PRESTON, Ga. -- In an ongoing observance of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, the Sons of Confederate Veterans' Stewart/Webster Camp will re-enact the raising of the first Confederate flag in Georgia here Saturday.
A historical marker on the Preston Courthouse lawn commemorates the March 31, 1861, event, which was attended by a large crowd of soldiers and their families.
"We're proud that this small community had a significant role in the history of the war," Camp Commander Glynn Cobb said. "We try and commemorate the event every five years, but this one -- coming on the 150th anniversary -- is significant.
"We've planned a special re-enactment (of the flag-raising) and other activities that we hope will make this a special day for the community."
The historical marker in Preston reads:
"On this Courthouse lawn the first Confederate flag raising in Georgia took place March 31, 1861. Judge David B. Harrell of Webster County, Capt. James Pickett of Red Hill, Dr. Harvis Pickett of Weston with their companies of soldiers trained in Preston. Voting for Miss Mollie Josey as the most popular girl in town, the troops chose her to raise the flag. With much ceremony and enthusiasm a vast crowd witnessed the rites. At the end of the war Union troops stationed in Preston cut down and destroyed the flagpole."
Rena Cobb, a retired journalist and historian who wrote "The History of Marion County, Georgia: Motherland of Many," has worked with Glynn Cobb to plan the sesquicentennial celebration. She said such activities have a special place in her life.
"I was raised in a household with a lot of history," Rena Cobb, 73, said. "One of my grandmothers was born in 1854, so she was old enough to remember the war. When we were growing up, she told us some of the stories she heard from members of her family.
"That's why I personally feel Saturday's event will be a super special day."
The flag-raising re-enactment program will start at 11 a.m. with a welcome by Glynn Cobb and a pledge of allegiance to the Georgia flag. Rena Cobb will then tell the story of the historic flag-raising in Preston.
Other activities include comments from SCV Georgia Division Commander Jack Bridwell, a 21-gun salute by re-enactors representing the Georgia 17th Regiment, the playing of taps, and the singing of "Dixie" and "Amazing Grace."
The Joyful Noise Octet will perform from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., and a barbecue lunch will be served at nearby Shiloh-Marion Baptist Church, one of the oldest churches in the state. It was built, according to Rena Cobb, in 1812 by Methodists as part of their mission to convert Indian tribes in the region to Christianity.
"After the original flag-raising in 1861, the soldiers and their families enjoyed a barbecue lunch and an afternoon of fellowship," Glynn Cobb said. "Many were baptized in a pool near the church before they marched off to serve their country.
"We're keeping in the spirit of that day by having a barbecue lunch prepared for those who want to take part."
All re-enactment events are free and open to the public. Reservations are being taken for barbecue plates, which are $10, by calling Glynn Cobb at (229) 942-9121 or Rena Cobb at (229) 887-3796.