By Kayla Carpenter
Special to the Daily Journal
BALDWYN – Dense smoke rolled from the tubes of cannons as horses galloped and soldiers clashed on the Brice’s Crossroads Battlefield where thousands of spectators and re-enactors gathered Saturday to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battles of Brice’s Crossroads and Tupelo.
An hour-long battle ensued as spectators from around the nation looked on. Nearby, an activity tent hosted an array of speakers and historians throughout the day and visitors enjoyed visiting suttlers’ tents where 1860’s-era merchandise was displayed.
“We had an outstanding group of re-enactors and volunteers commit their time and efforts toward this historical event,” Mississippi Final Stands Director Edwina Carpenter said.
Mike Hester of Tupelo attended the event on Saturday because of his interest in preservation and the Civil War.
“It is really impressive that the staff at Brice’s Crossroads works so diligently to bring events like this to the public,” Hester said. “I was also proud to see that the battle was fought on hallowed ground that was preserved by the battlefield commission with the help of the Civil War Trust.”
The 145th anniversary event was the first Civil War re-enactment that Ed Chaney of Oxford had ever attended. The 150th was his second.
“Today has been great,” Chaney said. “Where else can you see history come to life like this?”
Several hundred re-enactors set up camps and are participating in the three-day weekend event. They served as living historians for spectators who visit their camps.
These soldiers donned authentic blue or gray wool uniforms and marched across the rolling hills of the 150-year-old site.
“I was impressed with the commitment that these re-enanctors have,” Chaney said. “I’ve noticed that they even adjust their accents to fit their portrayals. It is all very authentic.”
Sharon and John Vincent of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, have been attending Civil War events for more than 30 years.
“We started going to events in Virginia when we lived there,” Sharon Vincent said. “We were surrounded by national parks there so we decided to fill every weekend with history.”
The historical and educational event will continue today, beginning at 9 a.m. with a period church service, dedication of a new marker given by the Civil War Center at Kennesaw Mountain University, a presentation by Author Tom Parson, who has wrote a book about the Battle of Tupelo called “Work for Giants,” and a re-enactment at 2 p.m.