History comes to life each Labor Day weekend in the River City when more than 200 reeanactors offer mock battles, drills and demonstrations for the public to experience. Set to take place September 1-2, 2018, at Point Mallard Park in Decatur Ala., the Battle for Decatur Civil War Reenactment commemorates the four day battle, which took place in October 1864, telling the story of Decatur’s small, but significant role in the War Between the States. The annual event is hosted by the 1st Alabama Cavalry Company G “Wheelers Escort” and admission is free.
The Battle for Decatur offers festivalgoers an opportunity to experience Civil War life and to learn about the Civil War’s effect on the city of Decatur. The reenactment includes mock battles, Civil War relic displays and a Civil War camp with displays of authentic equipment, dress, and drills. More than 200 Civil War reenactors are expected to take part in recreating this part of history. Camps are open to the public both days from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. with maneuvers and battles taking place at 2 p.m. The Confederate forces will repeatedly attack the Union troops in the Union fort to mimic the event that occurred at and near the Old State Bank.
The public is also invited to a Ladies’ Tea at 10 a.m. and the Military Ball at 8 p.m. featuring 1860s music (no special attire required) on Saturday, September 1 and a church service at 10 a.m. on Sunday, September 2. All three events will be held at The Chapel located near the entrance of Point Mallard Park.
Other activities include drill and firing of mid-19th century muskets mounted cavalry patrols, cannon and a living history of daily camp life where spectators can purchase Civil War related items and visit with soldiers. Sutler vendors will be up and operating from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
This year’s reenactment offers a school day event on August 31 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to introduce the young and old to the daily life of the cavalryman, artilleryman and infantryman. Other lessons include history of the various flags and Sutlery goods for the soldier and a demonstration on blacksmithing. A Jefferson Davis look-a-like will be available for photographs and discussions.
The historical reenactment represents the historic battle event that took place 155 years ago on the east side of Decatur near the Old State Bank. The City of Decatur was an important transportation site for the Confederate States of America during the Civil War due to the Memphis and Charleston’s railroad bridge crossing the Tennessee River. During the 1864 battle at Decatur, Confederate General Hood attempted to break Union supply lines at the crucial railroad crossing at Decatur. He was not successful and had to cross the river at Florence. Decatur’s involvement in this campaign and the fierce four-day battle led to the city to be known as “a hard nut to crack.”
History enthusiasts are invited to further explore the Civil War story in Decatur by visiting additional exhibits, historic sites and historic trails. The Battle for Decatur Civil War Walking Tour, which begins at the 1833 Old State Bank in historic Old Decatur, is a self-guided walking tour that covers a 13 block area central to Confederate General John Bell Hood’s attempted advance across the Tennessee River, which resulted in a four day battle in October 1864. A brochure is available for download at www.decaturcvb.org.
Historic markers throughout the route cover intriguing stories such as the Charge of the 14th U.S. Colored Infantry. This marker, located in Rhodes Ferry Park, is one of the only known markers dedicated to the 14th U.S. Colored Infantry. It is intriguing to note that African Americans served both Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. The 14th USCT saw its first combat on August 14th and 15th, 1864 when it engaged in heavy skirmishes with raiding parties from Gen. Joe Wheeler’s cavalry at Dalton, Georgia. The regiment saw action in Decatur in October 1864.
The 1833 Old State Bank, which serves as the route headquarters, is also open for tours and is one of only a handful of structures to survive the war in Decatur. Other structures surviving the Civil War, including the Dancy-Polk House and the Burleson-Hinds-McEntire House, are located along the walking tour route. The Morgan County Archives, located at 624 Bank Street NE, features a permanent, museum-quality exhibit on the Civil War in Morgan County, which is open free to the public Monday through Friday.
Sponsored by the City of Decatur, Decatur Morgan County Tourism, Morgan County Commission and Camp 580 Sons of Confederate Veterans Alabama Division, the Battle for Decatur Civil War Reenactment is held at Point Mallard Park, a 750-acre municipal park providing year round recreation facilities in Decatur, Ala. Admission is free. For more information, call Larry Thomson, SCV Camp 580 Adjutant, at 256.520.2906. .