One Last Set

Today is Election Day, and I was curious to note the difference between last time and this time at our local polling station. Here is how it looked in 2016:

And this is what it looked like today:

In other words, sign-wise, there’s much more participation this time around. Supporters of the Democrats (Biden, Barrett, Warnock, and Ossoff) have gotten in on it, but supporters of the Republicans (Trump, Perdue, Loeffler, and Loudermilk) even more so, such that two of them have taken time out of their lives to festoon a Jeep with Trump flags and park it right near the entrance, and to sit out on lawn chairs answering questions. 

I admit that I was taken aback the first time I saw this. I thought that it was illegal to campaign in front a polling place on Election Day. But apparently Georgia law provides only a 150 foot no-campaign zone extending from the front door of the polling place, and the road is beyond this. 

I would not be against raising that number….

This is Trump Country

This post is not historical as such, but it does constitute a record of a particular time and place, that being Georgia’s Bartow and Cherokee counties on the eve of the 2020 presidential election. If campaign signs are anything to go by, it looks like the president will take these counties in landslide. All of the photographs below were snapped on my commute between my residence and Reinhardt, with a short loop once I got to Waleska. I am not lying when I say that, as of Tuesday, October 20, 2020, there are no signs for Biden/Harris, or any other Democratic candidate for office, anywhere on this route. By contrast, it seems that about every fifth house has a Trump sign, often more than one, and with many Trump flags as well. I have never before seen this level of support for a political candidate in any election. 

This is the basic sign: “Trump Pence Keep America Great! 2020” in a white sans serif font on a blue background. The small type reads “Paid for by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.,” so I assume this one is official. “Keep America Great” is the obvious (and somewhat lame) followup slogan to 2016’s “Make America Great Again!”, often shortened to “MAGA!”* 

Here is a version of the sign rendered as a flag. Back in 2016 Scott Adams was praising Trump’s genius for marketing, and I think Trump’s use of flags is part of this (the red “MAGA” hat was also part of this, although there don’t seem to be any “KAG” hats this time around). Some people in my subdivision have flown Trump flags ever since he was elected the first time – people might display signs during election campaigns, but flags can be flown all year round! (Again, I don’t remember Bush ever getting this treatment.) And now that a campaign is upon us again, many more flags have appeared. 

You can get a large sign if you wish (note that this one recycles the old slogan)…

…and there are a variety of other sign designs to choose from, although I’m not sure whether all of these are official. (But if they aren’t official, it suggests that enthusiasm for Trump runs quite deep – see below.) 

Here’s a reused MAGA sign, with a handwritten “20” replacing “16”! 

Here’s a sign, mounted to a tall tripod, with a light to illuminate it at nighttime. Who does this!?

A couple of affinity signs. The women’s sign seems official. The gun owners’ sign is from an outfit called Trump Store America – i.e. not official, and thus the product of either cynics or True Believers.

The great thing about flags is that they can function as signs too, if you attach them to a fence. Note that the last one also has a solar light for nighttime illumination.

Different types of flags are also available. The last one also appears to be from Trump Store America. Note that it’s accompanied by the former flag of Georgia, two-thirds of which consists of the now verboten battle flag of the CSA – I assume exposing the motives of your average Trump supporter. 

Although here is one with the current Georgia flag…

…and here is one accompanied by the flag of everyone’s favorite local college football team. Go Dawgs! (Note another tripod-sign-and-night-light combination in front.) 

These five flags illustrate something rather strange. All of them feature the expression “No More Bullshit” as the tagline. Are these official? I certainly hope not. To my mind they’re about as classy as Truck Nuts, and I wonder whether the campaign actually approves of it (although it would not surprise me at all if it does, surreptitiously, as a way of appealing to Trump’s proletarian base). Furthermore, what is this “bullshit” to which the flags refer? A lot of people would ascribe that word to everything that comes out of Trump’s mouth! 

I suppose it’s a reference to accusations of Russian collusion, impeachment, media bias, and all other alleged efforts of the “Deep State” to undo the results of the 2016 election. 

I see on Trump’s official website that he is claiming “Promises Made, Promises Kept!” This is a much better slogan for a reelection campaign. Why it doesn’t appear on any signs I have no idea. 

Another novelty: the Trump garden banner. More discreet than a flag, and classier than a sign!

Most telling of all, I think, are all the houses with multiple signs and flags on display (although my camera cannot do justice to some of them). You can’t buy that sort of enthusiasm.

Some of the photos above are from the same residences, but I am not trying to exaggerate Trump’s support. There are many more flags and signs to be seen on my route from home to work that were not included in this post. 

And if all that wasn’t enough, on Saturday I encountered a couple of Trump souvenir vendors selling their wares at a disused gas station in Cartersville. Available for purchase were flags, signs, hats, t-shirts, pins, patches, can holders, COVID masks, and much else besides, all bearing graphics in favor of Trump or of other things that Trump supporters tend to be in favor of, such as the USA, the military, the police, gun rights, and Christianity (there was nothing Confederate, however).

One of the vendors’ vehicles was a coach owned by Star Coaches, Inc. of Atlanta, with a bus wrap by Andormous Graphics. Note that the operation is not connected to the official Trump campaign. On the bottom right we read this disclaimer:

So who is sponsoring it? At the rear of the vehicle we read:

This appears to be an Internet radio station. From the website:

COWBOY LOGIC was created in 2008 as Don Neuen’s diatribes on social media. Throughout the next few years, Neuen’s rants and raves became popular, especially on Facebook, with debates continuing for days, sometimes weeks on particular subjects such as Obama and his failed policies, the GOP Establishment, RINOs, Socialists, Maxists [sic], and Corrupt Politicians.

Damn those Maxists!

To the right of the back wheel we see another affinity:

From its website:

The #WalkAway Campaign is a true grassroots movement, founded by former liberal, Brandon Straka on May 26th, 2018. The #WalkAway Campaign encourages and supports those on the Left to walk away from the divisive tenets endorsed and mandated by the Democratic Party of today. We are walking away from the lies, the false narratives, the fake news, the race-baiting, the victim narrative, the violence, the vandalism, the vitriol. We are walking away from a party driven by hate. We are walking toward patriotism and a new, unified America! We are the future of this great nation!

Note though that Wikipedia claims:

News sources have debated the extent to which WalkAway is an example of astroturfing rather than a genuine grassroots movement. David A. Love of CNN condemned the campaign as “pure propaganda [and] a psychological operation.” The website Hamilton 68, which tracks Russia’s interference on U.S. elections, reported that WalkAway was “connected to Kremlin-linked Russian bots to manipulate voters into thinking the movement was more popular and active that it actually was.”

Be that as it may, it is clear that there is a market for all the Trump stuff. Lots of people had stopped and were browsing the wares, and lots of passing drivers honked their horns in support. So even if the people behind it were just trying to make a quick buck, the fact that they can do so indicates that in some parts of this country, people loooove the president. 

So the question is: where does all this come from? What is Trump’s appeal? This is especially baffling given that so many other people hate his guts, with a viciousness I have never previously witnessed. (I thought that Bush was polarizing, but he’s got nothing on Trump.) Perhaps a better question is: why is the countryside so seemingly full of Trump supporters? You would think that there would be some Bidenites mixed in. (Or are they simply quiet about it, intimidated into keeping their opinions to themselves?) The answer that a lot of my colleagues would give is that rural America is full of ignorant, racist rednecks, bitterly clinging to their guns and religion in the face of inevitable social and cultural change. The countryside tends to be white and “backward,” whereas cities are ethnically diverse, economically dynamic, and more receptive to the latest ideas. That would be the “city mouse” interpretation of what I see on my way to work. 

