere also impressed with the remarkablernauthenticity some of these weekend warriorsrnachieve. Many refuse to do anythingrnthat their originals could not haverndone: they sleep on straw, cook vile foodrnover open fires, huddle in leaky canvasrntents against the rain. But even in thernmost scrupulously 19th-century settingrnsome contemporary issues just won’t gornawav. My Dutch friends had met arnyoung woman who’s tired of being arncamp-follower and bandage-roller andrnwants to shoot it out with the boys.rnWomen in the military, retroactively.rnNow, historically, a few women reallyrndid bear arms for Southern independence.rnHarry Turtledove’s science fictionrnnovel The Guns of the South makesrnuse of the genuine case of Molly Bean,rnwho fought for two years (and was twicernwounded) with the 47th North Carolina.rnBut I gather that Molly could pass for arnman, or at least for a boy, and apparentlyrnthat’s not a possibility for this latterdayrnJanie Reb. She isn’t letting that stoprnher, though: she is muttering about legalrnaction—an option that probablyrnwouldn’t be open to her if the Confederacyrnhad won.rnAnyway, when I had to confess that, asrna matter of fact, I had never been to arnreenactment, I could see my credibilityrnevaporating. So when I learned the nextrnweek that there was to be one about anrnhour’s drive away from us, I took it as arnsign that the time had come for me to fillrnthis hole in my experience. With threernvisiting English friends, my wife and I setrnoff to see the little-known Battle ofrnAversboro, originally fought in Marchrn1865, a good way to the south of wherernwe were to witness it.rnAs we pulled into the makeshift parkingrnarea, paid our five dollars to the Confederate-rnuniformed guard, and took arnprogram from his hoop-skirted assistant,rnwe could see the cantonment, which hadrnbeen set up that morning. Various Confederaternflags—the Stars and Bars, thernStainless Banner, the Battle Flag—flutteredrnin the breeze over a concessionrnarea offering refreshments, souvenirs,rnand bumper stickers saying things likern”Vote Confederate” and “I’d Rather BernShooting Yankees.” I bought a Miniernball to go on my kev-ring with the .45rncartridge already there (the gift of a distinguishedrnSouthern poet who told me itrnwas a mojo to keep liberals away, butrnmostly it just causes me problems in airports).rnWe had missed the Gentlemen’s Duelrnand the Period Fashion Show, but arrivedrnjust in time for the Capture andrnTrial of a Federal Spy, which the programrnsaid would take 15 minutes—shortrnwork, we reckoned. The sp)’ turned outrnto be a woman (not a lady, obviously), sornSouthern chivalry wouldn’t allow her tornface a firing squad on the spot. To ourrndisappointment, she was just marchedrnoff under guard to prison in Raleigh.rnSoon the cavalry came jingling by—arnscore of splendid horses, their riders in anrnauthentically motley assortment of greyrnand butternut uniforms, most of themrnwith plumed hats a la Jeb Stuart. Theyrnrode across the pasture-battlefield andrninto the woods, to reconnoiter for Sherman’srnforces, moving up from SouthrnCarolina. Meanwhile, the field artillery,rndistinguished by the red flashes on theirrnnatty grey uniforms (too natty for 1865,rnI thought), wheeled their big gun intornplace on a knoll overlooking the field.rnThe infantry—50 or 60 men, threernyoung drummer boys, and a couple ofrnofficers—marched from the camp to thernfield, where they knelt for a prayer by thernchaplain, then arrayed themselves inrnthree trenches that looked suspiciouslyrnlike the work of a modern backhoe. Thernregimental band had set up just downrnfrom the artillery, and it struck up a couplernof hymns, then “Just Before the Battle,rnMother.” Several hundred of usrnspectators were strung out on a linernperpendicular to the trenches.rnEverything was in place. Now all wernneeded were some Yankees.rnThe public address announcer gavernus a run-down on the battle we werernabout to observe: essentially a holdingrnaction late in the war, he said, nothingrnmuch in the way of strategic significancern—in other words, a hell of a placernto die, but some folks were fixing to,rnanyway.rnEventually the Confederate troopersrngalloped out of the woods to report thernenemy’s approach. Then a couple ofrnUnion horsemen were spotted, beforernthey rode off to deliver their report. Therncrowd was getting restless.rnSuddenly, at the edge of the forest,rnthere they were, the blue-belly hordes!rnMaybe 20 of them.rnIt seems there’s a problem. Nobodyrnwants to be a Yankee. Even the few whornturned out on this afternoon didn’t seemrnvery enthusiastic about it. One of themrnsaid only, “It’s a nasty job, but somebody’srngot to do it.” I read later thatrnreenactments of our Civil War are a bigrndeal in Europe, and thev have the samernproblem, but they’ve solved it with characteristicrnfinesse: European reenactorsrnare required to be Yankees for severalrnyears before they’re allowed to be Confederates.rnAnyway, back in North Carolina, thernfederals formed a double line and advancedrnacross the open field toward thernfirst of the three earthworks. This sort ofrnsuicidal advance (on a larger scale, ofrncourse) just about did the ConfederaternArmy in at Gettysburg, but when the artilleryrncut loose with a deafening “kabooooom”rn—no one fell. The Confederatesrnin the forward trench held theirrnfire until the blue line was almost onrnthem, then cut loose with a sheet ofrnflame, a mighty “craa-aack,” billows ofrnblack-powder smoke—and still no onernfell. Just over the hill, I reminded myself,rnfolks were waterskiing on Falls Lake, andrnI wondered what they made of all therngunfire.rn40/CHRONICLESrnrnrn