The North-South Skirmish Association (N-SSA) was established in 1956.
Currently the association is centered at Fort Shenandoah just outside of Winchester, Virginia near the town of Gainsboro.
The beginnings of the N-SSA were planted on May 28, 1950 at Muirkirk, Maryland (between Washington, D.C. and Laurel, Maryland) when Ernest W. Peterkin and John L. Rawls were invited to put on a demonstration of Civil War weaponry, uniforms, and accoutrements. The event was to be held at the Berwyn Rod and Gun Club during the regular roundball shoot. During this first skirmish Jack Rawls and his seven "Norfolk Long Rifles" and Ernie Peterkin and his five "Berwyn Bluebellies" fired on some individual targets and at some balloons. The Confederates were victorious at that first match.
Jack recalled that there were nine Springfield rifled-muskets on the line that day, along with a Mississippi rifle and two C.S. Richmond muskets. There also existed a substantial difference of opinion over the value of the minie bullet - the standard round of the Civil War. The Norfolk team used prepatched .58 caliber roundballs wrapped in paper cartridges. Jack stated that he and his men beleived it was a complete waste of time to shoot the minie.
Ernie Peterkin and his men however used the old Ideal minie bullet - a thick skirted bullet which was short and undersized. Ernie insisted that the accuracy of the minie was of historical record and that it would shoot fine. However, it didn't during the first skirmish and the Berwyn Bluebellies delivered an embarassing performance.
Hearing about the "skirmish" from two members of the Richmond Cavalier Rifle and Pistol Club, Robert Siegfried invited Rawls and Peterkin to put on a rematch at the club. They accepted, thus propelling the idea of skirmishing into a perpetuated sport. Ernie Peterkins Berwyn Bluebellies later became the Washington Blue Rifles and are still in existence today holding the team number of 002 as one of the original founding teams of the N-SSA.
Presently the North-South Skirmish Association is comprised of over 4,000 members and headquartered at their home range, Fort Shenandoah near Winchester, Virginia. Two National Skirmishes are held each year, one in May and one in October. Many local skirmishes are held throughout the year in various places.
Click here to see an old aerial view of Fort Shenandoah.
Band Playing at a Fort Shenandoah Skirmish
Click here to view the N-SSA Fort Shenandoah entrance sign
Click here to view the 2013 Skirmish Schedule
Click here to view the official N-SSA site
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