Civil War Theater in Pigeon Forge: Is the Show For You?

Yesterday is history, but how can we learn from the past if we simply shelve what happened? History is a mirror to learn, experience, and invent paths that forge human stories. The world evolves on the inventions created, probably long before you were born.

Every part of that history is essential to understanding where the world has come from and is heading. All the bad and the ugly too have a role in developing the world and its people.

One of the most iconic moments in American history is the 1860’s American Civil War between the North Unionists and the Southern Confederates. The confederates wanted self-rule, and this way, they could enforce their rules and policies independently. The idea didn’t sit well with the North, leading to the Great Civil War.

Civil War Theater

Explore the past of American history and the Southerners’ agitation of the North, leading to the clashes that claimed six hundred and sixty souls in its wake. The play borrows from a foundation of Christian values and ethos that promotes patriotism and shows that people can harmoniously live together despite differences.

About the Show and the Civil War Theater

  • Duration: 90 minutes.
  • Rating: All ages

Historian and actor Steve Gipson writes and directs the play. He has done a great deal of research to capture the facts of the civil war’s history. School history lessons can be biased toward the union point of view, but the play gets both perspectives. Why did the Southerners fight? Why were they hurt by the idea of the states uniting?

The Granddaddy’s Watch play follows the lives of two siblings, one a confederate sympathizer protecting her family against the unionists, who have her brother as a member. They exchange electrifying banter the southern way, making comical views on what they think is wrong with the beliefs of the north.

Buttonwillow Civil War Theater

Most critics will label the play politically incorrect, but the director says he tries as much as possible to bring modern America to the past horrors of its colonial past. Only when the past is understood can people avoid repeating past mistakes. The show is an effort to bring to light what happened during the war.

The show has Steve Gipson as the lead actor, representing a union member with strict beliefs that the confederates are wrong. Her kin, played by Jodi Moore, is an East Tennessee farmer who will do whatever it takes to protect her children against the unionists. She is relentless and stern, and her comical jabs will leave you on the floor giggling at the uncomfortable reaction of her kin.

The show has been in production for 30 years, starting as a traveling theater until moving to the Civil War Theater in Pigeon Forge in 2019. Before having a physical location in the Smoky Mountains, the show was staged all over the US territory, educating thousands of patrons on the catastrophic events of the Civil War.

Steve Gipson was acting with his wife until Jodi Moore took her place. The show features an actual canon used in the Civil War as a prop, which patrons can take pictures with after the show. You can also take photos with the cast in the meet and greet session after the show. You can also buy DVDs, books, and souvenirs from the show from the official website store. Buy memorabilia at the gift shop in the theater: they have incredible Civil War-era jewelry, flags, swords, etc.

Is the Civil War Theater in Pigeon Forge a Dinner Show?

The show is primarily a play staging with no active dinner service. Initially, when it started in 2019, the Civil War Theater was a dinner show. The dinner service was canceled shortly after, more so after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world. In its place, a concession joint at the theater offers delicacies for you to chew on as you enjoy the civil war reincarnation happening on stage at the Buttonwillow Civil War Theater.

The food stand has the following food options:

  • Oatmeal Cookies
  • General Beauregard’s Suckers
  • Jeb Stuart Rock Candy
  • “God Save The South” Southern Fudge
  • Colonel Pemberton’s Cola
  • Natchez Root Beer
  • Stonewall Jackson’s Lemonade
  • Missy Pemberton’s Diet Coke

How to Get To the Buttonwillow Civil War Theater Show

  • Address: 2135 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863, United States

The Buttonwillow Civil War Theater is located centrally on the main 2135 Parkway road. There is free parking in front of the theater, so you can come in your car and find safe parking while you enjoy the show inside the theater. Other options will be getting a taxi using conventional cabs or hailing one online through Lyft or Uber. The theater is easily recognizable from the street with its big, bold blue and white signage.

When Is the Buttonwillow Civil War Theater Open?

The Granddaddy’s Watch play is staged at the Buttonwillow Civil War Theater in Pigeon Forge daily, all year round. You can book one of the two sessions scheduled daily to learn more about Civil War history right here in the Smoky Mountains. The two-hour show opens with a monolog by Steve Gipson, followed by the 90-minute play of the Southern clashes.

