The event is 13 months away but the committee planning the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Carthage is already seeking city approval for many of its plans.


The event is 13 months away but the committee planning the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Carthage is already seeking city approval for many of its plans.

On Tuesday, the Carthage City Council approved a plan presented by the Battle of Carthage Sesquicentennial Ad Hoc Committee to close Oak Street from Municipal Park to Garrison Street and the streets around Central Park to allow an in-town reenactment of the historic fight between Union troops and Missouri State Guard soldiers.

The reenactment will take place on the weekend of May 13-15, 2011.

Organizers said they decided to have the reenactment on that weekend instead of the historical date of July 5 so weather conditions will hopefully be cooler for the 1,000 or so re-enactors who will re-fight the battle wearing historically accurate heavy clothing.

Organizers say this is a unique opportunity to conduct a reenactment of a Civil War battle in a community instead of out in some farmer’s field where reenactments are normally held.

“We think it could be a very unique and very different reenactment,” said Gordon Billheimer, a member of the Ad Hoc committee and a re-enactor. “In the past we’ve attracted around 1,000 to 1,100 re-enactors. I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t get that many this time, so it would be a pretty big event and pretty exciting for the townspeople. Since you have the re-enactors and most of the events right in town somewhere you will be pulling people into town instead of pulling them to some farmer’s field a couple of miles out of town. We think it would bring a little more business in.”

Billheimer and Carthage Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Wendi Douglas presented the plan in detail to the City Council’s public safety committee last week.

They asked the city to close off Oak Street from the park to Garrison Street then Garrison to Central Park and the streets around Central Park for about three hours on May 14 and May 15.

Douglas said the soldiers will camp at Municipal Park, then march up Oak Street in military formation and fight in and around Central Park.

The ad hoc committee plans to approach the council’s public services committee next month to seek permission to use Municipal Park as a camp for the soldiers.

Billheimer said reenacting is a hobby but it is very structured and safety is always a paramount concern.

“It is a hobby but it is very structured,” Billheimer said. “Every unit has officers just like they would in war and they have a military chain of command. Safety is very important. Because this will be a unique in-town event, believe me, we will stress safety even more than we would normally stress and the officers will be aware long in advance what our plans are and you will have plenty of time to educate the population and the school children and get everyone fired up but also get everybody to understand what we need from them for them to enjoy an event like this.”

In other events leading up to and surrounding the anniversary, Douglas said Powers Museum will host the Lee and Grant Exhibit from Sept. 1 to Oct. 21, 2010, with Civil War papers and images.

During the May 13-15, 2011 event, people can spend time at the encampment where re-enactors will offer a variety of demonstrations and sell items related to the Civil War.

Douglas said the city will hold another event on the Square to mark the actual anniversary of the battle on July 5, 2011. 

More announcements of different events and plans will be made in the coming weeks.