J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the tag “ball gowns”

Annual Pilgrimages

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One of my favorite things about living in the South was attending pilgrimages. Several take place in Mississippi each year, including Natchez, Aberdeen, and Holy Springs. These events typically occur during the month of April. It is an amazing experience to participate in one of these pilgrimages and see what it was like to live in the antebellum South. Pilgrimages attract people from all over the world.

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My own personal experience included serving as a docent at one of the beautiful mansions in Holly Springs. This small town was spared when Union General Grant decided it was too pretty to burn. One of the majestic homes served as his headquarters during his invasion into Mississippi leading up to the Battles of Iuka and Corinth in 1862.

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As a tour guide, I had the privilege of learning about one of the spectacular houses in Holly Springs, including its previous owners. Holly Springs is a favorite location for those wishing to see a glimpse of the past as displayed in the grand old mansions. Most of the homes, built in the 1850’s, have been restored to their original grandeur. Besides the home tour, a special service is held in the cemetery to honor fallen Confederate soldiers who are buried there, and a tour of slave shacks is also included.

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Magnolias and moonlit nights add to the romance, as do belles dressed in ball gowns and horse-drawn carriages parading through the streets. Pilgrimages are an excellent way to experience the past while living in the present, and see what true Southern beauty represents.

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Time for Reenacting!

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Now that spring is here, Civil War reenactments are starting up around the country. This weekend, the reenactment of the Battle of Gainesville will take place in Alabama. The event will be held May 8-10, and will include a cavalry battle.

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Attending a reenactment is an excellent way to discover living history and see what Civil War soldiers went through. The people who do reenacting take their hobby very seriously, and some even characterize people who actually lived, like their ancestors. Of course, there are reenactors who play the parts of famous generals and other officers, and sometimes, Abraham Lincoln shows up, too.

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A typical reenactment includes several battles, period dress, rows of sutlers’ (shop owners) tents, weaponry, and Civil War medicine. They also usually include a ball complete with ladies in beautiful gowns, a ladies’ tea, and a period church service on Sunday morning. But the real excitement is in watching the battles themselves. The reenactors make them as believable as possible, and the rumble, boom, crack and smoke of the artillery and gunfire is exhilarating.

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Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg

Today marks the 151st anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. The battle began on July 1, 1863, and lasted through July 3. Prior to the battle, Union forces, coming from the south, collided with Southern troops travelling from the north. After the first day of battle, General Robert E. Lee’s Confederates were victorious, but by the end of the third day, following Pickett’s famous charge, the battle was considered to be a draw. It wasn’t until several days later that Union General Meade’s Army of the Potomac learned they had won the fight. The battle was a pivotal one in that, from that time until April 1865, the Union army started winning battles, and ultimately won the war.

Every year, a large reenactment takes place in Gettysburg, and this weekend is no exception. Last year’s event was colossal, since it was the 150th anniversary of the battle. However, thousands of reenactors from all over the country are expected to participate in this year’s event, which is called “The Last Great Invasion.” Reenactors wearing authentic clothing and using authentic weaponry camp out over the weekend in Civil War tents. A period ball is held, complete with ladies dressed in beautiful gowns. Battles are staged, as well as living history demonstrations.

An estimated 100 cannons and 400 horses (cavalry) will be involved. And for the first time, “Traveling Tara” will be there, which depicts everyday life in a Civil War home. The name is taken from Tara, Scarlett O’Hara’s home in Gone With the Wind.  The battle reenactments will take place on the Yingling farm – the same site where the movie Gettysburg was filmed 20 years ago.

On Monday, July 7, the National Park Service has granted permission to stage a photo shoot on Little Round Top and Devil’s Den. This is the first time they have allowed it since 1992, when The Killer Angels was filmed there. Reenactors are invited to participate. All in all, the presentations during this weekend will be nothing less than spectacular, and will give spectators a glimpse of what fighting and living during a Civil War was really like.

For more information, check out

http://www.gettysburgreenactment.com/

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