Reenactor prepares for upcoming battle

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 20, 2005

These evenings, Nelson Andrews can be found in his workshop repairing and inspecting guns and making rammer heads.

Like many other reenactors across the state, and even the country, Andrews is preparing for the Battle of Selma.

“I’ve been doing it for about four or five years,” he said. “I just like history. I had been threatening to do it for several years and I finally just bit the bullet and joined.”

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Andrews, along with about 50 other men, is a member of the Jeff Davis Mounted Artillery, where he is ranked as a private.

“We’re not actually mounted because most of us are too old to ride,” he said with a laugh.

According to Andrews, who by trade is an autobody mechanic, being a Battle of Selma reenactor takes a lot of time, effort, and money.

“We have all the guns to maintain and keep up,” said Andrews. “They have to be painted once a year, and any rotten wood has to be replaced.”

“We have to get all of our rounds rolled and make sure that we have the equipment and all of the stuff in order,” he said. “Then we have to contact everyone to make sure that they are ready.”

During the battle, Andrews will be wearing a “standard issue, non-descript” uniform.

“Uniforms average $235 – for just one, and a pair of shoes cost around $75,” he said. “Sometimes you get about two or three years (of use out of one uniform), but most last three or four years.”

“There are those who go down as close as

they can get – hand sewn buttonholes, but I am not that much into it,” he said.

He does however, respect the spirit of authenticity that goes along with the Battle of Selma.

“We will have an original campsite with original equipment,” said Andrews, who will spend Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night there.

“If you have anything that is not period, you better hide it! We do have porta-potties. That’s one fudge – for sanitation reasons. We try to disguise them though.”

Despite the time and money he has spent as a member of the Jeff Davis Mounted Artillery, Andrews feels that is worth it.

“It gives me a better perspective of history, a perspective that you can’t get out of a book,” he said. “There’s a whole lot more than what’s written in the book. I will be doing this for as long as I feel like it, probably another four or five years I hope.”

Organized in Selma in May of 1861, the Jeff Davis Mounted Artillery was composed of men from Butler, Dallas, Lowndes, Marengo, and Perry counties. During its more than three and a half years of active service, the unit fought with Stonewall Jackson’s corps at Chancellorsville, and was engaged in frequent skirmishes and battles including Gettysburg, Orange Court House, the Bristoe and Mine Run campaigns, and The Wilderness.