Rick Thomsett

50s/60s. Old man in a wheelchair, missing his right leg, who was formerly the Young Soldier.

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SONGS
“The Old Red Hills of Home: Part 2” – with Townspeople

I have also given him the song that was once sung by Judge Roan, as it is more logical …

“The Glory” – with Hugh Dorsey

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The Old Soldier is the Young Soldier, 50 years later.

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Having been drafted into the Confederate army in 1862 as a lowly infantryman, he fought the Yankees in a number of battles and skirmishes until he met his match at the most seminal battle of the American Civil War.

As a Sergeant in the 50th Georgia Volunteer Infantry, the Old Soldier was in action on July 3rd 1863, the third and final day of combat of the great Battle of Gettysburg. The day of the fateful Pickett’s Charge!

At ten minutes past three on that hot and humid afternoon, almost 14,000 Confederate soldiers, a battle line of almost a mile, started marching in perfect order with their rifle muskets over their shoulders up a mile of open ground towards 6000 Union soldiers and 122 Union cannon arranged along a ridge for 300 yards. They took fire every step of the way from cannonballs, musket balls and finally deadly canister shot as they approached the Union line. By the time the remnants arrived, the blood was ankle deep in some places.

It took them 20 minutes to reach the Union lines and after just 50 minutes the ‘charge’ was over by which time 1,123 “Johnny Rebs” were dead, over 4000 wounded and 3,750 captured, in other words more than 8890 Confederate casualties – greater than 50% of their number!!

Pickett's Charge

Pickett’s Charge

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The Old Soldier was one of many caught up by the cruel barrages of Union muskets loaded with the new deadly Minié ball. Spinning on its axis, with grooves filled with bacteria, a simple leg wound almost inevitably resulted in amputation. Some were killed, or shredded into a million pieces, but he was lucky only losing his right leg. He woke up in the Hell that was a civil war field hospital and only started to feel human again when he was transferred to the hospital in Atlanta .

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A hospital during the civil war

A hospital during the civil war

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He was lucky enough to secure a wheelchair and was welcomed home to Marietta a hero, especially by his sweetheart Lila.

We see him now, 50 years on, an embittered, vengeful man who hates Northerners with a passion.

In our show, he is the symbol and personification of the Old South.

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There is a tear, old man
on your face and your hands are shakin’.
Is it fear, old man
or just a trace of hatred awakenin’?

You’ve a story to tell
and you tell it so well
but the story is not in the lines on a page,
the story is in the lines on your face.

This is the world, old man
for which your worked and loved with passion.
A cultured pearl, old man
that your heart and hands helped to fashion.

They want to change your way of life
a life you thought was right,
all you’ve held dear since birth, they’ll rearrange.
But I don’t think you’re gonna to live to see the change!

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Story to Tell (Preface) – Jessi Coulter
from “White Mansions – A tale from the American Civil War”
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