Cannon and rifle fire reverberated through the quiet village of Pleasant Hill April 9-11 as the Union and Confederate armies clashed in one of the battles of Union General Nathan P. Banks’ Red River Campaign. Unlike the actual battle in 1864, the cannon and rifle fire did not result in a storm of lead and steel and the casualties “resurrected” after the battle was over.
Friday, April 9, marked the 157th anniversary of the Battle of Pleasant Hill. The first re-enactment was held in 1964 on the 100th anniversary of the battle. After a hiatus of several years, the re-enactment went on to become a beloved tradition held on the anniversary of the battle for more than 40 years. The Battle of Pleasant Hill re-enactment is one of only a few in that it commemorates a specific battle and takes place on the actual battlefield. The site is about 3 miles from the modern site of the Village of Pleasant Hill. This year’s re-enactment featured approximately 500 participants from Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Virginia, and Oklahoma.
Friday featured an open camp held for local educators so school groups could come and learn about life in the Civil War era. Saturday and Sunday each featured battles fought before a large crowd of visitors as well as the Battle of Pleasant Hill Queen, court and a contingent of festival and pageant queens from across Louisiana.
In addition to the battles, the event featured a period dance and old-fashioned church service held by the Rev. Alan Farley, from the United States Christian Commission. The United States Christian Commission was an organization formed during the Civil War to minister to the soldiers of the Union Army. Members passed out tracts, hymnbooks, bibles and held services. They also brought extra items such as coffee, tea, and broth to the troops. Rev. Farley travels to re-enactments throughout the United States as a member of the Commission holding old-style church services. Rev Farley’s “coffee wagon”, a reproduction of an 1863 wagon that had the facilities to make over 1,800 gallons of coffee a day, proved to be quite popular with re-enactors and visitors alike.
The event also featured guest speakers Donnie Kennedy and Richard Holloway and a memorial luminaria ceremony commemorating each of the soldiers who fell in the battle of Pleasant Hill.
Scouts from Many’s Troop 80, sponsored by First United Methodist Church of Many raised the US flag on Saturday. Young men from a local Trail Life Troop raised the flag on Sunday. NSU Hospitality and Tourism major, Autumn Palmer, was chosen as the 39th Miss Battle of Pleasant Hill. Converse High student Miss Annabelle Bagley was chosen as Teen Miss Battle of Pleasant Hill.
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