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By Shawn Roney, for the Richmond News
Robbie Maupin will attest that participating in historical reenactments is fun.
And as he can attest, it can be dangerous, too.
Last Thursday at the Thomas F. Eagleton Civic Center, Maupin shared the thrills and dangers of reenactments with the Ray County Historical Society when he told his story of surviving a self-inflicted “blast wound” in September 2013 while participating in Richmond’s Outlaw Days. The presentation included video clips of the incident and a slide show that displayed his wound during its various stages of healing.
The accident happened during a mock 19th-century Hatfields vs. McCoys-style gunfight at the Ray County Courthouse. Maupin called the fake shootout “probably the best gunfight I’ve been in” through 16 years of historical reenactments.
According to Maupin, the accident happened because he had his trigger finger inside the trigger guard of his 1842 Walker Colt pistol during the melee. The gun, which “has a hair trigger on it,” he said, went off and wounded him in the left knee, causing him to drop to the ground.
“My finger never should’ve been in that trigger guard,” he told the audience. “That’s a cardinal sin. Until you’re ready to pull that trigger and you have it up ready to fire, it’s not supposed to be in that trigger guard. But I had it in there, for some unknown reason.”
Maupin said a gun-related accident such as his “could happen to anybody – at any time.” Ironically, though, it happened to Maupin, who regularly preaches the principles of gun safety to his fellow reenactment enthusiasts.
“I’m constantly harping at these guys,” he said. “And then, I go out there and make the simplest of errors.”
That “simplest of errors” almost cost Maupin his leg, he said. As he lay on the ground from the wound, he thought it might cost him his life.
“When I put my hand over it, it (blood) was gushing out between my fingers – and I truly thought I had severed the artery,” he said. “And I figured I had seven to 10 minutes, maybe, … to be there.”
But emergency response personnel quickly arrived and got Maupin hospitalized. Surgery and treatment followed. As of last week, the leg had “full range of motion,” he said, although there was some numbness in the front of the leg.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Maupin said. “I know I’m a lucky guy. I know that to be here, standing here on both legs and not even have a limp (is fortunate).”
Maupin also discussed the Battle of Albany Civil War reenactment scheduled for October at the Ray County Fairgrounds. His presentation included a slide show of graves and pictures of figures connected to the 1864 battle, where Union troops killed Confederate guerrilla leader William T. “Bloody Bill” Anderson, including some of his own ancestors. It also included a banner display of the event’s promotional Web site, http://battleofalbany-raycountymo.angelfire.com.
Staging the upcoming event has taken Maupin and his reenactment colleagues two-plus years to plan, with much still to do as October approaches, he said.
“We’ve got a ton of promoting to do,” Maupin stated. “We’ve got a ton of money to raise. We’ve got a ton of work to do that will happen this spring, when we schedule our first work day out here on the battlefield.”
With all the work involved, “there’ll be a lot sleepless nights” between January and the last weekend of October, Maupin admitted.
Helping to organize the event might be part of Maupin’s gradual withdraw from participating in reenactments. Later this year, he’s ending his involvement in national-level Civil War battle reenactments when he participates in the Battle of Franklin, Tenn., he said.
Maupin, who organized Lexington’s sesquicentennial reenactment of the Battle of Lexington in 2011 at his ranch, isn’t sure how many more local reenactments he can orchestrate because of the time involved in staging them – and because of his age and other responsibilities.
“I promised my wife I wouldn’t do this again,” he laughed. “And she knows (that’s not true). She never believes me.”