A two-day event planned for Oct. 26 and 27, centers around a skirmish known as the Battle of Newton. The clash that took place in 1865 between Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. According to an official release from the Battle of Newton Society, “Over 150 years ago a small band of townsmen and Newton Home Guard fended off an attack by Capt. Joseph Sanders’ band of deserters and outlaws.”
The battle will be relived during the 19th annual re-enactment of the Battle of Newton, sponsored by the Battle of Newton Society, Inc.
“We have re-enactors come from Alabama, Georgia and Florida. They portray both North and South; that is true of re-enactors in both the North and South,” event co-organizer Georgia Fleming said. “Most re-enactors own one set of Confederate gear and one set of Union gear. They will be told which people will play Confederates or Yankees (Union). The re-enactment groups send us a muster roll letting us know how many people they are going to bring so we can plan on how to feed them. We provide two breakfasts and one supper.”
“For each re-enactment, there is an overall commander, and a separate Confederate and Union commander and they decide how the battle is going to play out,” Georgia Fleming said.
The event will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. There will be battles both days, with infantry, cavalry and artillery from Alabama, Georgia and Florida. After the battle, spectators can watch a military field hospital in action. Before and after the battles, there will be opportunities to visit the Union and Confederate camps and interact with the soldiers.
“It is planned for Confederates to win one day and the Union to win the other day. The idea behind the concept of the Battle of Newton Society is not to be pro one or the other,” event co-organizer Brian Fleming said. “It is to be able to do a demonstrative re-enactment of the period because that gives us a good clue as to what was going on and some of the underlying issues which were brought up with the War Between the States, issues that we are still wresting with today.
“A lot of the re-enactors are also veterans, which means that they have a better appreciation than the general public as far as what war means, so it is not just a movie, it is real to them,” Brian Fleming said.
Admission to the event is free, with plenty of activities planned throughout each day for families and guests. There will be a special area set aside for kids’ games, storytelling, and contests.
Additionally, there will be a Ladies’ Tea on Saturday morning and a 19th century style church service on Sunday morning.
“Living history” exhibitions will be put on by civilian re-enactors and craftsmen throughout the event.
“Part of the program is living history that people can walk up to and they can go down to the camps and see how people lived in the period. They are in period costume. We have more than just the battles. At the camps there will be tables set up with period artifacts, toys and such,” Brian Fleming said. “In the past, we have had a blacksmith, people demonstrating crafts and soap making. People can tour the camps, see the guys in the tents, see the camp fires, talk to the re-enactors, and ask questions.”
Live music will be performed both days. The 5th Alabama Regimental Band, a period brass band, will play during the day and Saturday evening for a period ball.
People travel from all over to see history come to life as re-enactors from Alabama and beyond converge on John Hutto Park in Newton each year.
The road will be lined with food and drink vendors and booths with hand-made goods of all kinds.
A giveaway will be held for a custom knife by T. Paul McGowan of McGowan Knife Works, complete with certificate of origin, recommended care instructions, and a personal note from Paul McGowan. The drawing will be held after the battle on Sunday.
The Battle of Newton Society started out as a subcommittee under the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) Camp. It was eventually a society and is now officially a 501 (C) 3 nonprofit known as the Battle of Newton Society, Inc. Founders Brian and Georgia Fleming say that it all happened as a way to ensure the longevity of the historical group.
“We asked a couple of people that were not members of the SCV to come to the committee meetings and then the group just began meeting independently of the SCV and then Brian thought that in order to ensure that this group remains intact it would be better to incorporate,” Georgia Fleming said. “Now people not associated with SCV and people interested in history can be involved in keeping the history alive.”
The Battle of Newton Society invites everyone to come out for a fun, free family event. For more information, visit the website battleofnewton.org or call (334) 389-2623.