Rarely in life is one privy to an event that exceeds the expectations of the advertisement. Rarely does an event capture the essence our American history and heritage. Rarely does an event become a reunion instead of a reenactment.
This fielder was privileged to witness such an event at the 10th annual Fiddler’s Green “Skirmish in the Valley.”
The two-day festivities began with a ladies tea that was held on the front lawn of Fiddler’s Green.
The antebellum home is the result of the vision and hard work of Chris and Heather Dempsey. Most of the house was from the architectural elements of the Lockett-Gidley House acquired by Chris and Heather Dempsey.
Samuel Lockett was a colonel in the Confederacy and chief engineer of the Defense of Vicksburg. He was also a prolific writer and may be best known for his work on the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty.
Approximately seventy ladies, adorned in their finest dresses, enjoyed the social atmosphere of the old south. Tours of the house were offered.
Gary Dempsey welcomed the guests, offered a historical perspective of the house, and students assigned to each room described in detail each room’s history.
The Skirmish in the Valley was a recreation of a typical raid by Sherman’s forces during the 1864 march to the sea.
The scenario included civilians resting in a house and children playing outside when soldiers led by those sympathetic to the Federal cause descended upon the peaceful valley.
The battle reached a fever pitch, as a large crowd cheered on the efforts of both sides in the battle. The battle on Saturday ended with the Southern forces prevailing.
On Sunday however, the Federal forces chased away the families and burnt the cabin in the valley; much to the alarm of the huge audience. Both skirmishes ended with a pass and review, along with the crowd cheering in appreciation for the well-orchestrated events of the day.
Supper was provided for all participants and a true sense of fellowship and family seemed to permeate the air. The period ball was outstanding, as Un-Reconstructed played for those in attendance. The dancing was in the style of the period and very eloquently performed.
Sunday’s church service in the newly built Ruby’s Chapel was simply amazing. The wondrous musical prelude and harmonious singing of the Jones Family (Ball Ground. Georgia) set the stage for something special. The congregation inside was filled to capacity, with standing room only. The windows were opened and the faithful peered through the openings. An estimated one hundred gathered outside the door. As many as two hundred and fifty attended the historical event. The building was consecrated via pray and praise. Chaplains Mike Jones (Center Post, Georgia) and David Chaltas (Jeremiah, Kentucky) shared the inspirational messages. Heather Dempsey performed a haunting rendition of “Were You There When the Crucified My Lord.” Mike Dodd of Chickamauga, GA, gave a touching testimony. The service ended with a benediction and special music once again performed by the Jones Family. A sense of awe meandered over the worshipers, as they shook hands, hugged, and drank from the cup of fellowship.
Both days at Fiddler’s Green provided a wide array of things to see and do. They included touring the home, garden, and grounds. The garden is home to the “Nancy Holder Couch” rose bush. The bush (a cutting) has been in the family for over one hundred-forty years and grows in the back of the garden. It has seen seven generations pass by and marvel at its beauty and longevity.
The 1850’s log cabin (known as Ben Turner Place) was open to the public. The cabin is a story and a half hand-hewn pine structure that was built in the style known as ‘pen’ or ‘crib’. The corners are half-dovetail notched and was relocated from its original location on Liberty Road (across from Overton Lake in Calhoun County)
The spectators toured the soldier’s camps, ate at an 1860’s period vendor (Woodburn Baker), watched blacksmith forging, learned from an excellent artillery presentation and demonstration an observe period photography.
Ada’s Mercantile (19th century general store) along with Seams like 1860 (sutlery) were open to the public. Possum Holler Sutlery and other vendors were present for the crowd to browse and buy items.
Period artisans, broom makers and other crafts were available.
If you are looking for an event celebrating history, heritage, family values, freedom and God, this event should be considered high on the bucket list!
For more information about next year’s event or information about a wedding, go to www.fiddlersgreenalabams.com or Facebook at Fiddler’s Green event Venue.
-By David Chaltas