Battle, n. A method of untying with the teeth a political knot that would not yield to the tongue.
– Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary
As the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain (GA) approaches later this week (June 27th) with planned festivities including a re-enactment, I am reminded of Tony Horowitz's 1998 book, Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War, which I still have on my shelves.
I wonder if there is still a hierarchy among re-enactors that Horowitz described so well via one hardcore re-enactor Rob Hodge, who tried to do everything authentic except fight in battle with live ammunition. According to Horowitz, it also included dietery restrictions:
Losing weight was a hardcore obsession, part of the never-ending quest for authenticity. “If you look at pension records, you realize that very few Civil War soldiers weighed more than a hundred thirty-five pounds,” Rob (Hodge) explained. Southern soldiers were especially lean. So it was every Guardman's dream to drop a few pants sizes and achieve the gaunt, hollow-eyed look of underfed Confederates.
In this world, chubby re-enactors with spotless gray or blue uniforms are referred to as “farbs” who are looked down upon by the hardcore reenactors. But after rereading a few chapters about hardcore reenactors you realize there is something maniacal about a person who prefers sleeping in leaky tents and eating rancid bacon just to be authentic.
Something to look for about if you go to a reenactment at Kennesaw or any other reenactment around Atlanta. (Thinking of the Union soldiers wearing dark wool uniforms in the Georgia heat is enough to make me cringe and avoid the crowds. My photo was taken in winter.)
Bierce and Baseball
Two well-known people were severely wounded at Kennesaw Mountain, one was the writer Ambrose “Bitter” Bierce who I wrote extensively about in an earlier posting. An interesting aspect about Bierce is that he was the only major literary figure of American letters who actually fought in the Civil War.
No wonder the man was able to produce a work like The Devil's Dictionary.
Another wounded survivor is the father of first commissioner of Major League Baseball, Kenesaw Mountain Landis (1866-1944). Abraham Landis lost a leg at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain and two years later named his newborn son, Kenesaw (?!?), who later became the commissioner. It was Landis who restored integrity in baseball after the Black Sox Scandal of 1919, which led to the banishment of Shoeless Joe Jackson.