Reenactors gather for annual event

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 2, 2000

Walking onto the grounds of the Historic Jefferson College this weekend is like walking back in time. The historic campus hosted a Civil War reenactment Saturday. The free event will continue today and is open to the public.

Reenactors from all over the country come to Natchez every year to participate, said Jefferson College Historian Clark Burkett, who coordinated the reenactment.

&uot;The ambiance of this place is incredible,&uot; said Ken Stewart, a reenactor from Caddo Mills, Texas.

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This is Stewart’s fourth year to travel to the annual reenactment with fellow Texans Maj. Allen Joyce and Larry Lee Openshaw.

While attending the reenactment, they stay in tents on the grounds and cook their food over camp fires. They remain in period costume — and in character — for the whole weekend.

Joyce, explaining why they wouldn’t smile for the camera, said, &uot;Civil War soldiers never smile for the camera because it was an indication of half-wittedness.&uot;

&uot;You don’t look straight into the camera either,&uot; he added.

In addition to the reenactment, Saturday’s festivities included a concert by the 12th Louisiana String Band and an evening dance with period music.

&uot;This is the sixth year we’ve had this reenactment,&uot; Burkett said. His job involved planning the battle and getting notice of the event to reenactors throughout the nation.

Due to the cold weather and rain, Burkett said, &uot;this is one of our slowest years, but we still had at least 125 people come out today.&uot;

Burkett said he usually attends about four reenactments around the country per year.

His interest in the Civil War began in 1962 during the centennial celebration of the war.

&uot;I was 7 years old, so it has been a lifelong interest,&uot; Burkett said.