By Johnny Jackson
Jonesboro resident, Ray Rowe, held the infield rifle up against his shoulder, explaining how the weapon was used on the battlefield.
"This was the main weapon that Confederate soldiers carried," said Rowe, who played the role of a private in the Ninth Georgia Cannon Crew for the Confederate Army during the Civil War.
His audience was a group of school-aged children, and his show-and-tell was a part of the Civil War Living History School Program, coordinated by members of the Dacula, Ga.,-based non-profit, Atlanta Campaign, Inc.
The organization puts on the school program, which brings out some 1,500 students each year, prior to the annual Civil War Re-enactments at Nash Farm Park in Hampton.
"It's fun, and it's good to commemorate the ancestors on both sides that fought in the war and died," Rowe said. "You had heroes on both sides."
Dressed in a home-spun, wool uniform, Rowe told the intrigued youngsters about the hundred-mile marches soldiers of the era undertook, while carrying heavy supply packs and ammunition. "The war between the states was a whole lot more brutal than any battle since," he said.
Veteran re-enactors, Al Kose, of Stockbridge, and Eric Peterson, of Snellville, said the war was of the worst kind - within a family. "This truly was an American civil war," said Kose. "The Civil War was a fight of the American family."
Kose and Peterson portrayed officers in the Union Army - Kose played Col. William Wipple, and Peterson impersonated Maj. Gen. George Thomas. They have participated in the school program since its inception about four years ago in Conyers, Ga.
"We try to convey there were some two million casualties in the Civil War at a time when the population was about 30 million," Kose said, adding that students have tended to be impressed by the sheer magnitude of the war's impact.
One such student was 7-year-old David Mustard, a homeschooler who traveled with his family from Athens, to take part in the living history.
"Even though I saw one person shoot a gun, I liked the noise," he said. "I wouldn't want to be in a field full of them."
David and his siblings - 2-year-old James, 5-year-old Stephen, and 3-year-old Mary - watched the various demonstrations with great interest.
"We're studying the Civil War," said their mother and teacher, Elizabeth Mustard. "It's been very interesting."
Students took to re-enactor Nicole Hansard's pet Billy goat, named "Jeb." Jeb is a working Billy goat, who pulls carts for the Confederate's Goat Wagon Sutlers, said Hansard, 23, of Ellenwood. Her role in the re-enactment includes sewing, crocheting, and mending. She also creates "poker" art pieces by burning intricate images into pieces of wood that she sales along the battle trails.
"There's a real purpose for women in war," added re-enactor, Darlene Thomason, a member of the Ninth Georgia Cannon Crew. She created several of the crew members' uniforms. She cooks for them as well.
This weekend, the Atlanta Campaign will present its annual Living History and Civil War Battle Re-enactments. The re-enactments begin at 10 a.m., today, with Kilpatrick's Raid, a calvary battle that will be followed by the First Day Battle of Jonesboro at 2 p.m.
On Sunday, the Lovejoy Station re-enactment will be held at 2 p.m. The mock battles are expected to last one hour each.
Nash Farm Park, located at 4361 Jonesboro Road in Hampton, will open to the public from 8 a.m., to 5 p.m., today and Sunday. Admission to the park today and Sunday will be $10 per adult and $5 for children, 17 years old and under. Parking will be $3 per car, the proceeds of which will go to the Henry County Parks and Recreation Department.
On the net:
Atlanta Campaign, Inc.: www.atlantacampaign.com