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Re-enactor rides at Resaca
Event marks 147th year since battle
Forsyth County resident Michael Brown plans to take part in the Battle of Resaca re-enactment this weekend. - photo by Autumn McBride

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For more information about the Georgia Division Reenactors Association or the Battle of Resaca Civil War Reenactment, visit

Michael Brown has lived through one Civil War battle many times over.

The Forsyth County man has taken part in the Battle of Resaca re-enactment at least a dozen times, including the original replay in 1984.

He plans to keep the tradition going this weekend as a cavalry commander for the 27th annual Battle of Resaca Civil War Reenactment, performed on a portion of the original battlefield in northwest Georgia.

It’s been 150 years since the start of the Civil War, and 147 since the Battle of Resaca began on May 13, 1864.

The battle in Resaca, a small town off Interstate 75 between Calhoun and Dalton, marks the beginning of Union General William Tecumseh Sherman’s march to Atlanta, said Frank Clark of the Bell Research Center.

The Confederates were outnumbered 2 to 1, but managed to delay Sherman’s troops. The winner, Clark said, depends on how it’s viewed.

“The fact that the Confederates escaped to fight another day and to contest his further encroachment made this a loss for Sherman,” he said.

“The fact that Sherman was able to take his casualties and continue on to ultimate success made this a victory for him.”

Some Forsyth County soldiers fought in the battle, including James Gillespie, the Rev. G.J. Hardin and John Youngblood.

The modern-day re-enactment, Clark said, is well respected and organized.

Brown, a member of the Georgia Division Reenactors Association, said the group puts together the re-enactment scenario based on a section of the original battle.

On the individual level, he said men “act and react according to what happens,” including taking hits and collapsing on the field.

That fast, in-the-moment action is what Brown most enjoys about participating, though as a member of the cavalry — on horseback — he doesn’t take as many hits as the ground troops.

“I like the cavalry because it’s like a big chess game,” he said. “The two commanders are cuing off of each other to try and counter each other or get an advantage.”

Brown and his son each ride one of the family horses, which have been trained to withstand the sometimes chaotic atmosphere of battle re-enactments.

Battles take place for about 90 minutes on Saturday and Sunday, starting at 2 p.m.

The Confederate army is usually victorious one day, and the Union army the other, Brown said.

This year, he’ll be commanding the Confederate cavalry, but he doesn’t always represent the South.

A participant's side usually depends on what’s needed to keep the battle even or historically close, Brown said.

If he’d been alive in the 19th century, Brown might have fought on the Confederate side, as did his great uncle — of whom he has a photo of in his wallet — and great-grandfather.

Brown said he’s always taken an interest in history. The historic relics on display in his home and drawings of historic sites are a testament to that.

Brown was thrilled when his grandmother discovered his great-grandfather’s manuscript of his Civil War experiences 100 years later.

“We didn’t know anything about him, and then here’s this interesting story,” he said. “He was captured a bunch of times and escaped.”

The writings were published as a book, for which Brown illustrated some of the scenes.

Brown himself has appeared in some movie scenes that have shot at various re-enactments.

This year at Resaca, a group of filmmakers will film and interview re-enactors and spectators for an upcoming documentary.

Aside from the battle scene, the weekend event features several other period actors, including blacksmiths, authentic-style Civil War photos and various merchants.

“The idea is to have a level of authenticity that everybody strives for,” he said.