Of course, there is a “country mouse” interpretation too. According to this way of knowing, the countryside represents the religious and patriotic American “heartland,” and Trump appeals to that. Cities, by contrast, are cesspits of corruption, decadence, and social unrest (as graphically illustrated this past summer) – thus might other candidates do better there. Furthermore, one could also say that flyover America has some genuine grievances, given that its jobs have been exported to China, its wages depressed by undocumented labor, and its communities ripped apart by meth and opioids. In 2016 Trump successfully cast himself as the champion of these people, who are so often condescended to (when not completely ignored) by the elites of both parties and urban dwellers on the coasts.** Whether or not Trump actually believes what he says, or is actually willing to do much about it, is an open question, but the relentless attacks on his presidency by Democrats and Never-Trumpers (and academia, the media, the judiciary, the federal bureaucracy, etc.) over the past four years have apparently allowed him to maintain the outsider cred that brought him to power in the first place (“No More Bullshit”). 

I guess it needs to be said that nothing in this post should be construed as an endorsement of Trump. It is simply an attempt at examining a situation I find myself in. In the interest of fairness I will include one Biden sign I happened to see. It’s on GA-20, but not on my way to work. The owner has taken the liberty of adding two small American flags, and given the fading it has clearly been out for a while, indicating a certain enthusiasm on his part. But it’s a very rare sight around here. Whoever put it up, I admire his courage.

* I was curious to discover that Trump actually swiped this slogan from Ronald Reagan (with the laconic elimination of “Let’s”). This poster was on display at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, Texas when we visited in 2016:

Of course, the slogan probably meant more in 1980, when “great” referenced a time before the Iran hostage crisis, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, stagflation, and Jimmy Carter daring to use the word “malaise.” What was it supposed to mean in 2016? Was Barack Obama that bad? One suspects that, to the narcissist Trump, “great again” simply means “benefit me.” Thus we must keep America “great” by keeping Trump in power. 

** This is not the typical Republican script of riling up the base with cultural issues like abortion and gay marriage, which they have no intention of delivering on (see Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter with Kansas? [2004] for more on this strategy) – Trump tried to address their economic concerns as well. That he pissed off the right people with his abrasive boorishness was gravy. 

Black Bartow County

Earlier this summer I visited the Bartow History Museum, located in Bartow County’s first postbellum courthouse on East Church Street in Cartersville, right beside the Western & Atlantic train tracks and now overshadowed by a bridge built to span the tracks. Its exhibits are well done. Currently, on the main floor, is a photo gallery of different musical groups from the county, and a feature exhibition about the county’s notable women, in honor of the ratification of the nineteenth amendment one hundred years ago this month. Upstairs, in the Dellinger Family Exhibition Gallery, is a permanent display taking the visitor through the history of the area, starting with the Mississippian Indians who built the Etowah Mounds, through Cherokee removal, white settlement, the Civil War, local industry, commerce, and agriculture, the county’s participation in the World Wars, and the current scene. As I say, it is very well done – except that I couldn’t help but notice that the whole thing gives short shrift to Bartow’s African-American community. 

Slavery is briefly mentioned on a single panel in the antebellum section…

…and on the way in, in a photo montage entitled “A Sense of Place,” one finds a group photograph of some members of the “Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church, Mission Road, 1954,” clearly an African-American congregation. And that’s pretty much it.*

I think that Bartow’s Black history deserves more attention than this. Although plantation slavery was not as common in north Georgia as it was in the Black Belt, as the panel above states, by 1840 there were some 2000 slaves in the county, out of a total population of 9340. I have discovered that slaves were occasionally sold on the courthouse steps in Cassville, the original county seat.** What was it like for these people? What happened to them when Sherman came though on the Atlanta Campaign, armed with the Emancipation Proclamation? How did they deal with this newfound freedom – and with the imposition of Jim Crow once Reconstruction was called off? How did Bartow County experience the Civil Rights movement, and what is the situation of Bartow’s Black population today? These are all stories that ought to be told.

Fortunately, they are getting some attention in other ways. The Etowah Valley Historical Society sponsors an African-American History Initiative, which was responsible for the sculpture Pathways to Freedom, on display in front of Cartersville City Hall. And the Cartersville-Bartow Convention and Visitors’ Bureau (in alliance with the Cartersville Downtown Development Authority) has helped create an African American Heritage Trail in the county. An abridged description of the trail may be found on the Bureau’s website, and the full version may be found in a pamphlet available at the Bartow History Museum and elsewhere (and downloadable as a pdf). A shout-out to Reinhardt’s Pam Wilson for her contributions to this. 

The pamphlet is quite well done (by my friend Lara Jeanneret of Lara J Designs, as it happens, whose work I highly recommend). It features an introduction and historical timeline, and details some nineteen historically significant sites throughout Bartow County, eleven of which are in Cartersville. Some of these I have already seen and blogged about this summer, such as the Pathways to Freedom sculpture, the covered bridge in Euharlee (built by Washington King, son of freedman Horace King), the Black Pioneers’ Cemetery in Euharlee (rediscovered and saved from development in 2002), and the gravesite of Michelle Obama’s three-greats grandmother Melvinia Shields in Kingston. Some of the pamphlet’s other sites are somewhat amorphous, like “2. The Clothing Trades” (active on East Church Street in Cartersville) or “7. African American Real Estate Developers” (active on West Main Street). But others are more concrete, and in my last act of local exploration this summer I determined to see some of them. One was quite by accident: I was eating lunch in Ross’s Diner when I read, in the “3. Segregation” section of the Heritage Trail pamphlet:

Both of Cartersville’s historic courthouses had segregated balconies where African Americans were required to sit. The Grand Theatre had a separate entrance for black movie patrons, which led to a segregated seating section. At both Ross’s Diner and 4-Way Lunch, one can still see the separate entrances designated for African American diners, who also were required to sit at segregated counters at the rear of the buildings adjacent to the kitchen areas.

I asked the manager if this was true, and she admitted it was, and directed me outside and to the rear of the building, as if I was going to use the toilet.

Ross’s Diner, front entrance on Wall Street.

Ross’s Diner, rear entrance off the side alley.

The room that one enters from this door is easy to imagine as a secondary dining area; it is now storage, with the main kitchen to the right. The toilet is in a closet off this room. (I assume that Ross’s Diner didn’t always offer toilet facilities, or else the “white” toilets, wherever they may have been, were decommissioned at some point. The races couldn’t possibly have shared toilets.)

After Ross’s, I walked north on Erwin Street to see “9. Vinnie’s Cabin,” which is located behind a fine nineteenth century house, currently occupied by Strands Hair Salon. 

The main house, believed to have been the first one built in Cartersville, was the “townhome” property of Elijah Murphy Field and Cornelia Maxey Harrison Field,*** whose main residence was on a large plantation on Pumpkinvine Creek, worked by slaves. Obviously their townhome would have needed some staff as well, and cabins out back, one of which still stands, would have been where these people lived. The abolition of slavery did not mean that such social relations entirely disappeared, however, and the cabin takes its name from Vinnie Salter Johnson, a Black woman who was born into slavery in 1855 but who was subsequently employed as a cook by the Field family. She lived with her son in what used to be the slave cabin until she made enough money to be able to rent her own home on nearby Bartow St. I do not know at what point the cabin ceased to be occupied by any Field family employees, or why it survived to the present, but I am glad that it did. It is good to retain such mementoes of the past, as uncomfortable as they might make us now. 

An even more important reminder of the old days (and, perhaps, a more positive one) is “12. The Summer Hill Heritage Foundation” on Aubrey Street. Summer Hill is a historically Black neighborhood, and Summer Hill School was the Black school for Cartersville. The school dates from 1889 and taught students from first through sixth grade; a new wooden structure was built for it in 1922, which was replaced by an even larger brick structure in 1956, by which time Summer Hill School offered high school instruction and fielded sports teams. With the fall of segregation in 1968, the school was closed, but the building (as a community center) and sports facilities (a gym, tennis courts, a baseball diamond, and a swimming pool) remain in use. Apparently there is a small museum in the complex, but unfortunately the whole place was closed on account of the plague. 

