For a few moments Friday, I forgot Union Major Gen. James B. McPherson was dead.
In fact, the dashing general, complete with a full red beard, was in my presence.
Scott Thomas stood before me at Nash Farm, doing his “impression” of the gallant officer who fought in the Georgia campaign only to be killed during the Battle of Atlanta in July 1864.
I was wowed by Thomas’ knowledge of McPherson and Snake Creek Gap in North Georgia, where Union commander William Tecumseh Sherman was determined to push through two months before Atlanta.
Thomas is a member of the Confederation of Union Generals, a Gettysburg-based living history group that educates young and old about military personalities in the Civil War.
I talked with Thomas and William Vosseler, who portrays Union Gen. George Thomas, and John Saporito, who gives an impression of Col. Robert Gould Shaw. The young officer led black troops of the 54th Massachusetts and won fame in the movie “Glory.” He died in battle in 1863.
The trio admitted that re-enactments may not be their best venue because spectators are more interested in the fighting. Still, they are getting some receptive audiences and school groups.
“We don’t politicize the history,” says Thomas. “We get questions about colored troops and we tell black kids about him [Shaw].”
Historical accuracy is a must.
Recently, a student asked the three if they knew who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln.
Gen. McPherson (Thomas) and Col. Shaw (Saporito) were shocked. They had no idea that Lincoln had died.
That’s because both officers were in the grave before the 1865 assassination.