Heritage demonstrated

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

CHAPEL HILL - Several hundred people visited the boyhood home of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest on Saturday when his story was retold and the lifestyles of his times were demonstrated by re-enactors.

Some of the visitors were like Deborah Tieague who was dressed as a gunner for cannon fire. Her home is near the Parkers Crossroad Battlefield at the line between Carroll and Henderson counties. She wanted to learn marching drills for a more authentic period drill.

Many visitors were like Jadin Lundy, son of Vaydra and Damon Lundy of Horton Way, Lewisburg. Jadin participated in sack racing and his mother sold cotton candy, snow cones and sweet tea.

"This is our second year for the event," Vaydra Lundy said. "It's relaxing and the boys enjoy playing the games."

Gene Andrews, chairman of the homecoming committee, estimated attendance at 250-300.

Bob Hollingsworth of Mt Juliet portrayed an apprentice blacksmith at Forrest's boyhood home. Forrest's father, William Forrest, was a blacksmith and a farmer.

Mark Ivie, vice president of the Marshall County Art Guild, is interested in history, so he attended the homecoming after learning it was just east of where he had breakfast at Marcy Jo's Mealhouse on Saturday.

"I'm an artist and would like to portray things accurately" in oil paintings, color pencil drawings and watercolors, he said.

"Seeing re-enactment is fun," he said when men mounted on horses, shot guns and demonstrated cavalry battle.

Ivie teaches fencing and has helped filmmakers keep their movies true to the swordsmanship they're to portray. The first Pirates of the Caribbean film and the two Zorros with Catherine Zeta Jones, Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas are among the movies that bring him notoriety. He's also performed stunts.

He does not offer expertise to filmmakers of Civil War tales, but says his day at Forrest's home was enlightening.

"It's great to see the community and history," said Ivie who preserved much of what he saw in digital imaging. "I always pick up bits of information whenever I go to re-enactments.

"It's great for me to learn historical details," he said. "I appreciate their knowledge and skill."

One of Ivie's pictures is the lead photo for this edition of the Marshall County Tribune. The Art Guild meets in the afternoons on the second Tuesday of each month in the community room upstairs in the First National Bank on North Ellington Parkway.

"Every meeting, somebody brings in their art work," he said. He might be showing his photos at a meeting this summer.

Given Ivie's interests, the homecoming chairman was asked about Forrest and swordsmanship, and Andrews replied, "Forrest wasn't real big on using a saber. He saw them as too heavy. A pistol or a rifle were better in his estimation, but he'd carry one and pick up another if it seemed better."

Among Forrest's daring exploits was freeing Confederate soldiers from the Rutherford County Courthouse in Murfreesboro where a bar, not a saber, was used to pry open the door.

Forrest's raid on the courthouse to rescue his fellow soldiers was an emergency attack.

"The jailer set the courthouse on fire and ran off with the keys," Andrews said.

After the fire was extinguished Forrest's men caught Union soldiers, conducted an inventory of weapons and counted prisoners.

"They read of the names of the prisoners," Andrews said. "When they came to one man's name, he didn't reply, after they called his name again, someone said that he was the jailer and Forrest is reported to have spoken up saying 'Go on to the next man, he's been taken care of.'"

Such stories were told in conjunction with the homecoming near Chapel Hill.

Others at Forrest's Home included the long-time couple of Jeff Cunningham of Fairview and Tamara Smith of Nashville. He portrays a cannoneer in the Rutledge Brigade.

"When they started," Cunningham says, "they wore a blue coat and a red shirt. They eventually changed to gray. Today, I just found out I had a great uncle who was a cannoneer."

Cunningham said one of his ancestor's and the man's son fought for Tennessee.

Smith is still making her costume as a battery nurse.

"I would carry field dressings and water," Smith said of the role she'd play in a re-enactment. Her dark emerald dress needs a white apron before it's completed, she said.

As much as the day was one of demonstrations, there were oral history presentations about Forrest and the Civil War. David Jones and David Fraley spoke about southern history. Jones leads the Covenant Heritage School, an umbrella organization for home schoolers, and he's the Tennessee director of the League of the South, a southern heritage organization. Fraley has served as the historian at Carter House in Franklin, an historic site with oversight now through Carnton Mansion, another historic structure and its associated board.