The disused concrete bleachers of Blue Devil Stadium, hand-built by parents in the community. 

“He who thinks can conquer” statue on the grounds. 

A little further up the street, one encounters “13. Masonic Lodge,” a disused building that at one point functioned as the meeting place for a so-called Prince Hall Lodge. In 1775, Prince Hall and fourteen other free Black men, having been rejected for membership in a colonial Masonic lodge, were initiated by British soldiers into the Grand Lodge of Ireland, and later received recognition as African Lodge No. 1. (Such consideration, it seems, did not convince Hall to support the British during the Revolutionary War.) Out of this act eventually grew an independent branch of Freemasonry for African-American men that spread throughout the North, and then into the South following the Civil War. Like other fraternal organizations, Prince Hall lodges offered fellowship for members and allowed the pooling of resources for charitable work, and were thus an important pillar of the African-American community. Cartersville’s Prince Hall Lodge, designated Mount Zion Lodge #6, was founded in 1896. The pamphlet claims that it is “one of the oldest continually active African American lodges in the state,” although I can find no evidence on the Internet that it still exists, and it clearly does not use this building anymore. In its day it ran the Benevolent Brotherhood Society, into which community members made contributions and could draw on in times of emergency. 

Freemasonry is not as popular as it once was although the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia does seem to be a going concern – with or without the Cartersville chapter. 

But perhaps the most significant African-American site in all of Bartow County is “17. Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center” in Cassville. Noble Hill School (also called Cassville Colored School) was constructed in 1923 with help from the Rosenwald Fund. I had never heard of this before, but it was quite important in its day. Like the industrialist Andrew Carnegie, who built all those libraries, Julius Rosenwald, president of the Sears, Roebuck and Co., in partnership with Booker T. Washington, used his wealth for the greater good by helping to fund the construction of schools, many of them for Black children in the segregated South. Rosenwald grants were always matching grants, and it should be noted that only 33% of the cost of the Noble Hill school building came from the Fund; 47% was raised by the local community, with the remainder coming from the Bartow Board of Education. The building featured two rooms, one for first through third grade, the other for fourth through seventh grade – and large windows to take advantage of the natural light, as it was not wired for electricity. The school closed in 1955 when many of Bartow County’s Black schools were amalgamated to form Bartow Elementary School (I do not know where this building was located, or what has become of it since the end of segregation). 

From a display at Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center.

After standing empty for a number of years, the Rosenwald building was resurrected in the 1980s as the site of the Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center, a museum dedicated to the former school and to African-American history in Bartow County. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

Webster Wheeler. noblehillwheeler.org

The “Wheeler” in the institution’s title is the surname of the family most closely associated with Noble Hill: Webster Wheeler (1871-1943) was the school’s main builder; Bethel Wheeler was Webster’s son and assistant; Bertha Wheeler was Bethel’s wife who owned the building and donated it for use as a museum; and Susie Weems Wheeler (1917-2007) was the wife of Webster’s son Daniel, who was an early graduate of the school and who served as the driving force behind the establishment of the museum. 

Dr. Susie Wheeler. “Women of Bartow County” exhibit, Bartow History Museum, 2020.

Susie Wheeler had an accomplished career. She received a bachelor’s degree from Fort Valley State College and eventually an Ed.D. from Atlanta (now Clark Atlanta) University. She taught in Bartow County and later acted as a Jeanes supervisor, that is, a superintendent of Black schools, for Bartow, Gordon, and Polk Counties. She finished her career as curriculum director for the (now integrated) Bartow County Board of Education, and received the Governor’s Award in the Humanities in 2007. She was also a world traveler and 62-year member of Delta Sigma Theta

Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center is also closed on account of the virus, but I was fortunate to be given a private tour by museum curator Valerie Coleman. Some items on display:

This quilt, which received an honorable mention at the Atlanta Quilt Festival, records people who were important to Noble Hill, including Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington on the bottom left, and Webster, Bertha, Bethel, and Susie Wheeler above them. The color picture at the top (underneath the “g” and the “H”) is of another notable local figure: Robert Benham (b. 1946) a native of Cartersville and the first African-American justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia (1989-2020, with a term as Chief Justice 1995-2001). Justice Benham did not attend Noble Hill, but did graduate from Summer Hill in 1963, and was recruited by Susie Wheeler as a trustee of the Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center. In this capacity he arranged for a session of the Supreme Court of Georgia at the Center in 1992!

Justice Robert Benham and other members of the Supreme Court of Georgia at Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center, 1992.

Dr. W.R. Moore.

The Center also possesses the medical books, photos, and certificates of Dr. William Riley Moore (1881-1954), the first African-American doctor in Cartersville. Dr. Moore came to town from Florida (from the city of Bartow, as it happens) in 1910 and established a practice for himself above Gassett’s Grocery (site 5 on the Heritage Trail) in the African-American business district on West Main Street. He later moved his office to Summer Hill and practiced there until his death in 1954. He delivered almost all the Black babies born in Cartersville (and a few white ones too, although this is not something that he could publicly acknowledge). He was also an important community leader and was instrumental in establishing the Faith Cabin Library in Cartersville for the use of African-Americans. Both he and his landlord John Gassett are buried in the Black section of Oak Hill Cemetery (which, surprisingly, is not a site on the Heritage Trail).

Photo: C.P. McAbee.

My final stop on the Heritage Trail was “16. St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church,” also in Cassville. Like the Prince Hall Masons, the AME Church has its origins in the social prejudices of northern whites against Black people. Tired of the restrictions placed on him, the Black Methodist minister Richard Allen founded the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Philadelphia in 1794, catering to the free Black population of that city. Other ministers followed his example, and in 1816 he organized the AME Church as an independent denomination, with himself as first bishop. The AME Church spread throughout the South following the Civil War, ministering to freedmen. An AME congregation was organized in Cassville in the late 1860s; the local Presbyterians bequeathed to it their church building, as they were all relocating to Cartersville, the new county seat.† 

Unfortunately this historic congregation has essentially died out, and the church building is disused and not in the best repair (the photo of the interior was provided by my friend Christopher McAbee, who has done research on St. James). There are other active AME congregations in Bartow County, however, and other Black churches (mostly Baptist). It would be nice if some appropriate use could be found for this building – and for the Summer Hill Masonic Hall, for that matter.

But, some will wonder, why do we need to focus on “African-American History” at all? Why all the fuss about people who possess some arbitrary physical attribute that ought to be as trivial as having freckles or being left-handed? This is a natural attitude for people who grew up in mostly-white communities but who have been programmed against racism by everything in their culture. If “we’re all the same underneath,” as they’ve been taught from birth, then why do we pay so much attention to what’s on the surface? Why do we celebrate Black achievements so vociferously, in a way that we don’t for other discrete categories of human?

The answer, of course, is that for the longest time white people believed that we weren’t all the same underneath. My theory is that Early Modern Europeans always had a slightly guilty conscience about slavery – so they invented racism in order to justify it, and thereby made it worse. Slavery is bad, they thought, but it’s not as bad to enslave morally inferior people, clearly marked by their dark skin – in fact, it might even be good for them! Thus, predictably, just because one gets rid of the slavery, doesn’t mean that one gets rid of the racism. Even white Americans in places that had abolished Black slavery in the eighteenth century, and who invaded the Confederacy in order to end the practice, saw no reason to accept free Blacks as social equals. The “races” generally did not mix, and if there was ever a question of the distribution of resources, it was white people who got the lion’s share, if not the whole thing. (If Black people did not like this dispensation, they could always go “back” to Africa. Whites were never enjoined to go “back” to Europe.)

