"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 10th, 2010 We Make History proudly presented our second 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 another reenacting group, our standards are high in every way. We are passionate about education, community service, supporting our heritage and our devotion to bringing history to life for families.
 
Please Email for further information.

 

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

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

 

In the meantime please enjoy the exciting 2010 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, Mr. McCoy, Mr. Towle ...

 

More photos to come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 2010 Battle of Payson - Gallery of Photographic Images

 

 

 

 

 

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 first Battle of Payson in 2009 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

 

See our 2009 Battle of Payson Gallery here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letters from the Rim

 

Here's the text of the talk I gave.  Thank you so much for the wonderful "5-D" experience.  Mayor Kenny Evans  

The newest entertainment craze is a return to the 3-D movies of the past.  Technology has now pushed that 3-D experience to your living rooms with the newest 3-D LED and Plasma TV’s. But today we have gone the extra mile just for you – we have gone way beyond 3-D all the way to 5-D!  You will have the opportunity to experience live action and to be immersed into not only a battle scene from a hundred and fifty years ago but to use all of your five senses to experience what soldiers and civilians saw.  You will also see what mothers and dads, daughters and sons saw.  You will know what they heard and felt in the early days of the Civil War.

We often speak of events that change the course of history, alter a life or whose outcome determines the fate of nations.  Few events fit that category more completely than does the great American Civil War.  To understand it requires more than an understanding of the facts.  We want you to truly feel the strife and passion that led to the conflict, the struggle for national identity that fueled the flames of hatred, the philosophical chasm that ripped apart a nation, states and even families.  To do that you must not only look with your eyes but feel with your heart. To truly appreciate the significance of the Civil War, we must feel the gravity of the struggle and recognize the price paid in order that you and I might have the freedoms we enjoy today. . . NOT just the death and disability of the soldiers, but the price paid by their loved ones as well.  So very many brave men and women gave up their hopes and dreams and their tomorrows, in order that you and I might enjoy our freedoms today.  Let us not forget.

We hope you enjoy this marvelous reenactment.  We hope you find this entertaining and enlightening and inspiring.  We hope it will rekindle in each of us a renewed sense of gratitude for all veterans and their families who paid, and continue to pay, such a high price to preserve those God given freedoms which we enjoy. . . And may that recognition remind us each of our responsibility to protect those freedoms for our posterity as well.

Now go, enjoy, have fun!  

Mayor Kenny Evans

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Payson & Proud.

Our We Make History team came into Payson with a mission to serve a beautiful community, a community that has been hit by economic hardship, a community that could use some refreshment, some excitement, some inspiration, some reminders of those things that really matter.

 

I am proud of the way...

our We Make History children engaged the children of Payson and all children who attended and invited them into historic activities and included them in historic games.

I saw plenty of smiles and heard plenty of laughter!

 

I am proud of the way...

that our young men are stepping up and embracing responsibilities. They are having a good time - and they should! But they showed a heart of service toward the community of Payson and always had as their first concern "How can I bless and serve someone else?" We've talked a great deal about this attitude, an attitude of service that leads to success, and I am proud to see our young men embracing and exhibiting this heart of service.

 

I am proud of the way...

that our ladies of all ages conduct themselves as ladies, showing by demeanor, example, conversation and deed that there is a higher path. I am proud of the way our ladies use skills, talents - and yes, beauty - in such positive ways, engaging and serving the people of Payson through music, drama, welcoming conversation, setting a noble example and also serving through contributing photographic talents and even guarding tents when the men are away. The ladies of the time were well known for exhibiting all of the many feminine graces. They were also well known for being tough as nails in the face of adversity. When our ladies shouldered muskets in a recreation of a real historic incident I believe that spectators, reenactors and all burst into spontaneous cheers from a sense of pride in our ladies - both then and now.

 

I am proud of the way...

our men are leading by example. After all, if one doesn't lead by example is one really leading at all? Our men do step up. They are taking responsibility over various of the many facets - some unseen and some lacking any glamour - that go into building a succesful stage, a solid platform which is needed for us all to put on an inspirational show. Whether setting up tents, cleaning muskets, loading or unloading a trailer, rolling cartridges for all or working with newer members to improve their skills and performance ... our men do much behind the scenes as well as in front of the crowd.

