Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

It’s July 4th and I wish all of you a happy Independence Day! What a wonderful country for which we are blessed. Its holidays, such as the 4th of July, that make me appreciate what my ancestors and previous Americans sacrificed for me and the life I am able to live. Not the least of which, is my ancestor John W. Derr.

About six weeks ago, I had the experience of run/walking the Maryland Half Marathon for Cancer in Fulton, Maryland. It was a wonderful experience I was able to share with my daughter for a good cause…the run for a cure. To be perfectly honest, my half marathon was more walking, with elements of running to stay out of last place. I paid the price over the next 3-4 days with some pretty sore joints and muscles…but as time glosses over the pain…the experience now seems more wonderful than painful. Enough of the marathon discussion…my point is that doing the 13.1 miles that day gave me time to contemplate more fully the construct of this blog as well as to appreciate what the Civil War era soldiers must have endured in daily long marches. I have read that a soldier could, if needed, march 30-40 miles in a long day. Probably 15-20 miles was a more normal marching distance, when it was necessary to move over a large distance. Additionally, depending on the type of march being directed (Heavy March with all the soldiers’ equipment, or Light March with only the basic weapons, ammunition and light gear), a soldier could be expected to walk 20miles carrying 30-40 pounds of equipment and supplies. The soldier was expected to do this while in a woolen uniform, on minimal calories and sometimes during the summer heat. Makes my 13.1 miles in shorts and running shoes seem down right easy.

The 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry (48th PVI) was involved in many of the major battles of the civil war mostly in the east with occasional detachments to the Kentucky or the Tennessee theaters. Being a fan of the Outer Banks in North Carolina, I frequently find myself imagining the hardship and effort endured by my ancestor as I drive down I-95 from Maryland over to I-64 towards the coast. Imagine the walking! Imagine the shear boredom of walking mile after mile after mile from battlefields (Spotsylvania Courthouse, Cold Harbor, the Wilderness) all along the Virginia theater. Again, it makes my concerns about time, distance and traffic on I-95 seem…well…a bit whiney.

Well…happy 4th of July….more next week…

Jim D.

One of the State Flags flags carried by the 48th PVI during the war.

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