By Sheena Barnett
BALDWYN – Hundreds of visitors were transported back in time amid cannon fire, soldiers and hoop skirts this weekend.
Mississippi’s Final Stands remembered the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads with a re-enactment of that battle on Saturday and a re-enactment of the Battle of Tupelo/Harrisburg on Sunday.
The grounds were busy with 1860s-era merchandise tents, an activity tent full of speakers, the re-enactment and the soldiers’ camps.
“We were really pleased to have all of these people here to hallowed grounds and have history brought to life,” said Edwina Carpenter, curator of Mississippi’s Final Stands and event organizer.
It’s too early to have a count on how many people attended the three-day event, which included 1860s-era church services and a ball, as well as a children’s day. She also didn’t have a count on how many re-enactors were there, but they came from all over the world, she said, including Scotland and England. For those re-enactors, history is a way of life.
Kelly Atkins travels with her business, Dixie Gun Works out of Union City, Tennessee, all around the country to historical events. The company replicates historic firearms.
And when they attend events like battle re-enactments, everything, including clothing, tents and equipment, must be period-accurate.
“You learn so much more as you go along,” she said. “You pick up bits and pieces you might not have known.”
Despite Sunday’s warm weather, Atkins was dressed appropriately – except for her sunglasses.
“It’s hot,” she said.
Joe Nokes felt the heat, too, in his Federal uniform made out of dark navy wool.
He served in the Battle of Tupelo/Harrisburg as a 1st Sgt. in Company F of the 9th Minnesota Infantry. Nokes, a high school English teacher from Grenada, has participated in re-enactments all over the country. He first became interested in re-enactments at the 145th anniversary re-enactment of Brice’s Crossroads.
Sometimes he and his son will live the way the soldiers did, carrying heavy packs and eating what Civil War soldiers would’ve eaten. On Sunday morning, they dined on cheese, bread and salt-cured bacon.
“We lucked up on a jar of homemade preserves,” he said.
The re-enactments have been educational for both him and his son.
“You’re learning stuff all the time,” he said.
Sunday’s events also included the dedication of a sign about Tyler’s Flanking Maneuver, given to the Brice’s Crossroads battlefield by the Kennesaw State University’s Civil War Center.