 

I am proud of the way...

our "special characters" Lincoln & Lee reminded us that honour is not only for the past but is to be embraced here and now - in fact must be if liberty and a decent, civil society are to be preserved.

 

I am proud of the way...

our artillerymen provided a "big bang" and willingly served from what was often the perimeter of the action, thrilling the crowd with noise and flash and doing so with honour.

 

I am proud of the way...

all of our We Make History people contributed toward meeting the key goals of our mission... clean, enjoyable, family oriented, historical education which honours those who went before us, reminds of the values and sacrifices which made a great nation, and inspires all to a greater appreciation and greater service in our own time. In doing so... We Make History!

 

I am proud of the way...

all presented themselves in having served the good people of Payson and the Rim Country.

 

And I am proud...

of our friends and companions with the Town of Payson. The leaders of that community have an obvious love for the people they serve. That resonates with me and a I appreciate it greatly. Once again it has been a joy to serve them and to serve with them.

 

I remain

your humble servant in a noble cause ...

 

Col. Scott

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Dear Colonel Scott,


Thank you for giving me the privilege to bless others through what you do. It is always a blessing and an honor to reenact under your command. Payson is definitely my highlight of the year!

Yhs,

Pvt. M.

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Good Morning Col. Scott.

The boys and I again had a great time in Payson. We appreciate all the effort and planning you put into this. We are slowly getting to know more of the guys in the group and are enjoying that as well. Our Union commander did a great job this weekend and I really enjoyed the men in my company. Thanks again for the events and the friendship.

God Bless.

Sgt. S.

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Sir:
 
The honor was truly ours to be involved with the event. Everyone loved the event, location and good company. For myself, the pleasure to around other Christian people was a real breath of fresh air. It is our hopes you will use us at other events as well and eventually incorporate us as regulars.
 
Thank you, again, for the honor of allowing us to participate and we surely look forward to more.
 
Respectfully;
 
-David

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Thank you Sir four all your hard work on my behalf when you were already more than busy!! AGAIN THANK YOU!!!

General R. E. Lee

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Col. Scott,

    What a great event the Battle of Payson was! I can't tell you the last time I had so much fun. The interaction with the spectators was especially fun for me, as most asked great questions and were genuinely excited to be there. This event was the first event my parents were able to come to and they had a great time. They had only planned to stay for half the day, and ended staying for the whole event.  

    Not only did I have a wonderful day, but my wife and the kids did as well. My only regret was not seeing our fine women defend the town against the yankees! What a sight that must have been! I look forward to participating in next years battle. Thank you sir, for all the planning and work that went into giving us and the city of Payson such a blessed event. May our good and gracious Father have blessed all who attended!

YHS

Sgt. U.

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Hi to the We Make History Family,

Thank you again for the invitation to Payson.  What a great weekend it was. 

Much love to you all and many Blessings,

William and Debra

One Nation Under God!

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My Dearest Col. Scott,

I once again thank you for all your planning and effort that made the Battle Of Payson such a success!  I am constantly grateful that I am part, and that you have invited me to be a part, of an organization that consistently builds people up and lets them express their creativity in such life-changing and inspiring ways.  I am thankful once again that you let me reprise my role as "Mouth of the South," and I am also thankful to Private Cooper for providing me with many lines to play off of!  But I was also glad to be able to seize upon an opportunity to interact with the good people of Payson, one-on-one, by "working the crowd" who may have been a little shy about crossing the parking lot into the town.

But wait, as they say, there's more...

When I attended the
Community Presbyterian Church the next morning, the congregation welcomed me with gigantic open arms, and I ended up sharing lunch with a kind lady elder and two ushers, all of whom had been at the Battle of Payson the day before and were fascinated to learn more about We Make History -- especially the balls.  Those new business cards came in handy.

May GOD continue to Bless YOU and ALL of We Make History!

