Res­ur­rect­ing his­tory

An­te­bel­lum ac­tion at Gaither’s

The Covington News - - Sunday Living - By Rachel Oswald

Dressed in home­spun woolen uni­forms 20 men saun­tered down­field to chal­lenge mem­bers of Sher­man’s Union Army, in­tent on tak­ing the field in their quest to reach the Gaithers plan­ta­tion house.

Af­ter sev­eral can­non fire and ri­fle ex­changes, mem­bers of the Con­fed­er­ate Army, be­drag­gled and in var­i­ous states of dis­re­pair, over­pow­ered their bet­ter­clothed and sup­plied Yan­kee chal­lengers to rous­ing ap­plause from the gath­ered crowd of spectators.

Satur­day af­ter­noon’s Civil War re-en­act­ment fea­tured a skir­mish of the type that was likely to oc­cur in the area be­tween Con­fed­er­ate and Union sol­diers when Gen­eral William Sher­man brought ap­prox­i­mately 60,000 sol­diers through Cov­ing­ton in Septem­ber 1864.

At one point the skir­mish was dis­rupted when a herd of cat­tle wan­dered onto the field of bat­tle. Luck­ily no cows were in­jured in the “fight­ing.”

Ac­cord­ing to Don­ald Johns, com­man­der of the New­ton County Sons of Con­fed­er­ate Vet­er­ans, when Sher­man’s Army ap­proached Gaithers Plan­ta­tion, the Gaithers fam­ily buried all of their food and sil­ver be­neath the ground to keep the army from find­ing it. Not find­ing any food in the house, Johns said the army tried to use goats to sniff out the food with lit­tle suc­cess.

Ap­prox­i­mately 100 mem­bers of Philips Le­gions, a di­vi­sion of the Ge­or­gia Vol­un­teer Bat­tal­ion, gath­ered at Gaithers to par­tic­i­pate in the re-en­act­ment which fea­tured not only Union and Con­fed­er­ate sol­diers but the women and chil­dren who would have his­tor­i­cally trav­eled with the Con­fed­er­ate Army, to pro­vide sup­port to their hus­bands and fa­thers.

“We’ve got a lot of re-en­ac­tors,” said Johns who played a Con­fed­er­ate Army chap­lain. “There’s lit­er­ally a re-en­act­ment ev­ery other week­end some­where in Ge­or­gia.”

La­mar God­frey has taken part in Civil War re-en­act­ments since 1992. While he played a Con­fed­er­ate Satur­day, God­frey said he has played Union sol­diers in the past in­clud­ing the time he had a bit part as an ex­tra in the Civil War movie “Gods and Gen­er­als.”

God­frey said he par­tic­i­pates in the re-en­act­ments be­cause he be­lieves it’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand the his­tory of the time.

“You’ve got to learn from his­tory be­cause if you don’t, his­tory has a ten­dency to re­peat it­self,” said God­frey. “We teach his­tory, not hate.”

Satur­day’s re- en­act­ment was the first to take place at Gaithers in 10 years. “Po­lit­i­cal” rea­sons were sited as the rea­son the re-en­act­ments had not been held in the past, ac­cord­ing to God­frey.

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

Civil War re-en­ac­tor and Cap­tian of 42nd Ge­or­gia, Rick Fallaw, cen­ter, leads his con­fed­er­ate sol­dier in­fantry into bat­tle with the as­sis­tance of drum­mer boy James Stan­dard, right, dur­ing a skir­mish at Gaithers Plan­ta­tion Satur­day.

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

Mem­bers of the 9th Ge­or­gia Ar­tillery Bat­tery D, Alan Bright, left, Debi Palmer and Jim Mabe pre­pare to fire a can­non dur­ing a skir­mish at the Civil War re-en­act­ment Satur­day at Gaithers Plan­ta­tion.

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

Chil­dren Civil War re-en­ac­tors 8-year-old Jeanette Ran­dles, left, and 5-year-old Emily Pruit frolic around as they play a game of ring around the rosie in the camp area lo­cated just in front of the main house at Gaithers Plan­ta­tion.

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