Monday, April 30, 2012
Civil War reenactors to stage “Battle of Port Jefferson” this weekend
"There's no better weekend to visit Jefferson if you're any kind of history buff," said Charlie Chitwood, president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce and chair of Chamber's portion of the event.
JEFFERSON Civil War re-enactors representing both Federal and Confederate forces descend upon Jefferson this weekend, turning the historic 19th-century riverfront into equal parts campground and living history exhibit for "The Battle of Port Jefferson" during the town's annual Pilgrimage celebration.
The three-day weekend features numerous events in town and at the Key family's Tuscumbia Ranch, highlighted by full-scale "battles" at the ranch on Saturday and Sunday. A candle-lit "Illumination" at Oakwood Cemetery, home tours sponsored by the Jessie Allen Wise Garden Club, Saturday morning's parade and skirmish downtown, a grand 19th-century ball and Sunday morning's "Presentation of Colors" at Christ Episcopal Church are but a few of the weekend's highlights.
"There's no better weekend to visit Jefferson if you're any kind of history buff," said Charlie Chitwood, president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce and chair of Chamber's portion of the event. "The Garden Club started the annual Pilgrimage nearly seven decades ago and the Civil War re-enactment was added to the weekend by the Chamber about 10 years back. Together, the two events make for one fascinating weekend."
Friday's "Battle" schedule starts with a living history exhibition at Tuscumbia Ranch, where hundreds of school children will visit an encampment complete with camp life, weapons exhibits, a field hospital and more from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The public is also invited to attend during the same hours.
All throughout the day, re-enactors from Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma will be arriving to set up camps in Jefferson's downtown historic district. That evening (7:30-10:00 p.m.), an "Illumination" at Oakwood Cemetery honors some 200 Federal and Confederate Civil War veterans at rest. Honor guards will be on station at the cemetery gates and as well stationed within the burial grounds.
Saturday's Pilgrimage parade (starts at 10:00 a.m.) leads into a skirmish fought on Jefferson's downtown streets between invading Federal troops and the Confederates "stationed" in town. While the troops catch a breather and prepare for the first full-scale battle at Tuscumbia Ranch, a Ladies' Tea commences at 1:00 p.m. at The Steamboat Inn Bed & breakfast.
The first battle at Tuscumbia Ranch commences at 4:00 p.m., featuring hundreds of Federal and Confederate infantry, plenty of cavalry and an artillery barrage with pyrotechnic explosions. Spectators will find free parking across FM 134 on the Cypress Valley Airport grounds. Admission to the battlefield is $5 per person and "Battle Radios" may be rented for $5 each.
Once the fighting's over, the troops return to Jefferson and celebrate the weekend at the Heritage Ball in the Jeffersonian Institute's downtown facility. Featuring the 12th Louisiana String Band, the ball is a 19th-century formal dance open to the public - period or formal attire required - with tickets ($12.50 per person) available at the door.
The weekend's only true re-enactment occurs at 10:00 a.m. Sunday in front of Christ Episcopal Church (703 S. Main Street facing Lions' Park). The "Presentation of Colors" brings to life the gathering of The Jefferson Guards in front of the church, where they are presented a banner for their battle staff. Musical accompaniment for this 33rd annual presentation is again provided by the Hill College Band under the direction of Mr. Phillip Lowe.
The conclusive, full-scale battle of the weekend begins at 1:30 p.m. at Tuscumbia Ranch, with ticketing and radio rentals the same as Saturday.