Historical re-enactment is an activity during which participants follow a pre-arranged plan to recreate aspects of a historical event or period, often a military engagement.
This may be a specific critical moment in a battle or much broader as participants follow along an entire period. These activities are both educational and entertaining and have a long history themselves dating back to Roman times where staged recreations of famous battles were enacted as public spectacle in amphitheaters. Today, they envelop living history demonstrations, combat demonstrations, and battle re-enactments based on well researched attempts to recreate a known historical event or period.
If you’ve attended any of these events, you may have noticed some younger faces among the usual re-enactors and Park Rangers. FRIENDS youth volunteers are part of the National Park Service (NPS) Volunteers-in-Parks (VIP) program. We actively recruit young people ages 6-18 as volunteers in general, but the young VIPs have played a significant part in the past several Overmountain re-enactments in particular. These young people have worked demonstrating colonial games and crafts, quill writing, music, dancing and have given some of the candlelight tours.
The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail is the site for one of the largest annual Revolutionary War re-enactments near the Blue Ridge Parkway. This trail was officially designated as the first National Historic Trail in 1980, recognizing the historical significance of the “Overmountain Men” exactly 200 years after their contribution to the birth of the United States. The Overmountain Men were frontier patriots, settlers of primarily Scotch-Irish descent from eastern Tennessee and North Carolina – marching over the Appalachian Mountains to defeat the Loyalist army at the Battle of King’s Mountain, South Carolina.
The re-enactment occurs annually in September beginning with many re-enactors following the entire path the Overmountain Men took. The event itself is held at Museum of North Carolina Minerals in Spruce Pine, milepost 331. This location is at Gillespie Gap, an important stop for the Revolutionary War fighters on their way to the Battle of Kings Mountain. The museum grounds are reborn as a colonial militia encampment, providing a glimpse of various colonial activities and telling the story of the Overmountain Men and the Battle of Kings Mountain. During the day, guests are invited to stroll through the encampment taking part in various demonstrations and visiting with reenactors. In the afternoon, a re-enactment of the battle will take place at the Orchard of Altapass, milepost 328 off the Blue Ridge Parkway. The day is capped off with candlelight tours through the encampment at the Minerals Museum after dark.
For information, visitors should check with the Overmountain Victory Trail Association which has been performing the re-enactments since 1975 and local newspapers.