Living history lesson: Civil war battle re-enacted

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NEWTON, Ala. (WTVY) --- 1865 marked the end of the civil war, the bloodiest war, in the nation’s history. General Robert E. Lee of the south, surrendered to northern general and future U.S. president Ulysses S. Grant. From the time the first shots rang out at Sumter in South Carolina, the county was embroiled in a battle that would rock not only the county but what its people stood for.

Sunday, people got a history lesson, in the Wiregrass, just off of 231, in Dale County. In the small town of Newton, dozens re-enacted the Battle of Newton. It may not have been as bloody as the battle at Antietam or as famous as the battle at Gettysburg but this battle had a purpose. A purpose no matter who a soldier is, it’s at the very heart of what they’re fighting for. They fight for their homes and their way of life.

"When you sit and watch it, now, you look and see which cannons can do a smoke ring and all this other kind of stuff", said Jean Watson a spectator.

She was just one of many who watched the re-enactment at John Hutto Park. The field of battle featured two sides both dress in military garb but in very different colors. One side wore gray representing the people of Newton who fought bravely to defeat bands of deserters and outlaws, the ones in blue. Ultimately the people from Newton would beat back the deserters and claim their land as their own.

“"It really tells the American story of people defending home's. And it's not about politics it's about history", said Brian Fleming, the president of The Battle of Newton Society.

But the re-enactment was more than just a battle. Walking into the park either Saturday or Sunday was like walking back in time. On the grounds, there were 19th century doctors, lecturing people on exactly how battle wounds were treated but also tents that looked like they were right out of a history book.

But early Sunday morning featured an old style wedding. Mark and Tabatha married to become Mr. and Mrs. Howard. As was tradition, Mark was dressed in garments similar to what would have been appropriate for that time period, along with his wife Tabatha, who wore a white dress. But she wasn’t the only person in a dress.

"I actually got this dress here last year, from the southern seamstress over there and she hand makes the dress", said Bethanie Hartzog.

Hartzog came with her friend Codi Clemmons. This was the second year Hartzog came. She came with Clemmons last year and walked out with a dress. This year she made sure to wear it. And she was accompanied by Clemmons who also wore a time appropriate dress.

"It has really made us aware of everything that was part of our history", said Clemmons.