Hardcore. Robert Lee Hodge

Nothing like a major event to bring the notables out.

For example, the Civil War Preservation Trust bought the 208-acre Slaughter Pen Farm in June for a record $12 million, and held a news conference there Monday October 16.  Afterwards, author and historian Frank O’Reilly gave the first public tour of the site. Guests included U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, Bill Howell, R-Stafford, speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, and state Sen. Edd Houck, D-Spotsylvania, as well as senators, bank presidents and what not.

Good people, every one of them.  They’ve done stellar work for battlefield preservation.

And who will I remember from this day?

Here we are on the tour, right on the ridge where the Confederate artillery finally opened up all at once on the approaching Yankee troops. The train going by in the distance marks the Rebel line.

I put a circle around him.

I didn’t recognize him.  But there was a bit of a buzz among the Civil War buffs around me, and they pointed him out.

“The guy on the cover,” they said. “Confederates in the Attic”

eah, that’s him.  But he’s not just the guy on the cover.

That’s Robert Lee Hodge.

I didn’t realize it at the time, thinking that he was just a re-enactor who was on the cover.  But no, Robert Lee Hodge himself.

Hardcore.

The man who starves himself to look the part for reenactments, the guy who crashes battlefields and sleeps overnight on the cold ground, the rebel yeller, and bona fide bloater.  The guy who uses sleep deprivation and hard driving to bash as many battle sites in one week as possible. The guy who virtually gave up reenacting battles to reenact marches and spooning and freezing in search of a period rush, the moment when you become one with the past.

That guy.

Hardcore.

I don’t bash a battlefield of my own without thinking of him.  This website wouldn’t exist. And in his spirit, I spent the night sleeping where the troops pulled out of Petersburg during the start of Robert E Lee’s advance to Appomattox.

Right on the tracks.  Well, where they used to be.  They’re gone now.

Spiritually, I was going too. Like Robert E Lee fled the dirt and trenches that bound him to Petersburg, I too was fleeing Petersburg.

Right there.

On the left track, just past the switch where it curves toward the station.  Nothing there but hard gravel and weeds now.  On the night of April 2nd, 1865, Lee’s men were destroying the rail cars that had to be left behind right in this area, before evacuating the city themselves.  In my night I did my own destroying.

And so back to Robert Lee Hodge.

His example threw my own love in my face.  Like him I have no blood ties to the war, no fuel for my own obsession.

Just the obsession.

Hardcore.

Posted by Indiana Reb on: Tuesday 17th October 2006, 12:16 AM