War Between the States Day recalls events of 1863 Sept. 15

War Between the States Day recalls events of 1863 Sept. 15

September 5th, 2012 by Mike O'Neal in Walker

The city of Chickamauga's annual commemoration of a Civil War battle that gave the town its name and of a picnic that led to the creation of the National Military Park network will take place Saturday, Sept. 15.

This living history event will be held at Crawfish Spring, the artesian spring that gave the town its name at the time of Battle of Chickamauga in 1863, and on the grounds of the Gordon-Lee Mansion.

The circa-1840's home served as a hospital for Union troops during the war and was the scene in 1889 of the "Blue-Gray Barbeque" which is considered one of, if not the greatest, barbecues in American history.

It was on the same Gordon-Lee Mansion grounds that about 14,000 veterans, both Confederate and Union, of the Battle of Chickamauga gathered on Sept. 20, 1989, to share a meal, smoke a pipe of peace and lay the groundwork for what would become the nation's first and largest national military park.

"The peace pipe stems were made from reeds cut at Crawfish Spring and the pipe bowls were carved from wood taken from the battlefield," Chickamauga City Manager John Culpepper said.

Keynote speakers at that historic event were Gen. William Rosecrans, leader of the Union's Army of the Cumberland, and Georgia Gov. John Gordon, who had served as a commanding general in the Army of Northern Virginia.

Culpepper, who serves as chairman of the Georgia Civil War Commission, said that organization will host a free speakers' symposium as part of this year's War Between the States Day activities.

In addition to lectures about the Civil War era, re-enactors from the Hardee Guard Battalion and the 37th Georgia Volunteer Infantry will portray the life of an everyday soldier who might have fought at Chickamauga.

Culpepper said there will be living history demonstrations of camp life as well as the live firing of rifles and cannons.

Period music will be performed throughout the day by the Civil War re-enactor band "Unrecontructed" before re-enactors - troops and musicians - move to the mansion's formal gardens where they will demonstrate a Civil War-era ball.

"At 6 p.m. there will even be a Civil War wedding," Culpepper said.

Bride, groom and wedding party will be in period dress when a couple of re-enactors renew their wedding vows with a real minister, he said, followed by the re-creation of a formal ball with dancing in the garden.

Organizers have made a barbecue contest part of this year's commemoration of the original "Blue-Gray Barbeque" and will award prizes for best chicken, best ribs and best pork.

All activities on the grounds are free to the public.

Tours of the antebellum mansion, which is furnished with period antiques, will be conducted by "Friends of the Mansion" at a cost of $3 for adults and $1 for children, with proceeds going toward preservation of the house and grounds.

Additional information concerning the event can be obtained by contacting Richard Barclift, the city's tourism director, at 706-375-4728 or barcliftr@bellsouth.net.