"What if PAYSON had been at the Crossroads

of the Grand Drama of the American Civil War?"

 
Spring 1862
In a border town in a border area, the citizens of Payson have been of divided sympathies in the great conflict between North & South. Cries of "Save the Union!" and "States Rights and the Constitution!" were heard with equal passion on the streets of this formerly peaceful town. But then came news that Confederate artillery had fired on Fort Sumter - and that a Northern army had invaded Virginia.
Rhetoric quickly gave way to organized force.
Confederates were first in garrisoning Payson but the Union has also recognized the town's strategic value and has sent a force to drive the Southerners out and claim Payson for the North.
Will the North succeed in capturing the town? Or will Southern forces mount a successful defense? If the Union forces succeed in driving out the Confederates will they be viewed as conquerors - or as liberators?
Perhaps it is a question of perspective, a question upon which the townspeople will have much to say...
 
On April 4th, 2009 We Make History proudly presented our first annual of "The Battle of Payson", a first-person interactive drama featuring soldiers and civilians of the North & South, live battle enactments and interaction with historic townspeople, historic military personnel and renowned historic personalities such as President Abraham Lincoln and General Robert E. Lee and then finally a special tribute to all of America's veterans both past and present.
 
We Make History is a nonprofit educational organization devoted to family-friendly education that is creative and interactive, making inspirational use of history and the arts as we honour those who went before us. Nationally known and nationally active, We Make History has served families, communities, schools, historic sites and more in our educational mission through historical reenactments, historic balls, historic portrayals, speeches, seminars, workshops and much more.
We Make History is the organizer of the American Heritage Festival which is held each November in Queen Creek, Arizona.
Far more than merely a reenacting group, our standards are high in every way. We are passionate about supporting our heritage and our devotion to bringing history to life for families.
 
Email for further information.

 

Come out and see us again at the Battle of Payson every April in Payson, Arizona

and at our annual American Heritage Festival each November in Queen Creek, Arizona!

 

In the meantime please enjoy the exciting 2009 Battle of Payson photo gallery below. You may click on any picture for a larger view.

 We extend our thanks to the following makers of daguerreotypes: Mrs. Scott, Mrs. Lincoln, A. Towle, D. Howe, G. Shannon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ladies & Gentlemen,

Sometimes historic events can be astoundingly near despite the distances of time and place.

I'd like to share with you the following as it was inspirational, a real blessing for me.

At the Battle of Payson an elderly gentlemen with focused, steady gaze walked up to me and reaching out both hands, gripped my arm tightly. With tears streaming down his cheeks he looked me in the eye and thanked me profusely for holding the Payson event. He related that his grandfather (a soldier from Tennessee if I recall correctly) had fought and been captured at Vicksburg. As a boy he had heard from this grandfather many stories of personal experiences in the Civil War. Our "Battle of Payson" brought back memories of his grandfather, his grandfather's adventures and to him honoured his grandfather and all who were caught up in the events of that time so long ago.

We blessed many that day but this one experience in the midst of all was very special indeed.

Let us maintain a heart of service toward others and there will be many more such experiences ahead.

Your humble servant,

Col. Scott

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letters from the Rim

 

I am the little old gray haired lady you spoke with today in Payson. I am sending some photos, especially one of a handsome young man in your tent that won an award. 

I must say I was planning to just stay for the morning but found I could not leave the event it was so good.  Did not want to miss a thing.  And it was so much fun taking pictures to share with people here, my family and friends.  Looking forward to next year with my camera ready. Thank you, to all of you from myself and all of Payson. It was sheer enjoyment.

G.S.

Payson Arizona

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Thanks you, Colonel, for posting the photos. I cannot wait for next year. The Battle of Payson had to be the most wonderful experience of my life. May God Bless You!!
 

Your humble servant,
J.M. of Chandler, AZ

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Please add me to your monthly newsletter list.  I live in Payson and attended the reenactment you held here this weekend.  It was wonderful!
 
