East Texas Field Becomes Civil War Battleground - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

10/20/07-Smith County

East Texas Field Becomes Civil War Battleground

Thick smoke rises from the fields of East Texas, as Confederate soldiers ambush Union forces.

"The Union forces were going through unpopulated areas, through heavy woods, in order to try to sneak up on Camp Ford," said Civil War Enactment organizer Gene Kinsey.  The battle itself never happened, but Camp Ford did exist, housing more than 5,000 prisoners during the Civil War.  Now, hundreds of volunteers are recreating that historic period.

"It's really neat to be able to teach people about an era that I think is misunderstood to some people because of the south side and slavery, but there's a lot more to the war and to the period," said Sarah Miner, who plays the role of a civilian.  There's something for everyone to learn. Ty Gillory of Mineola learned the rare skill of developing photos on tin.

"Everything I do is exactly the same, the way they did 140 years ago," said photographer Gillory.  "The chemicals are made the same.  You bake them, and there are two of us in Texas and about 25 of us in the U.S. that can do this."  It's a special skill that Gillory says can only be done the old-fashioned way.

"I do regular photography as well, but I always wanted to create that 19th century image," said Gillory.  "Everybody would say 'you need to use photo shop,' but I figured the only way to do it was the real way, so I just learned how to do it."  Organizers have been building the authentic looking battle site for eight months, and visitors say it shows.

"I've been wanting to come to one of these for a long time, but this here's close, so we decided to bring the grand kids out," said spectator Don Dailey.  "They're enjoying themselves besides the gunfire."

"The kids get to reenact, and watch how battles were fought, and how people dressed and lived, and I think it's wonderful," said visitor Dorothy Ferguson.  It's a monumental time rooted deep in our history, yet never forgotten on the fields of East Texas.

Courtney lane, Reporting.  clane@kltv.com

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