Your Humble Servant And Friend,
Pvt. Christopher

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Dear Col. Scott,

We have finally made it home, what a fun spring break we had.  Once again, another one of your “We Make History” events went off successfully!!  I was able to see a little bit (off hand) how much work went into it, and I am in awe of much time you and your family dedicate to making this group grow and succeed.   If only we could clone you for up here in Utah:)  Thank you for entrusting me on such an important role in the Battle of Payson. I felt so honored.  It was SO much fun playing that role and such a rush, lol.  So thank you for letting me participate. 

Thank you again for everything you and your family do!

~Amanda J.

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Dear Colonel Scott,
 
The Battle at Payson was was even more fun this year! It was very dramatic. The ladies militia was very exciting! Will you be doing it again next year, or will are you planning something different each year?
 
See you later!
 
Thanks, Esther

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The weekend in Payson was so very good.  Now we look forward to Queen Creek.

Blessings,

William P.

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Col. Scott,

I wanted to shoot you a quick note and say thanks for you and your groups visit to Payson.  I have received several "thank you" notes from people who attended the event.  It turned out to be great and the new addition of the new cannons was a huge hit.

I thought it was a big success and your team did a great job!

Sincerely thank you!

CD

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"We Will Protect This Town!"

A letter surfaces from Private Christopher of the 1st Virginia Volunteer Infantry to his family and friends in the Old Dominion recounting the Battle Of Payson and his experience behind enemy lines. It would later be reprinted in The Williamsburg Star, published by his brother.

April 10, 1862

To My Dearest Family,

I do hope this letter finds you in comfort. It warms me to tell you our regiment is once again victorious in the face of aggression, despite a siege upon a mountain community which forced us to regroup and counterattack with speed and aggression to fulfill our word to the people whom we pledged to defend.

In the bright daylight of the morning, we marched into the town of Payson with orders to protect the citizens from any Yankee encroachment. Having heard of the terrible and vicious arson of Prescott days ago filled us with both fear and determination, and a deep desire manifested within us to reassure the citizens of their safety. Our commanders established pickets on the edges of the community to spot any signs of trouble while we ventured among the townsfolk to gauge their feelings and be of service to them.

I must tell you the citizens are a curious and proud people, rooted like the pines that grow all around them. They are not prone to fear, much less to worry, and they welcomed us with a friendly and yet cautious trust. Private Cooper and I spent much time among them, giving our personal assurance, "We will protect this town." Yet many had heard of the Prescott conflagration which reduced it to ashes, and the winds of rumor buffeted them in spite of our repeated efforts to contain the propaganda. They mentioned what they had heard of Northern spies even as they asked us to stand and pose in front of tiny silver boxes they held in their hands which produced the most stunning daguerreotypes I have ever seen.

I recall one gentleman asking where he should displace himself should things come to a fight. I told him we hoped things would not come to that, but if he insisted, he best stay away from the streets. Another gentleman sat upon a porch with his wife, and I shall never forget the tall stovepipe hat atop his head, one at least twice the height of even the tallest hats I had seen in St. Louis many months ago. All the while, a lady of the town saw fit to entertain us with a rendition of "The Bonnie Blue Flag" on her dulcimer, with two other young ladies joining in on fiddles. That seemed to calm many a frayed nerve, as we saw many townsfolk content to sit in the noonday sunshine and forget any talk of war.

Just as Private Cooper and I were convincing a few more citizens of our dedication, we heard the voluminous explosion of artillery fire in the distance. Our commanders formed us up and dispatched us to the source of the disturbance, where we soon observed a detachment of Northern skirmishers running away from us. At once we returned to the town, where I gleefully noted the would-be aggressors' departure to many a concerned citizen: "You see how fast those Yankees ran?" I bellowed. "They know not to mess with us!" Private Cooper echoed my observations but cautioned me as to the possibility of Federal spies amongst the citizens.

I doubt with certainty I had given away any secrets, but to our fear, the skirmishers sent for reinforcements, and within a half hour I was standing across the field from a line of
1st Minnesota troops who sought to invade the town. Our cannons failed to stop them, and they pushed us back into a defensive position along the western edge. Our Colonel ordered us to hold the line, and we hit them back with a series of volleys as they advanced. At once I felt the sting of a ball to my face and my chest, and I regret to tell you I crumpled before my brothers in arms, who continued to stand firm. I struggled to get to my feet, determined to give the enemy at least one more taste of powder from my Springfield, but the Colonel directed me away limping to the camp nurse, judging my injuries too severe.

