Rick Williams began Civil War reenacting in 1999. He had never known such a hobby existed until he happened upon an event next to a flea market near Williamsville, New York in 1995. In 1998, Rick enlisted as a Private in Company B, 1st Kentucky Cavalry, based in Georgetown, Kentucky. His first few battles were as a dismounted cavalryman, but at the first opportunity, he volunteered for mounted duty. He instantly fell in love with mounted combat and rode at every opportunity. He quickly discovered that his trail riding skills were of limited value since riding cavalry was a whole new way of riding. Rick collected as much saddle time as he could, gaining experience and listening to veteran riders. Things went along well until October, 2000, when Rick learned a hard lesson in the art of training new cavalry horses. The classroom would be at the Battle of Perryville Reenactment.
Rick had begun working in September with a large and powerful ex-racing Thoroughbred horse named Sundance. Rick had been working with Sundance to acclimate him to gunfire and saber fighting, but little flags that seemed unsettling kept appearing. Regardless, Sundance had put in one performance at the Battle of Cynthiana that showed promise. Perryville would be next. On Saturday, October 6, 2000, while mounting for the first battle, Rick was dragged on the ground for nearly 60 yards; his boot caught in a stirrup when Sundance got spooked and bolted. Luckily, Rick received only minor injuries but it taught him a lesson. In July of 2001, Rick transferred to Company C, 1st Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, based in Thornville, Ohio. Promoted to Corporal, Rick saw action at his first national event at the 140th First Manassas event in Leesburg, Virginia. In 2002, Rick had accumulated enough experience to be promoted to First Sergeant.
Rick kept looking for opportunities and in following his path, he accepted a transfer to Company D, 1st Ohio Volunteer Cavalry in 2003. For this move, Rick took a voluntary reduction in rank back to Corporal. It was at this time he began toying with the idea of doing General Custer. Before long, Rick found himself promoted once more to First Sergeant, but fate again had another surprise. At Morgan's Raid on Georgetown, Ohio in April of 2004, Rick was thrown onto hard pavement where he sustained severe injuries to the tendons of his right shoulder. Rick underwent 3 and a half hours of detailed surgery by skilled orthopedic surgeon Dr. Ronald Hess 3 weeks later. The summer of 2004 found Rick on medical leave but he continued to work in administrative duties within the regiment. His shoulder fully healed and Rick was declared fit again for mounted operations in the spring of 2005.
Rick first appeared as General Custer at Cridersville, Ohio in July of 2003. He had researched Custer's war years and decided this was a part of Custer's life that not many knew about. All most people knew about him was how he died at the Little Bighorn. It was a different approach and fit in with his cavalry skills perfectly. Now the hobby had a Custer who could lead mounted Union horsemen at the charge in reenactment battles. When asked what originally gave Rick the idea of doing the General, Rick replied, "For several years I had reenactors approach me and tell me how much I looked like Custer. It finally got to the point where I couldn't ignore it." Rick was actually very humbled and flattered at the idea. Today, Rick does the General often, speaking at Civil War Round Tables, historical interest groups, school programs, reenactments and many other functions.
While Rick focuses on Custer's Civil War record, the Little Bighorn battle would eventually "interfere." In 2007, Rick accepted the role of Custer and appeared in the Battle of the Little Bighorn Reenactment in Hardin, Montana, and still appears there every June.You can also find Rick twice yearly in Custer's birthplace of New Rumley, Ohio where Rick is also a member of the Custer Memorial Association.
Rick's movie credits include Gods and Generals and Reel Injun. Rick has also appeared in numerous short films and documentaries on the History Channel, National Geogaphic Channel, the Outdoor Channel and Our Ohio.
In his '21st century' life, Rick is a published writer and is the author of The Beginner's Guide to Civil War Reenacting. His research on famous killer Clyde Barrow was published in the United States and Great Britain in November of 2003. Rick loves to keep physically fit and credits his full recovery from his 2004 surgery to the fact he was and continues to be in excellent physical condition. Rick is the father of 4, and currently has 9 grandchildren.