Originally created 06/04/06

Hours of battle took year of work



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Living historian Brian Brown describes a medieval siege technique patriots used to drive British troops from Fort Cornwallis.
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Loud gunshots and cannon explosions resonated in the air Saturday in downtown Augusta, as patriot forces brought down the British and forced them to surrender their outpost.

The original battle took several weeks, but re-enactors spent mere hours at war during the re-enactment of the Battle of Augusta, which celebrates its 225th anniversary this year.

The 1781 battle effectively ended British control of the area during the Revolutionary War and allowed Augusta to become Georgia's capital for more than a decade.

The battle, fought next to St. Paul's Episcopal Church on Riverwalk Augusta, was the height of a weekend of Colonial demonstrations held in Augusta and North Augusta. An early American dinner and performance by the U.S. Army's Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps were included in the festivities.

Lynn Thompson, who helped coordinate the event, said it took her nearly a year and a half to make sure this weekend was "just right."

For a Friday night dinner, she said she had to hunt for plates and silverware that closely resembled those used during the Revolutionary War period. Aside from that, the battle was to be fought properly, the fort had to fall just right. The cannon absolutely had to fire.

"It all looks very period correct," she said.

This work is ordinary for a woman who has spent almost two decades orchestrating Colonial productions. Fifteen years ago, Ms. Thompson was among those who founded the Colonial Times Day held in North Augusta's Living History Park.

Success in the business of recreating history, she said, is about finding people who, like herself, can look beyond the present and see the past crystal clear.

One such person is Eugene Hough, whose passion for history went into his effort to build a replica of a Maham Tower, which the patriot forces used during the Battle of Augusta to elevate their cannon. Mr. Hough, along with Jim Greer and a few of his family members, spent two weeks crafting the log-cabinlike structure.

They also stuck logs upright in the ground to give the impression that the trees were chopped on-site, just like the patriots did two centuries ago.

"We tweaked things to give as much of a clear perspective as possible," Mr. Hough said.

The re-enactors, or "interpreters of history," as Mrs. Thompson calls them, were also an integral part of the production. Donned in bonnets, carrying muskets, they came in from all over the Southeast to teach the public a little bit about Augusta's history.

Brian Brown portrayed a member of the British forces. He was also the narrator of Saturday's battle. He has been an "interpreter of history" hobbyist for almost 30 years.

"I'm wearing a linen waistcoat and linen pants and holding a canteen made out of nothing but wood so it won't make much noise," he said.

"Everything I've got on, either my wife or I made. I wouldn't do this if it wasn't fun."

Those involved in the event said the most important thing about their work is preserving history.

"If you don't tell the story and you don't talk about the past," Mrs. Thompson said, "it will die."

Reach Lindsay Wilkes-Edrington at (706) 823-3332.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Commemoration of the 225th anniversary of the Battle of Augusta, featuring historical interpretation and an 18th-century Anglican worship service at Willow Springs Meeting House

WHERE: Living History Park, 299 W. Spring Grove Ave., North Augusta

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

COST: Free

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