As she tended to my wounds, I could hear the Yankees storming into the town despite our best efforts. A few moments later, as the Colonel was assisting me, I saw three Federals confront us, catching us effectively unarmed. They took the Colonel, Private Cooper and I prisoner without deference to my injured state. "Look at what you did to his face!" the Colonel shouted to them as I lay sputtering on the ground. "Three holes in his face!" Private Cooper shared in my suffering, grieving the loss of my countenance.

However, the ladies of the town had formulated their own contingency plan. To our great astonishment, they gathered what rifles they could find and formed up against the Federals along the main street, threatening to shoot if the aggressors should lay flame to the buildings as they did in Prescott. I must tell you they were well disciplined and versed in the manual of arms from where I could observe them. One could tell from their stiff faces and piercing glances with the muskets in their hands, they would fall to their deaths to keep a single match from striking. Only the expedient intervention of the mayor halted the stalemate, with the Yankee Colonel pledging not to burn the town if the ladies kindly dispersed. His bargain greatly displeased the more radical soldiers among them.

One of their commanders had at least the decency to offer chairs for us, even as the young privates among them taunted. A sharpshooter in a balcony above kept threatening to burn the town. Even through the pain of my throbbing head, I taunted back: "You couldn't even stand up to those ladies! Your uniform ought to be yellow!"

The Colonel calmed me several times, urging me to conserve my strength in the loss of much blood. "Look what they did to his face!" he cried again to all within his booming voice. "He was once the most famed dancer in the ballroom of Richmond! Who will dance with him now!?!"

Another nurse tended to my head before the Federal commander determined he had tolerated enough of us, with our incessant complaints and aggravations, along with a round of "The Bonnie Blue Flag." He ordered us moved to a holding area greatly displaced from his troops. There we found respite, and I succumbed to rest, although I continued to hear my fellow prisoners discuss the roots of the great conflict. A lady approached me and generously offered me homemade bread and butter, which I accepted thankfully. It has been long since I tasted such fine foods, and I am confident I will do so again when I return to you.

A young gentleman of the town was overhearing our conversations, and we asked which side he was favoring. “Neither,” he told us, for his Faith opposed warfare. He must be a Mennonite, we observed, or a Quaker. “Let's see you quake!” someone chuckled. Yet we were respectful to his beliefs and his neutrality.

I had little additional time to rest as the Yankees grew alarmed. In the distance we saw our 1st Virginia brethren reformed and marching towards us. As the bluebellies hustled to reform, our Colonel saw an opportunity to slip away, and he motioned for us to follow him. We quickly escaped and ran for our lives. After a frantic sprint, we were back in the ranks of our fellow soldiers, who taunted them with a few volleys more before falling back to plan our next advance. Back at camp, the Colonel soon devised a counterattack, and we received our orders to retake the town.

His strategy dared flank the town around the rear and then hit the Federals directly. We marched in and made quick work of their ineffective defense, splitting our companies to rout them. As we circled around the rear, the ladies cheered us on to victory as we approached the town square. We announced our arrival with a ferocious series of volleys. Burning wads of musket cartridges flew into the wind, the lightning for our thunder of rifle fire which echoed through the town. It was a joyful noise if I ever heard one. We saw the Federals fall to their deaths one by one and litter the square until they could no longer stand and fight. Now it was their turn to hold up their hands and surrender, and I took great delight in seeing them do it where I once was taken prisoner.

The townspeople were grateful to us, having honored our word and kept the torches away from their homes and shops. They surrounded us and heaped praise upon us, and I am certain that many questions of their allegiance have been resolved. We shall continue to guard the town until our orders take us onward. I do not know how much longer this war shall last, but I shall never forget the kindness and hospitality shown to us by the good and strong people of Payson.

May GOD continue to watch over you, my loved ones and friends, until I return.

With Warmest Regards,
Pvt. Christopher
1st Virginia Volunteer Infantry

 

 

 

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