With a Rebel Yell

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Saturday, March 8, 2008

Today we went to watch a battle, I can hear you say; "typical, fighting again!" Actually this is yet another first for us, I know there are re-enactments of battles at home (England) and I'm sure they're very exciting. We have seen cowboy gunfights whilst over here but nothing like this; we were to see one of the American Civil War re-enactments, a fight over the sugar mill close to where we are camped. http://www.crystalriverreenactment.org
After nearly running down some of the mounted "Sheriff's Posse" as I drove into the field to park Scoobie we wandered over in the sunshine towards the canvas village that had been erected a few days before. Remember those storms we had "hidden" from? Well some of these stalwarts had been out in all that, camped in pretty authentic 19th century gear - they all really get into the part. After paying our $5 entrance (not bad for a whole day's entertainment) I found myself drawn hypnotically to the first stall offering the chance to win a rifle or revolver. Then having second thoughts of having to talk my way out of that one at the airport I settled for just holding first prize for a moment or two - dreamer... By the way the guy on the stall was an actual confederate soldier's descendent - think it was Charlie B - don't you?
The air was filled with excitement of the coming battle as well as that of BBQ pig, black eye peas sarsaparilla and the like. Many of the re-enactors were mingling with the crowds pleased to tell their stories, all very knowledgeable about the war and times and so many of them on the side from which they too were descendents. They were there with their families, all dressed for the part.
We worked our way over towards the top of the field close to the Confederate forces campsite, funnily enough there seemed a gap in the crowd next to the cannons... Oh well I was sure I would get a few good photo's and any deafness surely wouldn't be permanent?
The battle began with a few rebels on horseback charging over to the Union camp to let them know what's for! Gosh - I think they got the idea, bang, bang, boom boom came the reply (isn't there a song about that?). So for the next hour or so we were treated to skilled horsemanship, rebel yells, explosions (my sort of day) canon fire and I think a commentary but I can't confirm that - canon fire you know :)
The air filled with smoke over and over again as the smell of black powder explosions completed the sensory attack - very sulphurous!
We had the drummers and pipers signalling the withdrawal from the battle field, the bugle played and there was an "all gun" salute to ALL fallen soldiers and of course the thanks and praise to the troops in service now - Come on the UK - patriotism is good for the soul, we need to bring some pride back... this could turn into another rant if I'm not careful but you get my drift, I hope.
We found it quite amusing at the end when canons were being loaded onto modern truck trailers, quite a sight being driven down the road and even one being pulled off the field by a golf cart! Wandering around the campsite we felt part of the "cast" talking to the combatants as they cleaned their weapons. Finding it strange, I was told that pouring hot water down the barrel of a rifle is the best way to clean out the black powder residue - I was also quite amazed that many had fired 60 or more rounds (a quiet day apparently) loaded one at a time in the muzzle loaders!
Seems to me lots of people get to play with lots of toys over here, all the weaponry clothing and equipment is owned by the individuals taking part. A good day was had by all and as far as I could tell no major casualties. My ears cleared and I was right, it was a good place to get some pictures, I took well over 500 so you see I have edited these quite considerably - enjoy :)
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