Muskets were firing, cannons were roaring, and the smell of black power was hanging thick in the air Dec. 8 at Fort McAllister State Historic Park.
Spectators and re-enactors traveled from near and far to be a part of the park’s annual Winter Muster, when re-enactors play out the final battle in Sherman’s March to the Sea and federal troops — as they did nearly 150 years ago — are able to stake their claim on the fort.
“The event has been around for approximately 30 years and follows the exact time line of the battle in 1864,” living history actor and blacksmith Rustle Powell said.
Many re-enactors were camping on the site in period tents, wearing period clothing and living true to the lives from days past.
“It is the 148th anniversary of the battle of 1864, when the fort was overrun by Federal soldiers” re-enactor Alicia Blunt said. “The Federals and the Confederate soldiers had been skirmishing all day. The actual battle took place at about 5 p.m., and that was when the Federals sieged the fort. Some of the engineers had built ladders to climb the walls, and some went through the sally port.”
She explained that the Confederates were greatly outnumbered, which made the fort so easy to overrun.
“(The fort) was a great vantage point for the river,” Blunt said. “The Federals wanted to take it so their ships could get by on their way to Savannah. In addition, the Federal soldiers did not have that many rations. They had lived mostly on rice and salted pork. They heard the Confederates had quite a few rations, they wanted to part take in.”
Jim Dillon of Ontario, Canada, was one of many spectators who visited the park for the Winter Muster.
“We came down to the area to get some relaxation and some sun,” Dillon said. “Our sister-in-law suggested going to the re-enactment. I have never been to one, but I have heard about them. It was quite fun and interesting.”
For more information on Fort McAllister and future events, visit www.gastateparks.org/FortMcAllister or take a quick drive east on Highway 144 to visit the site in person.