Who's Who in The Awakening:
1. Congressman Alfred Ely of New York: One of approximately 50 senators, congressmen, reporters and other civilians who, in search of a better vantage point, would eventually move forward from the location depicted, to a new location: a ridge (today a huge quarry, hundreds of feet deep) roughly a mile east of the stone bridge on the Warrenton Pike. He was anxious to learn what he could about his beloved New York troops; many of the politicians present considered themselves ombudsmen for the men they represented. (Some of these politicians would go on to join the fight that day.) This new location proved to be a dangerous one, however; Ely had to seek shelter behind a tree when a bullet struck the ground near him. He remained there until approximately 5:30 p.m., when he was discovered by men of the 8th South Carolina infantry and taken prisoner. He would spend the next six months in a Richmond prison.
2. Many accounts indicate the presence of female spectators, few of their names have been recorded; though it appears likely that at least some of the politicians present brought their wives along to witness this moment in history.
3. Also included among the anonymous females present were a number of local women who brought food to sell to the spectators.
4. There was at least one mother of a soldier in the 13th NY Infantry, who had arrived in Centreville, VA that morning with her husband, hoping to see their son.
5. A handful of soldiers, not involved in that day’s fighting, mingled with the crowd, offering their commentary and interpretation of the battle’s progress (despite the fact that it was unlikely they knew what was really occurring).
6. Just as in our present day, news reporters were present in abundance.
7. Judge Daniel McCook and 8. his eldest son, Edwin. (Judge McCook, his brother, John, and thirteen of their sons would eventually fight in this war, earning this Carrollton, Ohio family the moniker, “The Fighting McCooks”.) Judge McCook had come from Washington hopeful of seeing another son, Edwin’s brother Charles, who was a private fighting with the 2nd Ohio Infantry. Indeed he did: along with Congressman Alfred Ely, Daniel and Edwin were among the group to move forward, and ended up just a few hundred yards behind the battle line of Charles’ regiment. Judge McCook, in fact, persuaded Charles to leave his regiment and have lunch with them. Perhaps it is well that he did; Charles would be killed just a few hours later by Confederates following up the Union retreat, and Judge McCook would have the sad duty of driving his son’s remains back to Washington. It was this event which caused both the Judge and Edwin to later offer their services to the cause of the Union.
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October 7, 2009