By JB Clark
OKOLONA – Last week’s heavy rains and winds kept some re-enactors from braving the woods and battlefield for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Okolona, but Chris Stewart of the 7th Tennessee Calvary said those who turned out had a great time.
“Torrential rains and high winds tore up tents and we had a wildfire on the battlefield here,” said Andy Anderson, mounted high atop his horse as re-enactors prepared the charred battlefield for battle Saturday. “It looked like a real battle while they were trying to save their tents and keep the fire from the piles of ammunition here.”
The wildfire and heavy rain the re-enactors dealt with late in the week during setup gave way for Saturday’s sunny re-enactment, and the mud didn’t deter the large crowd of spectators.
The land surrounding the battlefield has been in Anderson’s family for many generations.
“I had relatives in this battle on both sides,” he said. “My great-great grandfather Anderson was a Yankee cavalryman. He liked the country and came back after the war where he met great-great grandma who was a confederate – her father and brothers were. They got married and had a house full of children right here.”
As Okolona Mayor Louise Cole welcomed all of the visitors to the anniversary celebration, she noted how surprised everyone would have been 150 years ago to know she, a black woman, was now the mayor.
“Here I am the mayor of Okolona and we would have never imagined it 150 years ago,” Cole said. “I believe in celebrating our history and am glad to welcome you all here today.”
Okolona native Karen Jones said she has always wanted to attend a re-enactment and finally did for the first time Saturday.
“I found out there is actually a home here in Okolona that was standing during the Civil War,” she said. “I just enjoy looking at all the folks here – it’s history. These guys have studied and know what’s going on so it’s great to talk to them.”
She said she was very excited to see the battle re-enacted as it happened 150 years ago.