Skip to comments.Civil War reenactment participant shot in Isle of Wight County(Reb halts Yankee victory celebration)
Posted on 10/01/2008 4:44:57 AM PDT by Colonel Kangaroo
WINDSOR, Va. (WAVY.com)-- A man participating in a Civil War reenactment was shot Saturday afternoon, according to the Isle of Wight County Sheriff's Department.
The incident happened around 12:30 p.m. at the fairgrounds, about three miles outside of Windsor on Route 258.
This wasn't your typical re-enactment. Tom Lord was one of many men acting out a scene for a film being made about the Civil War. During that filming, Lord was shot...for real.
Speaking only to WAVY.com, Tom says he isn't as worried about the damage done to his body. He's more concerned with the damage this could do to the reputation of reenactment.
Tom reenacts history as a Union Cavalryman, but he never thought acting would become so real.
"At the time we were in a ditch that acts as a trench and we had just driven the Confederates out of the trench, and we were all enthused about it," says Tom, " and under direction we raised our hats and hurrah, hurrah, hurrah."
During that last hurrah, the unthinkable happened. Julian Ison, acting as a Confederate Soldier, was there.
"We were shooting at the Union Soldiers and suddenly the guy told us to stop after we were firing because one of the Union guys actually got shot."
"I got hit in the shoulder and I thought somebody had hit me with a shovel," says Tom.
What the 73-year-old was actually hit with was a round from an 1860 Colt Army Revolver. Tom says the moment he was shot, every thought ran through his mind at once.
"How can I be shot? I've been doing this reenacting, who shot me? Why?"
Tom says the cameras were rolling on him, and were directly in front of him, when he was shot.
"Everybody was wondering what was wrong with me and then they saw the blood on my uniform...They immediately took my uniform jacket off and my shirt was all bloody. They applied pressure bandages on it because it was bleeding," says Tom.
Tom doesn't believe an "experienced" reenactor could be behind this.
"The muzzle of our weapons or pistol or rifle is always elevated at least 40, 45 degrees and we're shooting into the air. The battle lines never get close enough that people would be hit by the expended paper that comes out of these muskets."
Tom also says before and after every reenactment, the actors go through an important routine called "capping off."
"We take our weapons and we fire three caps in an empty weapon. If we have pistols, we discharge our pistols, put caps on that and discharge them again and all it is is like a child's cap going off," says Tom.
There are concerns about how this could have happened in the first place.
"It was an accident, but somebody was negligent in not inspecting the weapons. I don't know who you could blame - the people who did the filming or the person who did the firing," says Tom.
Now Tom, along with his friends and family hope investigators find the clues they need to piece this painful puzzle together.
"I would like to see them catch, get a hold of this person that did this and bar him for life from doing this because we don't need people like him reenacting."
Lord is also worried this accident could shine negativity on his main passion.
"It's hurting reenacting when they hear something, a reenactor was shot at a reenactment."
Tom says reenacting creates a way for children and adults to actively become involved in history, something he never thought he'd be so much a part of.
"I'm the first one in reenacting that's ever earned a purple heart," says Tom with a laugh. "The good Lord was looking over me. That's all I can say. The good Lord was looking over me."
Isle of Wight Sheriff Paul Phelps says they are investigating to find out who shot Lord. In the meantime, Tom says he may be done with the "physical" part of reenacting. Instead, he may become a narrator at the reenactment scenes.
Stay with WAVY.com and WAVY News 10 for new details in this developing story.
Time to find a new hobby! (among other things)
Since the percussion caps occasionally do NOT set off the powder in the chamber, especially when the air is damp, then I can certainly see why real infantrymen during the CW may have kept on loading even though they weren't firing. They did not know that they were not firing.
And in the five years I competed, we never had anybody seriously hurt. Strained shoulders from sending a ramrod down range, yes, but nobody really hurt.
I'm really looking forward to follow-up reports on this incident.
The article mentions that an 1860 Colt caused the wound.
The cap and ball revolvers used during the civil war era didn’t use cartridges. You poured a measured charge of black powder into each cylinder, then placed a round ball on top. The ‘ramrod’ is permanently mounted to the gun, under the barrel, and was used to seat the ball in the cylinder.
Follow this up with a dab of grease over each ball, to lubricate and also to prevent multiple cylinder discharges. Cap each nipple at the back of the cylinder with a percussion cap, and the gun is ready to shoot.
The Director was heard to shout, "Use it, use the pain!" as he called for a close-up.
That’s purtier than the 1861 Navy I’ve got at home. But the 1861 Navy I’ve got at home has been handed down from father to son for a couple generations now.
“What the 73-year-old was actually hit with was a round from an 1860 Colt Army Revolver.”
....that’s a .44 Colt and shoots a big ball...that guy was lucky.....I’ve got an origional one that was my g-grandfather’s....it’s in good working order and would still kill you deader than hell....although it’s too valuable to shoot now.
