On Friday, winter dealt a final sucker-punch: four slushy inches of snow. (Final? It better be the final one, let's just say.) I awoke to yet another weather delay and moaned Not again. But on Saturday and Sunday, spring responded with sunshine and birdsong. The broad blue sky and tee-shirt weather begged us to spend some time outdoors, baring our winter-white arms. Sun-thirsty, we hiked not just once, but twice this weekend.
Sunday, we explored one of the nearest historical parks Monocacy Battlefield. Plugging it into our GPS, we were startled to realize the battlefield was only seven minutes away from our house. We were even more startled when we realized it was practically right behind our local Target. Who knew that while I was buying Method dishsoap and Threshold throw pillows, there was a field of forgotten memories and buried musket shells only a few feet away?
When reading about Civil War battlefields as a kid, I tended to visualize a wide, open field with grey-suited soldiers on one side and blue-suited soldiers on the other. As if the country had designated war-sites. Okay, here you go, this is a good spot to fight. Instead, the Civil War happened in people's backyards, across their farm fields, and literally on their front porches. The owners of the three farms barricaded themselves in their cellars with buckets of drinking water, hid, under blankets, and prayed that their homes didn't collapse under artillery fire. In fact, the first full account of the Monocacy Battle was written by a young man who, at the age of six, watched the battle unfurl from the slats of his cellar window.
As we walked between the farm houses, outbuildings, and slave quarters, I tried to imagine what it looked like then. Tried to imagine the smoke and the explosions and the yelling. It was so quiet and still while we walked across the barely-green grass. The only sound the winter-tinged wind and the distant rush of cars. Something tumultuous and life-changing and loud happened here hundreds of years ago, yet now it was so serene, Empty yet not empty. Like a graveyard, the battlefield seemed full of whispers and memories.
We laughed and walked in the sunshine. But every now and then, the portent of the place would settle over us, bidding us to just take a moment, listen to the wind, and consider what happened here.
Living in Maryland does have its perks. Like having historical landmarks only five minutes away. Have you ever visited a Civil War battlefield? If so, where? Did it make you a little goose-pimply or were you totally bored?