Members of the Confederate Army Re-enactment group in Selma load a cannon Friday for the school days educational program. The Battle of Selma weekend kicked off Friday night with cannon firings and a camp dance. -- Ashley Johnson
Members of the Confederate Army Re-enactment group in Selma load a cannon Friday for the school days educational program. The Battle of Selma weekend kicked off Friday night with cannon firings and a camp dance. -- Ashley Johnson

Battle begins with cannon firing and camp dance

Published 10:52pm Friday, April 26, 2013

The Battle of Selma began with a bang at Friday night’s cannon firing and a camp dance for everyone in the community. Just as dusk fell, loud blasts could be heard throughout downtown Selma and Riverside Park where spectators lined the battlefield to watch the darkness of night light up orange and white with shot fire and smoke.

The cannon firing and first shots of the weekend, according to organizers, do not have much historical significance as much as it is about getting families and children together to watch the cannons.

Dr. Jack Burns, chairman of the Battle of Selma Committee for the 1865 Society, said this first event is a chance to welcome the community to the Battle of Selma weekend.

“The cannon fire at night did not happen during the actual battle of Selma, this is just so we can make some sparks at night for a good show,” Burns said in between loud bangs from the firings.

In the actual battle, Burns said all of the fighting was over by 5 p.m. and it only lasted several hours before the Union Armies had decimated Selma and the fort. This all occurred on Sunday afternoon — where there will be a full re-enactment and portrayal of what happened historically.

At Friday’s cannon firing, Union re-enactors were stationed in the woods in Riverside Park where they fired towards the Confederate soldiers and civilian soldiers along the fortifications in the park.

This was followed by a camp dance where members from the community were invited to dance in a field lit by torchlight to the tunes of a small string band.

Burns said this gives everyone an opportunity to learn the dances of that time period.

“The camp dance is a way to help people learn the call, the rhythm of dances like the Virginia Reel so we are all dancing together at the ball,” Burns said, who explained that during the Civil War people hardly got together, so when they did it was a group dance. “It wasn’t just one or two people dancing, it was a whole group of people because they didn’t get together all the time like we do except for when they went to church or went to dances.”

Burns said the events for the weekend are child friendly and great for the whole family.

“We welcome everyone in the community to come and take in these events with the battle events Saturday and Sunday,” Burns said. “A society that fails to remember and teach about their past is doomed to repeat it.”

On Saturday gates open at 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. and battlefield admission is $7. Those attending can tour the Confederate, Union and civil camps and see the troops as they prepare to skirmish. The battle re-enactment will begin at 2 p.m. and the Grand Military Ball will begin at 7 p.m. The ball is for members of the 1865 Society, but all are welcome to join by going to www.battleofselma.com and filling out a membership form.

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