Reenactors played the part Saturday as the Confederate troops succeeded in holding Union soldiers off at the Battle of Selma. --Katie Wood
Reenactors played the part Saturday as the Confederate troops succeeded in holding Union soldiers off at the Battle of Selma. -- Katie Wood

Hundreds turn out as South holds off Union troops Saturday

Published 7:25pm Saturday, April 27, 2013

Hundreds of people of all ages could be seen Saturday at Riverside Park, all eager to catch a glimpse of living history as they watched the annual Battle of Selma take place. As cannons fired and troops charged, residents saw history come alive.

With the smell of gunpowder in the air, onlookers stepped back in time as they saw Civil War infantry, cavalry and artillery tactics unfold on the battlefield. But not all reenactors were dressed in military attire. Some, like David Friddle, a trumpet player in the 5th Alabama Infantry Regiment Band, dressed in a Civil War band uniform.

Friddle, who is from Brierfield, Ala., explained that during the Civil War, confederate troops would bring bands along with them to “keep their spirits high.” While marching, the band would walk in front of the troops so they could hear their music.

“They usually had small groups with two or three trumpets and some lower brass and a few woodwinds,” Friddle said. “We get to play the waltzes, the Virginia reel — a little bit of everything. It’s a tradition of the past — you just don’t get that anymore.”

While walking through the tents at the battlefield, which housed several wartime items such as dress patterns, playing cards, muskets, homemade desserts and more, Tammy Brantley, a native of Tallassee, Ala., donned a green period dress adorned with layers of lace.

Brantley said this was her second year participating in the battle reenactment, and she comes to remember her great–great grandfather who served as a Confederate soldier.

“I think it’s awesome to see all the people out here to celebrate and remember this,” said Brantley, who is also a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Order of the Confederate Rose. “I love to do anything I can to bring back the true history of the South.”

And not everyone at the battlefield Saturday was dressed in period attire. There were scores of families walking tent to tent and watching from the bleachers who had traveled to Selma not to participate but to remember their history.

The Patrick family brought their daughter Elleanor, who is elementary school in Montgomery, to the Battle of Selma.

“We wanted to see the Battle of Selma and this is a first ever for us — we have never been to a re-enactment,” said Regan Patrick, who is originally from New Mexico.

Elleanor said she was excited to go back to school and surprise her teacher with her knowledge of the battle.

The day wasn’t complete for both families and reenactors before stopping by the sweet and savory smelling Ma & Pa Kettle Korn stand operated by Arnold Brunk.

Brunk started selling his kettle corn at the Battle of Selma in 1991, and he knows his handmade product is something special.

“People all love kettle corn here; they look forward to it. I didn’t come [to the battle] last year on account of a death in the family, and they had a lot of people tell me, ‘We’re so glad you’re back,’” Brunk said as he bagged another batch of his famous pop corn.

Brunk is a Missouri farmer and said he used to work at a lot of other battles but now the Battle of Selma is only one of two he still travels to.

“I drive 800 miles to come down just to do this. It’s one of the few things I even do any more; I’m 82 years old,” he said with a chuckle. “I pride myself on how good I can make this stuff. I’ve met a lot of people I’d never have known had it not been for kettle corn.”

—Staff writers Sarah Cook and Ashley Johnson contributed to this report

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