Yesterday’s post, and a meeting this morning with my neighbor Mark Leary, inspired me to visit Cassville today. What remains of Bartow’s former county seat? Well, the Cass Grocery, for one:
The Cassville Museum (a former post office) (now sadly closed):
And something called the Heritage Room, where the Cassville Historical Society meets:
Plenty of markers remind passersby of what once was:
The plaque reads:
Site of Cassville. Named for Lewis Cass. County seat, Cass County 1832-1861. First decision, Supreme Court of Georgia, 1846. Name changed to Manassas 1861. Town burned by Sherman 1864 and never rebuilt.
TOWN OF CASSVILLE
In this valley was once situated the proud town of Cassville, begun in July, 1833, as the seat of justice for Cass County and soon the center of trade and travel in the region recently comprising the Cherokee Nation. Both the county and the town were named in honor of Gen. Lewis Cass, Michigan statesman and Secretary of War in the Cabinet of President Andrew Jackson.
A decade after its founding Cassville lost its preeminence as a trading center due to the location of the state-owned Western and Atlantic railroad two miles west of its limits. It continued to flourish, however, and in 1860 was a community of some 1300 persons. Two four-year colleges located here and its newspaper, the Cassville Standard, gave weight to its claims of being the education and cultural center for all northern Georgia.
In 1861 the name of the county was changed by action of the Georgia Legislature to Bartow in memory of Gen. Francis S. Bartow, a native Georgian killed at the First Battle of Manassas, and the name of the town became Manassas.
The entire town was destroyed by fire on Nov. 5, 1864 at the hands of the Fifth Ohio Cavalry. Only three houses and three churches were left standing. So complete was the destruction that no rebuilding of the town was attempted.
SITE: CASSVILLE FEMALE COLLEGE
A large brick structure erected 1853. May 19, 1864: Skirmishers of Polk’s A.C. [Confederate flag] withdrew from this ridge E. to Cassville when pressed back by Butterfield’s (3d) Div., 20th A.C. [Union flag], from the Hawkins Price house. Battery C 1st Ohio Lt. Art., supported by 73d Ohio, 19th Mich. & 20th Conn. Reg’ts. [Union flag] occupied ridge & shelled the town as Johnston’s army [Confederate flag] withdrew to the ridge E. of it.
At night, Cassville was seized by 19th Mich. & 20th. Conn. Female College & town were burned by Federal forces, Nov. 1864.
Best of all is the Cassville Cemetery, for which the historical marker reads:
In the cemetery are buried about 300 unknown Confederate soldiers who died of wounds or disease in the several Confederate hospitals located in Cassville. These hospitals operated from late 1861 until May 18, 1864, then moved south out of the path of the invading Federal forces. In May 1899, the Cassville Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, to honor these unknown soldiers, placed headstones at each of their graves.
Or as another monument put it, more poetically:
These headstones were placed here May 1899 by Cassville Chapter Georgia Division United Daughters of the Confederacy in honor of those who fell while defending the rights of the South. Long may their memory live.
So long as breathes a Southern woman, so long as time shall last, so long will Southern women cherish and honor the memory of the Confederate soldier and meet annually to strew their resting place with choicest garlands.
The plinth of the obelisk reads:
Dedicated to the memory of our Southern heroes by the Ladies Memorial Association of Cassville, A.D. 1878.
Each of the other three sides bears a noble sentiment:
It is better to have fought and lost, than not to have fought at all
Is it death to fall for freedom’s cause?
Rest in peace our Southern braves, you loved liberty more than life.
As chance would have it Dale Black, the cemetery’s caretaker and head of the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, was there. He told me that they were hoping to use the SCV tag fees to spruce up the obelisk, since the plaster is chipping off. He also directed me to the graves of CSA Congressman Warren Akin and CSA Gen. William T. Wofford, which Mark had told me about:
Mark is a metalworker, and had made this CSA/SCV bench for placement beside Wofford’s grave. Note the repeated outline of the cruciform Confederate grave marker:
Mark had also told me about the grave of Wofford’s grandfather Benjamin Wofford – which happens to be in a woods quite close to where I live. It took me a bit of searching, but I eventually found it. Benjamin Wofford had served in his father William’s regiment in the Revolutionary War.
These Woffords fought in South Carolina. After the war, Benjamin emigrated to Georgia, where he owned enough land that his name is now part of the local toponymy: Wofford’s Crossroads, just southwest of White, is apparently named after him. Here is a photo of the Baptist church that stands there today:
A topic for further investigation: what was the extent of the Woffords’ involvement in the local iron smelting industry? (They had certainly been involved in iron smelting in South Carolina, thus the Battle of Wofford’s Iron Works.)