You say you didn’t know a Civil War battle was fought in Groveton right here in east Texas?
A battle fought in a grove of blackjack oak trees outside of town? Well, truth be told, no battle was fought there, but that doesn’t matter when you want to have fun by making up a battle and reenacting it every year. So, let the word go forth, the fifth annual Battle of Blackjack Grove Civil War Weekend is coming up this weekend in Groveton, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
To celebrate and bring Trinity County’s history to life, Confederate and Union re-enactors, history enthusiasts, the Groveton School District and the Trinity County Chamber of Commerce are doing everything they can to make it a memorable and fun experience for everyone.
Visitors will see full blown battle re-enactments on Saturday and Sunday. They can stroll through Civil War period encampments and meet re-enactors in infantry, horse mounted cavalry and artillery units, in period uniforms with 19th century firearms of all kinds, including cannons that will be used in the re-enactment. Heads up: bring noise-canceling ear phones or plugs. Those big guns are really loud. You’ll understand why so many Civil War artillery men came home hard-of-hearing or stone deaf.
Friday February 21st will be school day. Groveton area students will see re-enactors demonstrating weaponry, food preparation and life in a military camp. Students can also take part in a skirmish in downtown Groveton. It promises to be an educational experience they’ll never forget. Camps will open for the general public at 9 AM on Saturday and Sunday with battles at 2 PM on both days.
On Saturday night, the Valentine Ball, a 19th century period dance party, will be held in the Old Gym at Groveton Elementary School. On Sunday the 23rd at 10:00 am there will be a Community Church Service in the camp led by the Reverend Jack McMahon using a Prayer Book like the one Robert E. Lee took with him everywhere he went before and during the war. The public is invited to the service.
Why does Groveton do this every year? The reasons go beyond drumming up tourism. Civil War Weekend organizer McMahon says Trinity County was divided over the issue of secession in 1860, but its citizens supported the Confederacy when the Civil War started. Three companies of men were organized to join the Southern cause, one of which became part of the Texas Brigade led by the colorful General John Bell Hood. The Texas Brigade fought in dozens of battles, including Second Manassas, Gettysburg, Antietam, and it was present at Appomattox where the war ended with Lee’s surrender. After the war many of the Texas survivors returned to Trinity County and founded the towns of Trinity and Groveton. Many of their descendants live there today, and it is those people and their ancestors who will be celebrated and remembered at the Battle of Blackjack Grove Civil War Weekend.
There are admission charges for some of the events, including the Valentine Ball. For more information on ticket prices and a full schedule of events, contact the Trinity County Chamber of Commerce at 1-936-642-1715.
That information is also on the chamber website http://www.trinitycountychamber.org