By Chase Rheam
STILLWATER, Okla. —
The smell of campfires and the sound of a dulcimer were present in one campsite as re-enactors prepared for the Battle of Round Mountain at Yale First Assembly of God on Friday.
Confederate Cannoneer James Moody, 19, said his aunt and uncle got him interested in taking part six years ago.
“There’s just something about going back and living like this, it’s nice,” he said.
As a cannoneer, Moody said he can work with every part of the cannon, preparing it for the show. He worked his way up to the position after starting out in signal corps for the Union side.
“The cannon fires black powder rounds,” he said. “So does every other instrument of terror out here, as I’ll call it, because they are real guns and people need to realize that.”
The first time shooting the cannon was “awe-inspiring,” he said. Moody said everyone in the vicinity can feel the blast.
“It will knock you on your butt if you’re not prepared for it,” Moody said.
Friday was Living History Day at the event. Schoolchildren visited and took part in tours and asked questions to the re-enactors. The battle takes place Saturday and Sunday. As Moody and his friends and family enjoyed one another’s company and took time to educate the children, Moody said the event is a welcome reprieve from the day to day.
“It might sound weird, but it’s the time away from technology,” he said. “It’s nice just to step back and take a blast from the past for a moment.”
He said he plans on getting his future family involved, too.
Meanwhile, Confederate Captain of the 22nd Arkansas Infantry Matthew Emde waited outside his tent smoking a pipe.
“I’ve been in the hobby probably about 15 years now and I’m here every year,” Emde said. “The love of history got me started.”
Emde is a high school math teacher in Oklahoma City. His students know he takes part.
“They think I’m a bit crazy,” he said. “When I told them I was camping this weekend, they were like, ‘What are you? Some sort of lunatic?’”
But Emde said he enjoys sitting around the fire, talking to the other soldiers.
He encourages others to take part, mentioning their website or welcoming others to ask in person.
“I do enjoy visiting with the spectators,” he said. “They’ll watch the battle, of course, but then they’re welcome to come tour the camps and we’ll answer any questions they may have.”
He said you can stay warm if you know what you’re doing. His first year as a re-enactor didn’t go well.
“My first year doing it, I had no idea,” he said. “I had a lightweight blanket and it got down to like 10 degrees that year. But I’ve learned a few tricks since then.”
The battle will be held Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m., but visitors are encouraged to come early to visit the camps. Tickets are $5 for ages 12 and up and ages 12 and under get in free.