Selma Re-enactment could be history
By Alvin Benn Montgomery Advertiser
SELMA -- The Battle of Selma won't be re-enacted this year unless some ardent Confederate descendants can figure out how to hold on to the bit of history.
Local sponsors called off the annual event, slated for late April, because of high fuel costs and a dwindling number of re-enactors and volunteers.
"It's hard work," said Mike Reynolds, a radio station executive who helped turn the re-enactment into one of Alabama's most popular tourist events. "We just never could get enough people to do the kind of job that was required each year."
The cancellation couldn't have come at a worse time for state tourism director Lee Sentell since 2011 marks the sesquicentennial start of the Civil War "and Alabama played the most important role in the nation at that time."
Re-enactors from as far away as Michigan and Maine have traveled to Selma where an authentic Confederate Ball was held the night before the battle event. Thousands of students from throughout the state toured the battle site each year to learn about the lifestyles of the men who fought in the Civil War. Longtime Selma leader George "Cap" Swift differs with Sentell, thinking the Battle of Selma "may have run its course."
"The younger generation hasn't had their granddaddies talk to them about the war and their family's involvement way back at that time," Swift said. "I think most of our people are more concerned with the war we're in now instead of the war that once was."
Patricia Godwin is one of the Confederate descendants determined to save the re-enactment, which began in 1987. Leaders of several Confederate re-enactor groups plan to meet in the next few days to see if they can pick up the pieces.
"All is not lost," said Godwin, a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. "General Forrest's cavalry had a habit of winning battles and we're going to do our best to keep it alive."
She referred to Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who led a gallant, but outmanned band of soldiers who tried unsuccessfully to defend Selma against a large unit of Union troops who overran Selma on April 2, 1865.
"What this event needs is new blood and attractions that will be more palatable to the public," she said. "I, for one, do not consider the Battle of Selma to be another Titanic."