published Saturday, March 26th, 2011

Blast from the past


by Andy Johns
Todd Kiscaden, far left, and John Westerfield, center, show students flags that were used during the Civil War. Students from Caldwell Elementary in Scottsboro, Ala., attended the first day of Civil War demonstrations and reenactments in Bridgeport, Ala., on Friday morning.
Staff Photo by Jake Daniels/Chattanooga Times Free Press
Todd Kiscaden, far left, and John Westerfield, center, show students flags that were used during the Civil War. Students from Caldwell Elementary in Scottsboro, Ala., attended the first day of Civil War demonstrations and reenactments in Bridgeport, Ala., on Friday morning. Staff Photo by Jake Daniels/Chattanooga Times Free Press

IF YOU GO

• What: Siege at Bridgeport

• When: Today-Sunday, battle at 3 p.m. EDT

• Where: County Road 255, Bridgeport, Ala.

• How much: $5 for adults, $3 for seniors, $2 for children

BRIDGEPORT, Ala.—With every command the artillery men barked to each other, dozens of little hands flew up to cover dozens of little ears.

As soon as the final command was given and the cannon’s boom reverberated around the ridges, an echoing blast of “oohs” and “aahs” sprang from fourth-graders getting a view of history in action Friday at the Siege of Bridgeport re-enactment.

“Holy cow!” said student Hatton Metz, of Scottsboro, Ala., dropping hands from his ears.

Organizers expect 1,200 actors at the re-enactment today and Sunday.

Re-enactors in full blue or gray garb ran through lessons on flags, uniforms, gear and strategies used by both sides in the War Between the States, but all the students wanted to talk about was the tooth-rattling power of the cannon.

“I’m glad he told us to cover our ears,” said 10-year-old Emily Garner, a student at Caldwell Elementary School in Scottsboro, Ala.

Aside from the cannon, Emily said the presentation on the various Union and Confederate flags was one of the more interesting parts.

Re-enactors John Westerfield, playing a Confederate artilleryman, and Todd Kiscaden, acting as his blue-clad counterpart, argued some of the causes of secession as they discussed the Union’s Stars and Bars and the Confederate’s battle flag and Bonnie Blue Flag.

“Sir, we had the right to do what we did,” said Westerfield, in character.

“They were confused,” Kiscaden explained to the students, provoking a protest from his adversary.

In the end, Kiscaden threatened to arrest and send to prison camp any student who spoke ill of President Abraham Lincoln.

“Is that clear?” he shouted.

“Yessir!” the students shouted back.

As the drama unfolded before them, students said the displays brought their textbooks to life.

“In the schoolbook it sounded exciting,” said 9-year-old Aaliyah Scott. “It’s more than exciting. I wish everyone could come and see it.”

Ray Walden, a fellow student at Caldwell, agreed.

“When you see it in a book, it’s just telling you,” he said. “To see it is way better than just reading it.”

about Andy Johns...

Andy began working at the Times Free Press in July 2008 as a general assignment reporter before focusing on Northwest Georgia and Georgia politics in May of 2009. Before coming to the Times Free Press, Andy worked for the Anniston Star, the Rome News Tribune and the Campus Carrier at Berry College, where he graduated with a communications degree in 2006. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Tennessee ...

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