So, I thought it might be time for an update - yes, I've been traveling all across our great state the past few weeks, talking to different groups about the war, and about my books (I'll be speaking tonight to the Rowan History Club in Salisbury).
This past weekend, I dropped my pen and picked up my sword. It was the Mitchell County Sesquicentennial celebration. "Me and some pards" set up a Confederate camp along the Creek Walk in Bakersville. The camp included several stations, including a civilian station, officer's tent, enlisted man's quarters (complete with a half-dozen dog tents), stations on uniforms, common soldiers, flags, small arms, and artillery.
On Friday, we had around 130 students - third, fourth, and fifth graders from Gouge Elementary -who visited our camp. They went through each of these stations, learning about the War on both a local level, and about the soldiers who marched away. The highlight was firing the 12lb Napoleon Cannon, provided by the Santee Light Artillery. The kids were all really excited when that big gun went bang! Well, almost all of them. One teacher, after staying about 10 minutes, thought her students would be better served by taking them back for P.E. So, you have some of the best interpreters in western North Carolina doing what they do best (not to mention North Carolina's Historian of the Year), and you think P.E. would be a better option? No wonder our nation's children are historically illiterate; teachers like this one think PE is more important. If she was worried about their physical fitness, we could have chased them around with bayonets.
We continued Friday evening, providing candlelight tours of the camp, and once again focusing our talks on what happened locally. Firing the cannon at night was another treat.
On Saturday, the new Mitchell County Confederate Monument, containing the names of 79 local men who died during the war, was dedicated. A conservative estimate of one hundred citizens joined about twenty-five members of the Col John B. Palmer Camp, SCV, and the Martha Reid Silver Confederate Memorial Association at the dedication. Several gave remarks, including Bakersville mayor Charles Vines. I had a chance to deliver the dedication speech, the third time I have had such an honor. The names on the monument were read, a wreath laid, and volleys fired. The afternoon was spent giving tours and talking to the general public.
Overall, it was a great weekend! The weather was great, and I really like working with the students, making history "live" for them.