City Manager John Bennett confirmed Tuesday that the local government does not plan to allocate any direct tax dollars for events to mark the 150th anniversary.
“Anything that will be done, we’re doing through tourism,” Bennett said.
The war drew perilously close to Rome in 1863. Union General Abel Streight and his Lightning Mule Brigade approached from the west, prompting the famous John Wisdom ride that Romans remember during Heritage Holidays each October.
What Wisdom may not have known was that General Nathaniel Bedford Forrest was well aware of Streight’s movement and — in maneuvers that would have made Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion or Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson proud — was able to con the federal force that was at least three times the size of Forrest’s troops into surrendering near Cedar Bluff, Ala.
In May 1864, Union forces led by General Jefferson C. Davis captured Rome and occupied the city until early November, when much of Rome was torched and the Yankees marched to Atlanta.
While Civil War history is fascinating to many, and is expected to generate considerable attention during the next five years, Rome and Floyd County are planning modest events to commemorate the local events of interest.
The Rome Convention and Visitors Bureau has been charged with coordinating activities associated with the war remembrances in Floyd County.
CVB Executive Director Lisa Smith said she is not sure how much tourist activity will take place between now and 2015.
“I know that the state is geared up for it,” said Smith. “I think there is a real fascination with the people who re-enact, and it’s a real fascination — because of having an American-soil war — to foreigners.”
Will that translate into big wads of tourist dollars? “I don’t know — we’ve been trying to figure that out,” Smith said.
Russell McClanahan, historian at Rome Area History Museum, said that interest in Rome has been high. He said that some sort of observance is warranted locally.
“It was a critical point in the development and history of Rome,” McClanahan said of the war. “The population was so stressed and had to undergo so many things that it makes the hard times that I personally go through look pretty meager.”
One of the programs that will take place this spring or summer will involve the placement of a Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails Marker at the site of the former Noble Foundry, where Confederate cannons were molded, near the South Broad Bridge. A specific date for that event has not been determined.