History comes alive at Civil War reenactment

Civil War buffs, area students and spectators had a chance to get a sense of what life was like during the U.S. Civil War era, at a three-day event at the Florida Pioneer Museum and Village in Dade City.

Inside their camp, the reenactors portraying the Confederate soldiers of the 37th Alabama Infantry pose for a picture, before heading into the battle reenactment. The men say that they are all close friends, and many of them have Union uniforms, so they can switch sides if there is a shortage of actors. (Christine Holtzman)

The event, held Feb. 28 through March 1, provided an opportunity for school field trips and for museum visitors to immerse themselves in living history displays.

Public school, private school and home-school students visited on Feb. 28, taking self-guided tours through camps and stations created to give a sense of what life was like in the 1860s.

The museum also offered guided tours of many of the museum buildings, including the 1860s-era Overstreet House.

On the weekend, several informational presentations led up to the big show, The Battle of Santa Rosa Island reenactment.

Other features of the day included a blacksmith and wood wright demonstration, live entertainment, food, and traditional crafters.

There also was a Time Period Fashion Show, on Feb. 29, on the porch of the Overstreet House. There was a Ladies Tea, too, which welcomed spectators, but required them to wear period dress to participate.

The Confederate soldiers line up to take aim with their rifles at the Union soldiers during the Battle of Santa Rosa reenactment, on Feb. 29, at the Florida Pioneer Museum and Village.

The Battle of Santa Rosa Island was conducted on both weekend days.

Audiences were encouraged to bring their lawn chairs or blankets to witness the great battle reenactment, as the Confederate and Union Soldiers battled for Santa Rosa Island, a 40-mile barrier island located in the Panhandle near Pensacola.

The historical Battle of Santa Rosa took place on Oct. 9, 1861, and was a victory for the Union. According to the website AmericanCivilWar.com, an estimated total of 154 men lost their lives that day.

The actors that participate in the Dade City Civil War reenactment usually arrive at the museum on the Thursday before the start of the event. These hobbyists pay for their own expenses out of their own wallets, and make or purchase their own costumes.

Many agree that it is a very expensive hobby.

Joe Kurtright, a musician with the live old-time musical act, ‘7lbs of Bacon,’ summed it up like this: “The reenactors do it for their history and their heritage, and for the deep love of their country.”

Published March 11, 2020

HK Edgerton, of Ashville, North Carolina, walks along the road, proudly carrying his Confederate battle flag. The Vietnam veteran and former president of the Ashville chapter of the NAACP, is a prominent African-American activist for Southern heritage, and is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Soldiers from the 5th Florida Company B await orders from their Colonel, before entering battle. From left: Nick Voss of Leesburg, Sheyenne McAlister of Webster, Kate-Nayeli Carvajal of Bushnell, Randy Watkins of Tampa, and Justin Kirby of Bushnell. Three years ago, Watkins was a spectator when, because of his authentic Civil War period look, he was recruited out of the crowd to participate in reenactments.

The Union soldiers pack their rifles and shoot at the Confederates, during the reenactment of The Battle of Santa Rosa on Feb. 29, at the Florida Pioneer Museum and Village.

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