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23rd annual “Forrest’s First” – Battle of Sacramento

Posted on Thursday, July 6, 2017 at 8:39 am

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I’ve had the honor of attending the Battle of Sacramento for the past 14 years. I have seen days of mud, rain, sleet, cold, blistering heat, and cloudy days. On one occasion, I was even stuck up to my axles in my old jeep. Yet, each year the event grows. What is their secret, one may ask? The secret is that it is not a reenactment, but rather a reunion. It is a sense of family. Where else will you be greeted, genuinely greeted, with a smile and a sense of being important? Where else will you be given limousines to ride? Where else will you find a town so proud of its history that each light pole has flags hanging from them, along with road signs indicating historical events that occurred within the confines of the city and county? Where else will you taste such fine food, be privy to a tea, and grand ball liken unto the old days? Where else I say: only in Sacramento.

This year was the apex of events. Over five hundred reenactors and living historians descended upon the sleepy villa to share their love of history, along with having a grand time. Friday’s education day was well orchestrated. Several stations were available for the spectators to visit. One display was of Civil War flags, Union and Confederate. Mr. Spencer and Linda Brewer walked the audience through each flag’s history. Sounding the Calls was very informative, as bugler SGT Henry demonstrated, and explained the importance of each call. Civil War camp music was delightful, informative, and was presented by Lex Conatser of Cobb’s Battery. The School of the Soldier was not only educational, but fun for the kids. Pvt. Dennis Hutchinson offered the children wooden guns, and worked with them regarding drill of the day. Diamonds’ 7th Calvary discussed, displayed the equipment, and tactics of the dismounted cavalry. General Lee, Joshua Chamberlain, and Abraham Lincoln talked of their lives, and shared personal insights with those in attendance. Lt Jeff Stokes provided a program entitled Hands on the Big Guns in which he introduced equipment, uniforms, and the accouterments of the artilleryman. Colonel Henry and Major Milburn introduced tactics, equipment, and the duties of the cavalry soldier in a program entitled, Eyes and Ears of the Armies.

One of the weekend tours revolved around a log home that had a historical plaque noting its conception in 1832. The cabin was owned by three generations of the Moore and Nall families. It a generous gesture, the historical building was donated to the Sacramento Committee by Russell ad Wilma Nall. He was a grandson of A. C. Moore. The house was taken apart log by log and moved from a surrounding hillside location to the property owned by the Sacramento Board. There it was painstakingly reassembled. The community began donating furniture, assisting with building porches, and adding a new roof. The result was that a very significant piece of American history was preserved for prosperity. The cabin was open all weekend. People were free to enter and talk to those who had a working knowledge of the cabin’s history. Also, another cabin is on the grounds that was used as a central office for registering guests (reenactors, spectators, and living historians). The spectators went away well pleased with the days’ activities.

Saturday saw a flurry of events from officers call, living history, to a grand calvary competition. One of the highlights of the weekend was the ladies’ tea. A solemn and moving tribute to Reece (Sacramento’s General Forrest persona) was offered by those in attendance, as an empty chair was placed on stage, items belonging to him brought up. and then gingerly laid on and around the chair. General Lee (D. Chaltas) offered a special salute to the chair, and family. His invocation was one of blessings and comfort. A lovely social event followed the memorial, with Sue Berry as the hostess.

Opening ceremonies began around one o’clock and the battle began with the tradition of the crowd crying out, “Ride Mollie Ride.” Miss Mollie (portrayed by Bethany Reckner) and her sister, Sarah (portrayed by Kimberly Reckner) began their ride into history. They separated in the field and Miss Mollie galloped towards Colonel Forrest, who was untried and untrained. But upon that day, he would see the elephant. Forrest had been a private and rose within the ranks due to uncanny ability to sense the movements of his adversaries. His opponent was an eighteen-year-old by the name of Major Eli H. Murray of the 3rd Kentucky. He had under his command approximately four hundred men and was out on a scouting mission. Instead of the Federals locating the Confederates, the Federal column was surprised by Forrest charge, which was a direct result of Miss Mollie’s ride. The Federals fled the field being chased by a man who would become legendary. The saga of General Nathan Bedford Forrest and Miss Mollie was born. The battle was picture perfect and a film crew documented the events with precision. After the battle, dinner on the grounds was conducted and then all went to prepare to go to the ball. Unreconstructed played and offered songs from their latest CD.

Sunday began with a moving memorial service to Mollie Moorhead at her gravesite in the Cumberland Presbyterian Cemetery. The Sunday worship service was led by Allen Greg and the invitational lesson was offered by Chaplain Chaltas. Unreconstructed played several inspirational songs and the congregation of over one hundred twenty left feeling uplifted in spirit.

Prior to the battle, the narrator of the battle interviewed several people and then once again the opening ceremonies were presented. The battle was intense, as people remembered that this was the very soil in which General Forrest fought his first fight. Nathan Bedford Forrest didn’t forget the young lady who warned him of Federal soldiers being in the area. He wrote in his after-action report the following: “A beautiful young lady, smiling, with untied tresses floating in the breeze, on horseback, met the column just before our advance guard came up with the rear of the enemy, infusing nerve into my arm and kindling knightly chivalry within my heart.”

For more information regarding the Battle of Sacramento 2018, contact: http://www.battleofsac.com/History.htm or Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/Battle-Of-Sacramento-131841696896574/?hc_ref=SEARCH.

-By David Chatlas