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confederate soldier by joe dube

Have a Blast at the 40th Annual Brooksville Raid

By Diane Bedard Posted on December 16, 2019

The Hernando Historical Museum Association, Inc. and North Pinellas County Scout Sertoma Club, Inc. are presenting the 40th Annual Brooksville Raid Re-enactment, Jan. 18-19, 2020 at the Sand Hill Scout Reservation, 11210 Cortez Boulevard in Brooksville. (Feature image courtesy of Joe Dube.)

This unique event is eye-opening and educational, as well as fun and entertaining.

In, 2019, the Brooksville Raid was chosen as a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society! It is promoted as a living history experience, which it is.

What is the Brooksville Raid all about?

During the nineteenth century, Hernando County encompassed the entirety of Pasco, Hernando and Citrus Counties. The Nature Coast consisted of thick forests interspersed with plantations and homesteads.

Brooksville was the government center north of Tampa and Florida was the third state to join the Confederacy.  As such, this area supplied shoes, cotton, uniforms, and beef to the Confederate army during the Civil War. Today there is a statue of a Confederate soldier in front of the Hernando County courthouse, offering a taste of the deep roots this area has to the United Confederate States.

A statue paying tribute to Confederate soldiers is located on the Hernando County Courthouse property in downtown Brooksville. Image by Diane Bedard.

The Union, or Federal Army, fought with the Confederate Army in what was then Hernando County (approximately 20 miles south of Brooksville) in a battle that is barely mentioned in the annals of history but directly affected local residents.

Many such battles occurred throughout the southern states during ‘The War between Brothers’.

Modern-day wars involve airplanes and tanks, grenades, drones, and nuclear submarines.

In the 1860s, however, wars were fought on foot, on horse, or ship.

Because of the slow pace at which the Civil War battles were fought, supplies of food, clean clothes, and drinking water would directly affect who won.

The annual Brooksville Raid Re-enactment features 20 cannons, 20 horses, and over 30 sutlers.

With a thousand re-enactors at the Brooksville Raid, the battles are epic. Image courtesy of the Brooksville Raid.

In early July 1864, the Union Army and Navy moved about 250 men up from the Caloosahatchee River in southwest Florida using ships that were captured from the Confederacy. Their goal was originally Brooksville but changed to Bayport harbor because it was a popular port for moving cotton, beef, sugar, and other troop supplies.

The Union ship put in near the mouth of the Anclote River, near present-day Tarpon Springs, and soldiers were transported up the river to set foot on its north side.

In the twenty miles or so of terrain that the Army would need to cover, food, clothing, and supplies were obtained by confiscating a homestead or plantation, eating everything they found, killing the livestock and destroying the buildings and possessions through burning.

It was a brutal practice that left local settlers homeless and without resources.

Cavalry units are part of the Brooksville Raid Reenactment. Image courtesy of the Brooksville Raid.

Men who were found in their homes would be killed or captured as prisoners. Women and children might escape beatings and rape if they surrendered their supplies to the soldiers freely. They might not.

The pillaging of property was common for both sides during the war. Some of the local families that were directly affected include the Lesleys, Hopes, Ellis’, McCulloughs and the Hookers.

The 1864 Brooksville Bayport Raid is well-documented in the book, “A Heinous Sin” The 1864 Brooksville Bayport Raid by Michael C. Hardy and Robert M. Hardy, published 2009 by Lulu.com.

The Civil War Battles are Recreated by Volunteers

Visitors are welcome to tour the Confederate and Union camps. Image courtesy of the Brooksville Raid.

This book does its best to reconstruct the many parts that went into what is now the basis of the largest Civil War Re-enactment in Florida, with over 1,000 re-enactors and their families participating.

Visitors are invited on the third weekend of January each year to experience life during the 1860s and to witness the way battles were fought in the Civil War.

For a nominal fee ($10 adults, $5 youth age 6-10, free for 5 and under, and $3 for Scouts in uniform) you can step back into time and see for yourself how war was fought and the many support personnel who worked to supply the soldiers, and their war efforts.

The public is invited to tour authentic Confederate and Union camps to see how our predecessors lived. Thousands of re-enactors are on-site, authentically portraying life during Civil War times.

What is a Sutler?

Sutler’s Row at the Brooksville Raid gives visitors the opportunity to taste Sasparilla and shop for Civil War items of all types. Image by Diane Bedard.

A sutler is a civilian merchant who sells provisions to an army in the field, in camp, or in quarters. Sutlers sold wares from the back of a wagon or a temporary tent, traveling with an army or to remote military outposts.

