Now that I have a few moments it is time to post my own thoughts about Wilson’s Creek. After reading all the posts, I am glad that the event met some of your expectations. Mine were mostly met by the delightful folk in the Town of Little York, at the edge of the battlefield toward the creek. I would like to first thank each and every one of the townsfolk for making it a memorable weekend. They came together to assist with a good experience in spite of the woes caused us by he who shall not be mentioned (no not Voldemort) but the one person more hated in Missouri today than Quantrill himself. I also want to say how sincerely grateful I am for the help given me by all those in Town who reached out to help spectator and reenactor alike.
The problems started on Friday AM with the beginning of the spectator throngs. There was absolutely NO – let me repeat NO – form of crowd control by the organizer. Spectators were asking those of us in Town where the battle was to be. They asked us where the opening program was. There was no staff of the organizer to be found to answer these questions. There were over 900 hundred spectators at the top of the battlefield! Finally several of us in Town realized we had to do something for safety’s sake. We started bringing the crowd back toward the creek to be in some semblance of safety. We had to try and stop them from using the 4 portalets in Town reserved for our women – only to be cursed out in a blue cloud by some. I was supposed to be having fun as a reenactor, not providing free crowd control. Several spectators vented their frustration from the organizer on us – unfair to say the least.
Friday afternoon’s battle also had no crowd control, although there was an area with VIP tape that most of the spectators gravitated to. I had only a 100 or so spectators I had to help control. The only portalets on the battlefield side were the four for Town. We had to keep people from using them because they had NOT been cleaned (they still had not by Saturday PM). There were local constabulary in bright yellow T-shirts, but they only ventured away from the ice wagons once or twice. When I requested some help, they sneered at me and insisted that “You should ask nicely”. Just one of many stormy moments this past weekend.
Friday night was very pleasant. We in Town gathered at the village’s edge to watch the cavalry and infantry incursions. That ended quickly, but then a most beautiful lightning display occurred. We huddled under the fly of one of our “Yorkies” and talked into the wee hours of the morning. Old friendships were strengthened and new ones forged.
Saturday provided some good moments as the battle developed. Once again the organizer had no spectator control in place, but we were visited by the Greene County Sheriff’s department and a local Christian Cowboy group on horseback. Both groups pitched in with a willing hand to aid with crowd control, a task I once again had to undertake. I send special thanks to both groups who were a godsend. We had to prevent soldiers from draining our water tank because refilling was a very “iffy” proposition. But some of our womenfolk gathered water in buckets and went with a dipper to help quench the thirst of the soldiers, even though they were St. Louis Dutch! As the soldiers left the field of battle, the mayor went out with our box of oranges and we are delighted that so many troopers and soldiers partook of our fruit.
The low point of my weekend with the organizer came on Saturday after the AM battle. A family of 5 (one a Downs child) wandered into Town looking for the “Camping Experience” they had paid dearly for. (No Capt Doug- I don’t care to answer questions about the Benjamins.) No staff member could be found, they had no idea where to go, so I helped them get back to the Wilson Creek Foundation tent, where one of the volunteers broke down crying. It was due to one person and one person only. I hope the family was finally able to enjoy their experience.
I and my fellow “Yorkies” did these things not for praise, but because we are living historians. We can’t stand by and watch the world around us fall apart due to one or two individuals. I am in deep gratitude to several people this weekend. I am also privileged to have worked with staff from the Blue Gray Alliance this weekend. The BGA will do things right when it comes to Shiloh. They were military commanders only this weekend and were not running the logistics of this event. As a member of the BGA and the mayor of Purdy TN for the BGA Shiloh, I can voice my promise that the same negatives associated with the organizer of Wilson’s Creek should not be present next March. I can also assure any who wish to follow our guidelines and join us in Town will be welcome and will have a good experience.
As I look back on the weekend, a few moments will always stand out. For the first time we had children in camp – nine in fact – all in period dress and with a period attitude. I believe our Towns will grow as the 150’s pass us by.
Forrest Camp #215, SCV
Mayor of Dover, Little York, Purdy, Raymond, Ringgold - and now, Gettysburg
4th TN CSA - Co A - Shelby Greys