LAURINBURG — Volleys of cannon and musket fire will shake the foundations of the John Blue House next month as history is brought to life in a Civil War reenactment.
The event will be held April 9 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is free to spectators. Presented by the Scotland County Historic Properties Commission, the day will feature artillery firings each hour, and two half-hour skirmishes staged at 12:45 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Using the John Blue grounds to relive the War Between the States was the idea of Bernie Thuersam, executive director of the Cape Fear Historical Institute in Wilmington and one of some 40 members of the Carolina Reenactors who will participate.
“We’re just some people that get together and we find sites like this to have fun at,” he said.
Theursam portrays General William Hardee, whose path led from Cheraw in South Carolina through Rockingham toward Fayetteville, Averasboro, and Bentonville.
During the reenactment, a uniformed narrator will discuss uniforms, weapons, tactics, and the array of battle flags on display.
“We’re doing what probably happened more toward Rockingham as the Confederate troops retreated and the advance guard of the Yankees were being fought by the rear guard of the Confederate troops,” said Thuersam. “There could have been some remnants or elements of Hardee’s Confederate troops that were over here, and it would have been just sporadic fighting.”
One of the John Blue outbuildings will be converted into a field hospital to demonstrate the medical practices — primitive even for the 19th century — that were usually the only recourse of Confederate surgeons.
“People want to know about surgical techniques back then,” Thuersam said. “The confederacy could not get medicine; only a little came through the blockade … basically all Southerners had to revert to colonial methods.”
The day will also include presentations detailing the impact of Union Gen. William T. Sherman’s devastating passage through North Carolina in March 1865.
S.C. Historical Society archivist and author Karen Stokes will discuss “Civilians in Sherman’s Path” and author Paul C. Graham of Cayce, South Carolina will speak on emancipated slaves’ memories of Sherman’s march. Thuersam will discuss raids by Sherman’s men on the Cowan house in the Springfield area.
“The bottom line is going to be human interest,” said Thuersam. “We’re really trying to talk about the human side of the conflict and what happened to those civilians and what it was like for civilians in Laurinburg and Richmond County, then: how did they endure the war, what happened when the invasion came through and left, what they were left with.
“It’s one thing to talk about the armies and the battles, but it’s another thing to talk about the civilians who had to put up with this stuff.”
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.