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33rd Annual Old Clinton War Days are May 3-4, 2014

Flags of the Confederacy - Deo Vindice

Old Clinton War Days 2013 Flyer

Camp 1399, Camp 2218 and various reenactment groups annually participate in "Old Clinton War Days" featuring the Battle of Sunshine Church & Griswoldville Battle Reenactments. 13WMAZ-TV in Macon covers the event held annually the first weekend of May in Old Clinton near Gray, Georgia.

Each year the reenactment expands and improves; the number of spectators and participants consistently grows [see center photo below]. There is always a lot of interest especially in the genealogical research tent set up and conducted by members of Camp 1399. Other Camps in the area share in the benefits of increasing membership through a recruiting service provided for them at the event by Camp 1399. The charter of a new Camp, #2218, The Camp of the Unknown Soldier, in Jones County, has been met with enthusiam and interest. Camp 1399 is proud to join forces with Camp 2218 and share in joint duties to host the event at Old Clinton.

Old Clinton War Days - Photos
Old Clinton War Days 2002 - Click for large image Old Clinton War Days 2002 - Click for larger image Old Clinton War Days 2002 - Click for larger image - The late Ron Roberts is the soldier just to the right of the Confederate flag  Old Clinton War Days 2011 - Click for larger image - The Clinton Militia drives Stoneman's troops out of Clinton toward Macon  Old Clinton War Days 2011 - Click for larger image - The Clinton Militia drives Stoneman's troops out of Clinton toward Macon

On Saturday of "Old Clinton War Days," at twilight, an unusually moving Candlelight Memorial Service is held at the Clinton United Methodist Church Cemetery. During the service a lighted candle is held over the grave of each Confederate Soldier. At the end of the service the roll is called and as each name is softly spoken, the candle for that soldier is reverently blown out. Ricky "Coonpossum" Smith of Camp 1399 passes the torch to members of Camp 2218 for this annual memorial though Camp 1399 will continue to support and participate in this annual tradition.

Battle of Griswoldville (overview)  ||   Felt History at Griswoldville

Recent News Stories with pics/info:
Photo Slideshow Macon Telegraph - Macon.com 5/4/13
Old Clinton War Days Showcases Life During the Civil War - Fox24 5/5/13
Old Clinton War Days - jonescountyga.org
Video: Old Clinton preparation - J.C. Nobles - YouTube.com 2013
Photo Gallery - macon.com 5/7/13
Old Clinton War Days - Facebook.com
Jones County Students Witness Old Clinton War Days - Fox24, 4/30/2010
Cannons fire up Old Clinton War Days - 13 WMAZ, 5/02/2010
Old Clinton Days draws history buffs - Macon Telegraph, 2009

God Save the South!

From Fox24 News Central Georgia May 5, 2013

Old Clinton War Days Showcases Life During the Civil War

News Central Staff

CLINTON - Hundreds of people re-live life in Middle Georgia during the Civil War.

The Old Clinton Historical Society hosted the 32nd annual Old Clinton War Days in Jones County. The two day event is a living history program on life in Clinton and Jones County during the War Between the States. Hundreds of participants from around the Southeast reenacted life in Clinton while hundreds more came to watch the soldiers fight it out on the battlefield. The festival is a fundraiser for the Old Clinton Historical Society to preserve buildings in the town. Organizers say attendance did falter because of the rain but it wasn't a wash out.

"We still did what the soldiers did," co-founder of the festival Colonel [J.C.] Nobles said. "They didn't stop fighting because of weather, so we didn't stop this event because of weather."

The event typically raises a few thousand dollars for the preservation society. In July the society will host the "Summer School of the Soldier" in Clinton. Spectators can watch what 1861 basic training for a soldier was like in Clinton.

From The Macon Telegraph May 8, 2006

Weather doesn't stop Civil War re-enactment

By Jake Jacobs
TELEGRAPH STAFF WRITER

CLINTON - The rain didn't keep people away Sunday afternoon at the conclusion of the War Days weekend.

An estimated crowd of about 300 sat on bleachers or stood along Pulaski Street to watch the annual re-enactment of the 1864 Battle of Griswoldville.

The event, set to begin a little after 2 p.m., began about 45 minutes later because of an afternoon shower that felled an old tree across Pulaski Street at the site of the re-enactment.

The tree fell on four people, said Lt. Bobby Harris of the Jones County Sheriff's Office, but only one person was injured. The nature of the injury was not known, and the woman later refused to be taken to an emergency room in Macon, the sheriff's department reported.

The rain had stopped by the time the battle re-enactment began, literally with a bang.

Three Confederate and two Union cannon replicas filled the air with noise and sulphur-smelling smoke, and the battle was joined.

The Confederate re-enactors duplicated the seven assaults made by troops of the 1st Division, Georgia Militia, under the command of Brig. Gen. P. J. Phillips, also filling the air with smoke from their rifles.

Children watching the scene were transfixed, and covered their ears with their hands (or had one of their parents covering their ears) to muffle the loud blast of the cannons.

