Editor’s note: A version of this story published in Hernando Today.
BROOKSVILLE — The annual Brooksville Raid, a re-enactment of a famous battle, continues Sunday just west of this Hernando County city
Organizers say it’s the largest Civil War re-enactment in Florida, with more than 1,500 soldiers and their families. There are 28 cannons, 60 horses, and more than 50 people who pose as merchants selling wares to the soldiers.
The event commemorates the Union Army’s incursion into the Brooksville area in July 1864. Union soldiers reportedly burned and looted plantations and settlements on their drive south through Florida.
On Friday, before the raid and festivities opened to the general public, more than 2,400 children from Hernando schools and elsewhere got an advance view of the grounds.
Students explored Union and Confederate camps and listened to history lessons from re-enactors in character.
Ron Daniel, chair of the Hernando Historical Museum Association, said the school-day tradition began about 20 years ago with local students and has grown.
Bill Houck, portraying a Confederate solider with Milton Light Artillery, and many of the other 1,500 re-enactors spent Thursday night in small military tents as temperatures dipped into the 30s.
“It’s how it used to be, the basics,” said Houck, who lives in Tampa.
Houck enjoyed telling students about Civil War-era simplicity and local history.
“It’s all about how and why we fought; Yankees coming all the way from Key West to take our food and supplies.”
This year marks the 34th annual re-enactment. If the weather cooperates, 8,000 to 10,000 people were expected to attend the activities.
Gates open at 9 a.m., and a re-enactment of the battle is set for 2 p.m.
Parking is free; admission is $8 for adults and $4 for children 6 through 12. Scouts in uniform and children 5 and younger are admitted free.
Sandhill Scout Reservation is at 11210 Cortez Blvd. (State Road 50) in Brooksville. For details, call (352) 799-0129 or visit brooksvilleraid.com.