The Massachusetts 54th held a re-enactment Friday of the battle of Battery Wagner on the island. Last year we attended the ceremony which was quite moving.
While we didn't get here in time for the ceremony this year, we did look at the wreath that was placed in memory of those soldiers who died in the battle. The 54th was a group of black men who bravely fought to take the Confederate battery that was firing on Union ships and other Union troops near the mouth of the harbor.
If you saw the movie Glory then you know that the fate of the 54th was death. They were slaughtered here. That is one if the reasons that I have such respect for this place. It is hallowed ground.
Many years after the "Wawah" as it is spoken of locally, the bones of the dead continued to be unearthed by erosion. Now much of the island has washed away and taken with it the bricks, mortar and bones. Now it is a place where revelers come to play and party during the day, most probably not mindful of what occurred here.
But when sunset comes, they pack up their picnics, beer cans, games, and kids to head home. That's when we are the only ones left on the island. It is a feeling of solitude and much gratitude to be at this place where the birds soar, the dolphins roam and the sea oats sway. The people who leave miss the best part of the day i think.
The sun setting on the desolate beach is my favorite time. No need to say much because we both know no words are needed. I can't help but wonder what final sunset those soldiers watched before battle. What were their thoughts? I suppose they thought of their loved ones. I hope there was some calm in their hearts and minds before the fateful orders were given.
We took the dinghy back to the boat, had dinner and then went to sleep. Around 11 PM, I awoke to howling winds. A severe thunderstorm warning had come up, with possible winds of 50-60 mph. So I took the boom tent down, put the jib in its sailbag and waited for the storm which never came. There was a lot of lightening in the distance and dark clouds around but the really heavy wind and rain skirted the island.
I drifted off to sleep eventually thinking of the soldiers whose dead eyes looked heavenward so many years ago.