BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — Every January thousands gather at the Sand Hill Scout Reservation to commemorate one of Florida’s few Civil War battles.
The Brooksville Raid happened in July 1864 as Union troops came across what is now Hernando County to destroy Confederate supply and communication lines.
Travis Johnston is President of the North Pinellas County Scout Sertoma Club.
The group is co-sponsor of the Brooksville Raid along with the Hernando Historical Museum Association.
“I came to the raid as a kid and really enjoyed learning about the history,” Johnston said.
But after four decades the Tampa Bay council of the Boy Scouts of America, owners of the 1300 acre property, chose not to renew the agreement to hold the event there.
“It’s sad. It’s such an educational tour. Where else are you going to see this? A textbook doesn’t do it justice,” said Johnston.
The property owners say the biggest reason for the change is the COVID-19 pandemic and financial strains in recent years.
Some are speculating the country’s racial tensions led to the move, but the property owners say that wasn’t a major factor.
Last month, Black Lives Matter supporters rallied in Brooksville last month pushing for the removal of a Confederate statue outside the Government Center.
And on Change.org, 23,000 people have signed a petition to remove what’s been called the “hanging tree,” with claims it was used for lynching.
Johnston says the reenactment doesn’t promote hate.
“The racism thing..it’s not even a thing. It’s just history. It’s just educational.”
The event could live on, but it’s unlikely unless organizers find a new site with a lot of land.