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Fort Washita - Civil War Re-enactment

                                                                                                                                                               Story By:  Brandon Allshouse

After the success of our spring 2011 trip to Honey Springs in eastern Oklahoma for the re-enactment of that battle, my parents and I decided to go to the re-enactment of the Battle of Fort Washita in southeastern Oklahoma on September 23, 2011.

As we were planning the trip, we had originally planned on going straight down Interstate 35, then go east from Ardmore to Durant.  We planned to spend the night there before going to the battle site, then go straight home.  I had noticed that Durant is not that far from Ada, where I attended college from 1992 to 1997.  So, we decided to go down to Ada first and spend a couple of hours there seeing my old college.  Afterwards, we would go to a state park that’s between Ada and Durant to look around before going onto Durant.

The weather on Friday, September 22, was beautiful.  No too hot and not too cold and a slight breeze.  We had breakfast at IHOP before heading down the road.  As we were coming into Ada, for the first time since I left in July of 1997, I noticed Ada is quite a bit bigger than it was 15 years earlier.  East Central University where I went to college had added a performance arts center, but otherwise the university hadn’t changed much.  The only real change was that none of the people that worked there, that I became friends with while I was in college, were there anymore.

After leaving Ada with sandwiches from Subway, we ventured to Boggy Depot State Park.  The main reason we went there was so that my parents could look around for good camping spots for their cycling tour group as part of Oklahoma Bicycle Society.  As we were driving thorough the park, we came across a cemetery.  As it turns out, it was a cemetery for Confederate soldiers during the last days of the Civil War.

The next day we left our hotel and went over to Fort Washita where the battlefield re-enactment would be.  We got there around 9 a.m.  The schedule for the day was to have demonstrations of Civil War-era life to start at 10 a.m. with the battle re-enactment at 1:30. We walked around the area and saw buildings that were either reproductions of the original fort buildings or the actual original buildings.  Sadly, the South Barracks was only half standing due to arson in early 2011.  The top two floors of the building were gone, and the insides of the ground floor were completely burnt.  Half the chimney for the building was completely burnt but it was still standing.

We saw a demonstration of a Civil War cannon being fired.  We learned how candles were made with bees wax.  Sadly, we couldn’t actually see the whole process since there was a burn ban in effect for the entire state.

The re-enactment of the battle almost didn’t happen since only 3-4 people who portrayed Confederates actually showed up.  But as they say, the show must go on.  Somehow the organizers got a few of the Union re-enactors to be Confederates for a day.

After the battle, we left to go home.  On our way home, we decided to go the exact route I used to take whenever I went home from Ada.  We took the Chickasha exit off I-35 to go to Newcastle, then go back onto I-35 off to OKC.  It was really strange seeing a major casino on the same road that used be just a bunch of fields 15 years earlier.  Newcastle is much bigger than it used to be as well.

The only constant in life is change.

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