The Union troops took over the Selma fotifications Sunday after they burned a small house in the Riverside Park to the ground. This was to symbolize the troops buring down a large portion of downtown Selma after they won the battle in 1865. -- Ashley Johnson
The Union troops took over the Selma fotifications Sunday after they burned a small house in the Riverside Park to the ground. This was to symbolize the troops buring down a large portion of downtown Selma after they won the battle in 1865. -- Ashley Johnson

Annual Battle of Selma comes to a close

Published 9:18pm Monday, April 29, 2013

Rain showers Sunday did little to dampen the spirit of the hundreds of participants and observers of the final evnets of the Battle of Selma, and the rain did little to quench the blaze that highlighted the final battle.

Now in its 26th year, the Battle of Selma 2013 had the largest turnout for school days — tripling the amount of students that normally come. In years past 300 to 500 students from across the state come to learn about life in the days of Civil War. More than 1,100 students came this year. In addition, the attendance for the battle re-enactment and the Grand Military Ball on Saturday were higher than usual, bringing in hundreds to each event.

Women who attended the ball dawned antebellum dresses with ruffles, lace and hoop skirts, and men walked in with their uniforms while their rank was announced.

Each couple, upon entering the foyer of Sturdivant Hall, was greeted by the commanders, colonels and the general while their names were announced. Re-enactors enjoyed lemonade in the back courtyard until the military band began playing, “Dixie,” to which Confederate soldier re-enactors took off their hats and held their hands on their hearts.

“Sturdivant Hall is one of the most beautiful homes in the Southeast and it represents the time period and it represents Selma,” Jessica Hammonds with the Battle of Selma Committee said. “We have been having the ball there for years and when the re-enactors and visitors come from out town, they are enjoying the evening and doing the period dances and show Southern graces to one another — it really represents the time period. And while they are there it makes the house and the city come alive like it was the 1860s.”

Most re-enactment events across the South include a ball of some type, but Ruth Givens from Montgomery said Selma’s is the best she has seen.

“With the ball here at Sturdivant Hall it is much more grand and beautiful,” Givens said while taking pictures with a large group including several children dressed in period attire. “The kids love to come too. They always look forward to all of the dances.”

Hammonds said as one of the members of the committee, every detail of the battle events from the school days on Thursday and Friday to the burn house going into flames on Sunday is all thought out so that visitors feel like they traveled back in time.

This year visitors came from as far as Australia and Germany and hundreds turned out for the battle re-enactments on Saturday and Sunday. Sunday’s final battle saw heavy showers, but the spectators stuck around for a crowd favorite — the large fire that engulfs the burn house — symbolizing the burning of Selma.

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