Sunday, December 06, 2009


Christmas in Roane County, Tennessee annually means that each city will have its own parade, a guided tour of its historical Queen Anne and Victorian homes, and other festive events. The home tours are held on consecutive weekends, usually the first weekend in December for Rockwood and the second for Harriman. The old magnificent homes are all decked out in their Christmas finery, with bright and flashing lights, with their owners dressed in period clothing, proudly showing off their homes. Some homes even offer finger foods and hot cider!

The seasonal celebration this weekend, for Judy and me, began in Harriman at the annual “Merry Tuba Christmas” concert. There are over 200 Tuba Christmas events held this time of year across America, and the one we attended was one of 7 in the state of Tennessee.

Harriman’s principal “Tuba Christmas” organizer, Dr. Joe Williams, has been leading this gathering for 21 years. He also formed the local Babahatchie Community Band, made up of enthusiastic musicians from all the local high schools and veterans, some of which are retired and played together in high school years ago!

This year’s event was at the Harriman High School auditorium, and led by Sande MacMorran who is Professor of Tuba and Euphonium at the University of Tennessee's Music Department, and the Associate Conductor and Tubaist with the Knoxville Symphony. Mr. MacMorran, who was once a member of the United States Army Band in Washington, is Music Director of the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra Programs, and has been Conductor of the Youth Orchestra since 1979.

If it’s not too late, click on This Link above and find a “Tuba Christmas” event near you. I guarantee you’ll have a great, usually informal, time, singing along with the band as they play your favorite Christmas Carols! Professor MacMorran also entertained us with his musical and historical commentary between carols.

I don’t know if all events are free, but the one in Harriman is always free…as a matter of fact, the members have to register and pay in order to participate in the concert. It’s a love of music, the season, and people that drives the bunch to perform!

Later Saturday afternoon, Judy and her sisters Terri and Neena (whom we call the Dragons), accompanied by us Knights (their men folk), tour Rockwood’s homes, following the map with numbered houses and addresses, with a history of each. We were impressed with how the current owners have kept up or completely remodeled the homes. I will post more on the Rockwood home tour next time, and a follow up after we make the Harriman rounds next weekend.

But first, let me talk about the “Battle of the Cannons” that is held on the Saturday of the “Rockwood Christmas Tour of Homes” at 2:30, featuring the men of the 28th Tennessee Infantry, Company “A” “Caney Fork Mess”, and coordinated by the “Sons of the Confederacy, Camp 1750” of Crossville, Tennessee. This year they braved light snow and a very cold chill factor to portray a small skirmish of Union and Confederate troops that occurred near Rockwood in September of 1863. Union troops were forced to quit the field and retreat from Chickamauga to Chattanooga and in trying to regroup and resupply, they came to what is now known as Rockwood.

Southern troops, in an effort to prevent the Union troops from resupplying and rejoining the larger ranks, frequently attacked the encampment. A full scale skirmish unfolded with great intensity from cannon and rifle fire. With terrifying “Rebel Yelling”, the Rebs unleashed a ferocious attack! The Yankee soldiers not killed or wounded were quickly subdued and captured.

However, I want to first talk about, and show you, the reason for the “very southern” in the post title. What in the world does the Civil War have to do with Christmas? Well, our country endured 4 years of a terrible War Between the States, which included 4 Christmases!

With such a grand local history, the organizers see fight to include this reenactment each year at Christmas time to coincide with the “tour of homes”! For two days and nights these brave reenactors set up camp and brave the elements, giving visitors a brief glimpse into what it was like to have been a soldier during this time.

Near the featured “Daniel Peterman House(in background), an encampment of Union reenactors set up camp, complete with tents with straw bedding. Captain Peterman established a mercantile business after the war in Rockwood, and built this home sometime in the 1880’s, which features two staircases. It was easy to step back in time and imagine what it was like in 1863 when seeing this encampment near the old home.

My favorite shots were of the Confederate cannon atop a small rise, with a blue sky background, and that of a gentleman portraying an army surgeon showing the tools of his trade. The fake bloody leg was to illustrate where a punkin’ ball had entered a real leg during the war, and how the splintered damage of an actual displayed leg bone (click on photo with the medicine jar to see leg bone) occurred.

Later the “general” came out of the Peterman House and visited the shivering troops to boost their morale.

It was a wonderful evening, one that ended at the Gondolier for pizza, Italian sandwiches, and Fat Tire for all!


BRUNO said...

We'd all best enjoy it while we still can---todays' "PC-ness" is bringin' the North more South each day!

It's just SO easy for the critics to ignore the REAL-reason for that war, which to ME ironically resembles just a bit like the situation of the country in THIS day and time.

Kinda like the same bunch who refuse to acknowledge Pearl Harbor Day on their fancy calendars.

But these same calendars have NO problem showing the Muslim-oriented "dates-of-importance".

Sorry! A bit of an off-subject rant, there. You can "86"-it, if ya' want. I ain't had my bran-muffin yet this morning...!

FHB said...

I drove up to my buddy Waters' place once and found him on his front porch (huge), dressed in Union garb. He was cleanin' one of his Civil War rifles. He'd just returned from an event like this. I asked him if that was his reenactment gear, and he replied "When I'm playin' a target!" He's not real reconstructed, ol' Waters.

He just called me, back from Nashville. He says they're tearin' down the convention center where that gun show's been held for like 25 years. He says the show is movin' to Franklin.

I told him next year I might have enough saved up to come with him. But I think I'm gonna try to build my own. Found a site that sells nice kits. better than the usual.

Long Ridge Deer Camp said...

Mushy, whoever you are...good comment on the blog showing the baby pig hanging from the hunters mouth while he holds a beer cup. Spot on and good call! Jack