And if this is how Northerners thought, how much more so did Southerners, who in an act of aggression displacement blamed their former slaves for the devastation wrought upon the South by the North, and once they regained control of their states instituted a panoply of laws known by the collective name of “Jim Crow.” Such laws were largely animated by the principle of segregation, the notion that Black people and white people should occupy completely different social spaces, with this division enforced in various formal and informal ways. As this blog post has indicated, during the Jim Crow era in Georgia, Black people and white people had separate: 

• neighborhoods and commercial areas
• schools
• colleges and universities
• churches
• fraternal organizations
• (areas in) cemeteries
• seating areas in restaurants, theaters, and courtrooms
• professional service providers 

One can think of any number of other areas where segregation was applied:

sports leagues
• recreational facilities like swimming pools and even state parks (e.g. “10. George Washington Carver State Park for Negroes” on Lake Allatoona)
• hotels
• prisons
• public toilets and drinking fountains

And so on. In fairness, sometimes such things were found far beyond the states of the former Confederacy. (But I’ve always distrusted the cliché that “in the North, it doesn’t matter how big you get as long as you don’t get too close, but in the South, it doesn’t matter how close you get as long as you don’t get too big.” What was segregation if not an attempt at keeping people from getting too close?)

The fundamental justification for segregation is that the “races” really are different from each other, really are like oil and water, and for everyone’s sake ought to be kept apart from each other. And the longer segregation went on, the more self-justifying it became. For not only did people look different, with social separation they had evolved different cultures, with different ways of speaking, different ways of interacting, different bodies of background knowledge, and so on. In this way are the races really more than “skin deep” in the United States – phenotype is generally a marker of culture as well. 

So what is wrong with segregation then? What’s wrong with you hanging out with your people, and I hanging out with mine? We self-segregate along such lines all the time, as any observation of the school cafeteria will indicate. What’s the big deal? Well, the answer is that there is a big difference between doing something because you want to, and doing something because you have to. Much more important, however, is the whole issue of power. White people were in command of all levels of government, and whether by law or social custom, segregation was their project, implemented for their (supposed) benefit. During Jim Crow the races were kept apart – with Black people firmly “beneath” white people in any number of ways. As is apparent by now, the separate facilities for Black people were always crappier than those for whites. It’s not white people who had to use the side entrance to Ross’s Diner and eat in the windowless back room, out of public view. It’s not the white schools that received cast-off textbooks from Black schools. Perhaps most important, it is not white people who had to fear vigilante justice from Black mobs, acting in the knowledge that no jury would convict them. On some abstract level “separate but equal” is a tenable proposition, but in reality it never worked that way. (If nothing else, Black people did not get to vote for Black representatives to a Black legislature, passing legislation binding only on Black people.) Thus did the United States Supreme Court rightly reject it in Brown vs. Board of Education (1954). 

And yet… for all its faults, segregation did allow Black people to be in control of their own institutions. Shelby Steele has written about this, personally recalling the camaraderie that existed among African-Americans in the face of institutionalized white racism. Was something important lost when Summer Hill closed its doors and its students sent to Cartersville High? Perhaps, and it is interesting to note how some segregation-era organizations live on. The Negro leagues might no longer be with us, but Black churches, fraternities, and HBCUs certainly are – and are clearly valued as such by their members. For if “African-American” is a culture, then African-Americans should be able to have their own spaces where their own culture prevails, even as segregation is legally and morally forbidden otherwise. And forbidden for a good reason – people might generally want to hang out with people “like them,” but it’s nice to have the option not to, and it is this compulsory aspect of segregation that is so depressing, a blanket statement that cross-racial amity is simply impossible. It’s also just inefficient: imagine having to spend all that effort policing this boundary, and having to provide two of everything. 

I applaud the Cartersville-Bartow Convention and Visitors’ Bureau for creating the Heritage Trail – and I’m pleased to note that the Georgia Downtown Association agrees with me. I have discovered that the Georgia Historical Society has actually replaced the Georgia Historical Commission as the body responsible for the erection of new historical markers, with the specific mandate of correcting some of the biases of the past. I certainly believe that many of the items in the Heritage Trail pamphlet deserve to be memorialized publicly in metal (not just with QR codes). Summer Hill School is surely as important as the precise locations of the troops of Johnston, Hardee, and Polk at 5 P.M. on May 19, 1864. 

* Although in fairness I should note that several African-American women, including Susie Wheeler and Louise Young Harris (pastor of Queen Chapel in Kingston), are included in the temporary Women of Bartow exhibit on the first floor.

** See the section on Cassville in Lisa Russell’s Lost Towns of North Georgia (2016).

*** According to the pamphlet, 118 N. Erwin St. was commandeered in 1864 for use as a post office by Mrs. Field’s cousin, Union Army Colonel Benjamin Harrison of Indiana. Such an action infuriated Mrs. Field and she refused to welcome Harrison into her home ever again… even after he became the 23rd president of the United States!

† The Presbyterian/AME church building was one of only a few to survive the burning of Cassville on November 5, 1864. 

Civil War Galore

My exploration of the Atlanta Campaign prompted me to take a day trip further north to see some of the other sites in that campaign, in particular Rocky Face Ridge, Resaca, and Rome Cross Roads. But as is usual with such tourism, you always discover other things when you’re out, such as the Chetoogeta Mountain Tunnel and the Monastery of the Glorious Ascension. But there is a lot more Civil War stuff in Georgia too. This post deals with some of it, and how it is memorialized. 

In Catoosa County, almost in Tennessee, one finds the main site for the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. I regret to say that I was completely unaware of how massive (and massively deadly) the Battle of Chickamauga was in the course of the Civil War. Fought on September 18-20, 1863, it featured some 60,000 Union troops fighting 65,000 Confederates – producing, respectively, 16,000 and 18,000 casualties. Only Gettysburg had a higher toll. That this was a victory for the Confederacy in a war it ultimately lost, I suppose, puts it outside the narrative, so to speak, so it does not surprise me that Gettysburg is better known. 

In 1890, Congress authorized the foundation of this park, along with parks for the Battles of Gettysburg, Shiloh, and Vicksburg, in the first wave of federal Civil War preservation. To my chagrin the visitors’ center at Chickamauga was closed on account of the virus, but at 5300 acres, the park provides lots of things to see. These include artillery pieces:

Battlefield markers:

Plenty of signs explaining exactly what went on at various points in the battle (in gray for Confederate movements, and blue for Union):

And lots of monuments, contributed by various parties:

Florida.

Illinois

Indiana.

Kentucky, honoring soldiers who fought on both sides.

Gettysburg is like this too, if I recall correctly from a visit there many years ago. It is good to remember. The more monuments and markers, the better.

Today, this park has five other satellite sites, at Orchard Knob (for a battle fought there on Nov. 23, 1863), Lookout Mountain (Nov. 24, 1863), and Missionary Ridge (Nov. 25, 1863) – all commemorating subsequent Union victories in defense of Chattanooga, counting as part of the Chattanooga Campaign – plus Moccasin Bend (an American Indian site) and Signal Point (a Civil War signal station). But Chickamauga is the showpiece, and I’m looking forward to returning some day when the buildings are open, and when the weather is not quite as hot. 

The final battle in the Chattanooga Campaign was the battle of Ringgold Gap (Nov. 27, 1863), which counts as a Confederate victory because Patrick Cleburne held up Union forces, allowing Confederates and their equipment to escape, although the Union troops occupied Ringgold shortly thereafter. Ringgold Gap is not part of the national park, but one can view this GHC marker just outside of Ringgold, Ga. Do I detect a celebratory tone?

Cleburne certainly merits a statue…

…and outside the Ringgold railway depot flies Hardee’s flagWilliam J. Hardee was not at Ringgold Gap, but elements of his corps were, and Cleburne’s corps used the flag as well (my thanks to Eb Daniels for telling me about this). Thus does Ringgold accurately celebrate its Civil War heritage, while avoiding the Confederate Battle Flag that causes so much offense. 

