573 Magazine Nov 2017 - Page 46

Every few years Pilot Knob hosts its Battle of Pilot Knob Civil War reenactment.  One hundred and fifty-three years ago the actual Civil War battle was fought on September 27, 1864, at Fort Davidson in Pilot Knob.   Although outnumbered by more than ten-to-one, the Union defenders managed to repulse repeated Confederate assaults on their works and were able to slipped away during the night by exploiting a gap in the Southern siege lines. The attacking rebels took possession of the fort the next day but ended the South’s goal of seizing St. Louis for the Confederacy.   Today, the battle area and a museum are operated by the Missouri State Parks system as “Fort Davidson State Historic Site.” The earthworks of the fort are still generally intact, surrounding the huge hole that was caused by the powder explosion. Following the battle, the Confederates retained the field and were therefore responsible for burying the dead. The rifle pits were accordingly selected for use as a mass grave. Although the exact number of Confederate casualties are unknown, park historians estimate that total Southern losses were approximately 1,000 compared to 200 Union casualties, 28 of whom were killed. A granite monument now marks the mass grave. The site is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. This year’s reenactment ran for two days with period vendors, foods, and a battle reenactment. To say the reenactors take this seriously would be an understatement.  The idea is historical accuracy from head to toe.  Period correct shoes, socks, headwear and everything in-between, including working rifles.  When the battle starts they use live five, no bullets of course, and live firing cannons.  The sound and smoke consume the spectators.  The cavalry charges in with horseback sword play, the infantry marches in, and both sides, the North and South, begin to fire and the actors start to fall.  The battle rages for approximately 15 minutes.