Battle of Gainesville Mini-Re-enactment takes place Saturday at Matheson


Re-enactors in the Union Army fire a cannon at the advancing Confederate Army during the Matheson Museum’s Mini-Re-eactment of the Battle of Gainesville at Sweetwater Park in 2012.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer/file
Published: Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 at 4:17 p.m.

The Union soldiers had set up camp and began their occupation of Gainesville when, on Aug. 17, 1864, Confederate soldiers sprang a successful surprise attack in what is now called the Battle of Gainesville.

Facts

Battle of Gainesville Mini-Re-enactment

What: Matheson Museum presents re-enactment of Civil War battle fought on Aug. 17, 1864
When: 10 a.m. Saturday
Where: Sweetwater Park, behind the Matheson Museum, 513 E. University Ave.
Cost: Free
Info: 378-2280, www.mathesonmuseum.org

At 10 a.m. Saturday, about 70 re-enactors will recreate those events of the Civil War at Sweetwater Park, which is the Matheson Museum on East University Avenue and close to where the actual battle took place.

The free mini-re-enactment is sponsored by the Matheson Museum as part of a series of events focusing on the Civil War including the museum’s current exhibition of artifacts from families around the area whose ancestors served in the war.

Re-enactors playing Union and Confederate troops will set up camp in the park throughout the afternoon and evening on Friday. Visitors may come and interact with the soldiers who will demonstrate how battles were fought during the Civil War.

The re-enactors enjoy interacting with visitors and teaching them about the details of the battle, said John McClane, coordinator of the re-enactment. “We don’t shut up,” he said. “It’s our hobby, it’s our passion.”

In 1864, Union troops came to Gainesville to burn the military stores in the area that helped supply Confederate troops. Gainesville provided close to 40,000 pounds of gun powder among other necessities of battle. Although not one of the biggest, the Battle of Gainesville was one of the most important in the war because of the stored goods, McClane said.

Saturday’s re-enactment will feature historically accurate clothes and artifacts including a covered wagon, four horses and two cannons.

“People interpret history in different fashions,” said Alicia Antone, executive director of the Matheson Museum. “Some prefer it through the academic, or scholarly lectures, which we do. Some enjoy seeing it through visuals ... And others actually like seeing action.”

Both the exhibit and the battle are meant to illustrate how people were affected by the war.

McClane hopes the re-enactment will show a side of history that visitors hadn’t known before.

“You can walk up to five people in the street and ask them, ‘Did you know we had a battle?’ And probably only one will be able to say ‘yes,’” McClane said.

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