Originally created 02/11/99

A glimpse of history



PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- The soldiers of the Palmetto Battalion lined up in their gray uniforms, shoulder-to-shoulder, readying themselves for battle. With muskets clasped to chests, they pounded the ground in worn boots.

But unlike their forefathers', the soldiers' strides were a performance: a well-choreographed re-enactment of Civil War battles.

The 11th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry and the German Artillery Civil War re-enactors recently demonstrated drills and firing procedures on the grounds of the Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot.

Battalion Capt. Terry Grissop, who has been a re-enactor with the Palmetto Battalion for 13 years, says he takes his hobby seriously.

"It is not just about playing war," he said. "I do it as a memory of what they fought for."

That's why some people call them living historians, Grissop said.

"We want to bring attention to history," volunteer Steve Fields said. "A picture speaks a thousand words ... and we're here to present that picture."

According to re-enactors, most of the soldiers in the 11th South Carolina were from the Beaufort district and were stationed along the Charleston-to-Savannah railroad.

"It is fun for us to come and share history in this historic region," Pvt. Scott Robinson said. "I joined because I wanted to gain respect for what my ancestors went through."

On display at the volunteers' campsite were authentic reproductions of soldiers' gear, which included a Bible, sewing kit, candle, lamps, a musket, canned goods, checkers and poker cards.

"They never admitted that they gambled," Robinson said. "It was a sin, and they didn't want their families to know. So they threw their cards on the ground before they died so their families wouldn't find it on them."

Volunteer members of the German Artillery fired their cannon gun, a 10-pound parrot rifle, manned by seven soldiers. The artillery group fought on the coast until Charleston was evacuated in 1865.

Capt. Steve Riggs formed the volunteer group with his 15-year-old son, David, about 18 months ago. Now Riggs oversees 32 men.

"This gives me the chance to spend time with my dad," said David, dressed in uniform with a sword hanging by his side. "And I also learn more about history."