We're not lost, Sergeant, We're in … France


Touring Brandy Station on the 150th

Yesterday, I was able to walk parts of the Brandy Station battlefield with Clark “Bud” Hall, Eric Wittenburg, Craig Swain and 150 of my closest friends. The Loudon County Civil Roundtable arranged the tour.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is no better way to understand a battle than to walk the ground. Sam Elliot, who played John Buford in “The Movie” (as we called it in the Gettysburg Discussion Group) understood this and knew walking the ground would help him get into character. When we stood on Buford’s Knoll with Bud Hall, he related the story of guiding Sam Elliot on the battlefield. Elliot asked where Buford stood during the battle and so, Bud pointed around them and said that Buford had been on the knoll. Sam wanted something more specific, so, Bud tells us, he picked a spot and Sam went and stood there. For a few minutes, they stood in silence, Sam examined the ground and getting into character as Buford. It was as though he was commanding the battle silently, watching his orders unfold. I need to re-watch Gettysburg to see Sam Elliot talking about the ground and the troops marching. I think he truly felt it, for Bud says he turned to him after standing on that spot and said, simply, “Hot damn.”

The folks from Civil War Trust were there, and, often during the day, we talked about their ongoing efforts for battlefield preservation.

Sadly, I had to head back to Washington early and missed being on Fleetwood Hill and an evening of conversation with my friends and fellow historians. It was a good day, but too short due to my prior commitments.

 

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