Most people who move to the little town of Raymond don’t realize that it is sitting on hallowed ground. It’s hard to believe that 150 years ago, Raymond was a battle field. This battle of Raymond would pave the way to Vicksburg and the famous, fateful battle that occurred on the Mississippi river. Imagine the men in uniform, the ground shaking from cannon fire, and the sound of cavalry. Sounds pretty cool, right?
This past October, Friends of Raymond sponsored a national level re-enactment of the 1863 Vicksburg Campaign! The perfect place to experience the civil war ambience and watch history unfold, the Raymond Military park become a weekend home for hundreds of cattle, re-enactors, and civil war vendors. Over the course of a weekend, four historic Mississippi battles were reenacted to commemorate (not to be confused with celebrating) the 150th anniversary of these battles. I had the opportunity to attend two of these battles through the Hinds Honors Institute as a volunteer—I even got an awesome free t-shirt for helping out! And my admission was free. This is one of those times that community service ceases to become service and turns into a life experience you will never forget. Let’s be honest—I did not expect to enjoy this project. Thankfully, I was truly mistaken.
Not only were there soldiers, cattle, and cannons; women came out to support their men in battle! People came from Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, and so many other places to transform a plain, regular field into a time warp. We even had men come to play “To Arms In Dixie” and other folk songs to pass time until the battles commenced. Let’s not forget about the handmade corncob pipes! Many of the ladies came shrouded in lacey umbrellas, gloves, and handmade cotton dresses. Even on a hot Saturday afternoon, everyone felt the spirit of the south.
As the battles began, we witnessed cavalry calls, musket fire popping, and rings of smoke bellowing out of the cannons. There were many cannons, each constructed authentically to model a true civil war cannon. They were even hand-painted. My favorite part of the battles (aside from the cannon fire setting car alarms off) would have to be seeing the ornate, handmade costumes and original muskets that people had. One soldier had an original Civil War musket that was used by his ancestors who fought in the war! Whenever the battles ceased, there was an area at the military park set up called “The Cave” where anyone could go to get food, purchases souvenirs, paraphernalia, or home brewed drinks! Vendors were waiting with their kegs full to fill ornate glass bottles with root beers, sassafras fizz, and lemonades.
If you are a history or civil war enthusiast or are thinking about finding a cool hobby, civil war reenactments are the way to go! This was a truly awesome experience, and it’s awesome that being a Hinds student makes this experience especially unique. Look into these kinds of things! It will be worth your time, I guarantee.