Old Clinton War Days draws history buffs to Civil War re-enactments

GRAY — As Confederate Civil War re-enactor Kevin Davis of Elijay helped six other men load up a more than 1,000 pound artillery canon into a trailer Sunday, yards away Griffin mother and pioneer re-enactor Stacy Cleveland was washing some iron skillets that she used over the weekend in her camp to cook everything from eggs to pork chops.

Sunday, the Old Clinton War Days Festival wrapped up with about 1,700 people attending the two-day event.

On a makeshift battlefield off U.S. 129 in Gray, this was the 28th anniversary re-enacting two Civil War battles fought in Middle Georgia. One was the Battle of Sunshine Church, which took place north of Clinton in Round Oak in 1864. About 300 re-enactors relived that Confederate victory battle Saturday.

Sunday the re-enactors portrayed the Battle of Griswoldville, which took place in September of the same year, in which Union soldiers destroyed a pistol-making plant in Griswoldville that provided weapons to the Confederacy. The Union soliders were headed toward Macon when Confederate troops were called in to head them off.

The battle was declared a Union victory, wounding and killing 600 Confederate soldiers while about 56 Union soldiers were killed or wounded, historians said.

“The (Union soldiers) burned about a third of the town (of Griswoldville),” said Earlene Hamilton, president of the Old Clinton Historical Society, standing at the entrance gate. “They even walked down this street” she said pointing down Randolph Street in Jones County.

The war days event is a way to relive that history for today’s generation, who might not learn about it at school or in history books, and at the same time raise money for the historical society, which maintains 16 acres of battleground and a Civil War-era barn, general store and antebellum home on the property, she said.

Several history buffs were present Sunday, whether visitors or re-enactors who travel to dozens of battles a year.

Charlie and Pam Newton, of Brunswick, came with an artillery cannon from which Charlie Newton fired blank rounds as a Confederate soldier during the re-enactment.

He even brought some cremated ashes of a re-enactor who had recently died and placed them in the canon to scatter the ashes on the Old Clinton battle field Sunday. That is apparently a common practice among re-enactors, some said.

Another re-enactment company out of Albany said they had fired ashes of five re-enactors who had passed away out of their cannon in the past year.

A Macon respiratory therapist who brought his family to their first ever Civil War re-enactment was fascinated with the succession of rifle blasts and canon shots being fired Sunday.

“It was cool to see the noise level on the battlefield,” said David Moreira. “It’s worth coming to see at least once.”

Stacy Cleveland’s son Jeremy, 10, is a “runner” in the re-enactment. His job is to take messages from leaders on one side of the Confederacy battle line to the other side’s leader.

After it’s all over it’s “weird” to go from camping out 1800s style and then back to school Monday at Orrs Elementary in Spalding County, he said.

“It’s like did I miss a few years of life or what?” the 10-year-old said while packing up camp.

To contact writer Julie Hubbard, call 744-4331.