Vivian and Eric Carter aren't Southerners. Heck, they're not even Americans.
But the Manchester, England, retirees were in history heaven Saturday as they blended with hundreds of re-enactors and spectators during the 21st annual Battle of Secessionville event at Boone Hall Plantation.
"It's living history and it's very exciting. We love to see people in period costumes," said Vivian Carter, who said the couple's interest in the Civil War, re- enactments and the South was sparked when they happened upon a cannon firing at Shiloh Battlefield in Tennessee about four years ago.
Added Eric: "It's good fun."
And if you missed the fun Saturday, you have second shot today -- starting with reveille at 7 a.m. The battle itself gets fought all over again at 2 p.m.
Randy Burbage of the Confederate Heritage Trust, which sponsors the event, said about 800 re-enactors came to participate in reliving a battle that took place on June 16, 1862, at Fort Lamar on James Island. The Confederates' victory over Union forces in the largest battle fought in South Carolina kept the Union from establishing a point on James Island from which to bombard Charleston.
"Next year is going to be a big event," said Burbage of plans for the 150th anniversary.
Burbage said re-enactment groups from the 79th New York, 8th Michigan and 28th Massachusetts -- all regiments that were involved in the battle -- have been contacted about participating next year. Then in 2013, the Heritage Trust will host a re- enactment of the 150th anniversary of the second Battle of Battery Wagner, which took place on Morris Island.
Burbage said that money raised from this year's re-enactment will go to preserving some of the nearly 80 Confederate flags, including battle, company and regiment flags, that are stored at the South Carolina Relic Room in Columbia.
Among the re-enactors Saturday was Sen. Glenn McConnell, R-S.C., who is a member of the Marion Light Artillery and helped man the South Carolina Gun cannon. The cannon, made out of marine bronze, is an exact replica of one that was destroyed at Shiloh.
"Our crew has a great time reproducing history for the people," said McConnell, whose duties included "worming and dry sponging" out the gun after every firing.
While the 45-minute battle is the highlight of each day, the living history events take place all day and include a feminine side of the war.
Women held socials, strolled around under parasols and cooked food for soldiers and civilians.
Among them were the Black Oak Soldiers Relief Association, Summerville re-enacters who modeled their group after an actual one that was based at Black Oak Church, the site of which is now under Lake Moultrie.
Lisa Reynolds said the group found the minutes from meetings of the Black Oak group and tries to duplicate what they did, including making uniforms and sending care packages to troops via wagon.
What: The Battle of Secessionville living history event
Where: Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant
When: Today, starting with reveille at 7 a.m. Other highlights including a church service at 11 a.m., weapons inspections for Federal and Confederate troops at 12:30 p.m. and the battle itself at 2 p.m.
How much: Tickets are $19.50 for adults, $15 for seniors and military, $7.50 for children ages 6-12, and free for 5 and under.
More Info: Go to http://boonehallplantation.com and click on 'events.'