SPRING HILL — It was nearly 152 years ago when 240 Union soldiers raided Hernando County in July 1864, pillaging and destroying farmland and homes.
While the Civil War invasion caused great devastation, the "battle" itself was minor. Described as more of a skirmish, Union soldiers outnumbered the Confederate "home guard" 3 to 1.
The numbers will be much greater when the 36th annual Brooksville Raid Re-enactment takes place this weekend as more than 1,500 re-enactors and their families converge on the Sand Hill Scout Reservation.
The re-enactment, presented by the Hernando Historical Museum Association and the North Pinellas County Scout Sertoma Club, will include hundreds of Confederate and Union soldiers battling with 28 cannons and 60 horses.
"The true skirmish was nothing like the re-enactment," admits event chairman Ron Daniel. "In fact, there were very few casualties, if any."
The ultimate outcome will also vary this weekend.
"One day the Union soldiers will win; the next it will be the Confederates," said Joan Casey, who co-chairs the event with Daniel.
Often, the Confederate soldiers far outnumber the Union, and re-enactors switch sides to even it out.
"It's all about putting on a good show," Daniel said.
Daniel, a fifth-generation Hernando County resident, has been involved with the Brooksville Raid Re-enactment nearly since its inception. For many years, he also participated as a re-enactor, stepping in as a Union soldier when needed.
The Brooksville Raid is the largest Civil War re-enactment in Florida and draws re-enactors from throughout the state and the southeastern United States, as well as some from Northern states who spend the winter months in Florida.
Daniel said it didn't start out that way. "The first raid re-enactment was held on the museum lawn," he said. "It was really small."
The event's popularity grew from the outset, and the second event was moved from the Hernando Heritage Museum lawn to a large ranch north of Brooksville owned by former county Commissioner Murray Grubbs.
"But it just kept growing and outgrew (Grubbs') property, as well," Daniel said.
As president of the Hernando Historical Museum Association, Daniel helped strike the deal with the Sand Hill Scout Reservation, where the festival has been held since 1991. Today, the two nonprofit organizations work to put together the event and split the proceeds.
The event is expected to draw as many as 9,000 spectators over the weekend.
"People just love it," Daniel said. "They get to see it firsthand, go station to station and see the weaponry, talk to the officers and visit the authentic camps. … And everyone is impressed with how well it's done."
Visitors can shop at the sutler village, which will include more than 40 vendors.
The sutlers will sell a variety of homemade treats, such as kettle corn, root beer, ice cream and fry bread. Shoppers can also find a variety of replica weaponry, uniforms, cooking utensils, tinware, children's toys and other items of the era.
The Boy Scouts will be selling lunch items. Chair rentals will be available.
Casey said the traveling Florida Confederate Memorial Wall will be on-site, courtesy of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans.
"People come back year after year," she said. "I think most just love the history and how people lived in that period."