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EHRHARDT - Broxton Bridge Plantation's Civil War Living History Day proved a popular draw for students on Friday, March 4, as school bus after school bus pulled into the field designated for bus parking.

By 9:30 a.m., nearly 1,000 children, chaperones, teachers and parents lined up to follow tour guides through seven different demonstration sites along the historic battlements at the southern end of the plantation. The old battleground from the Battle for Broxton Bridge, complete with all the earthen breastworks, is still relatively intact from the Confederate defenses of Feb. 1, 1865.

The northern army was in route from Savannah, Ga., to Columbia, and the battles at Broxton Bridge and Rivers Bridge on the Salkehatchie River were the last big defensive effort for the Confederates before the battle at Columbia.

In small groups, students were able to participate in demonstrations from a brief lecture, with maps, of the 1865 battles fought in defense of Columbia to demonstrations of Civil War armament, blacksmithing, cooking in the field, clothes making, animal skinning, horses and cavalry, a field hospital and as a final demonstration, cannon firing protocol with a real cannon.

The celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Battle for Broxton Broxton continued on Saturday and Sunday, March 5 and 6, as hundreds of spectators visited vendors' sites located about 100 yards north of the battleground and dozens of reenactors in period dress wandered through the crowd.

By 1:30 p.m., crowds of families with children, camping chairs, bottled water and cameras walked down the designated trail to the battleground, assembling in the well-marked spectators' area.

Bugles sounded at 2 p.m., signaling the beginning of the battle reenactment. Cavalry reenactors, astride sweating horses, rushed frantically across the battlefield toward the Salkehatchie River bridge to scout out the invading Union army, then returned to report to Confederate infantry commanders.

In a mock battle that lasted more than an hour, Confederate infantry soldiers, in step, firearms shouldered, followed saber-wielding officers. The Confederate troops advanced to meet Union troops head on as they attempted to cross the river. Sporadic gunfire could be heard in the distance, quickly escalating as infantry soldiers fired volleys and field cannons blasted black-powder smoke through the trees, engulfing the troops.

Union troops in Sherman's march through the Carolinas skirmished with Confederate forces for Broxton Bridge Ford on Feb. 2, 1865. The reenactment battle was held at the original battle site on the Salkehatchie River.

Hosts for the weekend event were Battery C, 32nd Georgia Artillery and 2nd Georgia Regiment Co. D Burke Sharpshooters. Salt-Ketchers Chapter No. 6 Order of Confederate Rose, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, was the sponsor.

Contact the writer: j_durgan@att.net.

 

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