Cleburne is noted for something else, which is edifying to our current sensibilities. On January 2, 1864, while stationed at Dalton, he offered up a “Proposal to Enlist Slaves and Guarantee Freedom to All Loyal Negroes.” According to an interpretive sign placed recently by Georgia’s Civil War Commission:

He cited that throughout history, slaves had fought beside master in many conflicts, and that the North was only using the slavery issue as “merely a pretense to establish sectional superiority and a more centralized form of government.” Remove slavery as a war factor and the foundations of the North’s argument would crumble. Cleburne also knew that Great Britain and France would likely recognize the South as a sovereign nation once it emancipated its own slaves.

But another marker, placed by the Georgia Historical Society in 2014 outside the Huff House in Dalton, which was serving as Johnston’s winter headquarters, tells that:

almost all the other generals present opposed the idea of black Confederate soldiers because it violated the principles upon which the Confederacy was founded. Gen. Patton Anderson said the proposal “would shake our governments, both state and Confederate, to their very foundations,” and Gen. A.P. Stewart said it was “at war with my social, moral, and political principles.” Considering the proposal treasonous, Gen. W.H.T. Walker informed President Jefferson Davis, who ordered any mention of it to be suppressed.

So despite the opinion of the Irish-born Cleburne, and some thirteen other officers who endorsed his proposal, it looks like the Confederate States of America really was all about slavery. Eventually the CSA did authorize a version of Cleburne’s proposal… on March 13, 1865, less than a month before Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. Bit late for that, I guess!

Ringgold Gap was also where Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign began on May 7, 1864. Here is a WPA marker testifying to this event.

Seven miles away, also on May 7, Union forces seized the Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel and its namesake town. A GHC sign tells about it, in the usual stilted style. 

Right beside the western entrance to the railroad tunnel stands the Clisby Austin house, which had served as a railway hotel, then a Confederate hospital, and then as Sherman’s headquarters from May 7 to May 12, 1864. 

Google maps.

I made this map to show some of the places significant to the opening days of the Atlanta Campaign. After Ringgold and Tunnel Hill, the next major encounter was at Rocky Face Ridge. The underlined “Rocky Face” on the map in fact denotes Mill Creek Gap, which the Confederates had spent the previous winter fortifying, including by damming Mill Creek. Turns out that this operation was quite effective at keeping Union troops at bay.

According to another sign, Mill Creek Gap earned the nickname “Buzzard’s Roost,” on account of one soldier’s observation that “buzzards are roosting up there, waiting for us to die.” 

But in what became a common occurrence during the Atlanta campaign, Sherman simply used his superior numbers to outflank Confederate defenses. Dug Gap (marked with a blue star on the map) and Snake Creek Gap (marked with a red star) turned out to be just as useful for getting through Rocky Face Ridge. 

Thus did Johnston abandon Dalton and retreat to Resaca, where the pattern repeated itself. An attempt by Union troops against the Confederate line was unsuccessful, so Sherman ordered a flanking movement to the  south, crossing the Oostanaula River with Cumberland pontoon bridges and forcing another Confederate retreat. 

Of the four GHC markers at Resaca, this one is the most lucid.

But the NPS marker is more clear…

…and the WPA marker actually illustrates what happened.

The Battle of Resaca may have been inconclusive, but it produced some 2800 casualties for the Confederacy, many of whom were hastily buried, or not buried at all. When the local Green family returned to their home in 1866, they were shocked by this sight, and Mary Jane Green, who had served as matron in hospital in Macon during the war, decided to do something about it. Through newspaper advertisements across the South she raised $2000, and got her father to grant her 2.5 acres of land, on which she and her family painstakingly reinterred the Confederate war dead, identifying those they could, and placing those they could not around a large granite cross inscribed “For the Unknown Dead.” The dedication of the Resaca Confederate Cemetery took place on October 25, 1866, and is tied with a cemetery in Winchester, Virginia as the first such cemetery in the country. 

The project put Miss Green $500 in debt, so she petitioned the legislature for a grant to cover it – the first woman known to have addressed that body. Not only did they cover the $500, they gave her a further $3500 to rebury the dead of Chickamauga. She died in 1924 and is buried in Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta. 

The next action in the campaign took place at Adairsville on May 17, 1864 – for which see a previous post, and the marker below, which I discovered at the intersection of Cassville Rd. NW and US-41 in Cassville. It gives further details about why Johnston’s attempted ambush of Union troops failed, but gives the credit to Edward McCook (not Daniel Butterfield) for spoiling it. I believe that Spring Place Road on the map is now Cedar Creek Road. 

Old Highway 41, along which most of the Atlanta Campaign markers may be found, had been part of the Dixie Highway, which at one point was the only way to drive from Chicago or Detroit to Florida for the winter. Thus did everyone along the route try to cash in on this traffic, by providing food or accommodation, or some roadside attraction or other reason to stop. See Down the Dixie Highway (56-minute video) for more. The WPA markers seem to be part of this: they are in fact located in “pocket parks” along the route – small parks enclosed by short walls, which would have provided a nice place for a break or a picnic. 

Cassville.

Resaca.

Mill Creek Gap.

It is interesting to see the different “layers” presented at these sites, although nothing quite matches the variety of memorials found at New Hope Church in Dallas. I appreciated the clarity (and neutrality) of the WPA/NPS markers in the pocket parks – it would have been nice if they had built one at Adairsville. The GHC markers are more common, but can also be for pretty obscure things, not written all that well, and occasionally biased towards the CSA. Markers put up by local history societies or the Georgia Historical Society are pretty good, although they’re much less common – and perhaps a bit biased in the other direction.* Best of all are the interpretive signs sponsored by the Georgia Civil War Commission and put up by Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails, Inc., I believe during the sesquicentennial years of 2011-2015. By that point technology allowed the integration of text and colored graphics, and the signs are informative and apparently well-researched, with no marked bias that I could ascertain. I hope that whatever material they are made of ends up surviving the elements.

Two observations in conclusion. When dealing with warfare, one is reminded that “history” is often simply an artificial order imposed on the past to try to make some sense of it. There is a formal list of the battles of the Atlanta campaign, but there were a lot of skirmishes and “demonstrations” that are not included in that list – and you just know that there were all sorts of things that happened that did not make it into the official record at all, given the sheer numbers of men involved and the fact that so many of them did not actually survive. This leads to the second observation: War really is Hell. As peaceful as these battlefields and cemeteries might be today, one cannot help but realize that huge numbers of young men died or were permanently disfigured in particularly gruesome (and often quite avoidable) ways during the Civil War. It is good to remember this, if only so that we can avoid it as much as possible in the future. 

* Note how the Carter center marker claims that Sherman’s troops “only destroyed property used for waging war,” but in the next sentence claims that they “lived off the land, destroying food they could not consume,” as if Southern civilians did not need food. One does not need to be Lost Causer to object to that. 

The Western and Atlantic Railroad

Google maps. The purple dots delineate the course of the W&A. 

The Western & Atlantic Railroad, or simply the “State Road,” connecting “Terminus” (Atlanta) and “Ross’s Landing” (Chattanooga), was chartered in 1836 and completed by 1850. It has been referenced several times on this blog; much more information is available in Ken Wheeler’s forthcoming book Modern Cronies. The final piece in the W&A puzzle was the construction of a tunnel (largely by slave labor, it must be acknowledged) beneath Chetoogeta Mountain in Whitfield County, marked with a black star on the map. This project gave rise to the nearby settlement of Tunnelsville, later renamed Tunnel Hill. A wider, parallel tunnel was constructed in 1928, leaving the disused original tunnel to serve as a footpath through the mountain. Motion-sensing lights turn on as you walk through, and the ambient temperature is nice and cool, which is a relief on a hot day.

A photo of the entrance to the original tunnel; you can barely see the light at the end of it. To the left, the date “1928” can be seen through the chainlink fence over the newer tunnel (the actual entrance being obscured by kudzu). 

