Region learns of Camp Blount’s impact
History came alive on the banks of the Elk River in Fayetteville Friday and Saturday as thousands looked on, learning the impact of Camp Blount on the War of 1812.
The Camp Blount Bicentennial Celebration was well received by both living history interpreters as well as onlookers visiting the site for the first time, said Farris Beasley, chairman of the Camp Blount Memorial Park Committee, following the weekend event.
Living history interpreters depict key figures in history as part of Friday and Saturday’s Camp Blount Bicentennial Celebration. (From left) Dr. Will Young portrays Dr. Charles McKinney, an ancestor who ministered to troops, Tony Townsend as Pvt. David Crockett, Scott McMahon as Ensign Sam Houston, and Grant Hardin as Gen. Andrew Jackson. Together, the men recreate “Crossroads to Destiny”, the name given the painting by nationally renowned artist David Wright, who was also in Fayetteville for the celebration. ~ Staff photo by Paul Henry
“Our committee was very appreciative of all the positive comments we received about this past weekend’s celebration,” Beasley said. “Re-enactors from all parts of the country said it was superbly done for a first-time event … Some even ranked it very high with some of the better events they had attended over the years.”
Community response was also very complimentary, the organizer said, adding that many were surprised to learn of the impact Camp Blount had on the War of 1812.
“None of them had ever set foot on any part of Camp Blount, and they were touched by being on the site, seeing the picturesque piece of land that it is, and seeing the living history presented in such a way as to honor the legacy of the early patriots who answered the call to defend the nation from the Creek Indian uprising and later to be involved in the Battle of New Orleans and the final British defeat.”
Camp Blount, now in the process of being acquired by the State of Tennessee and preserved as a park commemorating its history, was the rendezvous point and mustering ground for thousands of Tennessee soldiers serving in the militia under Gen. Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812, or more precisely, the Creek War of 1813-1814, according to a history of the site by Tom Kanon in the Tennessee Historical Quarterly published in the summer of 2001.
From this site, Jackson launched a military campaign into the heart of the Creek nation, located in what is now Alabama, in response to Indian incursions on the early American southwest border, Kanon wrote, adding that the subsequent systematic destruction of the Creeks led to the eventual usurpation of most of their lands shortly after the War of 1812.
Tennessee volunteers in the Seminole Wars of 1818 and 1836 also mustered at this site, according to the history, and both Federal and Confederate troops again utilized it during the Civil War.
“During the last few months, as we were given the opportunity to carry the message to so many groups about Camp Blount and its role in Tennessee’s nickname, ‘the volunteer state’, and then as the purchase of the property by the State of Tennessee was announced this past week, there appeared to be an increasing level of excitement by the community over the prospects of establish this area as a historical site,” said Beasley.
“This was a community effort, and we are so appreciative of the support we received from so many individuals, businesses, industries, the media, both print and television, our city and county governments and their various agencies that really helped us develop the site,” he added.
Behind-the-scenes efforts to develop Camp Blount Memorial Park have been underway for several years, and as the state pursues the acquisition of the 39-plus acre site, it is hoped that ultimately the historic nature of the area can be preserved. Long-range plans call for site facilities to include trailhead kiosks, a pavilion, memorial plaza, living history area and walking trail. Additional features may also include a parking area, restrooms, period fencing and landscaping.
(To view photos from this weekend’s event, visit http://evtphotos.lcs.net/gallery.php?gid=1021)