Lake Norman & Mooresville

Civil War re-enactment brings history to life

Joe Duckworth, second from left, fires his musket as the Confederate soldiers emerge form the woods during the Civil War re-enactment at Historic Latta Plantation in Huntersville on June 6.
Joe Duckworth, second from left, fires his musket as the Confederate soldiers emerge form the woods during the Civil War re-enactment at Historic Latta Plantation in Huntersville on June 6. MARTY PRICE

The sound of musket fire filled the air and echoed through the woods as a Civil War battle re-enactment began at the Historic Latta Plantation on June 6.

Set in June of 1865, the battle pitted Union soldiers holding the Sample family plantation house against Confederate forces approaching from the woods.

“I see three,” shouted Union soldier Sam Frisco, 16, before he aimed his musket and fired the first shot into the woods. He was immediately corrected as about a dozen shots and a cascade of Rebel yells rang out from the Confederate soldiers hiding there.

The Union soldiers advanced, returning fire at the Confederates they couldn’t readily see. Using a cannon for cover fire, the Confederate soldiers pressed forward, taking the house and driving the Union soldiers back.

After being greeted by the Sample family, the Confederates were pushed back into the woods as the Union soldiers mounted a counterattack, inflicting heavy losses on the retreating army. Once the Union army captured their cannon, the Confederate colonel surrendered.

Unlike many re-enactments, this one included the surrender by the Rebel forces. They laid down weapons and relinquished the flag as Cathy Clardy, playing Mrs. Sample, cried out, “Where are my boys, have you seen my boys?” to end the re-enactment.

Matthew Waisner, site director at Historic Latta Plantation, said that most people don’t realize that the Latta Plantation was owned by the Sample family during the Civil War. “The sons, John, James, David and Hugh Sample served in the Confederate army, and all four returned home,” he said.

Waisner said that three of the men were Union prisoners but Hugh Sample served with Robert E. Lee and was with him when Lee surrendered at Appomattox. Waisner has been a re-enactor since 1997 and said he does it, “for the love of history and to educate the public.”

Mooresville resident Ryan McMahan, 33, has been a member of the 43rd N.C. Company B since he turned 11 and loves history. “It is a great hobby, and I love to teach people about the Civil War,” he said.

McMahan was instantly hooked on history when his father, Sean McMahan, and other re-enactors from the 43rd N.C. came to do a presentation in his kindergarten class at Northside Baptist Church in Charlotte.

McMahan said he has gone to many historical re-enactments – eight to 10 events each year – but his favorite memory is from the 150th anniversary of the first shots fired at Charleston, S.C. “I had to wake up at 3 a.m. so I could shoot the first rounds at about 4:26 a.m. to start the war,” he said.

“We need the younger generations to keep the history going and the hobby alive, to show people how the Civil War was actually fought. Try it one time and you’ll love it,” he said.

In addition to the re-enactment, there were period-authentic camps for the soldiers, both Confederate and Union, for the spectators to tour which displayed how the men lived between battles during the Civil War era.

Marty Price is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marty? Email him at martyprice53@gmail.com

Learn more:

Among the summer camps offered by the Historic Latta Plantation this year will be two Civil War Soldier Camps, for children ages 8-12, 9 a.m-3 p.m. July 20-23 and Aug. 3-6. Forinformation on the Historic Latta Plantation and the summer camps they offer, go to http://lattaplantation.org/latta/index.php?page=home.

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