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.
Close by was the surgeon's tent. He was explaining the instruments those battlefield doctors had used...it 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!
The cannon was a replica but the unexploded shells were labelled with where they were found back east. The gentlemen were very knowledgeable!
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 soldiers...in 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!