ATLANTA (Reuters) - An Abraham Lincoln impersonator autographed copies of the Gettysburg Address, a Scarlett O‘Hara look-alike posed for pictures, and men attired in 19th-century blue and gray battle fatigues strode past hip-hop clubs and tattoo parlors.
They were among a crowd of about 100 Civil War re-enactors who descended on East Atlanta Village on Saturday to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the pivotal Battle of Atlanta, which was fought just outside Georgia’s present-day capital and ended in a Union victory.
But the influx of Civil War aficionados, accompanied by cannon shots, a rifle volley, a brass band and old-time fiddlers, caused little stir from the hipsters who regularly frequent the city’s self-described most peculiar district.
“That was Lincoln for real?” Amy Ross, manager of East Atlanta Tattoo, asked facetiously about the man in the black stovepipe hat holding court across from a dragon sculpture. “Everyone is so weird here anyway, it’s hard to tell if someone’s dressed up or not.”
Ross, like many residents, was unaware their neighborhood was the site of a battle that claimed the lives of some 9,000 men from both sides and altered the course of U.S. history.
The Confederate defeat and subsequent fall of Atlanta to Union forces are credited with helping ensure Lincoln’s 1864 re-election victory. The city’s burning by Union General William T. Sherman’s army before he embarked for Savannah on his “March to the Sea” helped galvanize Southern hatred of the North.
Mookah Adansi, a barista at Joe’s Coffee, said he hardly noticed the costumed visitors on Saturday.
“They just blend in man. Live and let live,” he said.
Lincoln, portrayed by Dennis Boggs, 64, of Nashville Tennessee, said no one even asked him if his beard was real.
“Lincoln was famous for his sense of humor, and I think he would have mingled with this eclectic group here as well as anyone,” said, Boggs, a retired grocer.
Boggs said the gathering marked his fifth attendance of a Battle of Atlanta anniversary celebration. Every now and then he runs into adults with a Southern chip on their shoulder.
“I’ve been called everything from a mass murderer, dictator, arsonist and a whole list of crimes against humanity,” he said.
An on-again, off-again rain did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the re-enactors camped out at a nearby park.
But Scarlett, the “Gone with the Wind” character portrayed at Saturday’s event by Joanna Griffin, said, “The rain makes me madder than a wet house cat.” Lincoln just put on his hat back on and said, “My Momma didn’t raise a complete idiot.”
Reporting by Rich McKay; Editing by Steve Gorman