OLD CLINTON WAR DAYS: Annual event brings a boom to the local economy

With cannons blasting and guns firing, Confederate soldiers in gray uniforms will protect the town of Clinton.

For miles around, the cannons will be heard in the distance, reminding those in Jones County of the grizzly past and the history that can be taught to younger generations about what happened in the area.

The 37th annual Old Clinton War Days – held May 5-6 – will showcase what the Civil War was like through a re-enactment while guests are invited to learn about Clinton’s history.

“It’s a living history opportunity for any age to experience it up close and personal. It’s better than reading a book,” said Earlene Hamilton, president of Old Clinton Historical Society. “You can talk to the soldiers. They are walking history books themselves, and you can see a 200-year-old town that still exists. You can be part of something that is a piece of history.”

Guests can witness Old Clinton War Days Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Clinton is located 12 miles northeast of Macon, one and a half miles southeast of Gray, one block west off of Gray Highway. There will also be a ladies tea Saturday, at 11 a.m. and Sunday, at 12:25 p.m. There will be a youth wooden rifle mock battle. For a detailed summary of events, please visit www.oldclinton.org/war-days-3.

“The re-enactment is in the afternoon, but camps are open and the soldiers are there. You can do self-guided walking tours of the historic district, or if someone wants to make a reservation for a guided tour, we offer that as well,” Hamilton  said.

People from all over the country, even some outside of the U.S., come to witness the historical re-enactment of the Civil War and other events that happened, generating revenue for local businesses.

“It’s an economic bump for the community,” Hamilton said. “We bring in people from all over the Southeast. The soldiers come from multiple states. Tourism for the day brings in people from all around.”

Soldiers will be in town all week for the event, and tourists will be buying souvenirs, eating at local restaurants and buying fuel for their vehicles.

“The economic impact this event has on the city of Gray and the county of Jones is substantial,” said J.C. Nobles, commander of the re-enactment group. “Each participant will spend an average of $150 to $200 in the local economy. There’s a tremendous boost for local businesses.”

Clinton teaches people that the past may not always be pretty, but it is a part of Jones County.

“It opens up the 1800s to people and teaches them about the war,” Hamilton said. “The soldiers are very open to both sides of the conflict. They speak about both sides. They can talk to you about what it was like to live as a soldier and what it was like to fight as a soldier.”

There will be lots to hear while visiting Old Clinton War Days, giving participants a chance to witness history with their own eyes instead of just reading about it. 

“Old Clinton War Days is a historical program to educate the people of Jones County about what happened here up to the time of the war between the states,” Nobles said. 

The weapons that are discharged during the re-enactment that roar and leave a haze of smoke are just one part of the battle to witness. There will be nurses taking care of the wounded and battle cries to be heard.

“I think it gives you an impression of what the war was like,” said Deloras Moon, coordinator between OCHS and the schools. “We have a cannon, and when that goes off, it’s impressive. Back in the Civil War, that was real. Most people that have been and seen the battle have said that it impresses them.”

Even though Old Clinton War Days puts on a re-enactment and lets guests walk around the town, it still has an air of the past about it. Some of the town has been preserved to show off the rich history that’s located right here at home.

“You can just touch the history. You can feel it, you can sense it, it’s not in the pages of a book,” Hamilton said. “It’s not something dry you have to try to imagine, it’s happening right in front of you.”

-- Alaina Minshew | Staff

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The Jones County News

P.O. Box 1538
Gray, GA 31032
(478) 986-3929

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