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Civil War event draws crowd to History Center
Re-enactors had weapons on display
Union soldier re-enactors David French, right, and Stephen Morrisey take part in Family Day at the Northeast Georgia History Center on Sunday.

The Civil War wasn't just about men in blue and gray firing rifles across grassy battlefields and charging each other with weapons extended.

The nation's bloodiest conflict, which began 150 years ago in April, also had a woman's perspective.

During a Civil War "living history" event Sunday at the Northeast Georgia History Center in Gainesville, Cathy McDougal of Dahlonega talked about fashion and hairstyles, showing examples of dresses Southern women wore during that era.

She also talked about "some of the Southern aspects of the women who were left behind, besides melting, which we are," referring to the oppressive heat outside the History Center off Academy Street.

The History Center held Family Day on Sunday, featuring demonstrations and exhibits that gave an inside look at soldier and civilian life during the war.

Some 275 people passed through the center for the event, said Julie Carson, the center's education and volunteer coordinator.

Visitors were first greeted by a vast display of Confederate and Union replica flags as hand sewn by Robert Banks of Sautee-Nacoochee in North Georgia.

He also spoke with visitors about the flags' historical significance and background.

There were other indoor displays, including one sponsored by the Longstreet Society, which aims to preserve the memory of Confederate Gen. James Longstreet.

The general, who spent most of his life in Gainesville after the war, was a controversial figure, joining the much-maligned Republican Party and advocating equal rights for blacks.

Re-enactors had set up displays outside in the sweltering heat, talking to visitors as they passed by about weapons and other items — such as playing cards and sewing kits — soldiers took on marches to battles.

David French, 17, and Stephen Morrisey, 12, portrayed a drum and fife unit as part of the Union Army's 13th Division, 4th Corps.

Dressed in blue uniforms, they showed their musical skills and shared with visitors what life was like for the federal soldier.

Both said they were trying to do their part to make history come alive for others.

"I think that history is taught in (school in) a rather bland fashion," said David, a rising senior at Flowery Branch High School.

Stephen, who attends Pinecrest Academy in Cumming, agreed. "It's really simple stuff, like North is blue and South is gray. The North won. That's it."

"I've been interested in history for a while now, and the Civil War is the most interesting period to me," Stephen said.

Dustin Sutton of Cleveland brought his children, 7-year-old Drew and 10-year-old Hailey, to Sunday's event, saying that his girlfriend's father has stirred interest in the family with his talk — particularly to Drew — about the Civil War.

"This is an awesome (event)," Sutton said.

Hailey said she was especially fascinated by the flags, "most of which I've never seen before."