Collierville re-enactment marks 150th anniversary of Civil War event

By Tessa Duvall
July 1, 2012

At the Collierville Historic Train Depot, it was 1862. Women dressed in hoop skirts and bonnets socialized on the platform.Across the street on the town square, it was 2012. Dozens of digital cameras and iPhones were out, waiting to capture the events that would soon unfold.

Although exact details are debated, local members of Sons of Confederate Veterans reenacted Collierville’s capture and surrender to Union Troops in June 1862, marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War event.

After an introduction to the Civil War history of Collierville from Wigfall Greys Camp, SCV Commander Ed Cotter, a few shots fired into the air let the crowd know exactly what was coming — the Yankees.

Confederate re-enactors fired as they backed down the street, but the Union forces advanced. The women of the town did their part to deter the advance by throwing tomatoes at the federal soldiers.

Just minutes later, the Union Army captured Collierville.

Then-Mayor John Williford, portrayed by a top hat-wearing current Mayor Stan Joyner, was called out from his office to surrender the town, but not before a member of the crowd yelled, "Don’t do it!"

Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, played by Collierville’s Curt Fields, was on hand to accept the surrender and give a brief speech about protecting the Memphis and Charleston Railroad before the conclusion of the re-enactment.

Saturday’s re-enactment was the first for 11-year-old Katie Wolfe of Collierville.

She said the Civil War is the most interesting period in American history because she likes learning how it led up to events of the modern day and why a country would fight within itself.

Katie attended the re-enactment with her mother, Mara Wolfe, and grandmother, Jean Huffstutler from Birmingham, Ala.

Huffstutler, a self-described Civil War buff originally from New York state, said she had ancestors on both sides of the war.

Huffstutler said she has attended re-enactments before in Alabama, and thought the event in Collierville was great, despite the heat.

But not everyone is so sure of what really happened in Collierville 150 years ago.

Gary L. Donhardt, author of "On the Road to Memphis with General Ulysses S. Grant," said not only was Grant not at the square, there was not a battle in Collierville or an occupation of the town at that time.

According to an excerpt from "On the Road," Grant only stopped in Collierville long enough to have a glass of water with a local man, Josiah Deloach. Grant left before lunch and was in Memphis soon after, where he established the Union Headquarters at the William R. Hunt House on Beale Street.

© 2012 Memphis Commercial Appeal.

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