By Barbara Martin
oliad High School sophomore, Alex McCaskill, has an interest that not many of his generation share. He has a love for history. That love is the motivating factor that led McCaskill to begin participating in historical re-enactments at the age of 10.
The history buff’s interest in historical re-enactments was piqued when his father took him to the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina in 2011.
McCaskill’s first role was as a member of a cannon crew at the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Sabine Pass near Beaumont. As a re-enactor for the Texas Revolution McCaskill has participated in events held in Gonzales, San Antonio, Goliad and San Jacinto for the last four years.
Since 2013, McCaskill has had roles in re-enactments of the American Civil War, portraying characters on both sides of the conflict. As a Union sailor, the teenager participated as a member on a cannon crew, and he carried a shotgun as a Confederate sailor.
“As I got older and did the research, now I participate as a sharpshooter representing the 9th Missouri Sharpshooters,” McCaskill said.
He has been the drummer for the Mexican Army in re-enactments held in Goliad since 2018.
McCaskill has spent time in front of the camera by appearing in four films. The first one was “How the Texas Navy Won the Revolution.”
He said, “We filmed it when I was in 6th grade, and it was released when I was in 7th. It was filmed over several months, so I had to make sure my hair was the same length, and I wore the same uniform each month, so I had to make sure I stayed clean in it.”
He has appeared in “San Jacinto: A Lone Star Shines”, a three-part series of films, for the Texas Historical Commission. The series includes “The Runaway Scrape”, “The Skirmish” and “The Battle.” Each part of the series was filmed over the course of one weekend and can be seen on YouTube.
Filming was conducted by the Texas Historical Commission at both San Felipe de Austin and the San Jacinto battleground.
“He was a pleasure to work with,” said Katelyn Shaver when speaking of McCaskill. Shaver is the educator/interpreter at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site.
McCaskill has not had a speaking part in any of the re-enactments yet. However, there is preparation that must be done. He researches the battles that he will re-enact. Also, “We learn our commands in Spanish every January at the School of the Soldado (Soldier) at La Bahia,” he stated.
He leads the Mexican Army onto the battlefield at several re-enactments.
McCaskill said, “It helps that I’m a drummer in the Goliad High School Band as marching music hasn’t changed much in the past 200 years. “It’s about keeping time and marching to the beat of the drum.
“Being one of the few drummers gets me invited to participate in both reenactments and the movies.”
McCaskill’s favorite memory from a re-enactment was participating in the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Mobile Bay (Alabama) at the actual forts where the fights occurred 150 years earlier.
He finds participating in battlefield reenactments rewarding. He explained, “Being able to participate on the actual battlefields is a little eerie, knowing that men lost their lives there, but we honor their memories.”
Being involved with historical battlefield reenactments is a family tradition for McCaskill. His father, William McCaskill, began re-enacting at the age of 16.
The younger McCaskill sees a possible acting career in his future. But he enjoys being behind the camera as much as being in front of it. Along with music, he names scuba diving as another one of his interests. This summer he will take an underwater photography and videography certification class in Cozumel. He said that is a career goal of his.
He receives no financial compensation for participating in re-enactments. He does it because he loves history and enjoys traveling to historical sites around the United States. He also considers it fun to teach other students about Texas and American history.