Battle of Sacramento returns this weekend

The Battle of Sacramento reenactment and weekend festivities are returning for the first time this weekend, Friday, May 17-Sunday, May 19, in four years since the pandemic first began.

“Thanks to the support of our local community, the many volunteers, the city of Sacramento and the McLean County Fiscal Court, we’ve been able to organize the return of the festivities for the McLean County community,” said David Rickard, the board chairman on the committee that has been working to bring back the event.

The Battle of Sacramento was an engagement during the American Civil War which took place in December of 1861 in Sacramento. Confederate troops under the direction of Colonel Nathan Bedford Forrest defeated the Union forces, who almost doubled them in number. This was an early engagement made by Colonel Forrest in his career as a commander, and his first victory, of the cavalry featuring examples of tactics and traits which would become trademarks of his military career.

Rickard, along with a committee’s main spokesperson and leader, Trever Jenkins, said that the group of volunteers organizing the event basically had to start from scratch since the previous organizers had finally decided to move on and fulfill other obligations.

“This year was definitely a learning year for us,” Jenkins said. “But we’ve tried to stick to the traditions of the past events during this weekend.”

Friday’s festivities begin at 8 a.m. as registration opens for all of the reenactors. The 52nd Regimental String Band, a renowned reenactor Civil War period band from Memphis, Tennessee, will entertain visitors on the front porch of the Nall-Moore House and under a covered pavilion on the property. And more historical interactions are planned for Friday, such as Dennis Hutchinson providing an overview of a soldier during the Civil War and meeting General Robert E. Lee, played by reenactor Wayne Tate.

“Friday is more of a history day,” Jenkins said. “We’ve extended invitations to the county’s schools and we believe we’ve got some elementary schools, particularly the Marie Gatton Philips Elementary School in Sacramento, that are supposed to attend.”

The playing of “Reveille” will begin Saturday’s activities around 8 a.m. The battlefield gates open to the public around 9 a.m. The cost of admission is $7.50 per person.

“The cost of admission is for the entire weekend,” Rickard explained. “Those attending will get a souvenir button which allows them into all of the events the entire weekend.”

A Ladies Tea and Fashion Show will begin at 11 a.m. and the battle’s reenactment will start at 2 p.m. Other events will follow the reenactment including a dinner prepared by the community for all of the reenactors and workers.

“We’ve also got around five food trucks coming out,” Jenkins said.

Saturday’s entertainment ends with a Battlefield Ball at 8 p.m. on the pavement area near the covered pavilion. The event is open to the public, but period dress in encouraged to participate in the dancing. The 52nd Regimental String Band will be providing the music for the dance.

More events follow on Sunday with another battle reenactment beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Battle souvenirs can be purchased onsite and all of the proceeds go towards historic preservation and the Battle of Sacramento.

“We don’t anticipate parking being an issue because so many churches and community businesses have shared the use of their parking lots with us,” Rickard said.

Rickard also said that potential spectators of the battle from across the country have called him about attending the events.

“I think we used to have people from about 24 states come to watch the reenactment. I’ve heard from people in New York and Tennessee this year,” Rickard said.

“We’re hoping to have a great turnout and invite anyone interested to check out the events,” Jenkins added.