The re-enactment lasted about 45 minutes, and by the time it ended the sky had turned from gray to blue, eerily echoing the battle's outcome: the Union army was victorious.

Gary Goggans, from Athens, was visiting his mother, Elaine Goggans, of Milledgeville, this weekend and came out to see the show.

He said his children seemed to enjoy it - even 6-year-old Lily Elaine, who cringed with every cannon shot and curled up into a little ball while seated on her father's lap.

Goggans' two sons, Burl, 4, and older brother, Archer, agreed that the re-enactment was "scary, but good."

"I sure did like the cannons," Archer said. "But I did want the rebels to win."

"It was loud. The cannons were cool," said Burl after it was over. "Let's go now, Daddy!"

Elaine Goggans said this was her second time attending the event, but there was one thing that was consistent both times.

"It rained the last time I attended, but I still enjoyed it," she said. "I wanted my grandchildren to see this."

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To contact Jake Jacobs, call 923-6199, extension 305, or e-mail jjacobs@macontel.com.

From The Macon Telegraph April 27, 2006

Reliving history in Old Clinton
By Alline Kent
TELEGRAPH COLUMNIST

Peach County resident Steve Smith is much more than a member of a Civil War re-enactment group. He is a walking, talking history lesson.

For the last 25 years, Smith has participated at the Old Clinton War Days Festival recreating the Battles of Sunshine Church and Griswoldville both fought in 1864 during Sherman's March to the Sea. He is a member of the 16th Georgia, Company G, Jackson Rifles re-enactment group and the James T. Woodward camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans.

This year's Old Clinton War Days Festival will be May 7.

As a re-enactor, Smith has thoroughly studied the battles in which he participates.

"Re-enactors don't practice," he explains, "they learn it. They study the actual battle and the tactics that were used. We try to script it as close as we can, using the terrain."

On May 6, the Battle of Sunshine Church, fought in late June 1864, will be re-enacted. As the Union Army retreated from Macon, they met Confederate troops led by General Alfred Iverson Jr., who was actually from Clinton, in a three-day battle.

On May 7, the re-enactment will be of the Battle of Griswoldville, which was in November 1864, between Union forces and the Georgia Militia out of Macon.

During the years of the Confederacy, Macon served as a hospital town, with eight military hospitals, according to Smith. The Confederates who fought in the battle of Griswoldville were mostly old men and the "walking wounded" from the hospitals in Macon, he said.

"The militia had been ordered to Augusta, to defend the powder works that the Confederacy thought was Sherman's objective. Neither side knew the other was there, and both had been ordered not to engage, instead to withdraw from any conflict and continue on to their objective," Smith explained.

The re-enactment group takes pride in reproducing the battle as closely as possible, down to the most minute detail. However, there are some differences. The Battle at Sunshine Church lasted three days.

"We know that the town of Clinton was captured by the Federals," Smith said. "So we will (portray) the skirmish with the local militia, which is what happened, the Federals looting the town, (and) set up the artillery and fire upon Macon."

Every re-enactor participating in the battle has two uniforms, Confederate and Union. Smith's Union uniform is a replica of Sherman's, whom Smith often portrays.

After the battles are over, Smith usually does a narration to help explain to the audience what would have been actually happening. As he talks about the destruction of Georgia on Sherman's march to the sea, especially in towns that were devastated by the Union Army, Smith says the reaction of the audience changes, depending on whether he is wearing Confederate gray or Union blue.

"You stand there in a town that was captured," he said, "in an exact replica of Sherman's uniform and tell exactly what his army did to that community ... there is a big impact."

In Clinton, the Union Army left most of the town in flames. Prior to the start of the war, Clinton was the fourth largest city in Georgia, bigger than Macon, but is almost identical today to what was left when the Union marched away.

The Confederate and Union camps will open at 10 a.m. with a wide variety of exhibits. The re-enactors will actually be living there, sleeping and cooking like the soldiers did.

On Saturday evening, there will be a candlelight memorial service at 8:05 in the local cemetery, when the re-enactors will honor the soldiers that died during the battle.

Along with the re-enactments, which will start each day at 2 p.m., there will be living history programs, arts & crafts, and an inaugural Clinton Cemetery Ramble. There will also be preliminary archaeological interpretive work of Clinton's original barkmill tanyard going on during the weekend and guided walking tours of the historic district.

This is the 25th year of the Old Clinton War Days Festival.

Gates open at 9 a.m., with the battle starting at 2:05 p.m. each day. Admission/contribution each day: adults - $5; students 18 and under - $3; children
under 6 free. The memorial service is free.

Clinton is 12 miles northeast of Macon, 1 miles southeast of Gray, one block west off U.S. 129. For more information contact Earlene Hamilton at 478-986-6383 or the Jones County-Gray Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center at 478-986-1123.

Alline Kent's columns appear three days a week. She may be contacted via e-mail at AllineKent@cox.net, or by calling 396-2467.

Lt. James T. Woodward Camp 1399 - Sons of Confederate Veterans - Warner Robins, Georgia
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