Artillery wins the day in Otterville Civil War Re-enactment

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One gun made all the difference in Sunday afternoon’s Otterville Civil War Re-enactment.

It just happened to be one big gun.

“The scenario started off with the artillery piece out there held by the Federals (North),” said Wayne Nelson, from Mississauga, portraying a Confederate (South) officer, pointing to their battlefield south of the Woodlawn and Train Station Museum.

“We came out of the woods, captured the piece, drove them back to here,” said Nelson, standing in the Confederate’s tent camp. “The cavalry was harassing us the whole time, harassing the gun. We turned their own gun on them and killed them.

“What was supposed to happen was… they were supposed to bring the crowd over here (to the Confederate camp), we’d duke it out here for a while, then chase them over to the train station. But it dragged out too long, so you adapt.”

As it played out, the leaders had a brief parley inside the Confederate camp under a temporary truce, the sides started firing again, and the cannon quickly ended it.

“We brought the gun up and loaded it. We weren’t sure if they’d fire it that close, but we were a safe distance… so the gun ended it for us. They never should have let us capture it.”

Traditionally there are two Otterville re-enactments – Saturday and Sunday afternoon – and a candle-light or lantern tour Saturday night, as well as a ‘tactical’ Sunday morning.

“The tactical’s mainly for the re-enactors to get out, burn some powder, play in the woods, and expand their skills a little bit. When the public’s here, you can’t really play in the woods because they can’t see what’s going on.”

Only Saturday afternoon’s re-enactment had to be cancelled due to rain.

“We didn’t do it yesterday because of the weather,” said Nelson, who has been coming to Otterville’s Civil War Re-enactment since it started about 10 years ago. “It was just too wet to get out there and fight.”

Saturday night the re-enactors did candle-light tours, candle-dipping, and a pay call skit.

“Pay call is where the soldiers get paid,” Nelson explained.

“We had the sutler – sort of a salesman – waiting to collect his money once we got ours. A local ‘madam’ who a few of the local boys owed money to, she collected after that. All those boys ended up at the doctor… I don’t understand,” he quipped.

“Then we went out in the field last night and fired off a few rounds at each other, so the public could see the guns fired off at night. You get to see how much fire comes out. There’s like a three-foot flame coming out of those guns. That’s why we’re so careful, how we aim and we fire them.”

“A late evening tactical,” said 49th New York Volunteer Infantry, Company D, 1st Sgt. Randy Abbott, from Kitchener, “mainly for the candle-light tour we put on. Just to see the muzzle flashes at night. And the artillery.

“We have had an artillery piece before,” said Abbott, “but they couldn’t come out anymore. I think he retired or just couldn’t do it anymore. This is a new crew – originally 1812 re-enactors – and we were pretty much open to having them. A gun’s a gun. And they had fun, I hope.”

chris.abbott@sunmedia.ca

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