Story by Sam Shook, Contributing Writer Photos provided by Cindy McGill, Sherl Holesko, and Kylie Vincent
Imagine, for a moment, that you could step back through the years, and witness a battle of the American Civil War. The roar of cannon and rifle, the clash of steel, and the trampling of hooves echo in your ears. Of course, for us such a possibility is only a fantasy, but not for the Second Colorado Living History Association. They can relive the battles of the Civil War whenever they want to, all through the art of reenactment.
According to their website, the 2nd Colorado Living History Association operates out of several states in the South and Midwest. You can find them in Texas, Arkansas, and, of course, Oklahoma, among other states. They focus on maintaining the historical accuracy of the 1860s, and do extensive research into the time period. In fact, that is why they chose the 2nd Colorado as their appellation, because that particular division of the Union army fought here in Oklahoma (or “Indian Territory” as it was called back then), says Brian Barton. According to Graham White, they will provide you with equipment for fighting in the battles, but eventually recommend that you purchase your own.
Here in Stillwater, there are a number of people from the community and Oklahoma State University who take part in the reenactments. I contacted several of their members, Kylie Vincent and her son Nathan, Brian Barton (a first sergeant in the Second Colorado), and Graham White. Each of them shared some of their favorite memories of performing reenactments, each with their own wonderful tales.
When asked how her son became involved with reenacting in the first place, Kylie Vincent said, “It was a combination of friends and family. Both Nate’s mentor from church and his aunt are interested and involved in Civil War re-enacting and they poured their own passion for the hobby into Nate. His first re-enactment experience was the Battle of Round Mountain in Yale last year. He also spent two weeks in Kentucky reenacting with his aunt this past summer. He was hooked after that!”
When I asked Barton and White the same question, White, who currently attends OSU, said that he found out about the club as a freshman at the University back in September 2015. Barton, a 23-year-old OSU graduate, said that he had the passion of reenactment passed down to him when he was still a student, and he in turn helped pass it to White.
According to White, “… Civil War reenactment is the most ubiquitous type of reenactment in the United States.” Both Barton and White noted that you could do other types of reenactments in other regions of the USA, but the Civil War was fought here in our area. It provides an air of authenticity. As for Nate, it came down to a love for Civil War history.
“He also learned about the 2nd Colorado Volunteer Infantry and realized that was a way to connect to others in the region who had his same passions and tied his love for history and love for camping together,” said Vincent, “It has the potential to be a lifelong hobby and to take him all over the US with people who have the same to desire to share history and truly make it come alive for audiences.”
Finally, I asked each of them what some of their favorite memories were from the reenactments. Nate said that it was when he was able to participate as an artillerist with his aunt. He fought at Spring Mill State Park in Indiana, filled with the thrill of facing off against the Confederates for the first time. Barton and White told a story of when they were in a battle at Perry Grove Arkansas. Rain was falling on them, when the troops started to sing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and they charged up a hill to face the enemy.
Times such as this are what the reenactors call the magical moment, “When you forget the present day, and you’re back all those years ago,” they said.
It is a time when you can truly feel like you’re a part of times long past. If this has piqued your interest, and you want to support our boys and girls from Stillwater, the 2nd Colorado Volunteer Infantry is participating in the Battle of Round Mountain at Yale, Oklahoma on February 17, 2017. If you are interested in joining the 2nd Colorado, you can contact them through their website, SecondColorado.org.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab a lawn chair and enjoy, or draw your saber and join in the history.
2017 Battle of Round Mountain Reenactment
The Battle of Round Mountain was the first battle fought in Indian Territory during the Civil War. Approximately 1,400 Confederate soldiers under the command of Colonel Douglas H. Cooper pursue roughly 9,000 Unionist civilians led by Opothleyahola, an Upper Creek leader. These civilians were attempting to avoid an alliance with the Confederacy and ultimately chose to flee to the protection of Union forces in Kansas. Colonel Cooper set out on November 19, 1861 in an attempt to coerce Opothleyahola into submission.
The Battle of Round Mountain Re-enactment recreates a winter encampment of the Civil War era. The reenactment takes place over three days in February, with living history soldiers setting up opposing camps on Friday. Vendors, in period dress, set up tents and sell their wares. The battle takes place at 11am and 2pm on Saturday. Visitors are invited to witness as Confederate