History comes alive

By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal

BALDWYN – Families and children, dressed in shorts and bright shirts, walked between soldiers in gray wool uniforms under a cloud of cannon smoke Saturday.
Re-enactors and living history enthusiasts guided visitors to Brice’s Crossroads Battlefield on a tour of what the 1864 battle looked like, pitting Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s army against Gen. Samuel Sturgis from the North.
Todd Richardson, of the 26th Alabama Infantry, led groups along the tree line to hear about fighting on horseback, period firearms, cannon regiments and stories of civilians who witnessed the battle.
The Tuscumbia, Ala., native was dressed in a homespun white button-down with a butternut wool vest and wool trousers, much like the Alabama infantrymen would have worn.
“We’re trying to tell a little about what the men went through,” Richardson said, helping a group of visitors across the bridge guarded by his men.
He said a lot of people ask him if he burns up in his wool uniform.
“They have liners and when you sweat, it wipes away the sweat and makes you cooler,” he said. “If we had to fight that war in today’s clothes though, it would be a lot cooler. But, to me, I’m just as comfortable in these as in my modern clothes.”
Richardson carried a .58-caliber 1862 Richmond rifle.
“It was one of the heavier guns the Confederates had,” he said. “It was considered a good rifle to have because it was fairly accurate.”
Back at the bridge, Rusty Thweatt of the 3rd Tennessee Calvary stood guard with a 1859 Sharps Carbine.
“It was one of the most accurate guns in its day,” Thweatt said.
Further up the road, an artillery unit shelled the battlefield from the tree line, rumbling the battlefield and filling it with smoke.
It reminded Thweatt of the reason he got into re-enacting.
“My first re-enactment was right here, about three years ago,” he said. “The conditions that day were about the same as the original battle. Going into battle on horseback, you couldn’t see anyone you were fighting from cannon smoke and fog. We were side by side with Federal men and not even knowing it. That realism made me want to keep doing it.”
The living history event attracted several hundred visitors through the early afternoon Saturday, according to Edwina Carpenter, director of Mississippi Final Stands Interpretive Center.
jb.clark@journalinc.com