(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Some mid-1800s action will come to Sikeston this weekend during the Battle of Sand Ridge Re-enactment.
For the fourth year, the 10th Tennessee Cavalry, led by Rick Justice, will camp out, perform a raid, and then show the public what that battle -- one of the first ones that took place near Sikeston during the Civil War -- was really like.
Justice said the annual event attracts a large crowd. "Just out of curiosity -- and to learn a little bit about history," he said.
Two re-enactments are scheduled, with one on Saturday and another on Sunday. They usually last around 45 minutes, but Wyatt Balcer, a group participant, said that's not the only way to learn about the history.
"If you just come out and watch the battle, you might not get it," he said. "You can't take it all in just from watching it."
So, there will be some booths set up with engineers and doctors so people can "learn about the building and medical care at the time," said Justice, who calls them "living history." There may also be a station set up to educate people on the cooking practices during Civil War days, he said.
But one of the best resources are the students who are part of Justice's group and participating in the re-enactments. And to get the full experience, they'll all camp out at the battle site on Friday and Saturday.
"All modern stuff has to be hidden," said Justice. "And they enjoy getting out there and camping like that."
Justice said the lack of "modernity" doesn't really bother the kids, especially since they are spending time with and camping out with their friends.
Balcer agreed. "We just get to chill out by the campfire," he said. "It's really nice and really peaceful."
Those who come out to the battle site are welcome to walk through the campground. And that's when more learning can take place, and the students can answer any questions.
"They research it and study," said Justice.
And Balcer said that being a younger group, he and his peers work harder to overcome stereotypes.
"We have to work harder and know our stuff more than a lot of adults," he said.
Some of the best things he's learned since he joined the group -- mostly out of curiosity -- are listening skills and discipline.
"You practice, practice everything," he said. Those in the group learned the difference between military and civilian procedure and different types of etiquette. They also learn about the specific battles, and go through drills about every other month.
But most of all, they learn about history in a fun, hands-on way -- and because they want to.
"You don't really think there's a whole lot to it, but then you start realizing how much they had to do and how they lived," Balcer said of soldiers during Civil War time.
Justice agreed. "It's a higher level of learning," he said. "Instead of just reading about it or seeing it in a movie, this puts you up close to it."
If you go
The Battle of Sand Ridge reenactment will be this Saturday and Sunday.
There will be a raid on the Sikeston Depot at 11 a.m. Saturday, followed by a re-enactment at 3 p.m. Saturday and another at 1 p.m. Sunday.
The re-enactment will be on the Matthews Farm just south of Sikeston (follow signs, south of Duckett's off Interstate 57).
All events are open to the public and free of charge.