Updated: Sep 10
Union army re-enactors advance during a see-saw skirmish at the Mine Creek Battlefield State Historic Site on Saturday, Aug. 6 (Photos by Roger Sims/ Linn County Journal.)
PLEASANTON – The grounds around the Mine Creek Battlefield State Historic Site visitors center were busy on Saturday morning, Aug. 6. It was the annual Heritage Day sponsored by the Mine Creek Battlefield Foundation, and despite the searing heat forecasted for the day, there was plenty to see.
The duet known as the Fine and Dandy String Band played Civil War-era melodies on the fiddle and banjo, guitar or hammer dulcimer. A vendor sold frontier period leather and fur goods, including leather pouches and coonskin-style fur caps.
Confederate re-enactors fire back at Union troops. As in the historical Battle of Mine Creek, the rebel forces were defeated.
On one side of the ground, a group of re-enactors portraying Confederates stood in formation, preparing to march out to the nearby battlefield. While some were in uniform, most wore a variety of clothing, giving the appearance of a ragtag group of fighters, an accurate portrayal by many historical accounts.
On the other side of the grounds, Union re-enactors finished preparations for battle, their single-shot long rifles with fixed bayonets resting against each other. Their uniforms were the same, signs of a better-equipped fighting force.
Gen. Ulysses S. Grant (re-enactor Randall Durban of Overland Park) uses his brass spyglass to check on the progress of the skirmish. Standing beside him was civilian and Linn County resident Tom Likely, who came to see the re-enactment.
A couple of men were preparing to serve lunch on a contemporary grill under the awning of the visitor center. Nearby two women dressed in 1860s-style dresses with bonnets prepared lunch for the re-enactors. The fare for the re-enactors was from the period as well.
Fiber artist Mary Limpus of Amsterdam, Mo., teaches John Ayres and his father Cody of Amoret, Mo., how to process wool into thread on a spinning wheel.
With the sun starting to beat down and the weather report calling for temperatures in the upper 90s, the decision was made to re-enact the battle early, pushing the event up to 11 a.m instead of 1 p.m. At the duly appointed time, the group of Confederate soldiers moved out east into a field and were joined shortly by a column of Union soldiers.
The re-enactor support tent was staffed by Jan Elder of Baldwin, Kan., and Nancy Durbin of Overland Park. They prepared a lunch of food that would be typical for the Civil War period for soldiers from both camps.
Each side would alternately advance and retreat, firing their single-shot rifles, then stopping to reload, a process taking a better part of the minute if not longer. With soldiers on each side hurling insults as well as bullets at each other, the Union soldiers shot down about half of the Confederate soldiers while only two of their own lie still in the grass. The remaining rebel soldiers retreated.
Also included in the day’s entertainment was a re-enactment of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Va,
Ken Shoemaker of the Fine and Dandy String Band uses a "limberjack," a stick figure dancing on a miniature plank to keep time to a fiddle tune being play by his partner. Visitor Elsa Sewell accompanies him with a pair of tin-can shakers.