Friday, September 30, 2016

The Second Battle of Greenbrier: final installment


When the people of Greenbrier Maryland return home they find the village transformed into a hospital filled with misery and suffering.The battle is over but for the people of Greenbrier Maryland the struggle is just beginning.  The South Mountain road is choked with a long ambulance train stretching nearly three miles from the scene of the battle.

The return of the residents nearly coincides with the arrival of the ambulances and the scene is of nearly unimaginable suffering to the people of Greenbrier.

Homes barns smokehouses and all manner of outbuildings have been commandeered by the army to house, however crudely, nearly 1500 wounded soldiers both Union and Confederate.

"They filled every building and overflowed into the country round, into farm-houses, barns, corn-cribs, cabins, wherever four walls and a roof were found together."
Unidentified Hagerstown Woman

"[The Newcomer house] was used by the surgeons for amputation purposes, and dressing wounds, and there were one or two tables in the yard being used for the same purpose, and a pile of severed hands, arms and legs lying on the ground...A horrible and sickening scene to behold such as I never wish to see again.  I staggered from the carriage, but exercising all of my will power, kept from fainting."  Angela Davis

"The doctors would huddle the family all into one little room or turn 'em out.  The house across the way from mine was a hospital, and the family there got what the doctors called camp fever and some of 'em died."  Jacob McGraw

"I have lived through my first battle, and I am well, but when I think of the brave boys who lost their lives yesterday in defense of their country, I feel sad to think that Jeff Davis did not die in their stead"
                                                                                                                     Unidentified soldier, 107th New York

"There is a smell of death in the air, and the laboring surgeons are literally covered from head to foot with the blood of the sufferers."   Peter Alexander

Confederate prisoners are pressed into service as litter bearers taking the
dead to be buried.

The known are interred separately in shallow, temporary graves, a board from a cartridge box serving as a temporary headstone. 
The unknown are laid in a trench with only the number of bodies recorded.

"Oh how dreadful was that place to me where my dear boy had been buried like a beast of the field"

Mr. Newcomer knows it will be quite some time before his sheep can be returned to this pasture and countless others as well, from Tennessee to Virginia, from South Carolina to Pennsylvania.  The final harvest would be close to
seven million souls committed to such fields.

It was all so long ago.

And what of Mr. Newcomer?

His farm became prosperous and he lived to be a very old,
and very respected elder of Greenbrier Maryland.

And there you have it, the story of the Second Battle of Greenbrier. 

Of course, there was neither a first nor a second Battle of Greenbrier.  The quotes in installments six and seven were actual quotes made by participants in, or observers of, the battle of Antietam.  The only fabricated quote was the one at the beginning of installment six ascribed to A.P. Hill. The sepia photos in installment six were taken last week at Gettysburg.

I've done three different stories centering around "Greenbrier Maryland".  Greenbrier is based on a tiny crossroads about a mile from where I live - Mt Lena; at least I think it was Mt. Lena, it has no name now, no post office, only a handful of houses, two small businesses (one with a Pepsi machine out front) a church with a cemetery and a school - Greenbrier elementary school.  I live in a lovely place on the shoulder of South Mountain in Civil War Country.  Antietam, where I worked as a park ranger for eight years is just eleven miles away.

I must acknowledge fellow blogger and toy soldier enthusiast Scott Lesch.  His multi-installment narratives were an inspiration for this series.

 The Second Battle of Greenbrier was all pretend... 

and isn't that the very essence of playing with toy soldiers?

Soldier on!



KEV. Robertson. said...

Mostly Fiction you have made most believable and a-typical of the ACW History and era...given time I would have looked up the Battle of Greenbrier on 'Wikipedia'...not to be. Certainly you have gone to great lengths to photo all the moments in your story instalments and superb arrangement of your figures and terrain - epic Display! Well done indeed. Regards. KEV.

Cap'n Bob said...

You fooled me, I thought it was a real battle. On the other hand, I'm sure it represents dozens or scores of actual fights. Very well done.

gail from Long Island said...

Hi Mannie. Great layout of the town. Can you tell me a little about the houses in this diorama? I recognize the BMC White House with porch. Is that the TSSD barn, with long ramp? I'm very interested in making a small village battle, so I'd like 5 or 6 buildings like you display. I sent a question in to you a few weeks back, I guess you didn't get. What did the Union artillery crews do with empty caissons/limbers during a fight? I know the horse teams were untethered, but what did the riders do with the horses? We're the caissons unloaded and sent to the ammo dump for more rounds? Thanks, Carl