PORTLAND, Ohio — Folks planning to visit this weekend’s “Gen. John Hunt Morgan and His Raiders Re-enactment of the Battle of Buffington Island” in Meigs County will get to see something they’ve never seen before.
There will be a naval component using the Ohio River.
“This year, for the first time, we will be able to use riverboats and have them come downriver from the Forked Run park area,” said Constance White, co-chair of the Morgan’s Raid Re-enactment Committee. “They will be coming downriver to Portland. There will be people dressed in period naval uniforms. We’ve never done this before, so it’s kind of what’s unique about it this time.”
White said the last time an event of this magnitude took place was 10 years ago — not counting some of the local re-enactments that occur every year.
White said the event is a huge undertaking, with people coming from across the country, including Wyoming, Florida and Maine. She added that one person from Germany plans to be in attendance.
“It’s fun and quite an event to see,” White said.
So far, she said about 100 horsemen, two horse-drawn cannons and 150 infantrymen are registered to participate in the weekend’s activities.
The route that re-enactors plan to take hasn’t been publicized, White said, for the safety of all concerned.
“We don’t necessarily want a lot of people to go out and see them march through the countryside,” she said. “We’d rather they come to public spectator sites. It’s for the safety of the riders and horses, and to alleviate congestion. (The re-enactors) will be on a tight schedule trying to get from point A to point B.”
The free event starts Friday at Main Street and the Commons in Chester. Festivities then move to Portland for Saturday and Sunday, where events will take place at Memorial Park.
Morgan and his band of raiders terrorized southern Ohio in July 1863 that culminated in the Battle of Buffington Island — the only major battle in Ohio during the Civil War. Chester and Portland will conduct spectator events as “The Taking of Chester” and “The Battle of Buffington Island.”
The re-enactment is being sponsored by the Buffington Island Battlefield Preservation Foundation.
Besides President Lincoln and Fredric Douglas, folks in attendance will hear from Col. William Wolford, who will be portrayed by one of his descendents.
And if you feel like learning a new dance or two, plan to attend the Civil War balls Friday and Saturday nights. Period attire is not required, but is encouraged.
White suggests people bring a lawn chair to watch the battlefield action as there will be no seating available.
Reach Michael Johnson at 740-446-2342, ext. 2102, or on Twitter @OhioEditorMike.