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Realism requires real effort

Realism requires real effort Realism requires real effort

Old Capitol Golf proprietor Butchie Stilger was caught by surprise Saturday morning when he glanced through his window and saw cavalry passing very near the storefront.
Armed horsemen had amassed outside the Harrison County Fairgrounds and begun their charge into town as part of the reenactment of Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan’s sacking of Corydon during the Civil War.
The Indiana Home Guard held their ranks as they retreated across the South Bridge and headed into town. The groups of men fired in unison on their officers’ commands, sending a wall of sound across the sidewalks that struck observers like a gust of wind.
Shortly after 11:30 a.m., the Home Guard surrendered on the lawn near the First State Capitol, and the flag of the Confederacy flew over Corydon, just as it had in 1863.
After securing the town, Morgan set his troops about relieving local businesses of their valuables.
“Are those men dangerous?” a young girl asked her mother during the commotion.
They weren’t dangerous, but they certainly looked the part. The raid was one of many events held in remembrance of the Civil War era during The Battle of Corydon reenactment weekend. This was the second consecutive year for the reenactments.
Attendance estimates were up, said event co-chair Bill Brockman, who, along with other organizers, had placed crowd at about 1,600 Saturday and 1,400 Sunday for the reenactment at Hayswood Nature Reserve — a total increase of 400 observers over last year.
Other weekend events, like the Military Ball and the raid, also attracted more spectators, but the most notable difference was in the number of “living history” participants. Troops and ladies combined, the number doubled.
Firewood and soft drinks were supplied free to those camping at the primitive site in Hayswood, and both were in short supply, Brockman said.
During the raid and two reenactments of The Battle of Corydon reenactment at Hayswood Park, Morgan was played by Corydon’s Morgan Raque, who resembles the dashing general and lists the Mel Gibson picture “The Patriot” among his film credits.
Reenactors take great pains to be accurate “right down to the ladies’ undergarments,” Raque said. The clothing was made with only the natural fibers available during the Civil War. The buttons were made of metal, wood or hard rubber. Much of the clothing is hand sewn but some was machine sewn because sewing machines are available then.
The weaponry consists of reproductions of guns used in the Civil War. No modern saddles were used in the raid, and the reenactors even develop accurate speech and mannerisms, based on their research.
In some cases, such as Raque’s, a specific historical figure is copied.
During the skirmish presentation, strategic details of the only Civil War battle on Indiana soil were preserved.
Members of the Home Guard were discovered by Morgan’s scouts. Expecting a small force, Morgan sent an advance company with the intention of easily riding over the opposition, but the Home Guard was actually 450 men strong. Morgan’s advance company suffered most of the casualties that would be lost in the battle.
Realizing the force was larger than expected, Morgan used his artillery and outflanked the Home Guard, prompting a quick surrender.
“They wanted to bring the war to the Indiana folks … to let them know the horrors and fears and anguish of war,” said Raque, who explained that Morgan thought the residents of Indiana didn’t understand how brutal the war really was. Raque said Morgan should be commended for keeping order among his troops and preventing depredation.
Many of the reenactors who joined Raque last weekend were also in the film “The Greatest Adventure of My Life,” which was based on events of the Civil War. Raque was the production coordinator. His son, Mark Raque, and Kenny Vincent, both of Corydon, had speaking parts. Several other reenactors at the event also had speaking roles in the film.
“Miss Confederacy,” Tracy Murphy, 17, was in Corydon for the weekend. Miss Confederacy is chosen each year from a pool of national competitors at the Jefferson Davis Memorial in Fairfield, Ky. The winner is selected based on authenticity of dress, mannerisms, deportment and appearance.
Four Calvary units portrayed Morgan’s men, including: the Ninth Kentucky of Salem, the Sixth Kentucky of Central Kentucky, the Tenth Kentucky of Bowling Green and Tennessee, and the Fifth Texas of Indiana, which included two Corydon men, John Sarles and Chris Crawford.
Brockman said the planning for next year’s Battle of Corydon weekend will begin next week. He said increasing the number of volunteers is necessary if the event is to be a continued success.