We can hear the drums before we can see the marching ranks coming over a rise to the left. Men appear in simple clothes, sweat-stained hats, carrying a variety of weapons, mostly rifles. To the right comes a crisp column of soldiers, all wearing snappy blue uniforms and shouldering government-issued weaponry. This is the blue and the gray, although not all the Confederates are wearing uniforms, meeting on the 144th anniversary of the Battle of Cedar Creek in northern Virginia west of Washington, D.C. It’s one of those Civil War reenactments, which I was not really anticipating with much fervor. A bunch of men dressed up like Hollywood extras playing children’s games. That was before the action started. It began, as noted, with Confederate columns appearing from behind a rise. Then more Rebels. And more. From behind another ridge on the field come the Union forces, line upon line. Far back on both sides, opposing cannons are firing to produce loud bangs and smoke. Fifes, horns and drums add to the scene. As infantrymen march into their positions, cavalry appear with bugles blaring. Soon there are 5,000 men creating a very noisy battle. The cavalry clashes back and forth but the infantry stands apart and blasts the opposing force. Except for one cavalryman who falls off his horse, there are no casualties. I am told that among re-enactors, more want to be Confederate soldiers than Union. Maybe they like to wear worn-out shoes. In a small anachronism, today both sides have neat rows of white tents where the enactors spend the weekend. A local expert tells me, “At the original battle, the Confederates were lucky to have half a dozen tents.” We have all seen innumerable Civil War battles in the movies, but I must say witnessing this well-planned and documented event (on the very land where it was fought), with thousands of soldiers maneuvering across rolling green fields, is really something different. It helps that the weather on this autumn afternoon is absolutely gorgeous. Each side waves flags in defiance, and one, I note, is blue with a single white star in the center. The Bonnie Blue Flag, which means Texas units could be on the field, because they loved that flag and sang about it: “Hurrah! Hurrah! For Southern rights, Hurrah! Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star!” That flag was said to be the inspiration for one of Texas’s first banners, the Capt. Scott Flag of 1835. The song was written by Harry Macarthy and had its second public performance in September of 1861 at the New Orleans Academy of Music for the First Texas Volunteer Infantry Regiment mustering there. More than 60,000 Texans joined the Confederate Army, and a good many of them never returned. On the Texas Capitol grounds are several monuments to the Texans in gray. One is a man on horseback, a tribute to Terry’s Texas Rangers. Two-thirds of them were killed in the war. Gen. Albert Sydney Johnston, former adjutant general of the Republic of Texas Army, was killed in a peach orchard at Shiloh, along with a chunk of the Texas Infantry. An observer noted that after the battle he could walk across the orchard and his feet would never touch the ground. Texans fought in battles throughout the war, and maybe they fought at Cedar Creek, but we don’t mark the War for Southern Independence, as my grandmother called it, the way other Southern states do. I figure there are three or four main reasons for this non-interest. First, Texas had its own war, the Texas Revolution, which no other state endured. So we mark the Alamo and San Jacinto and Sam Houston and so forth, which keeps us busy in the history-celebration business. Second, we were far removed from most battles, but here in northern Virginia you can’t drive a mile without coming across a plaque reading, “Near this spot in 1863…” Back in Texas we don’t have monuments and soldiers’ cemeteries, reconstructed trenches and battlegrounds to remind us of the war. All Texas has to show for combat is that Yankees captured Galveston and held it for a brief time until chased out on New Year’s Day of 1863. Later, Union forces tried to invade Texas at Sabine Pass but were driven off by Lt. Dick Dowling and 46 of his Irishmen from Houston. The Rebels sank two ships and captured 350 soldiers and two gunboats. They received the only medals struck by the Confederacy for valor. (Medals and ribbons worn by Southern veterans were awarded after the war.) And the last land battle of the entire Civil War was fought in Texas at Palmito Ranch near Brownsville, on May 13, 1865, more than a month after the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee. The Texans didn’t know the war was over. They won. Texas got off light. A year after Appomattox you could visit New York or Boston or Chicago, or Houston, and not know there had ever been the Late Unpleasantness, but visitors to Richmond or Atlanta viewed charred ruins. Another reason for the forgotten war is that today a huge number of Texas’ residents are relative newcomers, both from the north and south. They didn’t grow up hearing of the war and visiting its battlegrounds. They don’t know and they have no interests in what happened during the War of Northern Aggression (thanks again, Grandma). Finally, these days it is not politically correct to mention Dixie in anything but a scorned tone. All of our monuments, counties and parks named for Confederate leaders were created a long time ago. We are busily forgetting our past -- the UT-Arlington Rebels are now the Mavericks. One of the stars in the Stars and Bars was the Lone Star, but today not many people seem to care. Oh, as for the Battle of Cedar Creek, the Confederates won at first, then lost. Same old same old. Ashby rebels at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..