Reader Questions for “Rough Enough” Set#11, Chapt 8: What Modern Spectacles compare to the Civil War Grand Review?
As I look at pictures of the Grand Review in Washington DC following the end of the Civil War, I try to imagine what it must have been like to be either in the crowds watching on that day or on the stands, in the windows, on the roof-tops and in the side streets as The Grand Army of the Potomac paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue 12 abreast. Eighty thousand men passing in review! Wow what a spectacle to have been a part of. What went through the minds of Richard Clow and those people on that day!
Then the next day we have the encore of Sherman’s Army of Georgia, some sixty-five thousand men strong parading with horses, bands, and flourishes, not to be outdone by the previous day’s hoopla! And in this group is Richard’s brother, John Sherwin Clow probably thinking the same kinds of thoughts as those men of the previous day.
I have never been in that kind of a mass of humans during my entire life. I’ve been crowded and nearly squeezed to death in the masses of humanity celebrating in the city square in Munich during Oktoberfest, but I don’t think those numbers of humans were more than a five thousand. I’ve been in massive stadiums with over twenty thousand people at once, I’ve seen parades personally in Europe, Africa and the Americas in which thousands watched and thousands marched to honor presidents, mourn state funerals, celebrate religious festivals and show off military might, but I don’t think even the armies and funerals gave us numbers like the Grand Review. In fact, in several cases I felt almost claustrophobic and lost in the waves of humanity around me when I couldn’t see a way out of the crush!
What giant human gatherings have you participated in during your life that would compare to the Grand Review? I don’t mean watched on TV, I mean been in with the mob! Were they military? religious? athletic? How did you feel? Were you ever in a part of the mass where you knew you were completely at the whim of the movement of the mob? What feelings go through your mind when that happens?