Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Re-enactment of the Battle of Cabin Creek

           That's how it was listed on the advertising posters, but technically, this time it was a charming vignette of what life was like "back then."
           The first re-enactment had been complete with "soldiers" from both sides in resplendent uniforms charming all the "locals" (including my granddaughter who was about 4 at the time).   One very dignified fellow came into the restaurant as we were eating dinner in the complete Confederate gray outfit including a magnificent wool cape that swirled around him as he opened the door for a lady!
           He was definitely an officer, with lots of shining brass buttons and insignia, well polished leather, and a magnificent sword.   When he  saw my granddaughter staring wide-eyed at him, he came to our table, doffed his hat and gave her a very courtly bow (complete with the cape swirl again).  She's never forgotten that...neither have I!
           The following day started with each side waging "battle" in the middle of a local farmer's pasture, complete with officers on horses, infantry charging forward afoot, and a few wagons rumbling along for good measure.  Each side charged and retreated, there was much musket "fire," lots of loud voices and bugle calls, an occasional "casualty"...all this was done about every two hours for the afternoon.   It's an interesting scenario for both history lovers and children (who get to see "living" history).  I'm not sure who enjoys these things more...the re-enactors or the spectators!

           This year's event turned out to be more to see life as it was.  At first I was rather disappointed, although it was staged in the area where the Confederates gathered for the attack before the second battle. The wooded area wouldn't have been a good place the other scenario.

           We came through a ravine on the way to the main area that had a small rocked dam, a charming bit of the past.  Since this would have alongside the Texas/Military Road (or close), was this a refreshing stop, or a place to fill containers for the last leg of a trip?  The Road was used for so many years it would be hard to guess how many travelers it would have seen.
           We could hear the drum cadences as we came up the hill to the site.  This small group definitely add flavor to the scene.  It's always hard not to want to march along with a band, keeping the beat!  My favorite was the youngest...I never saw him lift his head.  I couldn't decide whether he was watching the others trying to keep up with their adult stride or was missing being somewhere else!  

           Close by was the surgeon's tent.  He was explaining the instruments those battlefield doctors had was difficult to keep from staring at the mannequin's newly amputated hand still lying there on the poor guy's leg!  It was a graphic reminder of the realities of that war with the primitive conditions that existed!
           I got busy taking pictures of the markers placed there to commemorate the different regiments and worked my way over to the tent where two dignified gentlemen were sharing great artifacts.  The family who owns the acreage where the battle was fought have unearthed some fabulous finds that give a great picture of the battle.  The case on the table was one that they loaned for the weekend.  

           The cannon was a replica but the unexploded shells were labelled with where they were found back east.  The gentlemen were very knowledgeable!
           The refugee lady had her own re-enactment story...and told of one of the horrors of war that is often forgotten.  She told that "the soldiers had ransacked their farm, took all the food they could find, and burned their home.  She had barely had time to gather her five children and throw a few belongings into a cart.   She was following the Military Road, hoping eventually to make it to a safe haven."
           The other scene I loved was with the lady "doing the laundry."  She was showing a youngster how clothes were scrubbed...a hands-on lesson no less!   Note the laundry hanging on the line!
           Since I tell the stories of historical women in the schools, I am always delighted to see these "pieces of history" shared with youngsters.  Teachers don't have enough time to teach much more than the facts...being able to explore the past in such a setting is invaluable!
           When we went back to the parking area there was a small "unit" drilling.  It was delightful.  As I walked up to take a picture, I heard someone say, "My bayonet keeps falling off!"  Hm-m-m.....  My favorite fellow in this group is the man on the end with the wonderful beard.  Talk about playing the part!!!  Also...note the expression of the person on the far end of the front row....priceless!
          On the way out I stopped one more time to take a picture of the one wagon we saw.  Probably not authentic but great atmosphere.  The wagon train that the Confederates captured was pulled by mules rather than draft horses but would probably have been about that size.  The history books tell us that the train stretched for over 3 miles on its trip...over 100 wagons loaded with supplies. 
           It doesn't say how many wagons were captured, but it must have been quite a sight, quite a chase, and quite a "haul" for those weary, barefoot, threadbare the waning days of a tragic war!

          Thanks to all those who participated in the weekend...from the Oklahoma Historical Society to the individuals.  Those families who brought their children did them a great favor...they'll have stories to tell in class and have those memories forever.  
          So will we all!

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