Archive for the ‘Aberdeen’ category

Aberdeen: Civil War Reenactment

September 28, 2010

From September 24-26th, the Malcom Blue Farm held its 41st annual Historical Crafts & Farmskills Festival.  Some of the attractions included cloggers, horse-drawn carriage rides and traditional craftmaking demonstrations.  Searching for a specific story to focus on, I chose the Civil War reenactment of the Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads performed by the 26th North Carolina.

An 1841 smooth-bore Spanish cannon is fired.  It was still in use during the Civil War, particularly by the Confederate army.

Also known as the “Battle of Fayetteville Road”, the battle occurred east of Aberdeen in March 10, 1865, in the early morning.  Accompanying Sherman as his army marched through North Carolina, the calvary division of Union Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick was ambushed by Lieutenant General Wade Hampton’s calvary division.

A Confederate infantryman reloads his rifle as his unit advances on retreating Union lines.

“Lt. Wade’s goal was to capture Kilpatrick and he nearly succeeded,” explained reenactor Dennis Brooks.  “Kilpatrick was residing in the Monroe house.  He came outside and encountered several Confederate soldiers looking for him.  Because he was only dressed in his nightgown, they did not recognize him.”

Union re-enactor Chris Goff feigns death from Confederate gunfire.  “When you’ve got a gun pointed right at you from 25 yards away and it goes off, it’s pretty obvious you’ve been shot,” Chris explains.  “That’s when I decided it was time to fall.”

The Confederate troops succeeded in overrunning the Union camp but were eventually pushed back after Kilpatrick’s men regrouped.  The battle was a near disaster for the Union and gave Confederate soldiers in Fayetteville time to escape across the Cape Fear River out of harm’s way.

Dennis Brooks has been reenacting since 1988.  Strongly interested in sports as a youth, he picked it up in his later years because it was a less physically demanding activity that still allowed him to participate as a member of a team.  “Camaraderie is what makes most people stay in reenacting, not the firing of guns,” he said.

Covering the reenactment, I was fortunate to have the freedom to get extremely close to the reenactors.  Perhaps it was because the reenactment was rather informal and small in size.  However, I have heard of photographers being allowed to embed themselves in larger reenactments, dressed in civil war uniform.  Photojournalists living during the Civil War, unfortunately, did not have the same opportunity to record the heat of battle.  Their cameras were large and bulky and the exposure times required to create the images were too long to capture action.

Before the reenactment a soldier told me that, due to the limited space, the re-enactors sometimes end up having to take cover behind parked cars.  Unfortunately that did not happen while I was there.  It would have been a great moment to capture.

For more information about the Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads, visit this page featured on the U.S. National Park Service’s website:
http://www.nps.gov/history/seac/cavclash/cav-index.htm

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