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Perry Side Trip: A Blast Of Civil War History!

The CSS Jackson, a huge Confederate warship built in Columbus, was set on fire by Union soldiers.By Peggy Jordan
Associate Editor, Family Motor Coaching magazine

After the FMCA Family Reunion in Perry, Georgia, March 17 to 20, 2014, experience a literal blast from the past in Columbus, Georgia. Not only is this town home to the quirky Lunchbox Museum, but Columbus also boasts the National Civil War Naval Museum.

Worthy of several hours of exploration, the museum has boats, uniforms, and sundry related items from the days when Columbus, situated on the banks of the Chattahoochee River, was a shipbuilding hub during the Civil War. For a real “boom” time, plan your visit to coincide with River Blast!, Saturday, March 22, when the museum’s 9-acre grounds will feature cannon firings, military drills, an encampment, and other activities presented by living history interpreters.

Visitors can find the museum quite easily. Just look for the USS Water Witch, a full-scale replica of a side-wheel steam-powered ship, outside. The original ship, which measured 160 feet long and 26 feet wide, with 90-foot masts, was seized in June 1864 by Confederate commandos as it sat blockading the Savannah harbor. During River Blast!, re-enactors use the ship to help show what life was like for sailors of that era.

The CSS Albermarle  is among the warships on display at the National Civil War Naval Museum.Inside the museum are many more ships, both partially original and re-created. The most famous is the CSS Jackson, a huge Confederate warship built right in Columbus.

Just before it was put into service, the CSS Jackson was set on fire when the town was invaded by Union soldiers. Remains of the ironclad ram ship were taken out of the Chattahoochee River in 1961 and are on display. The ship’s missing portions can be easily imagined thanks to a frame-type structure that has been built around it.

Other vessels to see include the CSS Chattahoochee, a gunboat that exploded prior to its use in the Chattahoochee River. A portion of the USS Hartford is replicated to demonstrate daily navy life to visitors by way of a deck, captain’s quarters, and a wardroom. Models of the USS Monitor and the CSS Albermarle are exhibited, including a full-scale replica of the Monitor’s turret.

Stop by the museum’s theater, too, during the River Blast! event, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., to see actors portraying local Civil War-era sailors, civilians, and soldiers revealing their seldom-told personal stories.

Those who visit the  National Civil War Naval Museum during River Blast! will see that old cannons still can produce high-decible counts.The museum will impress you with its exhibits and experiences. And if you attend River Blast!, you undoubtedly will have a greater appreciation for the high-decibel count that those old cannons can produce!

The National Civil War Naval Museum, located at 1002 Victory Drive in Columbus, Georgia, is open daily. Admission is $7.50 for adults, $6.50 for military/seniors, $6 for students, and free for children 6 and under. For more information, visit or call (706) 327-9798; e-mail

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. Plenty of parking space for RVs is available.

While in Columbus, you also may wish to check out the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center at Patriot Park (; 706-685-5800); the Columbus Museum (; 706-748-2562); and other sites. Visit the Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau Web site at or call (706) 322-1613 or (800) 999-1613 for more information.

More Perry Side Trips:
The Lunchbox Museum

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