Val

Payson, Arizona

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Dear Sir,

My son, husband and I were at the battle of Payson and were very impressed.  We had a wonderful time.  We also love history and the re-enactment was superb.

My son was so impressed he asked me if I could find out more information on how one joins your organization and what is all involved.

Again, thank you so much for such a delightful program and I hope that Payson will have a ball associated with the Civil War theme. 

Colleen R.

Phoenix, Arizona

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Dear Col. Scott,

Thank you so much, once again, for all of your efforts. And thank you also for letting me step up into a larger supporting role as a wounded prisoner.  I am more than eager to do so again when the need shall arise, in whatever capacity you may require!

Have a Blessed Resurrection Day!

In Christ,
Your Humble Servant And Friend,
Pvt. Christopher

Tucson, Arizona

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We had a great day. Thanks for all your work!

Joni & Dale

Phoenix, Arizona

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Wow!  What a spectacular event. 

Thanks for putting it all together.  It was a ton of fun. 

Chris

Peoria, Arizona

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My thoughts of the Civil War were a little shaky as it has been many years since I have read about it.  I was not sure what to expect but soon I would find out at the Payson, Arizona Civil War Showdown!  It quickly became so exciting seeing the women and children dress in their long dresses and bonnets mixing with the crowd. The soldiers were also out and around answering questions for those that had them, looking stately and handsome.  The highlight of the show for many little ones was Abe Lincoln and listening to his wonderful stories.  Now General Robert E. Lee was also keeping the crowd busy as he went from place to place. It was an exciting experience as it was my first and I will go again.  Everyone seemed to have a great time seeing the show as well as interacting with the players or just plain talking about the good old days around the Civil War.  We appreciate Scott and his troupe for coming and hope to see them back again next year.

Gloria S.

Payson, Arizona

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We had a glorious time in Payson!
~Mrs. Y.
    Prescott, Arizona

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Sir,

There is one unsung hero at the Battle of Payson. She exemplified a humble servant with the spirit to inspire Men, Women, and Children. There is a famous saying attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi that best describes her actions, "Preach the Gospel and if you must, use words". At the closing prayer she humbly knelt while we mostly stood. She smiled throughout the day while we mostly were concentrating on the pending battle and the order of events of the day. She stayed until the very end and was not heard to have muttered a complaint. That woman was Mrs. H. The impact of her actions still bring tears to my eyes four days after the battle. Isn't it great when the Lord draws our attention to an individual who is living His Word...

In the words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta..."You can do no great things, only small things with great love."

Steve S.

Gilbert, AZ

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Dear Col. Scot,

Caleb and Marissa very much enjoyed being a part of the Payson reenactment.  Thank you so much for allowing them to participate.

Roxanna C.

Flagstaff, Arizona

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Thanks again for a truly delightful weekend!  I look forward to many more, Sir.

Sincerest Regards,

D.T.

Phoenix, Arizona

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Dear sir,
      Thank you very much for allowing me to participate in the reenactment that was on Saturday. I really enjoyed myself and  I am looking forward to participating again in the future. Thank you again. God bless.
         Love,
              Leea

Flagstaff, Arizona

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Dear Lord Scott,

I loved my first living history day! I felt like I was actually living in the Civil War! It was exciting!

We all had a grand time!

Thanks, Esther

Tucson, Arizona

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Dear Capt. Scott

I just wanted to say what a wonderful time I had in Payson on Saturday. It's such a blessing to "live" history with other Christians, I always come away with much more than just a history lesson. I think one of my favorite parts of the the day was when the 1st Virginia began singing hymns before the first battle. It made the moment remarkably real, as if these young men really were preparing to risk their lives for God and Country. Thank you for such an exhilarating event!

Blessings,
Miss P.

Flagstaff, Arizona

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Dear Sir & Madame,

Thank you so very much for the Payson event; it was great fun both to participate and have the opportunity to interact with our visitors;  I passed on some information, and learned some things myself.  All around outstanding!

