Smethport Web — by Nathan Muller
Ross Porter opened the week long Bucktail reenactment on Saturday, April 23, 2011 commemorating the departure of the volunteer militia from Smethport 150 years ago.
“As reenactors, we are a living monument. We do this not to glorify the events, but to give tribute to the events and to the people who struggled and fought.”
The reenactment took place at the Courtyard Restaurant in Smethport, which is the former site of The Bennett House where the first meetings were held to form the Bucktails.
At the Court House at Smethport, on the evening of April 18, 1861 at a meeting presided over by the Hon. Byron D. Hamlin, Colonel Thomas L. Kane was introduced and made an address in which he reviewed the incidents of rebellion that had occurred in the last few days.
He also read the proclamation of President Lincoln calling for volunteers and announced that he had been commissioned by Governor H. E. Andrew G. Curtin to raise a force of one hundred volunteers. These volunteers, mostly backwoods sharpshooters, became the legendary “Bucktails”.
Short speeches were made by prominent businessman Byron D. Hamlin of Smethport, played by Nathan Muller, and by the Hon. N. E. Eldred of Wayne County, played by Wayne Pearson.
Hamlin summed up the reason for taking up arms as follows: “The flag of our country has been assaulted – the stars and stripes have been torn from their proud position and trampled under the feet of those who have been protected by them and whose duty it was in turn to protect.”
Among those who volunteered for the militia and took the oath of service in Smethport was S.G. Southwick. During the reenactment, Southwick was played by Friendship, NY resident John Stengel, who gave a rousing speech to motivate the volunteers before they marched off toward Emporium on their way to Harrisburg and, ultimately, legendary Civil War status.
After the speeches, three cheers were called for and given for the McKean County Rifles, three for Colonel Kane, and three for the Stars and Stripes which hung in front of the Bennett House hotel.
When the command, “Forward, march,” was given, the column headed across the mountains to Cameron Station, in Cameron County, on the Philadelphia and Erie Railroad, twenty-eight miles away. Each man carried his own rifle, ammunition, a coat and a blanket.
Closing remarks were delivered by Bucktail author William Robertson, who cited a few of the many achievements of the Bucktails in battle.