The theater opens daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., except for special holidays and Christmas. The show has a rating as one of the best attractions in Pigeon Forge. TripAdvisor ranks the Buttonwillow Civil War Show in the top 10% of attractions in the Smoky Mountains! It’s an educational show that children and grownups will enjoy.

Show Tickets

Book tickets to the Buttonwillow Civil War Show online or through their booking office at 2135 Parkway. Identification may be required to ascertain ownership when collecting tickets at the physical box office.

  • Adults (13+ years): $44.90
  • Children (6-12 years): $25.76
  • Children (below 6 years): $0.00

Seniors and military personnel (active service or veterans) get a 10% discount on tickets. More discounts are available with group bookings: pack up a group of 20-30 people and enjoy incredible ticket discounts. You can also book specialized performances for your group. The theater will entertain school trips, company retreats, etc., at affordable prices.

The show is very relatable to school-going children (grades four and above) to compensate for their untold history lessons. Make reservations with the booking office to host your party at the theater. Concessions are available too at these private performances.

Is the Show for You?

Civil War Theater Show
Source: @buttonwillowcivilwartheater

Wholesomely, the show is fit for general viewing. And the civil war has affected American history in a way that everyone should know. But will you relate and enjoy it while watching it, which is the ultimate goal of attending shows? Well, be the judge of that. To help you out of this indecisiveness, here is an explanation of where the shoe fits.

Even though it happened more than a century ago, the Civil War skirmishes affected the country’s history. It’s not enough to mention it on the go, but Americans should learn from it. And what better way of reminiscing the past than by watching it with your own eyes? Keep the history alive and the lessons at heart. If you relate to the conservation of American morals, then the show is a hit for you.

The show is also a fantastic avenue for educational value, especially for school-going children and teens. The show is relatable to grade four school-taught history lessons, so any child from 10 years old will relate to being in school. It brings a fresh perspective to the whole narrative, citing what agitated the interstate war. It can be a perfect opportunity to open your kid’s mind to a broader perspective.

The civil war show may come off a little irritating for politically correct individuals. You see, the play is a display of what was happening during the civil war. The southerners had different ideas about preserving their state, and these conflicting ideologies clashed. So, political correctness must be shelved to have a raw reincarnation of the historical civil war events. Plus, this is art, and it doesn’t have to be straight to communicate.

Here are some reviews, positive and negative, from actual show attendants as posted online:

Review from Tripadvisor

“Saw this show recently and was blown away by the quality and in-depth look at our history. It was not racist or politically motivated. Just a true, factual look at our history from all sides and perspectives. I recommend it to anyone from all walks of life to experience the whole truth and not just selective history. Bravo!”

“Interesting, but you are made to feel like if you don’t agree with the agenda, you might just get called out or made to leave. We did feel like we were learning a new way to see the civil war, but we were very uncomfortable with the teacher.”

Google Review

“Excellent!! We took my dad for his 78th birthday and our 2-year-old son. We all enjoyed it. Being history buffs, we were amazed at how many specifics from this period of history we had never heard. We thought it was wonderful to hear and thought it was a breath of fresh air to hear history presented as it happened versus the Hollywood version.”

“It was not what we were expecting. They were very political and strong in their opinions. The “acting” was below par, and there were only two of them for the entire two and a half hours without intermission. The sets did not change, they had one set the entire time, and it was hard to follow along with their “storyline” and “humor”. The facts were fun to learn, but it felt more like a college class than a show.”

Check this video for more information:

Civil War Theater Pigeon Forge: FAQs

Did Fighting Occur in Gatlinburg During the Civil War?

Apart from several guerrilla fights and clashes between the confederate sympathizers and the unionists, no major war reports exist for Gatlinburg. These minor wars took place in the Smoke Mountain region of Tennessee.

How is the Civil War Theater at Pigeon Forge Rated?

The Buttonwillow Civil War Theater/Show is rated at 4.5 stars on average by Google, Tripadvisor, Yelp, and social media. Its traction comes mainly from the attendees of the show, which has shown minimal criticism. The show is educational and entertaining, a combination that is rare in showbiz.


American history and the 1864 Civil War cannot be told apart. The war defined what the country stands for until now, upholding policies for inclusion and divergence. For a fresher perspective on the war and to get a taste of the southerners’ confederate movement, attend the Pigeon Forge Civil War Theater.

The show is fit for everyone, with more history than what’s on the school syllabus. Book your tickets anytime you are in the Smoky Mountains with 2 hours to spare.

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