Meet a 50 year Veteran

John Hutton, showing his 1962 Centennial Medal at the 150th Anniversary.

“Hey Rick, I got something to show you.”  John Hutton had followed me through the shadowy gloom of our bivouac as the setting sun extinguished the last rays of light. I had just arrived and was setting my gear down. I was anxious to get settled in but it was already too dark to put my tent up and I knew John was a treasure trove of interesting facts and artifacts.

He held a small object clutched in his hand. As I got closer, the last rays of light glinted off  something metal.

“They gave us these when we came up here in ’62” said John placing it in my hand. It was a medal, suspended from a blue and gray ribbon.

On the front of the Medal was a picture labeled “Historic Dunker Church”. Ironically, this is where the 6th North Carolina and Law’s brigade happened to be posted during the battle. Around the outer edge were inscribed the words “Battle of Antietam” and “September 17, 1862”

Front of 50 year old medal John Hutton received at the 100th anniversary of the battle of Sharpsburg in 1962

Rear of 50 year old medal John Hutton received at the 100th anniversary of the battle of Sharpsburg in 1962

On the reverse side the words “Re-enactment Participant, September 15-16-17, 1962″were inscribed. Around the outer edge it said “Battle of Antietam” and “Antietam National Battlefield Site”

I had never seen anything like this before. It is a unique memento and especially memorable to have the actual recipient share it with me half a century after relieving it. Sadly I will not be able to show my momento of the 150th reenactment battle of Sharpsburg to anyone, now or 50 years from now, because we didn’t receive anything for our $35 registration fee.

In 1962 14 year old John Hutton was a member of the North Carolina sponsored reenactment group, the 6th North Carolina State troops. During the centennial he got to travel to, and fight on, a number of historic Civil war battlefield including the one at Sharpsburg. Today it is unthinkable to fight on the actual battlefield.

After his Centennial experience John served his country on the real battlefields in far off Vietnam. I have a great deal of respect for Viet Nam Vets and Appreciate John’s Service.When reenacting came back into vogue, John picked up where he left off and has been reenacting with the Sixth NCST since before I joined in 1994.

John is connected to a number of Historic North Carolina families and had Ancestors that were members of the 6th NCST, but what I admire most about John is his devotion to reenacting and the friends he has made over the last half century. I can recall standing next to John on the Battle line when I was a private. As we marched to battlefields across far flung reenactments, commemorating the 130th, 135th, 140th and 145th anniversaries, John would always be calling out to passing troops, whether Confederate or Yankee…”Hey Sammy, give ’em hell”, or “hey Al, hows it going?” and they would yell right back “”Hey John, good to see you!”

It is an honor to serve with John and I hope he keeps bringing out those mementos for us to see, even if it only by the flickering light of a campfire.