These are just a few of the shouts heard in Rockford on Saturday as the South and the North once again battled on the front lines.
Members of the 28th North Carolina, Company B of the 38th North Carolina, the 24th Virginia, the 63rd North Carolina, the 7th North Carolina Cavalry, Company K of the 22nd North Carolina and the Stuart’s Battery from Virginia took over historic Rockford for the weekend for a Civil War encampment. The re-enactors represented the 120,000 soldiers from North Carolina who fought in the Civil War.
No amount of cold or rain could stop their fun as they re-created battles for the spectators who braved the weather for a look at history in action.
“The conditions for them were horrible,” said Greg Cheek, adjutant for the 28th North Carolina. “It makes you think about what were they going through. You get out here and you experience enough that it makes you appreciate them much more.”
Saturday featured an afternoon re-enactment of a battle between Confederate and Union troops towards the end of the Civil War. According to John Baucom, General George Stoneman’s Union Cavalry brought his troops down both sides of the Yadkin River, surprising and overpowering the Yadkin County Home Guard.
“Historically in the Shallow Ford Battle, part of the Yankee cavalry on the south came behind the Yadkin Home Guard defending the fort. When they came behind, one shot was fired and the guard threw down their muskets and ran,” he said. “We decided to give them a fight today.”
Confederate troops lined the Yadkin River bank in the woods and awaited the arrival of the Union cavalry who eventually appeared along the far bank, coming through the river to a gravel island.
After heading ashore with their horses, the Union troops took up position in what was to resemble an ironclad as well as serve as a fort. The Confederate soldiers fired towards the fort, aiming for the gun turrets to the best of their ability as the heavy artillery fire of cannons sounded in the back ground. The guns in the fort came to life to return fire, but the Confederate troops stood their ground until the cavalry began to ford the river.
The horses charged through chest-deep water towards the Confederate troops as their riders fired their weapons, charging the opposite bank. The Confederate troops held off an advance on the river bank to allow the spectators time to retreat before staging their own retreat to the amphitheater behind the Rockford General Store for a final stand.
With the aid of heavy artillery at the far end of the field, the Confederate troops made a stand as the Union cavalry advanced again and again. Some of the Union troops even went through the woods to attack the Confederate troops from the side in the hopes of gaining the advantage of surprise.
Eventually the Confederate soldiers were unable to withstand the continuous attacks from the cavalry and retreated from the site.
“We tried to stop them at the river and then fell back to the field and tried to hold them off,” said Baucom after the battle. “We try to make sure to end things the way they historically did. We’ll do the Battle of the Confederate Depot tomorrow and the Confederates will win. We try to make everyone a winner one day.”
The re-enactors try to keep events as historically accurate as possible, though sometimes that is nearly impossible to do. Many of them load their own black powder cartridges, leading to some weapons issue echoing booms while others are not quite as loud. They also try to dress in historically accurate clothing. New recruits must work their way up from privates just like soldiers in the real military.
During the heat of the battle, they refer to each other in terms of rank, addressing officers as lieutenant or general. Some of the soldiers even borrow ammunition from others so they can continue to contribute to the fight when they run out. From tearing off the end of the cartridge with their teeth to giving out a rebel yell at the conclusion of the fight, the re-enactors create an atmosphere as close as possible to the original battle.
“You don’t know how we got here until you know what happened to make things this way,” said Baucom of the importance of preserving history.
Today’s events in historic Rockford will feature another battle re-enactment as well as a Confederate Sunday morning service at 10:30 a.m.
Contact Morgan Wall at email@example.com or 719-1929.