The third annual Battle of Blackjack Grove and Civil War Weekend is just a couple of weeks away in Groveton, Friday through Sunday, Feb. 21-23. It’s your chance to see history come to life in the Confederate and Union army camps, with a reenactment of a battle that never happened. Whoa! What’s that you say? A battle that never happened? OK, a little explanation is in order. It’s true. There was no Civil War battle fought anywhere near Groveton or Trinity County, but they’re going to have one anyway.
Trinity County Chamber of Commerce President Jack McMahon says “Groveton didn’t even exist during the Civil War, so we needed a name for our battle. It made sense to name it after a “grove” of Blackjack oaks just outside of town. That’s where Groveton got its name.” So, since there was no actual battle, they’ll make one up as they go along. The Federal and Rebel re-enactors even take turns winning. Great fun.
Why do they do this? Five years ago, the Trinity County Chamber of Commerce joined the City of Groveton and the Groveton Independent School District to create a Civil War Weekend, as a way to educate the public, especially young people, on the realities of war as it was fought in the 19th century. Reenactors were invited to set up camps and host school children on Friday, and the general public on Saturday and Sunday, to bring that history back to life. Friday is dedicated to school kids and those from surrounding counties are invited. Students will especially enjoy participating in the play-like skirmish at the courthouse. McMahon says it will be a fun educational experience they’ll never forget.
The reenactment battle has grown since it started 5 years ago. That means Groveton’s peace and quiet will be blown to smithereens with the roar of cannons and muskets, mounted cavalry charges and opposing infantries fighting it out in realistic make-believe combat. Along with the reenactments, they’re planning a weekend of living history activities to show what life was like in the army camps. All day Friday, and after the parade on Saturday morning, visitors can stroll through the camps and meet reenactors in period uniforms with 19th century firearms of all kinds.
Here’s a small sample of what’s in store. Historically accurate battle reenactments on Saturday and Sunday, with no bloodshed of course, Civil War period army camps, reenactors in period uniforms, mounted cavalry and artillery units, firearms of all sorts used in the Civil War, including cannons which are very very loud, so noise-canceling ear phones or ear plugs are highly recommended. McMahon says they want the Civil War Weekend to be as educational and painless as an event of this kind can be.
The Chamber sponsors also want to remember and honor the three companies of Trinity County men who marched off to fight that war. Jack McMahon says whatever you think about the war and the Confederacy, “Many of us are descendants of those men, so it’s important for kids to remember them, and appreciate the past so they won’t make the same mistakes.” It is written that “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”
The big social event of the weekend will be held Saturday night. The Valentine Ball, a 19th century dance will be held in the Old Gym at Groveton Elementary School, and the public is invited. Think of it as an “ante-bellum sock hop.”
For those concerned about missing church to come to Groveton on Sunday the 23rd, Chamber President McMahon will put on his Methodist minister’s hat to become the for real Rev. Jack McMahon, and conduct a church service in the camp and you’re all invited.
Tickets cost five dollars a day for adults, one dollar a day for students. For information on lodging and a schedule of events, contact the Trinity County Chamber of Commerce at 1-936-642-1715.
You can also go to the chamber website at trinitycountychamber.org.
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