Here you will find a growing collection of Wes Mayhle's writings. Both of his parents are published writers so it was easy for Wes to agree to begin to write reports of the events he attended, to be published along with his photo's in various publications. Some he wrote as if he were back in the 1860's watching the cataclysmic war in first person. He used language and phrases common to the time and used the pen name "Azzit Mightabin" (as it might have been). Wes is contemplating writing a novel and if so chapters from it may appear here first. Enjoy!!

How this website happened PT. 1 of 4

In 2005 the itch to photograph was getting to me. I had used film camera’s as I grew up. My father had dabbled in photography. My mother was a constant shutterbug, documenting every family event. It was in my blood. But film just didn’t do much for me. I wanted instant results and I wanted to experiment with colors but a limited budget for film and processing was stifling. So I bought a digital camera in early 2005, a Sony Mavica CD-500. It used mini-CD’s for media recording. The cycle time was abysmal, 3-10 seconds to write each file but cd’s were cheap and re-usable.

I had become an avid Apple computer user at the turn of the century and used it to search for a subject I could photograph that was not already saturated on the internet. It appeared that every possible photograph subject had already been taken, I even found a photographer specializing in telephone poles!
One day while listening to my favorite radio station in Orlando, FL, 104.1 FM, I heard an ad for a Civil War reenactment not too far away, near a town called Mt. Dora, FL. It was to take place next to a flea market and antique center. I thought this would be a good place to test out my new toy. I love history, especially American history and I knew more than most about that time period. I went and was fascinated by the period clothing, the noise and smoke from the black-powder weapons used and especially the friendliness and courtesy of the reenactors. The reenactors all tried to be period correct in varying degree’s and it appeared that for many it was a family hobby. They would arrive Friday night or Saturday morning and stay in period tents, campers or hotels until Sunday evening. Small groups would form units of 5-30 reenactors, most of these were connected under larger umbrella groups.
Once I captured the battle and some camp pics I went home and began to research this incredible hobby. I found a few pictures, but just a few. I thought this might be my subject to focus on. Researching more I found out that Florida had about 20 of these events a year and every state had at least one per year. I found the website which gave me event schedules, and all the information I needed to dive into photographing the hobby.
Now ultimately I wanted to start my own website, get famous and wealthy from photography. Well here’s a spoiler ... never got famous, just well-known and the wealthy never happened but I did have a blast from 2005-2010 as I focused on capturing these events. Back to the story ... I already had a website started called which sounded like a really great name to me at the time ... not so much now. I dove into the deep end, going to every event I could in 2005, learning how to make myself inconspicuous at the events, insinuating myself into many parts of the event to capture it. I made many good friends and met many many reenactors, passing out my homemade business card to everyone. The Mt. Dora event was Jan. 29 and over the next 4 months I attended 10 of these events around Florida. I was having a blast. I discovered there was a couple national publications devoted to the hobby and began to submit my photo’s to them and a couple websites as well.
The Florida reenacting season had come to an end because the summer months are too hot for the period uniforms so I began to search for more events to capture. I went to a Anglo-Spanish war event in St. Augustine (June 4) and made a 832 mile trip to Georgetown, KY (June 18) to photograph ‘Morgan’s Raid’.
About this time I started to realize several things.
First, I was not going to get rich doing this, not even going to cover my costs of travel. I sold a few pics but did not take time to become a salesman. I saw other photographers charge good money but that did not have any joy in it for me.
Second, I realized the limitations of my slow consumer camera that only had 3x zoom and horrendous low-light performance. Not only would it take forever to be ready for the next shot but it would corrupt the entire cd if you rushed it, losing every shot you had taken.
Third, I needed to write reports or stories to accompany the pics I was sending to magazines or websites.
Fourth, my website name was abysmal and needed to reflect the Civil War in some way.

-end of part 1-

My fictitious 1860’s character Azzit Mightabin reports on the 2005 Tunnel Hill, GA reenactment battles.

Sat. Sept 10, 2005
When I finally saw the smoke and heard the sounds that large armies make I turned off the main road. Felt like I had traveled the entire length of Georgia searching for the action, something to report and record. I was not wrong this time. Breaking through the tree-line, I spotted a group of Confederate infantry across a wide and long field. The field is dominated the rather small homestead in place at its center.

