Just Hanging Around!

Today, BGES celebrates 25 fantastic years of fronting Civil War In that time, we’ve scoured related sites We’ve And through it all, we’ve been honored to engage with some of history’s and the military’s greatest minds. To commemorate our 25th anniversary, some of our members have been sharing their favorite BGES stories on these pages over the past month. Today we are honored to have the words of our fearless founder and executive director. Be sure to check out stories that have already been published to relive some our most poignant memories!

I learned to love Ed Bearss and his spontaneity over the years. One thing I relished was the need for flexibility; you just never knew what would come out of Ed’s mouth. While we stopped doing tours with Ed more than 10 years ago, there was the day I played the role of John Brown at Charles Town, West Virginia.

We had walked through the old town and had reached the square where he was to be hanged, and Ed in his unique style was describing the scene and the manner in which Brown responded to his imminent death. He gestured to me: “Len, come over here and be bound for your execution!” He then repeated Brown’s written words that he handed to the guard to read, followed by those of the executioner. “‘Sir, I am now quite convinced that the sins of this nation will now not be purged except with blood.’ ‘Take him up the gallows! Place the noose over his head and place the hood! May God have mercy on your soul!'”

Then standing in front of the group simulating my pending execution when he described the trap door opening, I buckled my legs to simulate dropping. I then made like Chubby Checker, twisting in the wind with a few convulsions for good measure. Slowly I stopped turning in the wind and got still. They then cut the rope and I dropped to the ground–a perfect pantomime. As I said, with Ed you always had to be flexible, and this was but one of many times over the years that Ed called on me to be a prop for his narrative.