1961 Battle Reenactment Footage

3 10 2013



3 responses

3 10 2013
John Hennessy

Harry, this is great stuff. We used to pull this film out on rainy days and watch it in the visitor center auditorium. It’s a great visual record. In 1984 or 1985, the septic field failed on Henry Hill, and we had to work fast to create put in a new one. Jim Burgess and I, along with regional archeologist Steve Potter, did a metal detector survey of the proposed area–toward the southern end of the line of Ricketts’s guns. We found something like 2,000 artifacts, but almost all of them from various re-enactments over the decades–shell casings, etc. Among them were a number of friction primers–which of course are prized because they with certainty mark the location of guns. We were fairly excited by this, until we looked at this film and realized the primers were almost certainly from a battery that was on Henry Hill during the re-enactment.

The only thing I found of great interest was several pieces of a shell from a James Rifle that had apparently buried itself, then exploded–this of course from Reynolds’s RI Battery. The only thing of any importance we found was a brick foundation not far from the Bull Run monument. What it was we did not know, and I have not heard that it’s been investigated since.

The experience was great fun and intensely interesting to an enthusiastic young history buck–I am one of the few people I know who has legally used a metal detector in the heart of a major battlefield (at least during daylight). I will say, though, we learned little from the investigation. But, we did have the satisfaction of “rescuing” a few things from the ignominy of a septic field.


3 10 2013
Harry Smeltzer

Thanks for sharing that, John – fascinating info!


3 10 2013
Patrick Young

Thanks for posting this. I’m sharing it on facebook. This was so controversial. Interesting that it is remembered so fondly today by those who say that the Centennial was so much better than the CW 150.


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