By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Even 150 years after the bloodiest battle in American history took place, descendants of both Union and Confederate troops continue its history.
Three local citizens traveled to the small farming town in Pennsylvania recently where they participated in the 150th reenactment of the battle coined as “the most notorious battle of the War Between the States.” The town of Gettysburg and the National Park Service remembered the event by a memorable that began on June 30 and ended with the re-enactment on July 8.
Local attorney Douglas Benge and Saint Joseph London employees Jake Mosley and wife Kristen were part of this monumental event that details the four days of fighting in Pennsylvania, where 52,000 Americans died.
Benge, who usually portrays a farm boy just recruited for battle, said the Battle of Gettysburg was “the high mark of the Confederacy.”
“Up to this point, the South was generally winning the war and momentum was gaining to the southern cause,” he said. “The war was not about slavery but about states’ rights and taxation.”
Jake Mosley, second sergeant of the 5th Kentucky Infantry, also known as the famous “Orphan Brigade” said the South was taking a more defensive approach toward the North, who had invaded their states, but needed to get offensive after the Battle of Antietem to get one more victory to gain support from France and other European countries. An estimated 23,000 troops died in the Battle of Antietem in one day.
“After Gettysburg, the North gained momentum and was successful in strangling the South’s supply lines,” Mosley said. “They starved us out.”
Kristen Mosley re-enacts the role women played during the battle, often assisting clergy with giving last rights to soldiers as well as acting as nurses.
For Benge, watching the re-enactment of the Battle of Chickamauga, outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee was the hook that drew him into the Civil War re-enactments. Attending that event with his friend and her mother, both of whom portray Southern ladies, sparked Benge’s interest and he participated in his first re-enactment just three weeks later.
“I knew I had to be part of something like that,” Benge said. “My first re-enact battle as a participant was three weeks later at the Battle of Wildcat in London.”
Since that time, Benge has traveled to various Civil War battle sites in Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Virginia and Florida, including Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. The local attorney can trace his ancestry back to both Confederate and Union soldiers, although he has not yet identified any specific battles.
During the Civil War, over 625,000 American soldiers died, making the War Between the States having more casualties than in all wars from the American Revolution to the present, combined.