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Battle of Jonesboro to be fought again

By Ed Brock

The echoes of history will once again ring loudly through the woods behind Stately Oaks with this weekend's reenactment for the 139th Anniversary of the "Battle of Jonesborough."

And who knows, maybe this time the Confederates will win.

"Every year it gets better," said Doug Orr of Griffin, a reenactors who will be participating in the battle for the fifth year. "We're putting the word out to more people who haven't even knew this was going on."

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday the grounds of Stately Oaks, an antebellum style plantation house on Jodeco Road, will be filled with activities connected to the battle reenactment and the Autumn Oaks Festival.

The real Battle of Jonesborough (the period spelling of Jonesboro) took place between Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, 1864 when Union soldiers under the command of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman fought to cut off the railroad supply line feeding Confederate forces defending Atlanta.

"We're going to have some interesting new things," said Brenda Jenkins, a "docent" at Stately Oaks.

Those interesting new things will include a pumpkinseed-spitting contest and a hollering contest. There will also be a horseshoes competition and the opportunity for children to play the part of "victims" in the battle that begins at 2 p.m. on both days.

The 30th Georgia Infantry Company E, otherwise known as the "Clayton County Invincibles" and which is a member of the Georgia Volunteer Battalion, is the sponsoring unit for the battle. On Thursday they were gathering firewood and preparing the campsites for 200 to 300 reenactors expected to come for the battle, reenactor Louis Rice said.

About 25 reenactors had already arrived by Thursday, including Orr. He was wearing the uniform of a Union soldier on Thursday.

"I have dual roles. I play a corporal sometimes and sometimes I'm an ordnance sergeant," Orr said.

Grady "Buster" Wilson and his 11-year-old nephew Leslie Sherwood, both of Butts County, were in for the battle, too. It will be Sherwood's second time, Wilson said.

"He totes the flag or he's a colonel's runner or he works the cannon," Wilson said. "We're going to make a drummer boy out of him."

And to add to the tension of the battle, Rice said that today the Georgia Volunteer Battalion Col. Poythris Hunter, who will be commanding the Union forces during the reenactment, will be competing for reelection to his position against Walter McCannon, commander of the Confederate soldiers.

"It's going to be fun," Rice said.

Rice also said that the county has been very supportive of this year's event.

Other activities include living history displays, a display of period clothing by Martha Wilson, Gene Wilson's exhibit of period firearms and the Clayton Arts Alliance Art Exhibit at the Jonesboro Recreation Center. Food will also be available.

Entry to the event costs $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $4 for children under 12. For more information call Stately Oaks at (770) 473-0197.