Saturday, June 23, 2018
Events

Brooksville Raid general's mission: a good show for re-enactors, spectators

SPRING HILL — In describing his role as battlefield general for the annual Brooksville Raid re-enactment, Mike Hardy likes to think of himself as something akin to epic filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille, whose legendary movies were famous for their "casts of thousands."

For the past dozen years or so, Hardy has been the man responsible for keeping a couple thousand Civil War re-enactors happy and in the limelight as they meet on the battlefield. He also has to keep them safe.

Indeed, moving 1,500 soldiers in and out of the battle theater requires precise coordination. During the action, Hardy uses horse couriers to relay commands and control the action of artillery and foot soldiers.

In the re-enactment game since the 1980s, Hardy started out as an infantry soldier carrying a muzzle-loaded rifle. But his interest in Civil War history opened another door about 15 years ago. Many of the battles he has directed for the Brooksville Raid and other notable re-enactments replicate the troop and artillery movements much as they played out in 1864.

Though his main challenge is putting on a good show for the crowd, Hardy also wants to provide a worthwhile experience for the volunteer troops, many of whom travel great distances to take part. And he has discovered that people aren't thrilled to be left out of the action.

"If I don't move them fast enough or if I let the artillery take too long, I know I'm going to hear about it," Hardy said.

Sometimes, he has to take into account personality clashes and the fact that some brigades prefer not to fight alongside each other.

One good thing about the Brooksville Raid location is that it's held on flat, open ground, which offers ample space to spread people out, giving spectators a panoramic view of the action.

Hardy has several battlefield scenarios he can use, depending on the number of re-enactors who show up, but generally tries to complete a skirmish in about 90 minutes.

"It can get tricky sometimes because some of these guys will take all day to fight if you let them," he said. "The public, on the other hand, wants a fast-paced show with lots of action and noise. Somehow I have to find a balance between the two."

For this year's 34th Brooksville Raid re-enactment, which kicks off Saturday at Sand Hill Scout Reservation on State Road 50, Hardy plans to start things off with a commemorative re-creation of the original skirmish that occurred 150 years ago between a small unit of Union soldiers and a handful of Confederate locals. It began when blue-coated soldiers rushed the shores of Hernando County near Bayport to destroy enemy supply lines near the sleepy hamlet that would later become known as Brooksville.

The original battle from July 1864, of course, was nothing like the massive re-enactment that commemorates the event every year. There were no batteries of cannons firing barrages across an open field, no regiments of soldiers charging shoulder to shoulder into combat. In fact, it was all pretty boring from a re-enactor's standpoint, Hardy said.

"I doubt you could draw many people to come and watch a bunch of soldiers running through the woods," he said. "What we do these days is put on a show. That's what the people come to see."

Logan Neill can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.

Comments
See Datz pastry chef Alicia Wolding on Netflix’s Sugar Rush

See Datz pastry chef Alicia Wolding on Netflix’s Sugar Rush

When Alicia Wolding joined Datz as the new executive pastry chef last year her hair was rainbow — pretty much the whole ROY G BIV spectrum in cascading tresses. More recently, it’s bright purple, somewhere between iris and lilac. This is the color yo...
Published: 06/22/18
St. Petersburg couple drive a minivan, volunteer at church and were CIA spies

St. Petersburg couple drive a minivan, volunteer at church and were CIA spies

What's it like to start a family when you're working for the CIA? Jihi and Andrew Bustamante know.
Published: 06/22/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 23

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 23

St. Pete Pride Block Party and Night Parade: St. Pete Pride’s popular parade has moved to downtown St. Petersburg’s scenic waterfront. The block party brings DJs, food and drinks starting at 2 p.m. The parade steps off at Fifth Ave NE and Bayshore at...
Published: 06/22/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 24

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 24

Summer Classic Movie Series: See 1962’s To Kill a Mockingbird. 3 p.m., Tampa Theatre, 711 Franklin St., Tampa. $10, $7 members. (813) 274-8982; tampatheatre.org.St. Pete Pride Festival: The daytime festival covers Central Avenue’s Grand Central Distr...
Published: 06/22/18
Review: Look inside the tent of a Gibsonton-based sideshow in Tessa Fontaine’s memoir ‘The Electric Woman’

Review: Look inside the tent of a Gibsonton-based sideshow in Tessa Fontaine’s memoir ‘The Electric Woman’

Grief can unhinge us, disconnect us from our daily lives, make us do things we’ve never done. Grief made Tessa Fontaine run away and join the circus.To be more exact, the sideshow: World of Wonders, the last traditional traveling sideshow in the coun...
Published: 06/21/18
Luke Bryan talks love, acceptance and his growing depth before Tampa stop

Luke Bryan talks love, acceptance and his growing depth before Tampa stop

It’s been awhile since Luke Bryan crashed our party. The country music superstar who has racked up awards hasn’t blessed us ’round these parts in awhile. Bryan last played Tampa back in 2015. "We played many multiple nights at the (MidFlorida Credit ...
Published: 06/21/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 22

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 22

Daryl Hall and John Oates with Train : The legendary number-one selling duo and Train perform full sets and a joint set. Kandace Springs opens. 7 p.m., Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $45.75-$125. (813) 301-2500; amaliearena.com.St. Pete ...
Published: 06/21/18
Three movies are in the works about Hulk Hogan and Gawker. Will they remember who’s the victim?

Three movies are in the works about Hulk Hogan and Gawker. Will they remember who’s the victim?

Sonny BunchAccording to Vulture, there are three separate movies in the works about the downfall of the New York-based gossip blog Gawker.One is based on the book Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue; it will be a...
Published: 06/21/18
Bar review: St. Pete’s Garage is a dive with Pride

Bar review: St. Pete’s Garage is a dive with Pride

Last year’s St. Pete Pride went smoothly, despite some behind-the-scenes drama involving the decision to relocate the parade to the downtown waterfront, rather than the Grand Central District, where it had traditionally been held. After all, the Gran...
Published: 06/21/18
Local craft beer of the week: Beach Slap Pińa Colada Wheat Ale from Mad Beach Craft Brewing Company

Local craft beer of the week: Beach Slap Pińa Colada Wheat Ale from Mad Beach Craft Brewing Company

"Hooray, it’s summer!" exclaimed no Floridians. But if it’s summer proper and not just the usual year-round weather, you might as well embrace the heat and humidity with a trip to the beach, accompanied by some suitably refreshing beers. While you’r...
Published: 06/21/18