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Civil War re-enactment

Civil War re-enactment planned in Gainesville

Area residents will have the opportunity to step back in time to the 1860s Saturday and Sunday, March 8 and 9, in historic Gainesville. Smell the smoke, feel the thunder of the cannons, and watch the cavalry duel as Civil War re-enactors from across the state and region gather to recreate historical clashes of the American Civil War.

In honor of the brave soldiers that served in the great conflict known as the American Civil War, and indeed all American troops who have served our nation, two special memorial services will be held. The first of these will be a service in downtown Gainesville at the Forrest Monument Saturday, March 8 at 9:30 a.m.

Spectators are encouraged to gather at the monument and witness the troops march in, form up, and present a military salute to General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his troopers, the last Confederate force east of the Mississippi to lay down their arms.

Re-enactor troops will form at the McGough Place and march through the streets of Gainesville to the monument, where the memorial will be held.

The second memorial service will be held on Sunday, March 9 in the Gainesville Confederate Cemetery at 10 a. m.. The Gainesville Cemetery is the final resting place to over 120 Confederate soldiers from throughout the South who perished at or from wounds received during the April 1862 Battle of Shiloh in southwestern Tennessee.

Battle re-enactments will be held on Saturday, March 8 at 2:00 p. m., and Sunday, March 9 at 1:30 p.m. Donations will be accepted for local preservation and to pay for event costs.

Seeing a Civil War re-enactment is much more than battle scenarios, however, because most re-enactors camp in the style of the Civil War soldiers on or near the battlefield. In the camps, the public can view, smell, hear, and taste the lifestyle of the typical Civil War era soldier first hand, and they will be open on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., and from 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. Period sutlers, who portray the traveling merchants who followed the armies, displaying their 1860ís period items, wares, and clothing. The 5th Alabama Regimental Band will be on site to provide musical entertainment of the period.

The annual re-enactment, hosted by the Charles McGough family of Gainesville, is sponsored by two established, well known and respected Civil War living history organizations, the Fourth Alabama Cavalry, Company B and Seldenís Alabama Battery.

The groups are made up of men, women and young people of all ages, from all over the southeastern United States, dedicated to education and authentic portrayals of the era. Re-enactors spend many weekends a year attending such events and recreating the life of Civil War era soldiers and other period impressions such as clergy, medical officers, and staff, and other civilian stations of the era.

The McGough Place and Cooke Orchard, in historic Gainesville, is the ideal, picturesque setting for such an event. Settled in the early 1830s, Gainesville played an important role in antebellum and Civil War Alabama as a major river port and supply depot. The Tombigbee River, on whose banks the town of Gainesville is located, was a major artery of the Confederacy and was protected from invasion by large artillery batteries located near present day Alabama Highway 39.

Many antebellum homes and churches survived the ages and stand as beautiful testament to earlier times along the quiet and shaded streets of the town. Other historic sites in Gainesville include the Forrest Monument, the site where Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest surrendered and paroled his troops to U. S. General Richard Canby in 1865, and the old Gainesville Cemetery, where rows of Confederate graves lie under the shade of stately old oaks trees and a tall granite obelisk placed as a memorial by local citizens.

Also located in the cemetery is a huge Civil War era Brooke cannon hauled up from the adjacent river. The Brooke cannon is a rare Selma Arsenal production, which had been shipped upriver to Gainesville during the closi8ng days of the war.

The graves belong to soldiers wounded in the 1862 Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee, who were sent to hospitals throughout the lower South to recuperate. Some of these brave men, however, never left the town of Gainesville. The cemetery also boasts the final resting places of many prominent citizens of early Gainesville, including the townís founder.

The event site is located just off Alabama Highway 39, at the junction of Sumter County Road 21, at Cooke Orchard in Gainesville. Signs will be posted. For more information contact Mike Graham at 205-652-3447.