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 Posted: Wed Sep 24th, 2008 12:55 am
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Wrap10
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Thanks for the comments, everyone. I don't think the ranger was Tom Parson. I've met Tom once that I know of, at Shiloh a year or two back when he was leading a couple of the anniversary hikes, and I don't think this would have been him.

I do have a picture of the 'mystery ranger' from that day, that I took as he was firing the rifle. I've still got it here somewhere, but I'd have to find it. That could be an interesting exercise all by itself. But I'd say that at the time he was probably a bit older than me, maybe late 20's or early 30's. This would have been 1982 I think. And even though I don't remember him saying, he may have served in the military at one point, possibly in Vietnam. That's a total wild guess, but as I mentioned earlier, his talk had a feel about it like he was relating a personal experience. Almost as if he had witnessed scenes that were similar to what he was describing from Shiloh. But it could also be that he was just very good at painting word pictures. Which he was.

I'm also pretty sure he had given that talk before. I remember that there was another ranger there with him, possibly two, but one for sure. I remember glancing at her about the time he was starting, and she had this look on her face as if she was thinking, "These folks have no idea what's about to hit them." In my case at least, she was right. I'd describe his demeanor during his short talk as almost challenging his listeners to pay attention. Not really "in your face," but not low-key or laid-back either. He was totally engaged in his subject. His attitude seemed to be, "You have this idea in your head, this image, of what the war was like. The image is wrong. This is what the war was really like."

 I don't remember his talk word-for-word of course, but I do remember several "highlights." One that sort of defined the entire talk for me was when he spoke of a Union clergyman coming across a mortally wounded youth, sitting against a tree and crying out for help. The young man had been shot in the stomach, and to try and be somewhat polite about it, his insides were no longer inside. The pastor did what he could for the young man, then gently told him that he must prepare to meet his maker. I don't think I will ever forget the matter-of-fact way in which the ranger related that story. "This is war," he seemed to be saying. "This is what they endured. Remember it."

Anyway, some very good points made here by everyone. I've thought before that it's a good thing comparing Civil War knowledge isn't like an Old West gunfight. I'd be boots-up on the prairie somewhere if it was. But that's the great thing about it - it's a shared experience rather than a contest. We're all students, and at times, we're all teachers as well. So we can all stand around in the back of that line together. :)

Perry

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