Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Reenactment: Battle of Bentonville, 2010

Re-creating the Civil War: Bentonville Battle Was Largest in N.C.,Drew Brooks, Fayetteville Observer, March 21, 2010.

With thousands of spectators cheering and shouting encouragement, one might have thought a major sporting event was being held this weekend in Bentonville, a small town just north of the Johnston County line.

But the "teams" the crowd was cheering for weren't playing a game. They were Civil War re-enactors and aimed guns and cannons at each other while playing out one of the last major Confederate offensives of that war.

Officials with the state Department of Cultural Resources, which oversees the event, said they expect well over 30,000 spectators over the weekend. The estimated 15,000 to 20,000 that came Saturday enjoyed steady breezes and a clear sky - that is, until smoke from cannons and muskets wafted over the crowds from the battlefield. Thousands watched the battle, including large contingents of uniformed Boy Scouts and soldiers.Jennifer Sakeagak, of Jacksonville, said she, her husband and three young children spent much of the day exploring mock civilian and military camps before watching the battle.

A self-described history buff, Sakeagak said she was impressed by the event, which is held once every five years. "We've been wanting to see a Civil War re-enactment for some time," she said. "I enjoyed everything." Sakeagak particularly loved the cannons, which shook the battlefield and rattled the rib cages of spectators. Her 5-year-old son also liked the battle, but he preferred watching the many Union and Confederate soldiers pretend to die.

While most re-enactors simply fell to the ground and were then either left there or "treated" by combat medics, others had more dramatic deaths. One Confederate soldier-turned-thespian, shot a few dozen feet from the Union front lines, fell to his knees and clutched his chest for more than a minute before finally falling over in a theatrical flourish. The re-enactment portrayed an event known as "the Fight for Morris Farm."

The Battle of Bentonville, which began on March 19, 1865, actually included three days of pitched battle involving 80,000 soldiers - 20,000 Confederates and 60,000 Union soldiers, according to state officials. It was the largest battle ever fought in North Carolina. The battle has been marked by a re-enactment every five years since 1990.

Text Source: Fayetteville Observer
Image Source: Civil War Librarian

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