by Jan Knowles
2020 marks Hernando County’s 40th annual Brooksville Raid Reenactment. This living history event presents the story of a battle fought here in late June 1864 during the Civil War. You can view this dramatic Raid reenactment on January 18 and 19 at Sand Hill Scout Reservation, located at 11210 Cortez Boulevard, Brooksville, Florida 34613.
As you enter the fringes of this historically accurate battlefield and walk through the camp, you will feel as if you’ve stepped back in time.
In this, Florida’s largest Civil War re-enactment, prepare for complete period immersion as soldiers, hospital workers, sutlers, artillery and equestrian workers camp, cook, dress and behave as if it’s 1864.
A lot of people are not aware of “first person” Civil War camps. After battle re-enactments, you can stroll through their camps and see period authentic medical scenarios, how people lived, ate and dressed. Re-enactors are available to answer your questions too.
When the Union decided that a raid to the interior of Florida would be made to break up Confederate supply and communication lines to the north, they identified Bayport as their target. There were only a few personnel at Bayport to protect supplies at the time: the 2nd Florida Calvary and the 2nd U.S. Colored Infantry. Most of the Generals were in Tampa for a conference, which left the location vulnerable to attack.
On July 3, 1864 four Union ships with 240 men came by water and marched inland, burning and destroying everything in a path six miles wide and twenty miles long. These Union troops destroyed everything within forty miles of the Gulf of Mexico.
Their ships were sunk and we sunk one of our own so that they could not get its supplies to take home.
In 1861 Florida had become the third state to secede from the Union and the Union Navy blockaded Florida to prevent goods from being shipped in or out of the State. Prior to this, goods from Hernando County had been shipped all over the world, including Europe and to Russia.
At that time, Hernando County also encompassed what is now Pasco and Citrus counties. In those days, the government would offer future settlers 160 acres of land for free if they farmed five acres and lived on the property for five years. This was in an attempt to help settle Florida.
Make sure you visit SUTLERS ROW, which has everything from the 1800’s period. Browse among dozens of sutlers with wares such as period costumes, flags, rock candy, kettle korn, fried bread and homemade root beer. Many authors are present as well as nonprofit history organizations.
The Museum has a booth both days at the top of the hill looking over the battlefield. Please visit and you will have an opportunity to talk to informed people of the raid as well as area history. Many history books and memorabilia will be available for purchase.
About the Author, Jan Knowles
Jan Knowles is a local historian associated with the Hernando County fine Arts Council, the Hernando Historical Museum Association, Inc. and past multi-year Chairman of the Brooksville Raid Reenactment event.