The smell of gunpowder filled the air in one East Texas town today, in a massive re-enactment of a Civil War battle. More than 1,000 re-enactors from four states came together in the battle for Port Jefferson.
Men donning Union blue or Confederate grey fought their way through the streets of Jefferson in what re-enactors say is the largest Civil War re-creation in Texas. "I think it's important for the country to understand its heritage, where we came from and where we are now," said re-enactor Don Waymack of Arkansas.
During the Civil War, Jefferson became very important to the Confederacy as supplier of meat, hides, food, and munitions. And re-enactors say the fight for such places were exactly like this. "I love history. I majored in history, and I just want to come out and re-create it, not only for myself but for the spectators," said re-enactor Rick Stauffer of Oklahoma.
Thousands lines the streets to get an up-close look at war was like more than 140 years ago. Some of the re-enactors even carried weapons that were actually used in the Civil War.
For the men who do this, it's a chance to live what many of their forefathers lived through. "I think I've traced 27 relatives who were on the Southern side. I think I can understand what it was like for men in the Civil War. The commander would yell move, load, load, load. My grandmother can load faster than that. So when you're on the firing line, it feels pretty real," said re-enactor Preston Wade of Oklahoma.
Historically it was repeated many times, soldiers bitterly fighting for every inch of ground, often with massive casualties.
Another re-enactment will be held at 4:00 p.m. at the Tuscumbia Ranch on FM 134 near the Marion County airport just east of Jefferson. For information call the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce.