BLAKELEY – The Battle of Blakeley being re-enacted Saturday played a major role in local, state and national history, Historic Blakeley State Park Director Mike Bunn said.
The conflict, which concluded on April 9, 1865, after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee had surrendered in Virginia, has been called the last major battle of the Civil War. It was also the largest land battle in Alabama and one in which one of the largest numbers of Black troops took part, Bunn said.
Bunn said the 2020 re-enactment was limited to camp life and artillery demonstrations, but this year’s event will include the re-enactment of the full-scale Union charge. The park has also scheduled “Civil War on the Eastern Shore” cruises. He said interest in all the events is high.
“With the re-enactors, we think we're going to have over 300,” Bunn said. “We know we're going to have a good turnout on their end, and I anticipate a really good public turnout because the early registration. We've already sold out two boat trips and have quite a bit of registrations already online, so I think we're going to have a pretty good crowd if the weather's right.”
The park has restored part of the battlefield to the appearance that it had in 1865. Bunn said the re-enactment gives viewers a good chance to see a Civil War battlefield as it looks when the conflict took place.
“You don't get an opportunity to see and hear what this largest charge that occurred in Alabama sounded like and looked like very often,” Bunn said. “It's a unique event and we've got guys coming in from all across the country who are dedicated to doing it authentically, who know their stuff and every bit of what they have is going to be proper. It's a fun thing to do and it's really kind of a spectacle to appreciate what happened here. I think you'll learn a lot and it's something you don't get to see very often.”
The weekend will also include a lecture over Zoom by nationally-known scholar John David Smith. Smith will discuss the contributions of African-American soldiers in the Civil War, including the approximately 5,000 which fought on the battlefield at Blakeley.
“He's written some books about African American troops in the Civil War and we got him through a grant with the Alabama Humanities Foundation to talk about that subject in general and, obviously, some specifics about what happened at Blakeley,” Bunn said. “This is one of the largest concentrations of African American soldiers on any Civil War battlefield.”
The Good Guys mobile food unit will be on hand throughout the day with burgers, sandwiches, and wraps. Souvenirs and the recently-published book chronicling the battle, “The Assault on Fort Blakeley,” will be available throughout the day at the Wehle Center.
The park is located on Alabama 225 north of Spanish Fort.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids ages 6-12. Children younger than 6 are admitted free. Online registration is requested. Anyone who registers online can show their emailed confirmation to the attendant upon arrival. Anyone wanting a full schedule of activities or to register for tickets can visit www.blakeleypark.com/Events.