Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Confederates Outnumber Union Troops at Tannehill

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Confederates Outnumber Union Troops at Tannehill

Article excerpt

As a small group of Union soldiers sweating beneath navy blue wool in 91-degree heat, rehearsed their formation, one broke the silence.

"Sir," he said, chin high, "I think we're outnumbered, sir."

And they were. You could gather as much by simply walking through Tannehill State Park on Saturday, where a multitude of small white tents and Confederate battle flags set the scene for a Civil War re- enactment. The re-enactment continues today with camps and demonstrations opening at 9 a.m. and battles beginning at 2 p.m.

Men in Confederate gray were everywhere. Those in blue were a little harder to find. Such is the reality of re-enactments in the South, said Erich Benning.

"That's just how it is with re-enactments here. Everybody here wants to fight for the South, just like everyone in re-enactments up North want to fight for the Union," said Benning, 47.

Benning and his son, Jacob, 16, fought together as Union soldiers Saturday in the "Skirmish at Tannehill," a re-enactment of a battle fought on the land the park now occupies. At the height of production during the Civil War, Tannehill furnaces could provide up to 22 tons of iron a day for the Confederate army. The iron could then be cast into various supplies.

According to the park's website, on March 31, 1865, three companies of the Eighth Iowa Cavalry swept through and destroyed the foundries as a part of Union General James H. Wilson's raid on Alabama war industry sites.

Erich Benning said he'd always had an interest in re-enactments, and after the 48th Alabama infantry dressed him and put him on the field for one, he was hooked.

"Being on the field was just a lot of fun," he said. "And the weekend is like camping with friends who have a common interest."

The Bennings, who hail from the Anniston area, said they typically play, and prefer, the parts of Confederate soldiers. But being a Union soldier has its perks, too. The two said since Northern troops are typically underrepresented, the few that dress in blue are more active in re-enactments. …

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