published Saturday, September 21st, 2013

Civil War battle boosts business: 150th Battle of Chickamauga re-enactments start today

  • photo
    A Union Army cannon team fires towards a Confederate emplacement during a combined re-enactment of the Battle of Reed's Bridge and the Battle of Alexander's Bridge Friday in Chickamauga, Ga.
    Photo by Doug Strickland.
    enlarge photo

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    A re-enactor dressed as a Union Cavalryman rides during a combined re-enactment of the Battle of Reed's Bridge and the Battle of Alexander's Bridge Friday in Chickamauga, Ga.
    Photo by Doug Strickland.
    enlarge photo

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    Byron Bradshaw, dressed as a member of the Union Army, naps beneath a cannon limber before a combined re-enactment of the Battle of Reed's Bridge and the Battle of Alexander's Bridge Friday in Chickamauga, Ga.
    Photo by Doug Strickland.
    enlarge photo

  • photo
    A Union Army cannon team fires towards a Confederate emplacement during a combined re-enactment of the Battle of Reed's Bridge and the Battle of Alexander's Bridge Friday in Chickamauga, Ga.
    Photo by Doug Strickland.
    enlarge photo

Poll
Will you attend a re-enactment of the Battle of Chickamauga?

McLEMORE'S COVE, Ga. — When the cashier at Mountain Cove Farms' general store mistakenly charged Charles Lindsey for an extra 12-pack of beer Friday afternoon, he was unfazed.

"Hold on, I'll get a sixth one," said the Confederate Civil War re-enactor from Raleigh, N.C., who bought six 12-packs of Coors Light and Bud Light to supply 15 re-enactors for two nights.

"We are spending our money here, and it is on purpose," said Lindsey, who makes it a point to shop in communities that host Civil War re-enactments to show his appreciation.

Area businesses are getting a boost from the 150th Battle of Chickamauga anniversary that includes events at the actual battlefield and a Civil War re-enactment at Mountain Cove Farms in rural Walker County, Ga.

Everything goes into high gear today, following events Thursday and Friday for re-enactors only.

"We're booked up until Sunday," said Tabitha Caheely, a clerk at Key West Inn on U.S. Highway 27 in LaFayette, Ga. "It's all re-enactors. Breakfast was really colorful today."

It's the first time this year the motel has sold out of rooms, she said.

The Days Inn next door was almost full, a clerk there said.

Across the highway, the Krystal fast-food restaurant was offering 10 percent discounts to those attending the re-enactment and 20 percent off to re-enactors.

Ross and Pat Dring, a couple from the Chicago area, had to search before they found space at a Holiday Inn in Ringgold, Ga. They spent Friday at the actual battlefield, where park rangers gave tours explaining battle movements that took place 150 years earlier.

"We were here 25 years ago, when they had the 125th anniversary," Ross Dring said.

About 500 people took part in "The Breakthrough," a free, 90-minute walking tour at the actual battlefield that traced the moves of Confederate Gen. James Longstreet's troops as they poured through a gap in the Union line and dealt the Federals a massive blow.

License plates in the parking lots showed participants came from Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Massachusetts.

"A disaster of epic proportions is occurring on the right wing of the Union Army right at this moment," park Ranger Lee White said during the hike, which was timed to coincide with actual events.

Robin Heath, a semiretired man from Gainesville, Ga., said he traveled more than two hours to see it.

"I like everything about the Civil War," Heath said, explaining he had been a Civil War buff since his childhood in New York.

"My parents gave me the choice between a bicycle and a Civil War book," he said. "I chose the Civil War book."

Heath wore a T-shirt commemorating the Civil War's sesquicentennial. Other hikers wore T-shirts commemorating the anniversaries of battles such as Vicksburg, Shiloh and Antietam.

"Got history?" one T-shirt read.

Official Battle of Chickamauga re-enactment T-shirts and hats for $15 and sweatshirts for $25 were selling briskly at Mountain Cove Farms.

"The first night, we sold like 100," said Kathy Stose, whose brother Tommy Sprayberry makes the shirts at Pigeon Creek, his LaFayette-based screen-printing business that travels to special events.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers Catoosa and Walker counties for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California. Stories he's covered include crime in blighted parts of metro Detroit and Reno, Nev.; environmental activists tree-sitting in California's Sierra Nevada foothills; attempts by the Michigan Militia to take over a township¹s government in northern Michigan. A native of Michigan, ...

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