Andersonville Prison

From Atlanta Magazine:

150 years later, a funeral for Andersonville’s dead

Andersonville National Historic Site to host a series of commemorative events the third weekend of September.

September 10, 2015

A century and a half after they perished from disease, deprivation, or battle wounds, Andersonville’s fallen are finally getting a funeral. In the culminating weekend of more than a year of programming marking the Civil War prison’s 150th anniversary, the national historic site is staging a series of events history buffs will not want to miss.

Memorial Illumination: On September 18 and 19, volunteers will place nearly 13,000 luminaries on the prison site, each a lighted tribute to a Union soldier who died during the fourteen months the prison operated. From 7 to 10 p.m. both nights, visitors can drive the prison loop road for a sight that is sure to be beautiful, somber, and unforgettable. The event is free, but the park asks each vehicle to donate a canned good upon entrance. The cans will in turn be donated to a local food pantry in honor of the soldiers who starved to death at Andersonville.

Funeral for Thirteen Thousand: On Saturday, September 19, Andersonville National Cemetery will host a ceremony for those who made the ultimate sacrifice at the prison. The service will include a keynote speech by Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Dailey; remarks by Georgia poet laureate Judson Mitcham and guest historian Dr. Lesley Gordon of University of Akron; honor guard from the Army, Navy, and Marines; and to stand in for the burial, a ceremonial casket filled with 13,000 paper stars decorated by children and community members. Music for the free event begins at 12:45 p.m.

The third Friday in September is also National Prisoner of War / Missing in Action Recognition Day. Beginning Wednesday, September 16, former POWs from across the nation and their families will convene in nearby Americus for an annual convocation called the Ride Home. They will be present for many of the weekend activities at Andersonville. For more information, visit the organization’s Facebook page.

More on Cassville

After my visit to Cassville, I started to wonder: if the “Federals” took the town in May of 1864, why did they wait until November to fire it? The Etowah Valley Historical Society provides an answer:

This change in name [from Cassville to Manassas] is said to have been one of the reasons for the utter destruction of Cassville in 1864. Most likely, activities of Confederate scouts in and around Cassville stirred up anger among the Federal occupiers. Attacks on the nearby railroad and Federal supply trains steadily eroded Cassville’s peaceful existence. Many of the Confederates also found refuge among its citizens, a fact well known to the Federals. The murder at Cassville of ten soldiers, who were with a Federal wagon train, finally brought the anger of the Union Army into focus. On the night of October 11, the bodies of nine of them were left on the grounds of the Female College. In retaliation, the Male and Female Colleges and homes of President Rambaught and Judge Nathan Land were burned the following night. On the 5th of November, the 5th Ohio Regiment with approximately 300 cavalrymen set fire to the remainder of Cassville, leaving the churches and a few homes that were used as hospitals.

Here is one of the churches that escaped, Cassville UMC:

On November 15 Sherman began his March to the Sea, and the 5th Ohio Cavalry went with him.

By the way, Cassville would probably have been rebuilt, save for the fact that the railroad now passed it by. This more than anything explains the migration of the county seat to Cartersville.


Cassville, Georgia. Google Maps.

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.


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.


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.)

Bartow Courthouse

We enjoyed a look inside the old Bartow County Courthouse (Cartersville, Georgia) this afternoon, courtesy of Sherry Henshaw, director of the Keep Bartow Beautiful program. I took this photo some years ago:

Unfortunately, the building is in need of serious renovations, and needs to be made ADA compliant, so for the time being it mostly serves as a storage facility. But the courtroom itself remains in great condition (good enough for the filming of Devil’s Knot, at any rate!).

Most county business transpires in the Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center to the west, which was completed in 1992. It does the job, but doesn’t have quite the character of this place.

The courthouse appears on the county flag, and on the county logo:

It also made the cover of a recent book on Georgia county courthouses:

Ms. Henshaw informs me that this gold-dome courthouse, which was built in 1902, was in fact the second courthouse in Cartersville. The first, dating from the 1870s, now houses the Bartow History Museum. They built a new one because that one was too close to the train tracks, and the trials kept getting interrupted by the noise.

