J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “reenactors”

“Wherever there has been great suffering, people are always seeing strange things.”

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(Ghostly apparitions on the Chickamauga battlefield. Photo courtesy of Danial Druey.)

The Battle of Chickamauga was a costly one. On September 19 – 20, 1863, approximately 35,000 men were killed, wounded, or missing. It was considered a Confederate victory because the Rebels halted the Federal advance. Chickamauga, meaning “River of Death” in Cherokee, lived up to its name. Not surprisingly, the site of the battle in Georgia is reportedly haunted.

In 1876, thirteen years after the battle, ex-Confederate Jim Carlock participated in a centennial celebration. While walking across the battlefield, he and his friends saw something ten feet high with a “big white head.” He said the entity appeared to be a black woman carrying a bundle of clothes on her head.

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Edward Tinney, former historian and chief ranger at Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park from 1969 to 1986, said ghostly sightings are not uncommon. The most famous phantom is known as “Old Green Eyes.” This ghost takes on many different shapes, including a Confederate soldier and a green-eyed panther. Old Green Eyes was spotted soon after the battle ended when surviving soldiers saw the strange specter.

“Green Eyes is rumored to be a man who lost his head to a cannonball, frantically searching the battlefield at night for his dislocated body,” Tinney said.

According to legend, the ghost of Old Green Eyes existed years before the battle took place, possibly during the time that Native Americans lived on the land.

One night in 1976, Tinney was on the battlefield checking on camping reenactors. A man over 6 feet tall, wearing a long black duster, with stringy black, waist-length hair, walked toward him. Intimidated, Tinney crossed to the other side of the road. The man reached him and flashed a devilish grin. His dark eyes glistened. Just then, a car came down the road and the scary apparition vanished.

Another ghost appears in the form of a lady in a white wedding dress. Known as the “Lady in White,” the ghost is supposedly searching for her lover. Many visitors have reported hearing gunshots and hoof beats, or smelling the strong scent of alcohol. Reports of ghostly encounters and paranormal activities number in the hundreds.

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(Ghost horse behind reenactor. Photo courtesy of Rick Kanan.)

Several years ago, David Lester was camping on the battlefield with several other reenactors. Some of his comrades wandered over to a neighboring camp to say hello to the soldiers. They talked for several hours before returning to their camp. In the morning, they returned to the camp, only to discover that there was no sign of a campfire or any trace of human occupation. There was only undisturbed land.

(Headline quote courtesy of Edward Tinney.)

(Next up: Battle of Perryville)

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Homestead Day Harvest Festival

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The Blue and the Gray united once again at the annual Homestead Day Harvest Festival, which was held last Saturday at the Beaver Creek Nature Area near Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Union and Confederate soldiers were on hand to demonstrate living history, reenact camp life, and teach new recruits the art of handling rifles.

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The event is held every year and attracts thousands. Besides Civil War reenactors, gunslingers were there to show spectators how to effectively draw a pistol in a gunfight. There were also displays of pioneer life, including candle making, chair caning, blacksmithing, butter churning, panning for gold, wagon rides, wood carving, rope making, spinning, weaving, shucking corn, and hoeing a field with the use of horse-drawn plows. Music was provided by SD Old Time Fiddlers. There was even a snake oil salesman!

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Little Rebels and Yankees had fun aiming and firing their weapons, and the soldiers had fun teasing them by firing black powder and making the kids jump! Although not many reenactors were there, it was still a fun-filled, educational event.

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(Greg Olsen, Union, and Kevin Gansz, Confederate)

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