Moments before re-enacting the Battle of Huck's Defeat, England native Steven Nendick prepares to fight on the side of the American patriots. Being that the American patriots defeated his native British loyals in the American Revolutionary War, this is a totally different world for him.
"I don't know if I can shoot at those blokes," says Nendick upon re-enacting the shooting scene for Huck's defeat. "Those are some good looking group of chaps with proper red coats."
Hysterical laughter ensues, which is indicative of the atmosphere present on this Saturday at Historic Brattonsville. Hundreds of spectators happily gather from the Carolinas and other parts of the southeastern region to witness history junkies dress -- and talk -- like the natives in pre-colonial times.
This day is the second day in a weekend of camping for more than 200 re-enactors. Campers set up tents on the acreage of Historic Brattonsville, spending most of their time cooking, fixing their guns and drinking to cool down from the heat. All of these tasks are done using antiquated tools of those times.
"The thing that is interesting to me about history is seeing how well they did things with what they had," says Bob McCann, a re-enactor for Brattonsville for the past 13 years. "High tech doesn't necessarily mean better."
Elaine Sprinkle has been a re-enactor on the dish staff for 12 years at Brattonsville. She says her love for history brings her here every year.
"There were a lot of battles in South Carolina and on this land right here during the revolutionary war," she says. "This land is rich in history."
Blast from the past
At Brattonsville, scores of men are draped in linen cloth and neckerchiefs. The cloth of common men was linen in those days, cotton was the cloth of the elite. This is a reversal from modern times, when cotton is abundant and linen is considered the cloth of the elite.
"Learning little interesting and crazy facts about those times are what drives me," McCann says.
Walking among the woodsy area of Brattonsville and kicking rocks everywhere he steps, McCann entertains visitors' questions about his attire and the time period in which he's representing.
His attire is a long sleeve brown plaid shirt under a black and white checkered vest, with linen pants and long tube socks. Asked if he's hot, McCann looks annoyed.
"Naw," he says. "It ain't so bad."
That's because McCann is used to the heavy clothing. In 1995, he was brought to Brattonsville by a friend. He was between jobs and has always been a history aficionado, so his friend was able to convince him to give this re-enactment thing a try.
Fast forward 12 years later, where McCann is still exuberantly filling the shoes of a 1780 patriot soldier at Brattonsville. He approaches his character as the leader of the New Acquisition Militia like a surgeon upon surgery. With the scowl of an embittered patriot in those times, McCann looks and plays the part with great meticulousness.
"All right! Let's load our cartridges!" McCann yells. That's the signal of the start of the re-enactment of Huck's raid on the Bratton House. At this point, about 15 militia men begin to load their guns. Rifles and muskets used in the re-enactment cost anywhere from $600 to $3,000.
Richard Diggers, an re-enactor for two years, paid $2,000 for his rifle. Another re-enactor Jim Strong paid $3,000 for his rifle. Despite the large sum of money invested into their artillery, re-enactor Maurice Harlan says it doesn't take much for somebody to re-enact.
"Just anybody's who's interested in history," says Harlan, a re-enactor for more than 20 years.
Harlan, 50, says he's learned a lot since he began his foray into oral history.
For example, slavery.
"You have to look at it as they did," he says. "Slavery was a business. Back then, it was either you had a lot of kids, or a lot of slaves."
The Catawba Indians?
"The Catawbas were a tough nation, tough warriors," he says. "But the Europeans wiped them out."
How were they able to wipe them out?
"Europeans were filthy people then," he said. "They had no sense of sanitation, and the American Indians were not exposed to that before. So it didn't take long for them to dwindle."
With the biggest event of the day brewing, tourists gather in a line for an up-close view. Scottish bagpipes play as McCann and his crew assemble. Among those assembling with McCann is Nendick, the native of York, England. Nendick, for the first time in his 18 years as a re-enactor, will fight against his own countrymen.
He gets through it OK.
"If I'd known beforehand (that the loyalists were from York, England), I don't think I would have done this," he says.
Nendick flew to the United States from England specifically for this day. Such is the life of a history buff, who would fly thousands of miles to portray accuracy in major world events.
Such is the life of these re-enactors, who, for one day, get to make history current and relevant in an area that is lavish with American history.
"I don't know if we get all of the facts right, and that is certainly debatable," said McCann. "But we try, and that's all you can do."