Of course, none of this would have transpired if they had kept Cassville as the county seat. Just as they changed the county name from Cass to Bartow in 1861, after the Confederate colonel, so also did they change the name Cassville to Manassas in 1861, after the famous Confederate victory. This was way too much of a provocation for Sherman, who burnt the settlement to the ground when he came through in 1864. Instead of rebuilding it, the locals just moved the county seat to Cartersville and started over from there. (Cassville did eventually get rebuilt, and under its original name – but it never equaled its former stature.)


Photos of things historical, from a short jaunt to St. Augustine, Florida:

1. On the way down, we stopped at Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon, Georgia. This is run by the National Parks Service and features a WPA-built visitor center.

The site itself is quite large and boasts “17000 years of continuous settlement” in successive waves (Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Woodland, Mississippian, and colonial).

One major site is a reconstructed council chamber, designated the “earth lodge,” with a circle of seats around the outside, each one larger and higher until one reaches a platform across from the door, with three seats on it for the leaders. There was a fire pit in the middle and four oak trunk pillars holding up the roof. Unfortunately, the interior was too dark for good photographs.

In common with the Etowah, Cahokia, and Kolomoki sites, Ocmulgee has a large temple mound, built up over many years, one basketful of soil at a time. The parking lot in the front is actually a former railway cutting which destroyed two-thirds of another mound in the nineteenth century. To think that people used to do this!

2. We then headed on to St. Augustine, Florida, which we had been wanting to see for some time. Like Charleston, S.C., and Savannah, Ga., it is a coastal settlement from the early days of European contact; unlike those cities, it is significantly older, having been founded by the Spanish in the mid-sixteenth century. Unfortunately, today it is also a lot more touristy, since it it within the orbit of Disney World and possesses a nice beach. But the Castillo de San Marcos remains a well-run historical site.

The fort itself dates from 1672. It was transferred to the British in 1763 after the Seven Years’ War, and back to Spain in 1783 after the American War of Independence. It became American after the United States annexed Florida in 1821 (and was briefly Confederate in 1861-62). It was last used for military purposes during the Spanish-American war, when it served as a prison for deserters. These and other aspects of the fort’s history are detailed in signage and presented by uniformed guides, some of whom will demonstrate firing a canon at set times.

From Wikipedia, an arial view of the place, showing the early modern star-fort design:

Confederate Monuments

While in Richmond we got a chance to see the Museum of the Confederacy. It is completely surrounded (and dwarfed) by the Virginia Commonwealth University Hospital and parking ramp, somewhat surprisingly – you’d think that they would have restricted development around such hallowed ground. But I suspect that time has passed it by. The original museum was housed in the White House of the Confederacy; in 1976 it was moved to a purpose-built building next door, while the house was restored to how it might have looked when Jeff Davis lived there. It’s clear that they have tried to make it more of a museum and less of a shrine, but the main exhibit can’t seem to get beyond its roots: you go through a chronological timeline of battles and other events, but all that’s on display are things like Lee’s overcoat or Longstreet’s sword or Johnston’s overcoat or Stuart’s overcoat. I did like the second floor, which was devoted to the various Confederate flags and clearly the work of John Coski, whose book on the subject I quite admire. (I was unaware of the existence of RuPaul as “Miss Rachel Tensions” in the 1995 movie To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar.) The basement had some interesting social-history what-nots, like a keepsake made of human hair or a hat made of corn husks, although not all of this was Confederate as such.

Lately, this Museum of the Confederacy has merged with two other museums: one at Appomattox Court House, the site of Lee’s surrender in April of 1865, and one at Historic Tredegar, which is located on Richmond’s waterfront and was once the site of a gun foundry. We did not have time to go to Tredegar, but it apparently deals with the war from the Union, Confederate and slave perspectives. This new three-site institution is known as the American Civil War Museum and its motto is “Confederacy, Union, Freedom” – reflecting the mandate of the Tredegar site more than that of the Museum of the Confederacy site. So I suspect that if you are in Richmond, and you only have time to see one, you should probably go to Tredegar.

