Historically railroads have been very important during war time. Whoever controls the rail can move troops and supplies around as needed. If you're unfortunate enough to be on the other side it's much more difficult to get food to starving soldiers and reinforcements, equipment and munitions where they are needed quickly.
Last weekend the Attica/Arcade Railroad hosted The Civil War Days Event in which Union and Confederate troops battled for control of the rail line. There were Union and Confederate camps where visitors could mingle and see what life was like for soldiers in the field. The event started with a parade of the participants to the rail station.
Initially Union troops guarded the train as passengers boarded for an hour ride full of interaction between soldiers and passengers and music provided by a squeezebox player and a guitarist. Passengers were able to move car to car during the route and were encouraged to visit the snack car and the open car where the prisoners were being held. Soldiers were responsible for security questioning passengers, checking the contents of ladies' bags and arresting several Rebel sympathizers along the way.
During the trip the train made a brief stop as a battle had broken out near the Union encampment and was raging by the time we came upon it. Soldiers fired from the train to keep passengers safe from the threat from the would-be boarders. As the train moved on, Confederate soldiers fired upon the train from a grassy field but were unsuccessful in getting the train to stop.
Reaching the end of the line provided visitors with a chance to visit with soldiers, railroad engineers and grab a bite to eat. It didn't take long, however, before the Rebels attacked the station from three sides and took control of the train. Union troops fought bravely but were overrun. The surprise attack was a success for the Confederates. Union casualties lay throughout the field and station grounds as the Rebels boarded the train for the return trip with a few Union prisoners.
Eventually the Union forces would take back the train although we did not stay for this portion of the event.
This was one of my favorite reenactment events so far. Highly recommended!
See the gallery "Railroad Skirmish" for more images...