The Sutlers on-site at the Brooksville Raid sell a variety of replica weapons, uniforms and clothing, cooking utensils, tinware, children’s toys and many other items of the era. There is always fresh kettle corn, old-time root beer (known as ‘sasparilla’), and authentic fry bread.

The Ladies Tea will be held for lady Reenactors on Saturday morning. Light refreshments will be served. Period dress is required to participate. The public may observe.

Ladies Tea is an annual tradition held on Saturday morning. Image courtesy of Joe Dube.

Ladies Tea is a tradition that was brought from England and adopted by the ladies of the Victorian era here in the United States. This was a time for women to gather together for educational and cultural purposes as well as a chance to share news of loved ones away at war. It was also a time for the women to support their troops by making everything from musket balls to bandages.

As the largest Civil War reenactment in Florida, it is easy to transform attitudes and platitudes to those of this historic era.

Re-enactors resting in camp. Image courtesy of the Brooksville Raid.

The educational value of this event cannot be overemphasized, so on Friday, January 17, the Raid hosts a School Day. At the School Day, kids can rotate through different stations learning about the Civil War, cannons, musical instruments, medical hospital units, rifles, Union Camp, Confederate Camp, and the Cavalry to name a few.

To be included in “School Day” activities, your group must be registered with the school day coordinator by the end of 2019. Click here, fill out and submit this form to get access to School Day activities for your class. It is an amazing opportunity for students to interact with living history.

With 1,000 reenactors participating, the Brooksville Raid Re-enactment is the largest Civil War re-enactment in Florida. Image courtesy of the Brooksville Raid.

History of The Brooksville Raid Reenactment

The first Brooksville Raid Re-enactment was held on the lawn of the Hernando Heritage Museum in 1980. It was so popular that the next year it was moved to a large ranch north of Brooksville owned by Murray Grubbs. It kept growing, and in 1991 the Brooksville Raid moved to the Sand Hill Scout Reservation where it has been held each year since.

Re-enactors come from all over Florida, and even other parts of the U.S.

Live music of the period adds to the fun. The band is called 7# of Bacon Mess Band.

Things to Know When You Go:

  • Admission is required: $10 adults, $5 youth age 6-10, free for 5 and under, and $3 for Scouts in uniform
  • North Pinellas County Scout Sertoma Club sells food and drinks with the help of volunteer Boy Scout Troops
  • Hernando Historical Museum rents chairs on-site for visitors’ comfort while watching a battle.
  • Visitors are welcome to bring their own chairs.
  • This is a family-friendly, alcohol-free event.
  • Re-enactors tend to be “in character,” and you are welcome to ask them questions in the camps and on Sutler’s Row, but please stay off the Battlefield.
  • The Battles are not exact re-enactments of the Brooksville Bayport Raid of 1864 but are realistic to the battles of the day.
  • Animals are allowed to accompany visitors to the Raid, but they must be well behaved and on a leash.
  • The event goes on, rain or shine, and it is just as interesting in the rain. Bring an umbrella.
  • NEW for 2020 – a small town at the edge of the battlefield (see map below)
A small town has been added to the edge of the battlefield at the 40th Annual Brooksville Raid Reenactment.

The location is on Hwy. 50 west at the Sand Hill Scout Reservation (11210 Cortez Blvd. across from Oak Hill Hospital). There is handicap parking and motorcycle parking available.

For more information, visit http://brooksvilleraidreenactment.com or call 352-799-0129.

Schedule of Activities for the 40th Annual Brooksville Raid

Saturday, January 18

9:00 AM CAMPS OPEN

9:30 AM COLORS –BATTLEFIELD

10:30 AM LADIES TEA (REQUIRES PERIOD DRESS) – BALL TENT

10:30 AM VINTAGE BASEBALL GAME – BATTLEFIELD

11:30 AM ARTILLERY DEMONSTRATION – BATTLEFIELD

1:30 PM MUSIC BY 7LBS OF BACON MESS BAND

2:30 PM BROOKSVILLE RAID BATTLE – BATTLEFIELD

4:45 PM FLAG RETIREMENT CEREMONY – BATTLEFIELD

5:30 PM CAMPS CLOSE

Sunday, January 19

9:00 AM CAMPS OPEN

9:30 AM COLORS – BATTLEFIELD

10:00 AM CHURCH SERVICE – BALL TENT

NO0N ARTILLERY DEMONSTRATION – BATTLEFIELD

12:30 PM MUSIC BY 7LBS OF BACON MESS BAND

1:30 PM GRAND REVIEW – BATTLEFIELD

2:00 PM BROOKSVILLE RAID BATTLE – BATTLEFIELD

4:30 PM CAMPS CLOSE

Comments

John Hart says

Every article I have read so far has been great! Very educational, and very interesting. Thank you
JH

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