The State of Mississippi is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year and DeSoto County is joining in the effort to commemorate the 154th Battle of Hernando with a large-scale Civil War re-enactment of that battle near the actual battlefield site on May 19-21.
The three-day event is being staged during the A'Fair event on the Square in the hopes that an afternoon of history will draw thousands to the site of Mussecuna Plantation, located at 5000 Robertson Gin Road, about a mile and a half south of the Hernando baseball and softball field complex.
But the truly significant addition to the festivities this year is the display of an exact scale replica of the C.S.S. Hunley, the Civil War-era submarine that was the first armored vessel of its kind to sink an enemy vessel during that bloody conflict.
Eddie Burks, owner of Mussecuna Plantation and organizer of the event, said the C.S.S. Hunley has never been exhibited in northwest Mississippi before.
"This is a rare opportunity to see a once-in-a-lifetime piece of history in our community which has such historical significance," said Burks, who restored the former Yates-Whitten home south of Hernando. The home and cemetery, which holds the remains of the Robertson family, have been the subject of tours and events for the past several years.
The home, which was built in 1849, is the oldest home in Hernando and one of the oldest in DeSoto County. It was used as a Civil War hospital for both North and South troops. It's also been a cotton plantation, stage coach stop, Post Office and the first Catholic Church of Hernando.
Hundreds of Civil war troops will converge for the reenactment slated May 19-21. The traveling exhibit of the C.S.S. Hunley will be on display from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Friday, May 19.
Tours and a period dance with live music will be held on Friday night with free admission for those who come dressed in period clothing.
Burks said the C.S.S. Hunley is the star attraction this year.
"We've never had something like this in our area before," said Burks. "It's a chance to pay tribute to the young Americans who took part in this pivotal part of our nation's history."
Larry Dixon, a member of the 1st Mississippi Cavalry re-enactment group, said the battle and C.S.S. Hunley have taken on special significance.
Family legend and lore suggests that the captain of the Hunley, Capt. George E. Dixon, could very well be a distant relative of Larry Dixon's.
"We were always told this through family folklore," Dixon said. "But we can't prove it ironclad," he said, with the pun intended. "Bringing the Hunley, the first submarine to sink an enemy vessel is really something for our area. We hope that people will put it on their calendars."
"Having it during the A'Fair when there are between 8,000 to 9,000 people who are in town, there should be a lot of people who will come out and see it."
There is a $2 admission to see the Hunley and a one-day pass for the battle and other activities is $10.
Gates will open to the public at 10 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.