History Comes Alive At Oak Grove Plantation

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By TOM WOERNER

Of The Record Staff

The grounds, buildings and woods of the Oak Grove Plantation came alive this weekend with reenactments of one of the last battles of the Civil War that took place outside modern-day Erwin.

Oak Grove Plantation owner Ron Lewis said approximately 140 reenactors from several states camped in the fields around the plantation home as part of the reenactment of what they call the Battle of the Black River. Their white canvas tents lined up in neat rows became See Oak Grove, Page 3

Reenactors, depicting Confederate soldiers, fire a cannon during a reenactment at the Averasboro battlefield held Saturday. There were also reenactments Saturday night and Sunday.

Daily Record Photo/Tom Woerner Oak Grove

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their homes for the weekend. The Battle of the Black River was one of the skirmishes that made up the larger Battle of Averasboro.

There were afternoon battle re-enactments Saturday and Sunday and a rare night battle Saturday.

Thundering canon fire, from both sides of the field, alerted the crowds watching the drama of war on lawn chairs and blankets around the battlefield edges that the fighting was about to commence. Shortly thereafter, it did.

Between the cannon fire and battlefield confrontations, lessons on what life was like during the Civil War were held throughout the plantation grounds. Lessons on cooking, naval stores manufacturing and farming were among things those who attended the event enjoyed.

Smells and sounds of 1865 penetrated the warmer-than-usual February air. The crowds seemed to enjoy the fun.

“I am a big history buff and we come to a lot of these things,” Ronnie Hamm of Raeford said. “It is a lot of fun.”

Mr. Hamm said he visited Bentonville last weekend. Bentonville, located between Newton Grove and Four Oaks, was the last great battle of the Civil War. The battle at Averasboro was intended to slow Gen. William T. Sherman’s army down so the Confederates could organize at Bentonville. The battle at Averasboro did just that.

“We wanted to bring our kids,” said John Rains, who came to the event from the Godwin area.

Many of those educating visitors wore traditional period clothing, despite the weather.

“I can see why they put the kitchen in another building, it is hot,” said Jennifer Wise, standing in front of a fire in a cooking demonstration.

In addition to the weekend activities, local school children got an early start on the education. Mr. Lewis said approximately 200 school children from the area participated in tours of the plantation Friday.

Local history enthusiast Richard Thompson was one of those who helped Friday.

“We had a bunch of kids here, it was good,” Mr. Thompson said.

Mr. Thompson is part of what is known as the Greatest Naval Stores Show on Earth. The display shows how major products of the day — tar, pitch and turpentine — were manufactured. The display was set up throughout the weekend.

Sunday’s action started after a traditional worship service like one that might have been enjoyed was held. Local historian Bryan Avery was scheduled to offer remarks at the worship service.

Mr. Lewis said he was happy with the weekend.

“We had a great turnout. I think it was really good,” Mr. Lewis said.

Oak Grove served as a Confederate hospital during the Civil War. It still holds pieces of artillery in its walls. It is considered one of the oldest houses in Harnett County.

Jennifer Wise demonstrates cooking skills during a weekend of historic activity at Oak Grove Plantation. She was one of many who demonstrated the way of life during the time of the Battle of Averasboro.

Daily Record Photo/Tom Woerner

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