We did cruise up and down Monument Avenue, and marveled at the outsized monuments to Stuart, Lee, Jackson and Davis (there were also monuments to oceanographer Matthew Fontaine Maury and African-American tennis star Arthur Ashe; I think they need more such non-Confederate statues).

On the grounds of the State Capitol is an equestrian statue of Washington and six other famous Virginians. This was unveiled in the 1850s. The image of Washington on his horse was reproduced on the Great Seal of the Confederacy.

Via Wikipedia. The date, 22 February 1862, is when the CSA’s constitution went into effect and Jeff Davis was officially inaugurated to his six year term as president. The Confederates admired Washington as someone who had led a successful armed rebellion against a stronger foe.

Not far from the State Capitol is St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, another site with Confederate associations (both Lee’s and Davis’s pews are marked). I confess that I was taken aback by this stained glass window:

I like the Egyptian details. The white writing reads: “By faith Moses refused to be called the Son of Pharaoh’s daughter choosing rather to suffer affliction with the children of God for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible” and below that, across the bottom “In Grateful Memory of Robert Edward Lee, Born January 19, 1807.” This is a rather interesting way of viewing Lee’s resignation of his federal commission in order to lead the Army of Northern Virginia. Sorry, I think that African-American slaves have a much better claim to the notion that they were akin to the Hebrews in Egypt.

But speaking of things Egyptian, we enjoyed seeing this building:

via Wikipedia.

It dates from 1845 and is now part of VCU – and has even made it onto the VCU seal.

Via Wikipedia. MCV = Medical College of Virginia; RPI = Richmond Professional Institute. These were merged in 1968 to form VCU.

The Cyclorama

This past week we got to do some Atlanta tourism that we had been saving up: the Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum in Grant Park, next to the zoo. The Civil War part is what you see when you come in; there is an interesting collection of uniforms, swords, guns, and lots of old photographs. The showpiece is the Texas, one of the two locomotives* involved in the Great Locomotive Chase (the Disney movie is shown nearby on constant loop).

After perusing the collection, you are invited into a theatre and shown a fourteen-minute movie about the Atlanta Campaign, with animated maps and Civil War re-enactors, and narrated by James Earl Jones. After this you are ushered into the Cyclorama itself: a round room with a 360-degree painting (measuring 42 feet by 358 feet) of the Battle of Atlanta. In the center is a bank of stadium seats which turns so that you can get a good look at the whole thing; a narrator explains what is going on while various details are lit up. Between the painting and the seating is a diorama “continuing” the painting in the third dimension. I’m glad to have seen this because the whole thing is about to be dismantled and moved to the Atlanta History Center. Unfortunately they did not allow photographs.

But I’m not really a Civil War buff, and the panoramic painting, while an interesting period piece, cannot really compete with the manifold entertainments available to us today. Apparently, in the nineteenth century, before the advent of movies or the zoopraxiscope, such things could serve as a fun and educational evening out. They did not need to be 360-degree single-vantage paintings; my wife and I once saw one being restored at the St. Louis Art Museum that was some eight feet wide and 300 feet long, and featured a number of scenes along the Mississippi River. The presenters would have set it up on stage between a pair of rollers, and scrolled through the scenes while a lecturer explained them. As I say, not exactly a CSI marathon.

*The other locomotive, the General, can be seen at the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History in Marietta, where the Disney movie is also on constant loop. Now with a name like that you might think that this must be some sort of local-talent “attraction” put on by the county historical society as a compromise between its train-buff president and its Civil-War-buff secretary. But you’d be wrong. The Great Locomotive Chase forms the central theme; the museum (housed in the former Glover Machine Works, and right next to a functioning railroad) features extensive exhibits of the use of railroads during the Civil War, in addition to the standard collection of Civil War flags, uniforms, guns, etc. It’s very well presented, and deserves its Smithsonian affiliation.

