Next weekend, the mountains surrounding the Snoqualmie Valley will echo with cannon fire and musketry, during the third annual Battle of Snoqualmie.
This event, a Civil War-era battle re-enactment and living history display, will set up camp, literally, on the grounds of Meadowbrook Farm, Sept. 16 to 17, and will encourage all ages to explore what life was like in the mid 1800s, during the deadliest conflict that American soil has ever seen.
Nearly 700,000 people were killed in the conflict, between April, 1861 and May, 1865. One reason for the high death toll, says local event volunteer coordinator Bob Ballard, is because of advances to weaponry, with which military tactics did not keep pace.
“The battles are usually somewhat scripted,” Ballard told the Record in a phone call last week, “mostly to demonstrate the Napoleonic tactics of the time.” These tactics, of two lines of soldiers facing off and shooting in turns, were outdated by increases to the range and improved accuracy of the guns of the day.
“Weaponry had evolved to be more modern and more accurate at longer range,” Ballard said. “Fighting in a straight line, stopping within 100 yards of each other and firing, is now much more deadly.”
Several hundred men and women volunteers, including foot soldiers and cavalry, plus a handful of artillery pieces will engage in the battles, twice daily during the weekend, at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday and at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday.
“The battles are usually the climax of the morning or afternoon, but there’s a lot else going on between the battles,” said Ballard.
There’s a general store, where you can pick up the day-to-day essentials of 1860s life, as well as Union and Confederate clothing for both men and women, and black armbands mourning the loss of Abraham Lincoln. There’s also a saloon for re-enactors and visitors in need of refreshment, and a central activity tent, featuring a variety of speakers and activities.
On the schedule for Saturday are: Actor Roy Talbott, speaking as Robert E. Lee, at 9 a.m.; a fife and drum concert of period music at noon; a presentation by Abraham Lincoln (actor Keith Deaton) at 12:30; and “parlor talk,” a discussion of the war by average citizens of the time, at 1:30 p.m.
Sunday’s program includes a portrayal of Isaac Stevens, Washington’s first territorial governor (Washington was not yet a state and was not involved in the Civil War), another portrayal of Lincoln and a discussion on the use of hot-air balloons in the war.
Participating exhibitors include Timeless Stitches, Cascade Mountain Men, the Museum of Flight, the Fort Nisqually Historical Association, Society for Creative Anachronism, and Circle K Mercantile.
Visitors are also encouraged to walk through the various camps of the re-enactors and talk to them throughout the event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for active military members and $5 for children ages 11 to 18. Children age 10 or younger are admitted free.
For the complete schedule and other information, visit https://battleofsnoqualmie.com.