A Georgia Historic Marker gives more detail. I’m glad to note that by the 1990s, the makers of these signs realized that you could fit more text on them if you just decreased its font size, and that they are more appealing when written in standard English. However, according to Bradley Putnam, a local historian with whom had the pleasure of speaking, the first number should be 1477 (not 1447) – he has measured the tunnel’s length himself. 

A museum on the premises gives more information about the W&A. The display in the foreground is of some rails recovered from a local creek in 2011. They are placed over a pile of ties to illustrate how one can do irreparable damage to a railroad if one is interested in doing so during time of war. The sign explains that the ties would be set on fire, and the heat would melt the rails and cause them to droop under their own weight – you can see that this has in fact happened to one of them. If circumstances permitted, for added destructiveness the heated rails could be twisted around a tree – thus acquiring the nickname “Sherman’s Neckties.”

Across the tracks, the old railroad depot still stands…

…and is, indeed, being rehabilitated for a new purpose. 

Further up the tracks in Ringgold, Georgia, stands another railway depot. It is marked with a blue star on the map above. 

This one took some damage during the Civli War and had to be restored, thus its present piebald appearance.

The historical marker tells more, although the building hasn’t been in continuous use as a railway depot necessarily. It is now an event venue available for weddings or other functions.

Wikipedia.

And, of course, one cannot talk about the W&A without mentioning the Great Locomotive Chase of April 12, 1862, “one of the most colorful exploits of the Civil War,” as the first sign says above. 

North of Ringgold the W&A runs parallel to Highway 151, and about two miles out of town (marked with a red star on the map), one encounters a monument at the place where Andrews’ Raiders abandoned their hijacked locomotive The General, having run out of fuel for it.

An artist’s interpretation of this event may be found on Wikipedia. The backwards-running Texas may be seen on the left. All the raiders were captured; spare a thought for the eight who were executed as spies and “unlawful combatants.” 

Glorious Ascension

I was pleased to be able to visit the Monastery of the Glorious Ascension yesterday in Resaca, Georgia. This is an Orthodox community associated with ROCOR – that is, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, which I regret to say that I had never heard of before. ROCOR has its origins in the Russian Revolution and the exile of some Russian clergy, who declared their independence from the Patriarch of Moscow, now taking orders from the Bolsheviks. It was a happy day in 2007 when ROCOR reunited with the Moscow Patriarchate (now under Patriarch Kyrill; ROCOR itself is headed by the Metropolitan Hilarion in New York City). I especially enjoyed speaking with Father Thomas Janikowski, visiting from Saint Athanasius Orthodox Church in Davenport, Iowa, who reminded me that the division between Protestants and Catholics, which has dominated western Christianity for over 500 years (and with which I’m reacquainting myself in preparation for teaching this fall) comprises “two sides of the same coin – one that Orthodoxy doesn’t even use.” The Orthodox hold themselves as practitioners of the true, original Christian faith, with others being deviants from this. For instance, regarding ecclesiastical priority, one should not look to Constantinople (founded in the fourth century), but to Jerusalem, whose patriarch remains Orthodox. Furthermore, at the beginning, the leader of the Jerusalem Christian community was James, the brother of Jesus, who had the final say at the Council of Jerusalem in AD 50 – not St. Peter, whom Jesus allegedly designated his spiritual heir and from whom the Bishops of Rome claim the right to be preeminent as “Pope.” (According to Orthodoxy, Peter was bishop of Antioch, not bishop of Rome. He may have been martyred at Rome, but he was never designated the leader of its Christian community in any ancient source.) 

I did not know any of this!

Unfortunately, their shop had no St. George icons for sale, but there were a number of other ones for saints whom I had not heard of before. I gratefully acknowledge permission to take these photos.

An icon of an “Angel Deacon of God.” 

St. Irene Chrysovalantou (fl. ninth century in Cappadocia). The icon illustrates a cypress tree bowing down to her, and her possession of three apples, a miraculous gift from St. John the Evangelist. 

St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco (1896-1966), hierarch of ROCOR and thaumaturge. Visit his shrine at the Holy Virgin Cathedral in San Francisco. 

A detail from a Romanian altarpiece of Christ making wine from grapes from a vine, supported by a cross-shaped trellis and growing from his own side, graphically illustrating the doctrine of transubstantiation (or perhaps I should say metousiosis). 

A Serbian warrior saint from the fourteenth century, I believe St. Nikita

St. Spyridon (c. 270-348) was a Christian shepherd of great piety who became a monk and eventually Bishop of Trimythous (on Cyprus). In this capacity he attended the Council of Nicaea and forcefully denounced Arianism. He also used a potsherd to illustrate how one thing (a pot) could be composed of three different things (fire, water, and clay), an analogy for the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity. Whether or not this is Partialism I am not equipped to say, but a pagan philosopher was convinced by it, and by the miracle that followed: the potsherd burst into flame, water dripped on the ground, and only dust remained in Spyridon’s hand. 

As a bishop Spyridon wears an omophrion, and holds a bible in one hand and makes a blessing sign with the other. A more particular attribute is the straw shepherd’s hat that he wears, a reference to his original profession and to his shepherding of his Christian flock. 

The Atlanta Campaign

From May through September 1864 northwestern Georgia witnessed a major event in the American Civil War: the Atlanta Campaign, whereby General William Tecumseh Sherman, recently appointed Union commander of the Western Theater, marched his troops towards Atlanta in order to strike at the Confederates in their heartland and destroy their capacity to wage war. In this project he was opposed first by CSA General Joseph E. Johnston, and then by Gen. John Bell Hood. Both occasionally impeded the advance but they never succeeded in stopping it, and certainly not reversing it. 

Wikipedia.

One can follow the Atlanta Campaign Heritage Trail from Chattanooga to Atlanta, but this post will be restricted to examining some engagements around the middle of the map – i.e. the ones closest to Reinhardt – which took place in late May and early June of 1864. I have noticed that there is a certain fractal quality to military history, whereby one can “zoom in” on a particular episode and examine it in terms of the units and personalities involved and on an almost hour-to-hour basis. I have nothing but respect for people who can do this, but I confess that I have never had the patience to master it. Instead, this post will be more about how these places are signified today.

Adairsville, in northeastern Bartow County, saw some action on May 17, 1864. According to Wikipedia (and every other website that copies it), the battle consisted of skirmishing between entrenched units of CSA Gen. William J. Hardee’s corps and Union Gen. Oliver Otis Howard’s IV Corps, and included an unsuccessful assault by regiments under Union Lt. Gen. Arthur MacArthur against a division commanded by CSA Gen. Benjamin F. Cheatham. Unfortunately for Johnston, Adairsville did not provide the terrain for the staging of a more forceful defense, and so on May 18 the Confederates continued their retreat southwards. Johnston then devised a plan: he hoped to entice Sherman into dividing his troops into two groups, one of which would take the road to Cassville, the other the road to Kingston. Johnston would then concentrate his attack on one of the weakened columns. This is more or less what happened: on May 19, Sherman ordered James B. McPherson and George Henry Thomas to Kingston, and John Schofield to Cassville. CSA Gen. Leonidas Polk was to meet Schofield’s troops head-on on the Cassville-Adairsville Road, while Hood was to attack them from the east. It might have worked, except that Union Gen. Daniel Butterfield somehow discovered Hood’s troops, blowing their cover, forcing them to retreat, and ruining their plan to attack Schofield. Shortly thereafter, Johnston took his army across the Etowah River, in the hopes of finding a better place to make a stand against Sherman. Apparently such cautiousness was not very good for morale and was one reason why Johnston was eventually relieved of his command. 

Adairsville Cemetery may be found on Poplar Springs Road, just off US-41, and just south of GA-140. I assume some of the Confederate graves therein are for the victims of the Battle of Adairsville, although there is no separate Confederate plot as one finds at Kingston or Cassville. At the corner of the cemetery, three Georgia state historical markers give information about Adairsville’s role in the Atlanta Campaign.

