This year marks the 150th anniversary of the end of Sherman's March to the Sea - the Siege of Fort McAllister.

"On Dec. 13, exactly 150 years after the actual final battle, our experienced re-enactors will be camped at the fort from Friday to Sunday," said Shirley Rowe, naturalist at Fort McAllister.

"Once they arrive on the property, they will become a soldier and remain in character through their stay."

Fort McAllister became known as the "Guardian of Savannah" by defending Savannah from the south side.

"Built in 1861 at Genesis Point, the fort was constructed on the plantation property of Joseph McAllister," Rowe said.

"Fort McAllister provided protection from the U.S. Navy for the southern flank of Savannah, about 15 miles to the north, during the Civil War. It also afforded defense for the productive rice plantations of the lower Ogeechee River basin, and for the Savannah, Albany & Gulf Railroad Bridge, and a key transportation link, farther upriver."

Re-enactors will play the role of Confederate and Union soldiers throughout the activities.

"Saturday morning, you will be able to observe the skirmishes between the Confederate and Union soldiers. There will be musket fire and cannon firing during the skirmishes. These will continue all day. At 4 p.m., all park visitors will be asked to leave the fort area and go to the visitor's center," Rowe said.

"At that time, the barricades will be set up for the final battle. At the exact time of the original battle, the Union soldiers will advance and capture the fort. The Union soldiers, led by General Sherman, will take prisoners and march them to their holding area, as was done at the time."

The participants work hard to ensure the accuracy of the event.

"Becoming a re-enactor takes a huge commitment in time and money. They have practice drills on a regular basis so they are able to perform with accuracy for the re-enactments. They will have a planning meeting upon their arrival so the two Armies know the schedule," Rowe said.

"All the re-enactors have their own period clothing that they wear for the re-enactments. They are all constructed with great care to be authentic to the time. No modern zippers or Velcro will be used in the construction of the soldier uniforms. We make every effort to be period correct in every aspect of our living history events and battles. They buy their own muskets for these events."

Committing to the role means more than just dressing the part. Much like during the War Between the States, brothers become bitter enemies.

"Once they set up their encampments, the Union and Confederate soldiers do not communicate with one another," she said. "Just as it was at the time of the Civil War, they behave as enemies."

"They will also have a large group of civilians dressed in period style clothing.

"In the large building near the fort, we will have a group of civilian women portraying the role that southern women played on the home front at war time," Rowe said. "They will also be in period correct clothing. They will be cooking over the fire and demonstrating other tasks of that time."

Rowe expects a good turnout for the weekend event.

"Throughout Georgia, this year has had many people follow the path of Sherman's March to The Sea and the 150th anniversary events," she said. "Since Fort McAllister was the scene of his final battle, we expect a large number of visitors on Saturday."

Sherman's March to the Sea became a decisive and controversial battle to help end the Civil War. On Dec. 22, 1864, Sherman wrote to President Lincoln: "To his Excellency, President Lincoln, I beg to present to you as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and about 25,000 bales of cotton."

Rowe said this year's anniversary event is the fort's biggest yet.

"We have a re-enactment annually, but this will be the largest one we have ever had, with over 300 re-enactors," she said. "We are very excited about our 150th anniversary events and the historical significance of Fort McAllister's role in Civil War history."