A small bead of drool emerged from the corner of his mouth and slowly cascaded down along the contours of his chin. His forearms and bare legs glistened from what may have been his first real exposure to a hot and fairly humid Virginia afternoon. A low rumble broke the silence. Had it been the roar of cannons in the distance? Nay, it was the grumblings of a tummy digesting its latest meal.
The brim of his Kepi cap afforded scant protection to the fair-skinned soldier. A pair of Sky Blue 1st Sergeant Chevrons were affixed to the upper sleeves of his uniform; he was the perfect representation of an Infant-ry soldier, that you can be sure of.
That young man was no run-of-the-mill Civil War re-enactor, but rather the very child pictured in my arms from the last post I wrote and shared in December of 2014 . . . my grandson.
Searching for Fayette has been a pursuit enjoyed by both my father and me since 1999. This last year afforded the opportunity for my return east so as to revisit significant Civil War sights in Virginia, several during the 150th anniversary events hosted by the National Park Service. Along for the ride and adventure were my daughter and grandson.
The little guy was photographed perched upon a cannon atop Marye’s Heights, seated upon a barrel at the Fredericksburg National Park Visitor’s Center, and buckled-in his stroller beside the Bloody Angle at Spotsylvania as Park Rangers stood vigil for twenty-four hours in remembrance. That was an especially memorable occasion knowing that Fayette had been seriously wounded in combat there a hundred and fifty years prior and taken prisoner the following day by the Confederates.
I pushed my grandson in his little chariot along the garden pathways at Chatham Manor. His diaper was changed in the ladies room at the Chancellorsville National Park Visitor’s Center. We stopped for a “Cup of Joe” in downtown Fredericksburg and later partook of Empanadas at “Soup and Taco.” That is to say, his mother and I partook . . . he was but a spectator.
I will likely treasure most our visits to Ellwood and Guinea Station. I had been to both sights in the past, with and without my dad. Sharing my return with the younger generations of my family was a gift. My grandson will not remember the afternoon he payed his respects to the left arm of Stonewall Jackson buried in the Lacy Family Cemetery at Ellwood. Nor will he remember the room and the bed wherein the beloved Southern General drew his last breath, or the Park Ranger who held him while we snapped a photograph.
Those candid moments captured by digital means have been enhanced and re-sized, saved on discs and thumb drives. My 2014 battlefield adventures with the grand-baby are just a mouse click away. Better yet, the memories thereof are but a mere heartbeat away. I carry them with me 24/7.
A day will come when the little guy will no doubt have pursuits of his own. I respect and encourage that. In the meantime, however, I look forward to future endeavors of adventure and discovery. And who knows, perhaps this first grandchild may be the one to carry-on our search for Fayette. Time will tell.
As we near the 150th anniversaries of the Fall of Richmond and General Lee’s Surrender, I am inclined to dust off the sewing machine. I may be in need of a toddler-sized Second Lieutenant’s Civil War uniform.
All blog entry copy and photographs copyright 2015 Linda S. Sanders