By Col Randall Risner CKCS
The Magoffin County Civil War Committee was very pleased by the reenactor turnout for our eighth reenactment. For the first time we had more than enough tents to divide our camp into Union and Confederate encampments. It made for a much more realistic representation of a real Civil War encampment. We also had one of the best Suttlerys we have ever had thanks to the Cohee family from Arkansas. They were able to bring two large stores and a blacksmith shop on two giant rigs all the way from Arkansas.
The weather did not cooperate but it could not dampen the spirit of our living historians who braved the rain and cold wind without any sign of complaint. The battles that commanders Ron Hornsby in charge of the Union forces and Jackie Branham of the Confederate forces put on a beautiful tactical display that could have come right out of the history books. Our reenactment also featured five artillery pieces which made for a stunning visual display, especially when they were fired belching great flames and smoke with the roar of thunder. We had a tactical engineering unit that added to the visual display by deploying spiked barricades throughout the battlefield. Hands down this is the best group of reenactors we have ever had led by two of the best commanders in the hobby.
There was so much more to see and do at this event celebrating Magoffin County Civil War Days. We had numerous exhibitors with a variety of items and food products for sale. The New Life Worship Center provided concessions for the public and the reenactors. The food they served was very good and the hot fudge cake just might be the best I ever ate. There were other vendors selling baked goods and candies and other food items. We appreciate them all. We had an all-star lineup of musicians including Will Caudill and Route 7, Black Powder Express featuring Toddie Preston, Anointed Hearts featuring James Cole and family, Carol Jarrell and East Kentucky Rain, The Joseph Family and the beloved Larry Sparks.
Things that went great was the reenactor turnout, the suttlers and vendors, and the many people who came from far away to be part of this event. Aside from the Cohee family of Arkansas we had the Alto family from Michigan and my good friends Bob and Betty Whittaker of South Carolina, and probably a hundred or so more out of state visitors. One of the most well received portions of our event was our Chautauqua of Confederate President Jefferson Davis portrayed by professional actor Kevin Hardisty. As you probably know Jefferson Davis was born in Kentucky as was Abraham Lincoln. We also had a Belle Pageant which was enjoyed by many.
Things that were not so great was the weather, the date coinciding with competing events in surrounding counties and the dismal turnout for the music portion of our event. There is nothing we can do about the weather but we will be changing dates for our next reenactment event which might help. We plan to concentrate strictly on the reenactment part of our event next time. We simply cannot justify the expense for the musicians with a small number of people that attended the performances. If we can find a sponsor for Larry Sparks we will have him back otherwise there will be no musical performances.
The Battle of Puncheon/Half-Mountain reenactment was conceived to bring to the forefront the importance of our county in the history of our state and our country. It has done so. Thanks to this event we are attracting tourism and receiving positive recognition both near and far. As the header says, this was our best reenactment showcasing professionalism and realism in the depiction of the battle. Yes not everything went according to plan but so be it. We no longer have to take a backseat to anyone in disseminating our history and heritage and hopefully we our instilling pride in the citizens of our county.
There are too many people to thank to do it individually but a few I must mention are Judge Executive Dr. Hardin and the fiscal court, Mayor Pete Shepherd and the city council, the best principal in the state in my opinion, Mr. Mark Rice who has went beyond all expectations to help us make this event a success. If we are so lucky as to be deemed by Judge Executive Charles Hardin and the fiscal court as worthy of continuing this event we will certainly do so. I fully expect an even better reenactment next time.