The rain stopped around noon and the gloomy clouds began to slowly retreat to the east. Just enough time for the ground to dry a little before the battle. Despite a cold and wet Friday night, the reenactors were in high spirits and fine form on Feb. 4th, 2006 for the annual Battle of Townsends Plantation. Close to 400 reenactors came from units like the: 14th Brooklyn "Chasseurs", 75th Ohio, 17th Connecticut and the 47th New York to fight in this mock battle in central Florida. Hardy's Brigade and the Alabama Volunteers provided the Rebel opposition and some "galvanized" troops to even the odds. At 3pm, with the sun poking out and a breeze drying the ground, the Confederates chased the Union skirmishers away and took the field. Soon both sides had invested the disputed ground and gun-smoke poured from their guns obscuring the spectators view of the ripening orange trees in the background. The Confederate left was sparsely defended but held its' ground while the larger main Rebel force on the right was slowly pounded into submission, and eventually into oblivion, by the disciplined Union infantry. After the battles conclusion and the "Final Salute" formation, the reenactors who had "galvanized" were lustily cheered by the Union boys and allowed to retire first.
In the evening, as the mercury swiftly fell, the spectators drifted away unaware of an important event about to occur. After many years of wedded bliss, Hardy's Brigade Command Sergeant Major Phil Matthews and his wife renewed their marriage vows. Witnessed by many in the Confederate camp, the ceremony was conducted by Gen. Mike Hardy.
The night-time period Ball was well attended by the reenactors with music provided by the entertaining 97th Regimental String Band. Handsome men of all ages twirled the ladies in their brightly colored Ball dresses around in a flurry, even warming the bystanders.
Sunday dawned chilly but with clear skies inviting the reenactors out of their tents and down to sutler row and the flea market located next door. Battlefield Ministries held Chapel in the field and campfires yielded wonderful smells of outdoor cooking. Many more spectators than yesterday arrived and were treated to the sights, sounds, and smells of a reenactment.
With the spectator line filled, just before 2pm a cannon boomed signaling the battles start. Confederate cavalry dashed across the field attacking the Union encampment. About 35 cavalry from the 2nd Florida, 5th Alabama, 10th Tennessee and the Alabama Volunteers reenacted in both Union and Rebel uniforms. After pushing the marauding cavalry from their camp the Union set up quick defensive lines. These were quickly abandoned when they went on the attack, infantry to the left and cavalry to the right. Apparently it was not a good plan because it failed and soon the Union was back to defense. With a strong artillery presence (4 guns to 2) the Union grudgingly gave little ground. Then Confederates appeared from nowhere having encircled the Union encampment and attacked the Union rear. This broke the Federal spirits and ruined their day along with their defenses. The Union, with many boys down and in danger of annihilation were forced to surrender. After the "Final Salute" was fired in front of the crowd, all who had been captured were apparently "paroled" to fight another day.
Clay Townsend esq., year after year organizes and presents this top-notch event. In addition to sutler row and the next door flea market, there is an antique center within walking distance so shopping opportunities abound at this event.
Click on the photo to see 50 photos of the Saturday battle reenactment
Click on the photo to see 30 photos of the camps, a wedding, evening dance and event handouts.