Civil War reenactors converge on Hornbeak
By: By JOHN BRANNON Messenger Staff Reporter
Only four of its 10 members attended an encampment and living history demonstration Saturday at Hornbeak, but the 15th Tennessee Infantry Company let the show go on.
Civil War reenactor Billy Howell (left) briefs Joe Burton of Hornbeak at the encampment site set up by the 15th Tennessee Infantry Company on a grassy knoll in Hornbeak Saturday.
“We will be here all day and a couple of our men might spend the night,” said Capt. Eric Allison of Tiptonville, who commands the unit of Confederate reenactors.
Arriving on a grassy knoll in downtown Hornbeak about 9 a.m., Allison and others quickly erected tents and started a campfire. “We usually have all our tents set up within an hour. There are sutlers all over the country who sell tent replicas and gear and weapons,” he said.
Their campsite was given a touch of realism by the presence of their mascot. A bantam rooster with the unlikely name of “J.D.” (short for “Jefferson Davis”) — perched majestically on a cage.
“He goes everywhere we do. Wakes us up every morning with his crowing. Some mornings, way too early,” Allison said.
Allison escorted 8-year-old Wyatt Henson of Elbridge through the site, explaining the history of tents and how scarce they were during the war. Wyatt was there with his grandfather, Ronnie Moore.
A former park ranger who served at Reelfoot Lake State Park and Lake Catherine State Park in Arkansas, Allison said he became interested in the American Civil War when he was a young boy. He read books about it and heard stories about his great-great-grandfather, Robert Allison, who served with the 24th Tennessee Infantry during the war.
“I read a book, ‘Gray Riders,’ about Jeb Stewart and his men. I’ve been hooked every since,” he said. “When I was 14, my father took me to Shiloh for the 125th anniversary reenactment. There were about 10,000 reenactors there.”
He said he and his brother, Jason, formed a new company of Civil War reenactors a year ago and named it the 15th Tennessee Infantry. “Our nickname is ‘The Madrid Bend Guards,’” he said. “We have 10 men in it, and that’s not bad for no longer than we’ve been formed.”
The unit will participate in a reenactment Feb. 15-17 at Reelfoot Lake.
Anyone interested in the unit may call Allison at (731) 253-3735.
Published in The Messenger on 11.20.07
15th Tennessee Infantry Company, Confederate reenactors, Hornbeak