Tuesday, May 02, 2017

TOP STORY >> Civil War comes alive

Leader staff writer

The Cabot Civil War Muster fought off a rainy Saturday forecast to put on a battle during the 1st Michigan Battery G’s re-enactment last weekend at the Changepoint Church grounds on Hwy. 89.

It was the first year for the three-day event, which coincided with Strawberry Festival.

The 1st Michigan Battery G made the best of the weather and soldiered on.

Cars lined along the Changepoint driveway Saturday afternoon to watch the excitement of the re-enactment.

With cannon fire booming, crowds cheered on the Confederates as they took on Union soldiers during the re-creation the Battle of Reed’s Bridge and the Battle of Bayou Fourche during the Campaign for Little Rock in 1863. The Confederates held off the Union forces at Reed’s Bridge, but later fell at Bayou Fourche.

Re-enactor Alan Tetkoskie hopes the Cabot Civil War Muster becomes an annual event.

“It is convenient for everybody in central Arkansas,” he said.

Michael Bright and his twin brother Mackey, both of Bismark, are Union re-enactors.

“It is fun. I like doing the re-enactments. We’ve gone to Chickamauga, Ga.; Shiloh, Tenn., and all over the state,” Michael Bright said.

“It is hard to keep the gun clean to keep the rust and dirt off,” he said.

Kaye Wilson of Cabot said, “It was really interesting. It was really planned out. I felt sorry for them wearing all that wool clothing, but that’s the way it was back then.

On Friday, a living history event with fabric tents, rifle fire and the occasional cannon blast was held for school groups and the public to see what life was like in the 1860s.

The Bright brothers represented military police and had Dutch shackles on display.

Dot Hardage of Royal was dressed as the mother of a Union captain.

“It was not uncommon to have them doing camp life and Dutch oven cooking,” she said.

Bill Sparks of Russellville had a medical tent set up with tourniquets, amputee saws. He spoke about the technology, surgery and medicines of the time.

“We do it to see the kids and adults who are interested in history. Everything we do is trying for an accurate portrayal,” Sparks said.

He said, “It was the beginning of prosthetics. Amputations took eight to 10 minutes during the war.”

Homeschool parent Amy Williams of Cabot said they are previewing what their students will be soon learning. She believes it will click in their heads, and they will appreciate it more.

Local Civil War historian R.D. Keever brought his horse Sammy and spoke about horsemanship. Keever is an actor who was in the movies “Andersonville,” “The North and South” and “Glory.”

Justin Gehrig of Beebe had a working blacksmith shop with his apprentice Zac Casteel of Searcy. They were making tent stakes at the forge.

Gehrig said his love for iron working began as a kid when his parents took him to Silver Dollar City in Missouri.

“I stayed at the (forge) for two hours mesmerized by the blacksmith shop. I then read a lot of books in the library,” Gehrig said.

He got into blacksmithing when he was 14.

“It is an expensive hobby to get into, but most rewarding. It hooks kids and takes the elderly back to their youth. They remember their father or uncle who worked the iron or the blacksmith shop in town,” Gehrig said.

The Cabot Public Library had a genealogy display showing ancestry information.

“You can find your Civil War soldier through the genealogy department at the library,” volunteer Jennifer Chosich said.