By Valerie Baldowski
A slice of American history will come to life for three days next month at Nash Farm Park.
Reenactments of four, momentous, Civil War battles will be held at the field Sept. 4-6.
According to Earl Zeckman, one of the directors for this year's event, and a reenactor with the 125th Ohio Regiment, the second day of the Battle of Jonesboro, Kilpatrick's Raid, the Battle of Cheatham's Hill, and the finale of the Battle of Atlanta will all take place to coincide with the actual dates of the Atlanta Campaign, which ended 145 years ago.
Attendance is expected to be strong, Zeckman said. Last year's event attracted 700 people. This year, more than 2,000 are expected to participate, including reenactors from Georgia and several other states, he said.
"We have them coming from Maine, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Texas and Arkansas," said Zeckman.
The four battles are part of the Civil War campaign, in which Union soldiers, led by Gen. William T. Sherman, captured Atlanta. This will be the 10th anniversary of the battle's reenactment, he said, and the third time the conflict will have been held at Nash Farm.
The annual three-day event usually has a number of students from area schools who attend on the first day, as an educational field trip, he continued.
"Over the past nine years, we've had over 16,000 students come to the school programs on Friday," said Zeckman.
Eric Tedder, a member of the 30th Georgia, and a 16-year reenactment veteran, emphasized the historical significance of the battles. "There's a quote I always like to use that says, 'He who forgets the past is condemned to repeat it,'" said Tedder, who will participate in this year's battle. "I believe that. That's the mindset for most reenactors."
Watching the skirmishes unfold before them reinforces what students read about American history in their textbooks, he said.
"You've got to keep it alive," added Tedder. "It's one thing to talk about the Civil War, but it's another thing to experience [it]."
In addition to watching the activities on the field, attendees will be able to meet the authors of Civil War novels, learn about life during the Civil War era, and engage in other family activities.
"We have a good weekend planned," said Zeckman. "We have things going on to keep people's interest between the battles."
There will be one female reenactor with the 125th Ohio, he added, who will dress as a Federal soldier, and will discuss women's roles in the ranks during the War Between the States. Another reenactor, a man, will portray Union Army Gen. George Henry Thomas.
The Labor Day weekend festivitives kickoff on Sept. 4. Gates will open at 10 a.m., and close at 7 p.m. The second day of the Battle of Jonesboro is expected to start at 6:30 p.m.
On Sept. 5 and 6, gates will open at 9 a.m. Kilpatrick's Raid will be Sept. 5, and is expected to begin at 10 a.m., followed by the Battle of Cheatham's Hill at 4 p.m. On Sept. 6, the Battle of Atlanta is expected to start at 2 p.m.
Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children, ages 6-17, and free for children under age 5. A three-day pass is available, at a cost of $25 for adults, and $12 per child.
Most of the money raised will go to the Henry County Parks and Recreation Department, and Friends of Nash Farm. Zeckman said a portion of the proceeds will also go toward planning the next Battle of Atlanta.
Nash Farm Park is at 100 Babbs Mill Road in Hampton.