My love to you all,

TF

Scottsdale, Arizona

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Dear Capt. Scott,

I have nothing but thanks for all the hard work that went into the Battle of Payson, both on your part and on the part of the many community leaders who brought everything together to make this a most unique and enjoyable experience.  From the outset I could tell the people of Payson had never seen anything like what we presented, judging from their initial shyness at interacting with us.  But they, like us, were drawn into the story, and now they and their children have a perspective they will never forget.

Two moments in this day stand out for me.  One was seeing a "retired" re-enactor express interest in rejoining the hobby upon seeing us in accurate, authentic uniforms and gear... and this was before the battle started!  I have no doubt we inspired him.

The other was interacting with all the children gathered around while I was a wounded prisoner of the Federals.  Like my Union captors, they took turns matching wits with me and testing my resolve, which as my guards will tell you, refused to diminish even though I'd lost a lot of blood!  For one wee lass, things were so real that her mother brought her back to me at the end of the day to reassure her I had not been injured.  At that, I gladly removed my "bloody" bandages and showed her it was all in our imaginations.

And I might add, fighting in formation is exciting, but it is nothing like the rush of street combat!

As always, I am thankful to THE LORD for everyone who is part of We Make History.  I continue to pray for all of you, that GOD will Bless Us and Guide Us to many more wonderful things and opportunities to present history!

HUZZAH!  HUZZAH!  HUZZAH!

Oh yes, that newspaper in Williamsburg that the Federals heard mention of -- it did indeed publish an account of the battle:

Your Humble Servant And Friend,
Pvt. Christopher "Mouth Of The South"
1st Virginia Volunteer Infantry

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Dispatch From Payson

Memoirs of a soldier in the 1st Virginia Volunteer Infantry taken prisoner by Union forces during the Battle Of Payson.

The following originally appeared in The Williamsburg (Virginia) Star in 1862, as a dispatch from newspaper-publisher-turned-soldier Pvt. Christopher Francis. His brother was now printing the Star
on the private's behalf, and this is one of many dispatches Pvt. Christopher sent back home in order to give the public the "uncompromisable truth" about the War Between the States from a Confederate soldier's perspective. Indeed, some historians argue Pvt. Christopher joined the cause to supply compelling copy!

PAYSON INVADED BY NORTHERN AGGRESSORS!
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INVADERS CRUMBLE UNDER CONFEDERATE COUNTERATTACK
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PUBLISHER OF THIS NEWSPAPER WOUNDED IN BATTLE, TAKEN HOSTAGE BY UNION FORCES


{Community of Payson --
Saturday April 4, 1862}

The crackles of muskets reverberated throughout this entire mountain town, accented by the screams of innocents as Northern aggressors brutally disturbed the tranquility and safety of the citizens for a futile victory quickly undone by the superior forces of the Confederacy, but at a cost of many lives.

During this unfathomable assault, your publisher was briefly taken hostage by green Federal troops, which did grant a new perspective into the flaws of the occupying company. Such imperfections will no doubt lead to their doom.

This morning we marched into the town to provide defense against Union encroachment. Thereapon we found the citizens plagued with worry, afraid to walk along the streets until our Captain gave several announcements that the town was safe and under our protection. Mayor Hopkins addressed his citizens, and only then did they begin to approach us with hesitant curiosity, inquiring as to our purpose and armaments.

For much of the morning, my compatriots and I mingled among the townspeople, the ladies and gentlemen and their children, while they went about their business. I should note their hospitality to us did not go ungratified by any soldier, as we did our best to satisfy all questions, most notably the young children who I daresay had never met a soldier of the Confederacy.

The source of their concern surfaced after many a conversation: a persistent rumor of Union soldiers camped a mere mile or two away from the town. Again and again we dismissed such fictions, myself saying to a worried citizen, "My Lady, we have not seen a Union soldier for miles. Just our presence here is enough to hold them back."

Still, to our regret, those rumors manifested and fed upon themselves like a bonfire. A lady asked in the height of uncertainty: "When will the battle be?"

