OFF TO THE CIVIL WAR
THE SEARCH FOR JOHN WESLEY HARGRAVE
OF WILDER'S LIGHTNING BRIGADE
(A Mid-life Crisis Adventure and Travel Essay)


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BEGIN TRAVEL ESSAY: "OFF TO THE CIVIL WAR"
Wilder's men, in a heavy June rain, took the southern approaches to Hoover's Gap.  After nearly a year of Civil War service it was their first real test in battle.  They were anxious, determined, afraid--and outnumbered four to one.  Throughout the afternoon they held their position against shot and shell and repeated assaults. 
...I too had dreamed of living such an epic Civil War life.  Growing up, these Civil War tales of history were models of awe and admiration; and I had anticipated that my life would be the same sort of unending heroic journey.  Then one day, suddenly and unexpectedly, I was forty years old, or thereabouts.  That seemed impossible!
Certainly, I'd experienced my share of youthful adventure and glory.  And even with the "thirty something" years in my past, I still fancied myself a trim and handsome enough lad.   But where were the Civil War cavalry charges that I once planned to lead?  Where were the adoring damsels in distress I was to rescue?  What about the fanfare and the roaring crowds?  Where was my Ennio Morricone, spaghetti western background music? 
Sure, I had my small, comfortable, California suburban home; a wonderful wife, and terrific kids too.  And yet, I perceived, at times, that the fabric of my life was unraveling, and I had no idea why. 
This may seem a peculiar place for a Civil War story to begin.  Yet, one must be prepared to hear epic saga in narrative form that is comfortable to the teller.  So, if indeed you want to learn of desperate battles and heroic deeds, of struggle and glory, of misery and triumph (and of Civil War things too), then pull up a chair: The search for John Wesley Hargrave, 72nd Indiana Mounted Infantry, of Wilder's "Lightning Brigade" is about to begin...


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