JEFFERSON — Civil War re-enactors will bring history to life this weekend as the inaugural three-day event, The Battle of Big Cypress Bayou, kicks off in Jefferson featuring a night fire, downtown skirmish, gospel brunch and more.
“First and foremost I’d say this weekend is really kind of a re-enactors weekend,” said Jim McIntosh, who co-organized the event with partner Ashley Granby.
“This is a deal where these guys dedicate a lot of time and a lot of effort into bringing this history to us,” he said. “That drives the entire theme of it.”
The three-day event begins Friday night with a night battle at Total Farm. Organizers are thrilled to have Texas Republican Chairman Allen West as the special guest. West is also a combat veteran and former member of the U.S. Congress.
“The guys wanted to do a night fire,” said McIntosh. “We’re going to do it with artillery and rifles. But I also wanted to do a little something extra. Lt. Col. West will be our speaker (Friday) night.
“He’ll address the crowd, and get everybody pumped up,” McIntosh said, noting West plans to arrive about 7:45 p.m. “He’ll speak just before the night fire goes off.”
Saturday morning, beginning at 10 a.m., the event will continue with a downtown street skirmish at the Polk Street Bridge.
“Saturday morning we’ll have a street battle, right downtown, and for the first time we got a permit to push the (invading) forces back down across the bridge,” said McIntosh.
The second battle, the Battle of Big Cypress Bayou, will jumpstart at 3 p.m. at “the pasture,” owned by McIntosh.
McIntosh said throughout the weekend, they will showcase historical artifacts uncovered at the site.
“We run along the Big Cypress Bayou,” he said.
McIntosh, who just purchased the property a few months ago, has been intrigued by its findings. The site boasts one of the last standing Confederate powder magazines. Also interesting is the fact the pasture was occupied by Union soldiers after the Civil War.
McIntosh said Tom Moss, owner of the Civil War store downtown, has explored the property and has loads of artifacts that will be shared Saturday.
“Tom Moss has been doing a lot of metal detecting and has unearthed tons and tons of Civil War artifacts,” said McIntosh, noting the artifacts are from the Union soldiers and Calvary who remained in Jefferson, following the Civil War.
“This was also the center for Reconstruction when the Union came in,” said McIntosh. “That same pasture was where the horses were. We found horse shoes and Union insignia and all kinds stuff.”
Saturday’s events will wrap up with the Cherrybark Oak Ball, starting at 7 p.m. Dinner is included.
“This is kind of for the re-enactors, but the public is welcome,” said McIntosh. “At the ball we’ve got great music, musicians coming in from Arkansas, playing period music for the folks.
“There will be dinner, music and dancing,” he said.
The three-day event will culminate Sunday morning with a Sunday Gospel Brunch, beginning at 10 a.m., featuring “The Joy Boyz,” out of Mississippi.
“They’re really, really good,” McIntosh said of the featured musicians.
Tickets for the gospel brunch are $25. The event organizer said they wanted to make the three-day affair something that all could enjoy.
“Our idea is this is really kind of a moment of unity for everyone — let’s bring everybody together and talk about the cultural significance of where we are now and how our past influences that.
“I think the gospel brunch is a key component of that, because we might draw folks that may have not otherwise been interested in the re-enactment,” he said.
“Let’s give people something they like, and then something new,” he said of the premise behind the events.
Following the gospel brunch, the event will end with the Grand Finale Battle of the Bayou, back at the pasture, starting at 1 p.m.
“Although there was never a battle in Jefferson and we don’t pretend there was, this was a very (strategic) port.
“It’s all going to be right up along the bayou,” he said of the re-enactment site. “It’s one of the most significant Civil War sites in the state … even though they never had a battle.”
According to the event website, battleofjefferson.com, The Battle of Big Cypress Bayou never happened, but in 1864 it almost did.
“A powerful trading port, Jefferson, Texas served as a staging ground and supply depot for the Confederacy,” the website states. “Join historical re-enactors from around the country as they battle for control of the Baghdad of the Bayou, Jefferson, Texas.”
McIntosh invites the public to come out for a fun-filled, educational time.
“Every battle is going to be a little different than the last one,” he said. “That’s how the guys like to do it. It’s going to be very dynamic and one battle is going to kind of lead into another; so I’m excited.”
The event will also include live demonstrations of period-style occupations. Civil War period vendors will also be on the scene.
McIntosh thanked the city of Jefferson and TxDOT for their cooperation in planning the festivities.
“The city has been wonderful, even with TxDOT with granting us a permit to go over the bridge,” he said.
McIntosh also thanked his partner Granby and the re-enactors from Pleasant Hill.
“We’re working really hard,” he said. “We’ve had great support from our friends here in Jefferson, and all the reenactment groups. We’re just going to try to be flexible and we’re going to try to learn a lot, as much as we can.
He said the living history event is not about just the Confederacy.
“It’s about how did our nation start to rebuild …,” he said.
For ticket information, visit www.battleofJefferson.com. Tickets can also be purchased onsite.