MACON, Ga. — The individuals who take to the battlefield this weekend during Old Clinton War Days are more than re-enactors. They’re living historians.
“We speak in the first person, whether someone is a private in the Confederate Army, a storekeeper or a lady left behind to take care of the children and house,” said J.C. Nobles, colonel of the 16th Georgia Jackson Rifles, Company G and camp commander of the Camp of the Unknown Soldier, Sons of Confederate Veterans.
“We are not trying to say whether anything was right or wrong; we are simply trying to show how things happened. What we are trying to depict is the 150th anniversary of the defenses of Middle Georgia. Most were not in the Army for conquest or personal gain or glory, but this was their land, and it was being invaded.”
In its 33rd year, Old Clinton War Days takes visitors back in time to the Civil War, offering visitors a chance to see the 19th century streets of the Old Clinton Historic District, the surviving antebellum structures and authentic camps of the war. This year, a total of five battles will be depicted: part of Sherman’s March; the Battle of Sunshine Church, at 2:05 p.m. Saturday; assaults on Macon in July and November that occurred in 1864 and the battle of Griswoldville, all beginning at 2:05 p.m. Sunday. The battles will be narrated before — beginning at 1:35 p.m. both days — during and after so visitors can understand what they are seeing.
A Ladies Tea will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nobles said, and will depict more of how people actually lived at that time. Refreshments from that that era will be served, and women will be dressed in period clothing.
“People tend to think of Scarlett O’Hara and big hoop skirts, and there will be some ball gowns, but more will be dressed as women did on a typical, everyday basis,” he said.
More modern fare, authentic arts and crafts, games and food will also be available.
A candlelight memorial service will be held at 8:05 p.m. Saturday at Old Clinton Methodist Church, and a church service will be held at 11:05 a.m. Sunday at the McCarthy-Pope House.
“There was a mass revival in that time frame, and the preacher is an 1864 fire-and-brimstone, bring-the-Word-of-God-to-the-sinners preacher,” Nobles said.
Clinton, which was the original county seat of Jones County and was the fourth-largest city in Georgia at one time, is one of the seven sites on Georgia’s Antebellum Trail and one of the three sites in Jones County on the Georgia Civil War Heritage Trail for Sherman’s Right Wing, according to The Old Clinton Historical Society website, www.oldclinton.org. The historic district features “12 homes built between 1808 and 1830” as well as “Miss Annie’s Store built in the early 1900s, and the 1889 Pine Ridge School Museum.”
“It is well worth the $5 a head, and the children have a blast,” Nobles said. “We can teach more history in either day than somebody can learn in four years of college.”