SPRING HILL — History calls it a "skirmish" that included 240 Union soldiers who pillaged through Hernando County in July 1864, destroying farmland and homes. An advanced guard of 10 men overcame the Confederates, capturing seven "home guard" men and nine horses. A brief fight led to the slight wounding of a Union guardsman, one of the few injuries recorded in the otherwise bloodless raid.
But when the Blue and the Gray converge on the Sand Hill Scout Reservation this weekend at the 38th annual Brooksville Raid Reenactment, the number of soldiers and the ensuing casualties will be far greater.
Presented by the Hernando Historical Museum Association and North Pinellas County Scout Sertoma Club, the Brooksville Raid Reenactment is the largest Civil War reenactment in Florida. It draws more than 1,000 Civil War reenactors, including soldiers on horses, and 15 to 30 cannons. About 50 sutlers will sell a variety of homemade treats — think kettle corn, root beer, ice cream and fry bread, — plus replica weaponry, cooking utensils, children’s toys, uniforms and other items from the era.
Visitors can tour authentic-looking camps that show how soldiers of the day lived. There will be artillery demonstrations, music by 7 lbs. of Bacon Mess Band and battle reenactments at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. A formal ladies tea (period dress required) will be Saturday and the Grand Review will be Sunday.
This year’s event includes a 1860s baseball game on the battlefield, starting at 11 a.m. Saturday. It will include players from the Dunedin Railers, which is associated with the Vintage Baseball Association.
Also returning will be a civilian town set within the battlefield, which will be accessible to visitors each morning before noon.
"It is unbelievable," said Joan Casey, event co-chair. "This house was brought in (last year) that even has a second floor, and it is all done in Civil War era."
Several civilian reenactment groups who will participate this year, Casey said, they may set up a second civilian town outside the battle area.
"We also have reenactors who just walk around in period dress," she said.
While the battle reenactment may not be true to history, Casey said the event offers a true glimpse into 19th century American life. On Jan. 19, more than 2,000 schoolchildren from throughout Florida participate in a Brooksville Raid school day.
"It is just something to see," Casey said. "These kids walk from station to station and learn so much about the history."
Stations feature the history of cannons and how to fire them, horses and how they were used in war, musical instruments of the day, and even a medical scenario of how to remove a limb (from war injuries).
"This is a place to be if you’re a history buff," Casey said. "We provide a lot to do and see in between the battles. ... Everything in the camping area is 100 percent authentic. If they have anything modern, they better hide it."