"My Lady," I replied, "We are not expecting a fight, but Heaven Forbid, if it should come to that, I am confident that we shall resolve things quickly, in a single afternoon."

Our beloved Gen. Lee agreed with my sentiments during a brief meeting, whereupon we recognized the unpredictability of this great conflict and the need for all to be ready at a moments notice, not unlike the Minutemen who defended this nation a century ago.

The citizens warmed to us, exchanging smiles to the tips of our kepis as we moved about the town. To our honor, they asked us to pause in our steps while they made pictures of us using peculiar silver devices no larger than a deck of playing cards.

I could not help but comment, "I've seen the strangest daguerreotype makers today," to which a citizen informed me said devices "come from Japan."

"I thought they might have come from Ohio," I noted.

A compatriot of mine, itching for a scrap, ached to venture outside the town and kill as many Yankees as he saw, figuring his actions would dissolve the anxiety plaguing the townspeople.

"We are here to defend this town," I protested to him.

Another soldier said, "Do you want to be court-martialed?"

He remained firm in his resolve until he lobbied the Captain personally, who reminded him of his orders with a mild rebuke.

As the early afternoon sun shone down upon us, a detachment of scouts dashed back into the town, puffing broken sentences concerning a sighting of Federals mere miles away. The Captain inquired as to how many and where, and with haste we retrieved our stacked arms and formed for battle.

We urged the citizens to take shelter and clear way for the fight. To quell their nerves and build our resolve, our Corporal led us in a round of "The Bonnie Blue Flag." The Captain asked if there was a clergyman among the crowds to lead us in prayer, but unexpectedly, the duty fell to me.

"Father In Heaven," I prayed aloud before my brothers in arms and the citizens of Payson, a bit uneasy at speaking to THE LORD out loud, extemporaneously, in front of so many people, "give us protection in battle as we go about our mission to defend these Citizens of Payson. Give this town Your protection, in the Name of Lord Jesus, we pray."

I heard the boisterous snapping of Enfield rifles in the distance, and without delay we marched to our position of defense, aided by several men placed in balconies overlooking the town to deal with skirmishers.

We saw the Federals formed up a hundred yards across from us, a feisty looking regiment, if the term feisty should include their resistance to movement.

"I dare you to advance on us!" the Captain taunted as we barraged them with multiple volleys. But our muskets did not intimidate them in the least, and their aim failed to diminish our numbers.

Finally, when they realized a stalemate was no victory, their ranks advanced forward as we held our positions. Musket balls singed the air, yet their targeting did not improve until another advance, wherefore they began to cut into our numbers, and the Captain ordered us back to take cover among the buildings and brush, firing at our disposition to catch them unguarded and out of formation.

Street skirmishes rippled through the entire town as the citizens watched in terrified amazement. No corner or alley was spared the crackle of gunfire or cries of the wounded, many of whom quickly assessed their injuries and regathered their stamina to rejoin the battle.

I took my shots wherever I could find cover around corners or behind trees. But in the height of the skirmish, my attempt to pick off one of two Federals from an obtuse angle across a lawn proved a tactical mistake. One spotted me and put a lead ball into my upper right arm. The burning slam of the lead ball felled me as I heard the Captain call a retreat. Unable to raise myself, I watched my compatriots pursue safer grounds.

At once several Federals surrounded my body, declaring me their prisoner.

"They abandoned you," one said, to my protested corrections that my brothers would not leave me for dead.

They propped me up against a shade tree near the place where they felled me and summoned a nurse.

"Would you do me the courtesy of returning my hat?" I implored, spotting it in the grass several yards away. A Federal retrieved it and tossed it into my lap like a scrap of meat to a dog.

The camp nurse wrapped my bleeding arm, doing her best to treat my injuries. "I do believe it is shattered," she said, not hiding my condition.

For the next few hours, the Federals did their best to add their discourtesies to my pain.

"Those rebels ran away!" a Union private remarked.

"We're regrouping!" I said through my pain. "We will be back to retake this town!"

"How many men do you have?"

"More than you'll ever know! More than enough!"

