Civil War Comes Alive! returns May 3
by Marie Nesmith
Apr 20, 2014 | 2116 views | 0 0 comments | 50 50 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bartow History Museum Director Trey Gaines and Registrar Tina Shadden prepare part of the museum’s “The War Comes Home” exhibit.  SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Bartow History Museum Director Trey Gaines and Registrar Tina Shadden prepare part of the museum’s “The War Comes Home” exhibit. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
As a member of the Cartersville-based 12th Georgia Light Artillery, Ricky Matthews is looking foward to feeling the ground vibrate during the cannon firing demonstration at the Civil War Comes Alive! event.

Presented by the Bartow History Museum and the Booth Western Art Museum, the living history offering in May will provide insight for students and the public into the War Between the States through re-enactors, demonstrations and musical performances.

“You get used to [the noise],” said Matthews, a Cartersville resident who will participate in the Civil War Comes Alive! School Day May 2. “You get a real strong smell of sulfur and you feel the vibrations. You actually feel it on the ground. It’s a fairly large explosion. [During re-enactments like this], I enjoy shooting the gun. I enjoy being a part of re-enacting ... the Civil War.

“... [During the cannon firing], I’m called a gunner. I’m the person that gives the orders out to the other five people on the gun, tells them what to do. We use black powder. We fire about 8 ounces a shot. [So] there’s not projectiles up in there, it’s just powder [for] the blast.”

Following the School Day offering, Civil War Comes Alive! will be presented for the general public May 3 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Along with touring the Cartersville museums, patrons will have the opportunity to listen to Civil War music, talk with re-enactors portraying Union and Confederate soldiers, and examine art and artifacts of the time period. Cannon firing and artillery demonstrations will occur at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on the Booth’s festival grounds, 501 Museum Drive in Cartersville. The event also will feature Robert Jones’ presentation, “The Atlanta Campaign: The Beginning of the End for the Confederacy,” at 10:30 a.m.; a Bull Run/Manassas performance by actors Cathy Kaemmerlen and Scott Depoy at 11 a.m.; a delivery of the Gettysburg Address at noon and 2:30 p.m; a concert by the 8th Regiment Band at 12:30 p.m.; and the recitation of letters penned by members of the U.S. Colored Troops at 2 p.m.

“The Bartow History Museum and the Booth museum both have Civil War-related collections — the History Museum more object-based and, of course, the Booth more art-based,” said Seth Hopkins, executive director for the Booth Western Art Museum. “With the 150th anniversary of the Civil War beginning several years ago, we thought it made sense for the two museums to team up and to try to do a Civil War historical event where people could encounter first person re-enactors and learn more about the Civil War and make the collections of both museums come alive in a joint project and to have both a school day for that and then a public day.

“There certainly are lots of Civil War battle re-enactments around but we wanted to do something that was more education focused and something we can do on a smaller piece of property, which is what we have in our festival grounds here at the Booth. So that’s where it began was to try to have a relatively small number of soldiers and other re-enactors on the grounds but to really introduce people to all the facets of what went on during the war. So that’s the infantry soldiers, the artillery soldiers, the cavalry soldiers, but also the people who were behind the lines — the sutlers, who were the people who sell supplies, the blacksmiths and then the home front.”

He continued, “... [We want to show] the bravery and the resolve of the soldiers who went off to fight for something they believed in ... and what a tragedy it was for everybody involved, yet to also focus on that it is a defining moment in the history of the country and it’s one of the things that made the country stronger over the long run.”

Since Union troops entered Bartow County in 1864, there will be numerous 150th anniversaries of Civil War events throughout 2014, placing a new significance on this year’s Civil War Comes Alive!

“1864 saw the war reach the boundaries of Bartow County,” said Trey Gaines, director of the Bartow History Museum. “So in May of 1864, troops began marching across the county and in the course of several days 100,000 troops marched from one end of the county to the other on their way to Atlanta. So throughout May of 1864, these troops were moving through the county. There was a lot of effects in the county from battle destruction, from people having to flee their homes and occupation of troops in the area. Later, throughout 1864, there were troops occupied here across the county. Then the Battle of Allatoona Pass occurred in October 1864 [and] the burning of Cassville in November of 1864. So there were events that were occurring throughout the county, throughout the year. So now [in] 2014, [it] is the 150th anniversary of those events and that’s what we’re looking back on through a variety of events and programs this year.

“I hope people that come out for the Civil War Comes Alive! event will leave having a deeper understanding of the events that occurred throughout the war but also locally. We talk about the Civil War as big events that occurred a long time ago, but this was an event that occurred here in our backyard that affected people [whose] families are still here. So it touched us then, but it continues to affect us now.”

Admission to the event will be $10 for adults, $8 for individuals 65 and older, $7 for students, and free for children 12 and younger, Booth members, Bartow History Museum members and active military personnel with identification. Along with access to the outdoor programming for Civil War Comes Alive!, the admission fees also will grant visitors entrance into both museums.

At the Bartow History Museum, located at 4 E. Church St. in Cartersville, visitors will be able to view the featured exhibit, “The War Comes Home,” which will open Thursday, April 24. Along with photographs and artifacts, such as a candle mold, the display will include vignettes of Cassville Confederate Cemetery and the interior of the Cartersville Depot, where a skirmish occurred in May 1864.

“With the war finally reaching the physical space of Bartow County, the exhibit will look back at 1864 and some of the places that were touched by the war here locally,” Gaines said. “So we’ve got some homesites, some battle sites, depot sites that saw action — either battles and skirmishes or destruction from troops coming through or families that had to [flee] because of the troop movement.

“So [the exhibit will offer] a host of stories from the time period of how the war affected families here. [Two] of the stories we’ll highlight [are] when the war itself finally reached Bartow County, there was a skirmish near Adairsville at a house called the Octagon House ... and then another story we’ll tell will surround the town of Cassville. One of the local families had to flee their home while [Cassville] was burning. They went to the cemetery and camped out under their [relative John Milhollin’s] grave as the town burned around them.”

For those wanting to learn more about the exhibit, local historian David Archer will deliver a presentation titled “Places and Faces: Bartow County in the Civil War” at the Bartow History Museum Thursday at 7 p.m., which will follow the members’ preview and reception at 6:30 p.m.

“The exhibit will kick off a year of special events and programs related to the 150th anniversary of the Civil War,” Gaines said. “So related to 1864, we’ll have a variety of events coinciding with the exhibit throughout the year.

“We’re putting together a bus tour to look at some of these sites across the county. Our cemetery tour this year will be Civil War themed. We’re going to add a new exhibit feature to the exhibit later in the year and then, of course, some of our monthly lectures will also be geared toward [1864] Civil War themes.”

For more information about Civil War Comes Alive!, call 770-387-1300 or 770-382-3818, ext. 6286, or visit or