We told everyone to leave them at home. Anyone who forgot had to put in the car locked prior to inspection.
This was back around 1980 in DC area. Lot’s of “loosely” organized events.
No, just talking about my experience. We were infantry obviously.
After the battle of Gettysburg, guns collected off the battlefield were found to contain more than one load as well as the ramrod. Quite a few rifles were found to be loaded with up to 5 bullets. In the excitement of battle, many soldiers forgot to aim and pull the trigger but just kept on loading.
But you see, all it takes is one misfire for that to happen. If you don't load properly the first time, and if in the excitement of all the cacaphony and danger of battle you don't realize that the weapon didn't discharge, you would load in another round on top of the defective initial load. Then if the initial defective load still doesn't fire, the fact that there is another load in the barrel on top of it isn't going to make any difference.
I would think that there must have been cases when the initial load finally did fire after misfiring once or twice - and, if so, it seems likely that the musket would have "blown up real good."
In the fledgling days of the North-South Skirmish Assn (1963) we were reenacting the 100th anniversary of Gettysburg. I was with the 3rd South Carolina that day and in the middle of a firefight the battle was halted.
The word was that a guy in my company had been hit in the shoulder and we all were sick with worry. It ended up that in some past shooting match a defective Minie ball had just the nose shot out, with the hollow base remaining. It was deduced that the constant firing of blanks (powder only, no wads) eventually loosened the base and out it went. We never found out who did it and I doubt that even the shooter would have been aware of it.
The guy had a half-moon cut in his uniform and a purple bruise as big as the palm of your hand. (When he grabbed his shoulder after being hit, the base fell into his hand.) We all kidded him that he could now say that he was shot at the Battle of Gettysburg and all felt that it was the best of bad luck as he could have been hit in the head.
Even elevating 40-45’ is still pointing a real firearm-too much movement and dynamic action to insure this measure is effective, especially as distance closes to CQB ranges (25 m or less).
The US Army has strict rules of employment of blank fire-and these weapons have plugged muzzles (to create adequate gas pressure to operate the semi/full auto mechanisms). Army Regs prohibit aiming at a “target” closer than 10m (33’)with blank fire, observer/controllers (O/Cs) are assigned to assess casualties in close quarters batle engagements, Multiple-Integrateg Laser Engagement Systems (MILES) provides mid-range hit assessment via low energy laser emitters triggered by blank fire and registered on opponents MILES receivers worn with battle gear.
The weapons used by re-enactors are 100% real, actual arms capable of shooting standard period projectiles with a perfectly free bore-the very recipe for injury.
Just not a safe concept-even with the controls used. All one needs to do is trip, poke the muzzle of your .58 cal 1861 Springfield charged with a paper wad and 30-50 grains of FG black powder into the belly of the guy along side you and negligently (accidentally as amateurs call it) drop the hammer. Capable of killing rather efficiently.
I am amazed that there are not more incidents in this hobby.
On the other hand, it is pretty cool to watch a good well executed historically accurate re-enactment.
This comment reflects my personal opinion as a professional Soldier and firearms trainer and is just that-my opinion, yours may vary.
God Bless and MOLON LABE.
Good thing it wasn’t a well aimed Walker loaded up
sounds to me like an accident
or a nut
“Civil War reenactment participant shot in Isle of Wight County”
Is that close to the heart or the kidneys? I forget.
any idea what the film is called , I just hope it is the 3rd of Gettysburg
“Ive got an origional one that was my g-grandfathers”
My gun collecting started in 1968 when my Grandmother gave me an old pistol that had languished in a trunk up in the attic for many years. When I cleaned it up, I found that I was the proud owner of an original Remington New Model Army cap and ball revolver. This gun had presumably been carried by my Great Grandfather in the Civil War.
I was 14 years old, and collector value never entered my mind. I read up on them, gathered up powder, lead, bullet mold, and all the other accourements, and set about to shooting.
I shot thousands of rounds through that old revolver over the next ten years. It was cheap to shoot and I enjoyed the laid-back style of shooting - it took a while to load!
Overall, it held up wery well. I broke a trigger spring, which was easily replaced with an order to Dixie Gun Works. The loading lever catch loosened up, and I had a gunsmith sweat-weld the catch to the barrel. The welding messed up the bluing, and I contributed a couple of scratches and overall wear to the bluing, particularly holster wear at the muzzle. I suppose that I’ve taken away some from the collector’s value, but back then I just didn’t know any better.
The old Remington is enjoying retirement. I clean and oil it at least once a year. I have replicas that work just like the originals, although I don’t shoot them much either nowadays (modern guns are just easier to clean and maintain). My favorite shooter was always the 1860 Colt - I always shot better with it than the Remington, it just seemed to balace better in my hand.
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