Re-enactors recapture history in battle at Gamble’s Hotel

By Samantha Shepard
March 7, 2010

MARS BLUFF — Hundreds of people got to experience a piece of South Carolina’s Civil War history this weekend at the reenactment of the Skirmish at Gamble’s Hotel.

The two-day event was held at the Harwell House at the Rankin Plantation in Mars Bluff and featured a period-dress ball, Civil War merchants, a period church service and the battle reenactments with artillery, infantry and cavalry re-enactors.

For Jacquie Corbett, this is an annual get together for her family and friends.

“It’s kind of like getting to put yourself right into history,” she said.

The battle depicted on Saturday and Sunday was an encounter on March 5, 1865 between 500 Union soldiers under the command of Colonel Reuben Williams of the 12th Indiana Infantry trying to destroy the Florence railroad department and 400 Confederates defending their ground.

But for re-enacters and spectators, the event is more than just a lesson in history.

Mike King, president of the 23rd S.C. Volunteer Infantry (SCVI), said his organization has hosted the Skirmish for the past 19 years because it is important to experience history, not just read about it in a book. “What you need to do is get down and hear the muskets firing, smell the gun powder, hear the cannons go off,” he said. “It takes it to another level.”

All the proceeds from the weekend go toward to the SCVI Scholarship Fund, which is awarded to a history major entering their senior year at Francis Marion University, and other historical preservation projects in the Pee Dee.

The battle always ends the same way with the Confederates driving the Union soldiers away, Corbett said, but the experience is never the same.

“Anytime that you can live, breathe, and touch history, that’s just the ultimate way to go,” she said.

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