They tried over and over again to extract information from me on our supplies and our numbers, all the while threatening to hang me and taunting.

"When's the last time you had a bath? You smell worse than you look!"

"You look worse than you smell!" I countered.

Dishearteningly, some of the young citizens, their developing minds obviously corrupted by propaganda, joined the parade of insulting behavior despite my best efforts to remind them of the truth of our mission to defend their town. Many stood before me, no doubt wondering what a wounded prisoner looked like.

"You can't shoot anymore!" a young boy said, finger outstretched in accusation.

"I can shoot with my other hand."

"How are you going to hold a 10-pound gun with one hand?" a young girl remarked.

"You'd be surprised what you can do when you need to do it."

The camp nurse grew frustrated with my guards, imploring them to let me rest.

"We thought he would shut up with all the blood he's lost," one captor remarked.

"We ought to tie a bandage around his mouth!"

My voice carried throughout the town as I threatened to make their names infamous throughout Virginia, and several times their Colonel walked over and implored me to be quiet, at one time threatening me with confinement to a prison cell if I did not cease my incendiary ways. I told him I would cease only if his mean ceased their lies and rumors to the impressionable children.

"You're a gentleman," the Colonel reminded me. "You should know about keeping your word."

I must note, however, that for the Federals lack of civility, they did offer me bread, dried pork and licorice, and several ladies of the town took pity, offering to refill my canteen without a trace of a grudge.

"I regret that I cannot stand and give you proper honors," I apologized as several of them gathered to my side at one point in my captivity.

When I did not find solace in returning the taunts of my captors, I turned to the book of hymns and meditations in my haversack, choosing to read aloud the prayer for the enemy and taking confidence that GOD had us in His favor. I knew of His intercession as the pain in my arm eased with the passing of the afternoon sun. And behold! murmurs from the Federals of my Confederate brethren in the distance soon reached my ears.

"I told you they were regrouping!" I sang. The mere thought of my compatriots' return further strengthened my arm.

Surely the news was encouraging the townspeople as well, for I spotted a young lady cheerfully waving the Bonnie Blue Flag in front of line of Federals as they formed for battle. Their Colonel saw the disruption and ordered one of his officers to deal with the disturbance. She fled with the waving flag to a nearby storefront behind the safety of her aunt, who implored the officer to halt. She restated for him her Union sympathies but reaffirmed her devotion to her niece. However, the officer was unfettered, and the lady produced a pistol from her basket.

"Not one step more!" she shouted to him.

The officer surely must have thought his order or charm could override the danger clearly before him, for he took that fateful step and walked right into a 45-caliber slug that felled him on the stairs.

Amidst the confusion as the Federals attended to him, I sensed an opportunity. My guards had deserted me in the haste to form for battle. Gritting my teethand rising to my feet, I scampered off to the sympathetic ladies.

"Have you seen my gun?" I asked. Alas, they had not. But I ducked behind a store and discovered my trusted Springfield leaning by a back door, either left there in error by one of my captors or smuggled into position by an absent friend.

As I ran through the alleys, more shouting from the Union soldiers echoed from the walls: "The prisoner has escaped!"

I hid where I could, out of sight of any Federal pickets or sentries, looking to rejoin my Confederate brethren. As THE LORD's Providence would have it, I found a detachment of skirmishers running straight for my position, and I heartily joined them. We had no time for formal re-acquaintances or sharing of intelligence as we quickly surrounded the enemy in another street skirmish. From our position behind an outbuilding, we took turns rounding the corner, picking off a Federal or two before ducking back to safety. In minutes, the greenness of the Union line revealed itself in cries of surrender.

The skirmishers and I found a front lawn littered with bodies where the fighting had peaked. The Federal survivors stood with their hands in the air, and we cheered the victory with a coda of "The Bonnie Blue Flag."

I must note this scene of celebration took place mere yards from the tree where the Union held your publisher captive. From now on, this tree might be better known as Payson's Tree of Liberty.

 

www.BattleofPayson.com

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