Archive for Thursday, October 21, 2004

The South falls again

Civil War re-enactment blows residents away

October 21, 2004

Bullets found near the battlefield at Gettysburg and cannon fire that sounded like thunderclaps of God were just a few of the items during a re-enactment Saturday in Basehor that reinforced the raw violence of the Civil War.

"Wouldn't want to be under that," a spectator said as re-enactors fired the cannon at Confederate "bushwhackers" ambushing a Union camp.

"It sure is impressive to see how close (soldiers) had to get to each other," said another.

The re-enactment took place at Basehor-Linwood High School and was sponsored by the Basehor Historical Society.

One of Basehor's own participated in the re-enactment. Steve Crutchfield, a Basehor resident and fourth-grade teacher at De Soto Elementary School, said hobbies like golf and softball just don't give him the same thrill as participating in Civil War re-enactments such as the one that took place Saturday in his hometown.

"I used to do the softball and golf thing, but I've always had a fascination with the Civil War," Crutchfield said. "You can't actually duplicate (the Civil War), but this gives me a chance to relive, somewhat, something I'm so passionate about."

Crutchfield, along with others from the 3rd Missouri Light Artillery group, portrayed various roles, most notably a "primer" soldier on a unit responsible for firing the cannon.

While many of his mates hold the same fascination with the war as Crutchfield because of its historical value, not all of them can claim a Civil War combatant as a family predecessor.

Crutchfield is a relative of Confederate Sgt. John Park of the 62nd Tennessee Mountain Infantry, a soldier who was lucky enough to survive the war. Park was captured at Vicksburg, then paroled in 1863.

"This just gives me a chance to walk in the shoes they walked in," Crutchfield said.

Saturday's event in Basehor also proved to be a family outing for Crutchfield. His father, Lee Crutchfield of Overland Park, and his daughters, Malorie and Emilie, students at Basehor Elementary School, also took part.

"We go to all these things together," he said.

Dave Ryan of Mound City, Kan., a member of the 2nd Kansas Light Artillery group, spoke to spectators during live firing demonstrations. He explained "the slow and tedious brand of combat" soldiers faced during the Civil War.

In those days, it took a minute or more to load and fire three shots from a musket. A demonstration with the cannon and the seven or more men it took to fire it, indicates it took just as long to fire the heavy artillery.

"It's not like today," Ryan said. "Things happened a lot slower back then."

A steady stream of spectators visited high school for Saturday's five-hour long event. Many Historical Society members said they were pleased with the turnout Saturday and indicated the event could become an annual festival for the city.

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