Civil War reenactment canceled at Revolutionary War site

Annual Civil War reenactment canceled
Updated: Sep. 19, 2017 at 7:38 PM EDT
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MCCONNELS, S.C. (WBTV/AP) - A Civil War reenactment has been canceled at a Revolutionary War site in South Carolina because of security concerns.

The Culture and Heritage Commission said in a news release Monday it has canceled its annual Civil War reenactment at Historic Brattonsville in York County scheduled Oct. 28 and 29.

The commission said the educational benefits of the reenactment are outweighed by the potential danger and risk to public safety of hosting the event in the current political climate. However, the executive director of the Culture and Heritage Museum of York County said there were no credible threats made about the scheduled Civil War reenactment.

"We continue to believe that military reenactments are an effective tool for teaching history to the public; however, in light of the fact that there were no Civil War battles at Historic Brattonsville, the historical and educational benefits are outweighed by the potential danger and risk to public safety of hosting the event in the current political climate," the group said in a statement.

Executive Director Carey Tilley said they considered adding security to the grounds during the reenactment, but had no way of knowing how many people or what kind of resources they would need to protect visitors and reenactors. They also did not know if they had the funds to pay for security.

"There are people out there that are looking for targets, whether it's a good or bad thing, the Civil War has become a catalyst for people that are promoting a political agenda," Tilley said.

The Museum has partnered with the 6th Regiment South Carolina Volunteer Infantry to put on the reenactment for about 30 years. The 6th regiment says they do not agree with the museum's decision but have no choice but to comply.

"We have never been a political organization," The regiment's Chaplain Mike Short said. "To say that we are as the 6th regiment and the  reenactment community are incredibly disappointed that this event has been canceled for this year would be a serious understatement."

The regiment and the museum leaders both agree that the point of the reenactment is not to make a political statement, but to share a part of history.

"So that we could portray to the public what it might have been like to be a part of that period of history," Short said.

Museum leaders say they still see a benefit to the reenactments for education, but they want to expand the event in the future to include all points of view, not just the point of view from the Confederate Soldiers.

"We want to explore a more complete story so that hopefully there can be some unity between the black and white communities that were telling a story that they all want to be told," Tilley said.

The Historic Brattonsville grounds was not the site of a Civil War battle, however, three of the Bratton boys did fight in the Civil War. The battle that was scheduled to be reenacted at the end of the month was known as the Black Burns Ford, in which the Bratton boys had fought in.

However, Tilley says they're mission is to share the history of the Brattonsville Community. He says to do that they need to tell more of the story. For example, he says we need to share the story of the slaves on the Brattonsville Plantation during that time period.

To share that part of the story, he says they need to reach out to the African American community.

"Hopefully there can be some unity between the black and white communities, that we're telling a story that they all want to tell," Tilley said.

Meanwhile, members of the 6th regiment are still trying to keep their part of history alive. Their Chaplain says the removal of monuments and the Confederate flag is not helping that effort.

"I think that the monuments coming down is probably one of the most incredibly destructive things that could possibly happen or the teaching of history," Short said. "You don't have to like history, you don't have to agree with history, you don't even have to understand history, but the fact that it happened."

"I don't see that, that gives you the right or the authority to go in and start removing things that have been there for 100 or 150 years."

In the battle that was to be reenacted at the Brattonsville site this year, Short says the Confederate flag would not have been flown, but only because it had not been created yet in that period of time.

In years past, there have been anywhere from 1,000 to 1,400 visitors at the reenactments. It usually involves about 350 reenactors, including soldiers and civilians.

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