River Blast, Port Columbus’s largest living history event is “actually very big one,” this year says Jon Ezzell, the director of communications for the National Civil War Naval Museum.
That’s because this year’s event is also a 10th anniversary celebration for Port Columbus, a 50th anniversary celebration for the raising of the CSS Jackson remains -- one of the museum’s core exhibits -- and the beginning of a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. The theme for this year’s River Blast is “The Gray Navy is Launched” and those attending can expect weapons demonstrations, cannon firings, museum tours, mock skirmishes and scenes from a sailor’s daily life during the first year of the Civil War.
“They’ll be demonstrating what would have been happening in Columbus during the first year of the war and how they would have been gearing up to build a navy from essentially nothing,” Ezzell said.
Ezzell said River Blast usually attracts between 50 and 100 historical reenactors from all over the country, who will be part of the weapons drills and a full camp set up. “A fair number of men also bring their wives and families in period dress,” he said.
On Friday, the museum will also have a ceremony in celebration of its 10th anniversary with Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and Catesby ap C. Jones ("ap" signifies "son of" in Welsh) . Jones is the great-grandson of Captain Catesby ap R. Jones, who served on the Confederate ironclad ship the Merrimac (the CSS Virgnia) during its famous fight with the United State ironclad, the USS Monitor. The battle was the first time two ironclad ships battled, and profoundly affected naval warfare and ship design.
Catesby ap C. Jones, will present the museum with the sword his great-grandfather carried during the battle and fire the museum’s original Civil War cannon.
“There is a special significance to having Catesby Jones fire our cannon,” the museum’s executive director Bruce Smith said in a press release. “After his service on the Merrimac and (the CSS) Chattahoochee, Jones was eventually given command of the Selma Naval Iron Works, where this cannon was made. Catesby Jones’ initials are stamped on the cannon his great grandson will be firing.”
River Blast attendees always enjoy a good cannon blast, too, Ezzell said.
“The cannon firings are always the biggest hit,” he said.
Sara Pauff, 706-320-4469