February 3, 2013

Civil War show comes to Dalton

‘You always learn something’

Rachel Brown

— It’s not every day a $13,800 replica of a mid-1800s era Mount Howitzer cannon sits for sale in the trade center.

Yes, it will fire, and yes, it’s heavy. The carriage weights about 250 pounds, the bronze tube where the cannon ball fires weighs another 223 pounds.

If the price, weight and oddity of it aren’t enough to impress, know that it takes three to four months to build just one.

“You can’t go to the hardware store and buy the nuts and bolts,” said builder Tom Bailey, owner of Historical Ordnance Works, a preservation and reproduction company based in Woodstock. “We have to make them all.”

Bailey was among the many vendors at the roughly 450-table show at the 18th annual Chickamauga Civil War Show, which continues through today. The Pittsburgh native said he got his start, in a way, just by growing up where he did. Around there, he said, nearly everyone was somehow involved in the steel industry. Once he became interested in history and was recruited to join the Civil War Trust, he took the knowledge and skills he already had and learned about the specifications for the cannons, caissons, trucks, helicopter guns and other items he has restored and reproduced over the years.

Bailey’s work is in numerous museums and battlefields, including Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.

The Civil War show in Dalton began in 1994, said show promoter Mike Kent, after a couple of less successful shows in Knoxville and Chattanooga. Kent, who said he has been a gun collector all his life, said his biggest show is in Franklin, Tenn., and draws about 1,000 tables each time. It is the biggest Civil War show in the United States, he said.

Rafael Eledge from the PBS series “Antiques Roadshow” was on hand Saturday to help advise people free of charge on items they might want to buy, sell or trade. He said he specializes in items from the American Revolutionary War to 1900.

Eledge said he comes to the Dalton show every year and enjoys being there. He became interested in antiques back in high school when he went to pick up a girl he planned to take on a date and saw her father cleaning old bullets.

“So she and I were late for the movie, and the next morning, we went metal detecting,” he said.

The hobby snowballed from there.

In addition to the vendors, Dalton State College’s Bandy Heritage Center presented two free lectures, one by historian Jim Ogden and another by historian Richard McMurray.

Bob and Loraine Channing said they come down from Sperryville, Va., every year to attend the show and symposium.

“Dr. McMurray is one of my favorite speakers,” Loraine Channing said. “You always learn something.”

The show continues today from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.