Wikipedia claims that the cemetery is a “site of the part of the battlefield” but the map on the page indicates that the battle took place further to the north. Perhaps this explains why no sign in the cemetery addresses the events of May 17 (although if they’re going to be talking about Mosteller’s Mills, five miles out of town, then why not talk about the actual Battle of Adairsville too?). Instead, the markers just talk about troop movements on May 18 – the Confederate retreat, and the Union chase – in as bloodless a manner as possible! I realize that these markers have a limited amount of space, but it’s a shame that this fact, plus an apparent desire to record the precise units involved, leads to such stilted prose. (The Georgia Historical Commission could have at least taken a cue from the Bartow County Cultural Arts Alliance and utilized both sides of the sign.)

UPDATE: The Georgia Historical Society’s online catalogue of historical markers reveals that there is a marker to the north of town, on US 41 in front of the Adairsville Church of God, entitled “Original Site Adairsville 1830s,” but continuing:

May 17, 1864, Johnston’s forces [CSA] retreated S. From Reseca and paused here on an E. – W. line, the intention being to make a stand against the Federals in close pursuit.

Finding the position untenable due to width of Oothcaloga Valley, Johnston withdrew at midnight. Hardee’s Corps [CSA] was astride the road at this point.

In rear-guard action, detachments from Hardee’s Corps held the stone residence of Robert C. Saxon, 0.2 mi. N. of the County Line, until midnight.

So I guess that describes the Battle of Adairsville, such as it was. I would have given it a different title though.

• A few days later, in order to avoid attacking Allatoona, and in the hopes of outflanking Johnston, Sherman sent his troops in a wide arc to the west. But Johnston anticipated this move, and sent some of his own troops to check them. 

On May 25, near Dallas, Georgia, Sherman’s troops met the Confederates well entrenched at New Hope Church (and unentrenched across the road in the New Hope Cemetery – the troops were not willing to dig among the graves, instead using the headstones for cover). The GHC historic marker tells what happened next.

An Atlanta Campaign Heritage Trail marker gives more detail. The subtitle “A Costly Failure” just about sums it up. Sherman did not believe that the Confederates had gotten so many troops to New Hope in time, and ordered his subordinates to attack. The Confederates successfully repulsed them, causing some 1650 casualties while suffering only 450 of their own. 

New Hope Church still exists, and may be found at the intersection of the Dallas-Acworth Highway and Bobo Road in Dallas, Georgia. If its website is any indication, the church is far more interested in knowing Christ and making Him known than in maintaining the legacy of its eponymous battle. Yet immediately to the south of the parking lot is a little park quite full of monuments. 

It seems that everyone wants a piece of this battle. Not only are there markers from the Georgia Historical Commission and the Atlanta Civil War Heritage Trail, but also from the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the National Parks Service, and even the Works Progress Administration. 

In other words, Confederate sympathizers want to claim the victory, while others want to make sure that “both sides” are remembered – or at least prove their magnanimity as the ultimate winners of the Civil War. 

Across Bobo Rd. one finds the original New Hope church building, now in use as a church hall.

To the south of this parking lot stands another monument to the battle (a “Confederate Victory”), erected by the SCV at the sesquicentennial in 2014…

…and a well-defined and prominently-labeled Confederate trench. 

Across Dallas-Acworth Highway to the north is New Hope Cemetery, also the site of fighting on May 25 (and on May 26, as the GHC marker indicates). 

Just to make sure that everyone knows who won this one, someone has hoisted a Bonnie Blue flag over the sign. 

There is also a Confederate plot elsewhere in the cemetery, with standard-issue tombstones and a large Battle Flag (apparently flying upside-down, although nineteenth-century Confederates were not particularly fastidious about the orientation of the stars). 

By early June, Union troops abandoned their positions and retreated eastwards, with the Confederates moving parallel to them. 

• On May 27 another battle took place at Pickett’s Mill, to the east of New Hope Church. Union General Oliver O. Howard faced off against Confederate General Patrick Cleburne, with similar results: Howard’s men were repulsed suffering 1600 casualties, as opposed to Cleburne’s 500. Interestingly, there are no monuments here that I noticed, although an account of the battle by author Ambrose Bierce can tell you more about it. The whole battleground is a state park maintained by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The hiking trails are wonderful but as a historic site it leaves something to be desired. You encounter little signs with numbers on the trails, but they are not marked or explained on the map that you get. Otherwise, there is a dearth interpretive signage. This was one of only three that I found. 

And its map is badly oriented. North is actually behind the reader! Why not align the map with reality?

Presumably the visitor center can tell you more, but it is only open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and I was there on a Tuesday. Sad!

• The Battle of Marietta comprised a series of military operations from June 9 through July 3. One of the more significant of these occurred on June 14, when Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk was killed atop Pine Mountain (which is not to be confused with Bartow County’s Pine Mountain). 

Living Hope Church, at the corner of Stilesboro Rd. and Mack Dobbs Rd. in Kennesaw, has an undeveloped back yard in which one may see the remains of the Union trenches that shelled Pine Mountain.

A mile and a quarter away, atop Pine Mountain, one sees a historic marker detailing the fateful day. It’s true, Leonidas Polk was killed by a shell – not by a shell fragment, but by a direct hit from an actual shell, which essentially cut him in two. It was an extremely lucky shot.

Just off the road, on private property, one sees a monument to Gen. Polk. It was put up in 1902 by the property owners, who consulted with veteran witnesses to ensure that it was placed on the precise spot where Polk was killed. It is one of the most interesting Confederate monuments I think I’ve ever seen. The south-facing side reads:

It continues, in the usual elevated style:

Folding his arms across his breast, he stood gazing on the scenes below, turning himself around as if to take a farewell view.

Thus standing a cannon shot from the enemy’s guns crashed through his breast and opened a wide door through which his spirit took its flight to join his comrades on the other shore.

Surely the earth never opened her arms to allow the head of a braver man to rest upon her bosom.

Surely the light never pushed the darkness back to make brighter the road that leads to the lamb.

And surely the gates of heaven never opened wider to allow a more manly spirit to enter therein.

This is rather a different view of Polk than one that his contemporaries might have held. Polk was noted for his willfulness, his violent disagreements with fellow officers, and for his general lack of success in battle, including “one of the great blunders of the Civil War,” when he marched his troops to Columbus, Kentucky in September 1861, thereby prompting the state to abandon its declared neutrality by requesting Federal aid and thus becoming a de facto member of the Union for the remainder of the war. Yet he was popular with his troops, and his death was a great blow for morale. (Military historian Steven E. Woodworth claimed that it was bad for the Union too, as Polk’s incompetence meant that he was much more valuable alive than dead!)

As the Episcopal bishop of Louisiana and the main force behind the establishment of the University of the South at Sewanee, Tenn., Polk also has a built-in audience from other quarters. Perhaps this explains the items left at the base of the monument: magazines in plastic bags, laminated sheets in praise of Polk, and numerous examples of “Polk’s flag” (i.e. that of First Corps, Army of Tennessee). 

The north-facing side of the monument simply reads:

North

Veni, vidi, vici

With 5 to 1

This is remarkable. I’ve never seen a Confederate monument run down the opposing side like this – or offer a reason why it won (apparently the North cheated by having a numerical advantage, although it was not quite 5 to 1). 

My thanks to Don Bergwall and Melvin Dishong for showing me around this one. 

Out and About in Bartow County

Sometimes you can find interesting things in your own backyard.

• Not far from where I live is Rowland Springs Baptist Church. Nearby is the Rowland Springs Estates subdivision. Both of these take their names from a nineteenth-century resort located between them, a historical marker for which I discovered this week on Simpson Circle just before it gets to Harvey Knight Road (marked with a red star on the map). A chapter devoted to the resort and the personal connections made there appears in Ken Wheeler’s forthcoming book, which also deals with the fact that Rowland Springs was largely constructed by slaves, something ignored by the sign.

Google Maps.