Talk by Ken Wheeler

As part of Georgia History Month, history professor Kenneth Wheeler will be giving a talk at the Funk Heritage Center on Tuesday, February 3, at 2:00 p.m., on north Georgia’s iron industry in the nineteenth century.

From the Cherokee Tribune:

The first [event] on Feb. 3 is a lecture by noted Reinhardt history professor Dr. Ken Wheeler and is about the Etowah Valley iron industry….

Wheeler’s program on the Etowah Valley iron industry is on Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. and correlates the story of the industrialization of the Etowah Valley with that of the rise and fall of the Confederate War effort.Wheeler has published a book on regional identity, and his articles have appeared in journals such as Civil War History and the Georgia Historical Quarterly. He is now researching the history of the Etowah Valley during the 19th century.

“It is wonderful that the Funk Heritage Center has put together this series of talks to help us understand our state, and particularly this area, better,” Wheeler said. “Whether we are life-long residents or transplants from somewhere else, it enriches our lives when we know more about the paths that have brought us to the present.”

Wheeler said that in the 1840s and 1850s, the Etowah Valley was a key industrial center of the Deep South. German-American iron makers settled on the Etowah River, near the border of Cherokee and Bartow counties, and built several iron furnaces and a rolling mill.

“When the Civil War began in 1861 the Confederacy needed iron. My talk is about the growth of that iron industry, what happened to it during the Civil War, and some of the legacy of that industrial period,” Wheeler said.

Civil War Reception

Joel Langford and Ken Wheeler’s reception in honor of Rich Elwell took place this afternoon in Hill Freeman Library. Mr. Elwell is a Civil War historian and has amassed a very large collection of contemporary Civil War illustrations; a small fraction of these, focussing on the Atlanta Campaign and March to the Sea, are on display in Hill Freeman this semester.

Mr. Elwell’s interest in the Civil War, and its graphic depiction, began at age eleven in the 1950s after a visit to the Atlanta Cyclorama, home of the world’s largest oil painting. Here he is in conversation with Dr. Wheeler and Jo Ellen Wilson, Vice President of Advancement.

Other guests included VPAA Mark Roberts and history student worker Kayla Spenard (serving some excellent punch):

Alex Bryant and Amy Williams:

Anne Good, Curt Lindquist, and Joel Langford:

The exhibit handout:


From the Collection of Gordon Rich Elwell

After the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863, Union forces moved back into Tennessee and settled in Chattanooga. With Confederate forces holding the heights around Chattanooga, the two armies were in a stalemate until Union forces began an offensive in November 1863. The Confederate forces were pushed back into Georgia, and both armies remained in their respective positions throughout the winter. Under the leadership of Major General William T. Sherman, the Union army began a series of flanking movement in May 1964 in an effort to move south and capture Atlanta. The Confederates, first under the command of General Joseph E. Johnston and later under Lt. General John Bell Hood, attempted to thwart the Union army’s advance by engaging in a series of battles in northwest Georgia. After a long summer of fighting and a siege of the city, Atlanta was abandoned by the Confederates and fell to Sherman on September 2, 1864. After a two month occupation of the city, Sherman’s forces divided into two columns and headed toward Savannah. The path of destruction left by the Union troops was an effort to destroy material and moral support for the Confederate Cause. In December 1864, Savannah surrendered to Sherman without a fight. Union victories in the Atlanta Campaign and the March to the Sea were instrumental in the reelection of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, and to the downfall of the Confederacy.

The images depicted in this exhibit include battle scenes from Chickamauga to the fall of Atlanta, the everyday camp life for the soldiers, and the effects of the war upon civilians, Some of the works were sketched by eyewitnesses to the events, some were created in the immediate post-war years, and some are modern depictions. Many of the images are from rare publications. During this sesquicentennial of these events, we hope that this exhibit will encourage you to explore in more depth the events, the impact, and the legacy that the Atlanta Campaign had on northwest Georgia. We are grateful to Canton resident Gordon Rich Elwell for sharing these images from his collection. We also acknowledge the assistance of Dr. Kenneth Wheeler, Professor of History at Reinhardt University, and Jamie Thomas, Library Assistant, in the selection of the images.