Consisting of a small house, corncrib, and privy, the little farm looked rather lonesome and surely was apprehensive about the gathering of so many military. Skirting the field I passed a fort named "Keys" and I heard the sounds of a railroad to the north and understood the reason for the troops. They were either here to defend it or to destroy it. Since being known as a neutral observer I was able to casually stroll through the ranks of the Rebels when I heard my name being called. I was pleasantly surprised to see some old friends from Florida. After a few words and a promise to visit after their inspection time I moved on a bit. I then realized, by the large number of town folk assembled, this was no inspection. There were assuredly Union troops about the place and a fight was a-brew. I was thankfully pulled into the woods surrounding the large sloping field just minutes before shots rang out.

Some brave Confederates dashed out to the small house probably to save whoever might be inside. Quite a few boys eventually went out there because the buildings and small garden provided good cover. Cavalry from both sides took to the field to spy out what forces they were a-facing. Several Union cannon appeared in the northwest corner and between them and the Rebel cannon inside Fort Keys (in the southeast corner) they proceeded to plow the field without the use of livestock or plow. The Confederates sent out some more infantry to draw out the Union boys while the cavalry from both sides attempted to quell each others desire to see or spy. After a while it devolved into a stalemate, the small cabin still standing but the privy was now sporting a dangerous lean. Then a good number of Union soldiers came out from behind the cannon and slowly forced the Confederates to retire from the little shack and most of the field. There was a good number of Union troops (300-400) but I knew the Rebels had near about as many hiding in the woods. Sure enough when the Union showed all it had, the Confederate officers brought out the men from the tree-line along with a couple field pieces and 2 mountain howitzers. Slowly and with precision they pounded the boys in blue all back to where they came from and further ... out of my sight into the tree-line on the opposite end. The cost in lives was horrible and fallen soldiers lay all over the field.

Sun. September 11

I spent the night alone recording my thoughts and tending to my person. The next day it seemed both sides had been reinforced because the numbers were the same as before and still evenly split. (300-400 for each side). The Union must have studied their business harder overnight because they moved all their artillery closer where it could take more of a toll on the fort and not the outhouse. I stayed a little closer to the Rebel fort to record the artillerymens' efforts. The battle again started to unfold much the same as the day before with each side anxious to defend or attack the little dwelling in the field. But this time the Union artillery had more of an effect. Today they stayed together and seemed to have more discipline, concentrating the fire better. The Confederate boys were confident but were soundly beaten and before long the Federals had charged and fairly overrun Fort Keys. Once again my neutrality saved me and Union officers let me walk unharmed out of the battle area. I hurried to telegraph station as fast as I could to send out this report.
Azzit Mightabin

My fictitious 1860’s character Azzit Mightabin reports on the 2006 Brooksville Raid reenactment battles.

Sat. Jan. 21, 2006
As a newsman I am very fortunate to be based in Florida during the winter. I know that most of the continent is clutched in the icy grip of "Old Man Winter" but the milder climate here is a blessing for those in a wool uniform. As this infernal conflict rages on year after year it seems as if the Great State of Florida is providing more and more of the supplies that the Armies of the Confederacy need.

The North has also taken notice of this fact and has increased their raids inland by the Federal troops. Indiscriminately and severely they burn the countryside, destroying entire farms and mills. It seems that more often now, the Federals ranks are filled with deserters and former slaves who once called the very places they burn "home".

While resting over the New Year holiday I had learned of a planned Union raid near the west coast area around Bayport and Brooksville. Being a faithful chronicler of these unpleasant events I traveled toward the sound of the drums and fifes till I found myself about 10 miles west of Brooksville in between two large encampments. Both were filled with many god-fearing men and many who did not. Despite their fears, both camps seemed set on destroying the other. The Florida boys mainly consisted of the old and sickly "Home Guard" who bravely fought for hours delaying the Northern invaders till help could arrive from the garrison at Tampa. Near nightfall, after hours of a fighting retreat the locals were reinforced and the Federals stopped the attacks for the night. Later that night I heard many of the Confederate soldiers and marines who had forced marched for hours complaining, but they had without doubt saved the Home Guard from destruction.

Sundays daylight broke late and gray for a steady wind had arrived pushing clouds overhead. As the ominous clouds soared swiftly, now the much larger forces of Confederates beat the Union raiders out of their hastily prepared defenses while the Rebel Artillery pounded them in the open as they retreated back to their boats that brought them from the forts on the coast. Unfortunately the Union had done what they had set out to do; destroying the local crops and supplies that had been destined to flow north sustaining the Rebel armies.
Azzit Mightabin