Monday, January 10, 2011

Secession Reenactment held in Tallahassee

Confederate re-enactors to observe anniversary of secession

Published: January 7, 2011

Observing the 150th anniversary of Florida's secession from the union, a group of Confederate re-enactors on Saturday will converge on the Old 1845 Capitol in Tallahassee to replay the 1861 secession convention.

Organizers say the event's script is based on the actual dialogue of the delegates that attended the convention 150 years ago. Florida was one of the six original states to secede from the union, following South Carolina's lead, to form the Confederate States of America. Five other states followed.

Participants will be attired in period dress and re-enactors will be portraying individuals who played a part in the convention, including Joseph Finegan, an Irish immigrant who later rose to be a confederate general, and John Milton, who was Florida's newly elected governor, who took his own life at the end of the Civil War.

"This is not a politically slanted event," said Phil Walters, a Tampa man who is helping organize the event. "It is a re-enactment of what our ancestors actually did in 1861 leading up to the War Between the States."

The event is a part of Florida's colorful past, he said in a news release announcing the event, issued this week.

"We wish to bring excitement to history during the sesquicentennial of the War Between the States as most citizens are not aware of the dynamics that lead up to that turbulent period of American history," Walters said. "Folks need to take a little time and attempt to comprehend the complexities of issues of history if we as a people are to learn from past mistakes and not repeat them."

Walters said he expects between 40 and 60 re-enactors to show up in period attire. They are coming mostly from around the state, including a dozen or so from the Tampa Bay area.

A rehearsal will be held at 2 p.m. today at the Old 1845 Capitol.

The re-enactment will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday and is open to the public. However, space inside the Senate chambers will limit the audience to about 200.

The three-hour ceremony was conceived by Finley's Brigade of the Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp No. 1614, based in Havana, north of Tallahassee.