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Beautiful weekend for Battles at Manassas
battle of manassas

Despite weather reports from different sources that seemed to conflict at times, weather could not have been better for the 25th Annual Battles at Manassas held Saturday and Sunday, March 16, 17, 2024. During the Civil War, similar small skirmishes between the forces of the North and South occurred virtually anywhere east of the Mississippi River in many of the Border or Southern States or in Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas or Kansas during the Civil War.  Although the big battles like the  Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) Shiloh, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, or Vicksburg dominate the historical narrative of that bitter war, no doubt thousands died on both sides in actions similar to what might be seen near Manassas, Georgia last Saturday and Sunday. 

Saturday and Sunday the Blue and Gray lines surged or retreated and soldiers fell on the battlefield in a similar fashion that occurred on the real battlefields of that war.  Fortunately, after the battles were over, the reenactors could rise up and walk off the field. 

In reality it is possible that Union soldiers passed close to the staged battlefield area just off Hwy 280 on the Rupert Wood Road in November 1864 when a platoon sized group of Sherman’s foragers came through Reidsville. In the 1980s, the late J.D. McCleod showed this writer where those foragers spent the night on the Old River Road near the residence of Lamar (Buddy) McCall the night before they passed through Reidsville.  The story goes that they actually went through Reidsville toward Claxton before asking a local where Reidsville was located.  They were told that they had already passed through the small village which apparently angered them for some reason so they returned and tore down the picket fence in front of the old courthouse and threw the pickets in a well most likely just to make sure residents knew they had been there.  That action seems to be the extent of the local reported damage in Reidsville. 

However, damages due to foraging in the area were significant. Sherman’s strategy involved living off the land, and he had cut loose from his supply lines when he left Atlanta. For the better part of 37 nervous days, even President Abraham Lincoln didn’t know the exact location of Sherman’s command.  Hogs, cattle, goats, corn meal, flour and anything edible were taken anywhere it might be found, and foragers had to find such consumables sufficient to feed 60,000 troops. As reports by telegraph and word of mouth alerted locals that Sherman’s men were in the area, civilians hurried to hide anything that could be used by the bluecoats including valuables that were pilfered on a regular basis.  

Therefore, it is probable that some kind of Civil War activity actually took place near what is now known as Fort Wallace Wood near Manassas, Georgia which consists of a few 1860s style wooden structures along with an earthworks defensive position. But it is likely that Saturday and Sunday’s action was louder and more gunpowder was expended than during the actual military activity 160 years ago. 

Still in the modern education era when the colonial, post-colonial, and ante bellum years are often criticized more than studied, the Battles at Manassas provides some up close and personal insight into the military and civilian lifestyles including formal and informal dress along with military hardware and tactical maneuvers of the period. Additionally, over 600,000 Americans perished due to that great internal convulsion that came perilously close to breaking up the United States.  Therefore, it should be remembered as accurately as possible as it is something we should pray to never endure again. 

Such a production does not occur without significant time and effort invested.  Ms. Elaine Campbell would like to thank the Appling Grays SCV Post 918 for their time and effort.  They worked on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday to help organize the event.