Olustee Battlefield Re-enactment

On Friday February 18th, through Sunday the 20th, I (Joseph) was able to participate in the Olustee Battlefield re-enactment with our friend Greg Smoak. Daniel participated Saturday night through Sunday evening.

The Olustee Re-enactment took place where the battle was fought 147 years ago, and the surrounding area. Friday was an inactive day where we re-enactors made sure we had everything needed for the activities on Saturday and Sunday. Greg, Daniel and were participating with the "3rd Florida/35th Massachusetts Infantry re-enactors".

On Saturday, we woke up while it was still dark, and many had coffee around the campfire. As the sun began to rise, and reveille was played we gathered our accoutrements (Canteen, haversack) and gear. (belt, cartridge bag, cap box). After roll call we marched to "Colors"--the posting of both the American and Confederate flags. The band played a rousing rendition of "Dixie" to the cheers of all Confederate re-enactors present. Following the posting of the colors, our unit (3rd Florida) and many others loaded into buses headed for Lake City. After breakfast on the grounds of a local church, we marched in a Civil War themed parade through Lake City. I'm not sure how far it was--but it must have been at least a mile and a half. After the bus ride back to Olustee, we were able to relax for a few hours.

Soon we were on the march again. This time, we acted as Union troops for the first battle which represented the initial skirmish won by the Union. After a lengthy march down a dirt path, our unit (and many others) attempted to advance in a straight line through a pine grove with palmettos everywhere. Unfortunately it is very hard to keep a group of soldiers, each carrying 10 lb. rifles, in a straight line while marching through uneven terrain heading into battle. After emerging from the stand of pines, we charged onto the battlefield, managed to arrange ourselves in a straight line and prepared to slowly advance on the Confederate lines. After that, it was kind of a blur--we followed orders to load and fire, did that for a few minutes--and then advanced some more. After about 30 minutes, the Confederate lines began to falter and we began to push them off the field. Being it was my first time on the battlefield, I wasn't quite sure what to do--but I learned fast. Behind us, one of the officers was calling out for "more casualties". What that means is to follow what happened in the battle--we need more people to "die". It looks quite unrealistic if our lines would simply fire at each other all day. So--when they asked for casualties, I acted as though I was hit, and went down. Soon thereafter the battle commenced and the order to "resurrect" and re-form was issued. The rest of the day was free--most of it was spent in camp, but Greg and I did look around at the Sutler tents some.

Sunday is always the big day at Olustee. Up until about 1:30 (excluding colors) we were free, but when afternoon hit we were once again gearing up for a march. We got to be Confederates, so we were pretty excited! After marching into position off of the battlefield, we waited for orders to march on-field. Greg, Daniel and I were new at re-enacting--and all the "fresh-fish" have an initiation. We were supposed to take water and gunpowder and rub it into our faces. That way everyone could tell we were fresh-fish--so they could watch out for us.
We got plenty of action on the field--driving the Union completely off the field after a good hour of fighting.

I was able to get over 36 rounds off during the battle! At the end all the soldiers filed into position in front of the crowd and fired a salute. Now that the battle was we marched back into camp (we march everywhere) and proceeded to break camp.

Re-enacting is a lot of fun. I was able to participate in the re-enacting of our past which was truly a unique experience. I also saw battle both as a Confederate and a Union soldier. Experiences like the Olustee Battlefield re-enactment give us a glimpse into what our country was like in the past, and what our forefathers stood for.


Two Tails Ranch

This Sunday, many of our family traveled to Williston, for a special surprise for Elijah's birthday. Only a few of the older ones knew where we were going--so a lot of the time was spent by the younger ones, trying to decide where it might be. In the end, we arrived at a place called "Two Tails Ranch". As we waited in line for the gate to open the younger children continued to guess (in vain) where we were at.

Finally--as we unloaded from the car, Elijah spotted.....an Elephant! Two Tails ranch has a program called "All about Elephants", which we were participating in! It is an educational program designed to teach people about Elephants (for a small cost) in an up close and personal way.

Elijah, Anna, and Nehemiah were able to feed an elephant carrots--and pet it! They were friendly creatures. This particular elephant (after eating the carrot) "licked" Elijah's shoe!

Anna also fed a carrot to the friendly elephant. When asked about her experience she said in a matter-of-fact tone: "My heart was beating very fast."

There were many other creatures at Two Tails Ranch, including a Zebra. This was Joseph's favorite animal that we saw. Though we didn't have a chance to pet them, this younger Zebra was very inquisitive about visitors!

Above, is Catherine. (the Ostrich) Ostriches have a brain about the size of a pea, which consequently accounts for their very short attention span, and general . This creature with it's snakelike neck and avian body, was very interesting to watch! (it even tried to peck Nehemiah's shoe!)

Luke was a male Asian elephant who performed for the awed crowd. He moved giant logs, and even painted a picture! Even though he is a large creature, he is not yet fully developed! His tusks are unmarred-since he has not needed to use them in fights.

The trip to Two Tails Ranch for the "All about Elephants" tour was very interesting, and contained more than just information about elephants. Animals covered were turtles, tortoises, parrots, an emu, and and ostrich!
We enjoyed the trip very much, and hope to go back again sometime. For more information about the program, visit: All About Elephants.

Pictures taken by: Joseph Cook, Age 15



Yesterday Noah, Elijah and our neighbor Tate were fishing at the lake. Above, Noah is holding one of three catfish he caught! Elijah caught a catfish, and Tate caught two brim and one catfish. About twice every month some of the boys go down to Bedford Lake and fish. Usually they catch small bass--this is the first time Tate or Noah have caught catfish while fishing at our lake.


It's a girl!

On January 31st, at 7:13 a.m. Apphia Ruth Cook was born at the Orange Park Hospital!
She weighs 6 pounds and 2 ounces. She currently has dark hair, and a sweet temperament.
The name Apphia comes from the opening verses of Philemon where Paul writes:

" 1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker— 2 also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier—and to the church that meets in your home: 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."

Though nothing else is known about her, we do know that she was a Christian--and a friend of Paul. The name Apphia means "Increasing Blessing"! (She is the tenth baby)

Today all us children visited Mama and Apphia at the hospital. Here are a few pictures of us with her!

The sisters: Anna, Anne, Abigail, and Apphia

Ezra, Elijah, and Apphia

Joseph and Apphia