LENA MITCHELL: Iuka brings back battle re-enactment after 25 years

By Lena Mitchell

It has been 25 years since a Battle of Iuka re-enactment was staged. This year, in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, a battle re-enactment has been planned in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of the Iuka Heritage Festival, Aug. 31-Sept. 2.
Events that span the three days are being held throughout Iuka, including downtown, Iuka Mineral Springs Park and a 250-acre battle site on the north side of town.
Planning and participation at all levels has been enthusiastic and widespread, said Iuka Battlefield Commission Chairman Harold Lomenick. There has been good response to appeals for re-enactors with calls continuing to come in from people who want to participate.
Friday and Saturday, before the culminating battle re-enactment Sunday afternoon, visitors can see living history demonstrations of life in 1860s America, witness preliminary skirmishes and cannon firings and more.
The organizing committee also has borrowed good ideas from other communities like Corinth and Farmington that hold annual Civil War events, Lomenick said.
The Iuka Heritage Festival, with vendors and entertainment in Iuka Mineral Springs Park, features the music of Eddie and Frank Thomas at 1 p.m. Sept. 1. Other performers for the festival weekend include Native American dancers, the Lost Cause String Band, Unity 4 gospel quartet and the Smokehouse Band bluegrass group.
Other features include a car show, a tractor show and parade, a Saturday morning walk/run, arts and crafts and a Shrine Club-sponsored tour train ride around town.
The Iuka Heritage Committee has dedicated this year’s festival to the memory of Sammy Darwin, also known professionally as Rusty Walker. Darwin, who died earlier this year, was a longtime member of the committee and the board, and always handled festival entertainment.
While the Heritage Festival is a longstanding event, the Battle of Iuka Re-enactment is a special event organized by many individuals working in ad hoc groups to handle the many tasks and events.
Battle of Iuka sesquicentennial special events include:
• Friday morning living history demonstrations for school children.
• A Friday evening concert with the Lost Cause Band.
• A Friday evening Grand Illumination of downtown Iuka with luminaries representing the casualties of the Battle of Iuka.
• Re-enactors portraying Gen. Henry Little, Gov. John M. Stone, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant throughout the weekend.
• A Saturday morning skirmish.
• Military drills and living history demonstrations.
• Buggy rides
• Self-guided historic walking tours.
• Gathering of the Descendants and Confederate Monument Dedication.
• Old fashioned tin type photo sit-ins.
• Barn dance featuring the 52nd Regimental String Band.
These events are free and open to the public, with only one event closed to special guests only.
Iuka is always a welcoming and hospitable place, with visitors coming to enjoy the lakes, the state parks, bass fishing, the Trash and Treasures Along the Tenn-Tom – TTTT yard sale – shopping and many other fun activities.
Organizers have put extra effort into making these events ones that will be remembered for many years.
“Y’all come.”
Lena Mitchell is the Daily Journal Corinth Bureau reporter and writes a Sunday column each month. Contact her at lena.mitchell@journalinc.com.