Curious about whether anything remained of Rowland Springs resort, I went exploring around the pond, which is indeed approximately one third of a mile east of the historical marker. But I’m afraid that I didn’t find much.

“Rowland Spring,” marked on the southeast of the pond on the map, has had something built around it.  

It appears that the pond is man-made; on the south end of it is a wall, with a spillway over it.

The only evidence of actual buildings may be found on the northwest side of the pond. But I have no idea if these are remains of the resort, or if so, what buildings they might have been. 

Seems an ignominious end to the “most exclusive resort in Georgia”!

• The town of Euharlee may be found about nine miles to the west of Cartersville, in the shadow of Plant Bowen. Euharlee is famous for its wooden bridge, built in 1886 by Washington King, son of freedman Horace King. 

A view of the interior reveals the wooden “town lattice” design. Of course, no vehicular traffic traverses the bridge anymore – the newer car-bearing concrete bridge crosses Euharlee Creek a little further downstream, allowing this bridge to remain as a memento of yesteryear.

More information on the bridge can be read on these two signs. Actually, much of Euharlee is quaint and historic, with plenty of signs like the one above explaining such things as the Lowry Grist Mill, the Lowry Family Homestead, the Granary and Commissary, the Mercantile and Blacksmith shop, and the Black Pioneers’ Cemetery. It’s worth a stop if you’re every passing through. 

• Bartow County’s Confederate memorial still stands on the front lawn of the county courthouse. It has not yet been toppled or even defaced by vandals, although Cartersville has had some pro-BLM protests. It is fairly typical of the sort of Confederate monument one finds in small towns across the South, and includes the usual helping of gaseous nineteenth-century “elevated” diction:

I am no fan of the Confederacy and I do not agree with any Lost Cause idealization of it, but I am still not in favor of taking down this monument. It’s fairly unobtrusive – you don’t even realize it’s a Confederate monument until you get up close to it – and it’s just sitting there; it is not in continuous use to represent Bartow County (unlike, say, Mississippi’s flag or the star of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, both of which have become politically unpalatable). Like other monuments, it does not accurately represent the Confederacy, but it does reflect the era when people wanted to uplift Confederates. In that way, it certainly is “historic.”

Wikipedia.

As you can see, a great surge of monument building took place in the first decade of the twentieth century, I suppose as a result of Confederate veterans dying off. (Jim Crow had been well established by then and I don’t think it was under threat by the federal government – unlike in the the 1950s and -60s, which produced the second blip.) 

However, I would not be against the installation of a plaque explaining this historical context, and suggesting that such lines as “there were men whom power could not corrupt” or “the state has preserved the priceless treasure of her memories” are not to be taken seriously. 

I have stated before that I am in favor of leaving monuments alone, and constructing more monuments to things that we currently approve of. I have not changed this opinion, and I am pleased to note that Cartersville agrees with me in its way. Not far away from the county courthouse is the city hall, and since 2018 its front lawn has featured this sculpture, entitled Pathways to Freedom: A Story in Every Stitch, by artist Przemyslaw Kordys. The nine squares represent different quilt patterns which held coded meanings for slaves traveling to freedom along the Underground Railroad. A nearby plaque explains them. For instance, the square at the top is designated the North Star (“prepare to journey north to freedom”), the square on the far left is called Crossroads (“referring specifically to Cleveland, Ohio, code named Station Hope”), and the square on the bottom is Wagon Wheel (“pack provisions for traveling by wagon”). More information on the African American Quilt Documentation Project of Bartow County, which sponsored this monument, may be read on the website of the Etowah Valley Historical Society. 

I am glad that the Underground Railway existed, and we all ought to know more about it, but this monument proves, in its way, that we are no less prone to mythologizing than ex-Confederates were c. 1910. The idea that quilts were ever used to give coded instructions to runaway slaves, while inspirational, seems to date from the 1990s at the earliest. I am not in favor of taking down this monument either, but we should probably not condescend to the past if we too are going to indulge in expressing things that we want to be true but whose existence is not supported by primary source evidence. I’m pleased to note that even the plaque for this sculpture states that “The patterns in the quilt motif are believed to have been used by enslaved Africans in their escape to freedom. Legend holds the quilt patterns were given code meanings to aid slaves” (emphasis added).

• This ruin, located just north of Kingston, serves as a silent witness to the existence of the Howard Hydraulic Cement Company, which employed fifty men around the turn of the twentieth century. It even provided the name of the local town: Cement, whose charter was repealed in 1995.

• Actually, I wonder, given the spirit of the times, if “Bartow” won’t soon revert to “Cass” – or be named after some other person (or better, thing), given that it was named after Lewis Cass in the first place because, as Andrew Jackson’s Secretary of War, he was in charge of implementing Cherokee removal. (He also turned out to be staunch a Unionist, thus the name change in 1861.)

The Mighty Etowah

Google Maps.

I did something today that I have been wanting to do for a long time: canoe the Etowah River. I was hoping to make it all the way from Cartersville to Rome, but we didn’t get started early enough and so we only made it to Neel’s Landing, where the Etowah meets 411. But it was a highly enjoyable experience, and it provides a completely different perspective on the local topography, one that would have been familiar to Native Americans (or to Reinhardt’s co-founder John Sharp, who attempted to establish a ferry service between Canton and Rome). 

This is the dam that creates Lake Allatoona in Cartersville, and which would nowadays impede a direct fluvial service from Canton to Rome. The dam was built in 1950 by the Army Corps of Engineers. I took this photo four years ago. It served as our starting point. 

These pilings carried the Western and Atlantic railway over the Etowah. A student of mine claimed that the bridge itself was destroyed seven times during the Civil War, as it changed hands. The W&A now runs slightly to the west, on the other side of GA-41 (the bridge in the background). 

This dam, designated the Thompson Weinman dam, was a surprise for us as there were no signs warning about it on the river. Fortunately we realized what the sound was in time, and found the portage. 

The Etowah Indian Mounds from the river, which is how Mississippians would have arrived at the site.

Other things to see on the Etowah include turtles (my companion counted 291 of them), blue herons, plenty of swallow mud nests underneath bridges, fish, lush vegetation, Indian fishing weirs (made of rocks, and somewhat tricky to navigate), and lots of luxurious riverfront property with signs sternly warning you against trespassing. It would be nice to develop more of it for public use. 

Producing far more power than Allatoona Dam is Plant Bowen, allegedly the second-largest coal fired electrical generating plant in the western hemisphere. The river provides an interesting view of it. 

It was nice to see a rainbow on our drive home!

This route, by the way, has been signified as the Etowah River Water Trail, and the organizers have posted helpful mile and half-mile marker signs along the way. We started at 46 and ended at 23. 

Cooper’s Furnace

A followup to a recent post. I went for a walk yesterday at the Pine Mountain Recreation Area and ended up at the Cooper’s Furnace Day Use Area, which is on the Etowah River and just beneath the dam that creates Lake Allatoona. It is the former site of the town of Etowah – the main memento of which is Cooper’s Furnace. 

As I mentioned, it is the best preserved of the local iron furnaces – and also the largest. I wonder just how much restoration work was required to get it into its current shape. (I doubt that Sherman would have left it in such good condition.)

One is not supposed to, but I crossed the fence and took this photo through the iron grate closing off access to the interior of the structure. The chimney seems remarkably well preserved (and/or reconstructed: it appears that a hole has been filled in). 

Here is a sign explaining how it all works. Note the need for limestone flux to draw out impurities from the iron ore. 

And here is a Georgia Historical Commission sign in honor of the man behind it all

One cannot talk about Cooper’s Furnace without acknowledging the role it played in the Great Locomotive Chase. A spur connected it with the Western & Atlantic Railroad, and the Yonah, a train engine which worked this spur, was commandeered to chase Andrews’ Raiders, who had stolen the General

But don’t look for it now, for it is gone with the wind. Damned Yankees!