Saturday, February 27, 2010

Inaugural Battle of the Sipsey

Two-day event in Fayette, Ala., this weekend commemorates April 1865 battle. The Confederate cavalry held the contested fields in at the end of the fighting. It would also be the last Confederate victory in Alabama. • Details

Friday, February 26, 2010

Of rocket launchers and engineers

The scene reminded me of the time I wore cutoffs and a Hawaiian shirt to a debutante party.

She, too, seemed out of place, an attention-getter standing among old-style canvas tents, wooden crates and folding chairs.

Visitors to the recent Battle of Aiken (S.C.) re-enactment milled around a replica of the Hale Rocket Launcher, which I would have guess had been built a little before World War II.

Instead, the launcher, which resembles a mortar, had been developed around the time of the Mexican-American War by British engineer William Hale.

Two soldiers could tote the beast. It was even more mobile if hitched to a couple of mules. It saw some action during the Civil War, doing a great job of disturbing the peace.

“This would scare horses,” said Ray Sheen, a captain in the Co. B 3rd Regiment Confederate Engineers re-enacting group. “It made all kinds of noise and smoke. It would have quite an effect.”

Sheen, of Greenville, S.C., and other 3rd Regiment members provided fascinating living history displays of the engineers’ contribution to the war effort.

When they think about the Civil War, most people conjure images of gray- and blue-clad warriors locked in battle.

But it was the engineer who improved roads, built bridges and made maps that got troops to the battlefield. He set up telegraph lines, designed and built fortifications and used signal flags. And he might even use a barometer to figure the grade of a road and whether the elevation rise was too much for an Army wagon.

In a word, the engineer was indispensable.

Evan Castle of Between, Ga., showed a collection of sextants, compasses and surveying equipment used by mapmakers.

The group pays homage to Jedediah Hotchkiss, a cartographer who made maps used during the Civil War. His detailed maps of the Shenandoah Valley are credited by many as a principal factor in Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson's victories in the Valley Campaign of 1862.

Castle, a surveyor in his own right, talked about the “amazing accuracy” of many of the old maps.

A couple tents down, Dave Young (left) and Walt Sommer of Acworth, Ga., demonstrated the use of old woodworking and carpentry tools.

The jack planes, drills and saws still do precise work.

“I’ve always like the old hand tools,” said Sommer, who was making dovetail joints using spruce boards.

Company B, also known as Pharr's Company, was commanded by Capt. H. N. Pharr, and was organized on Aug. 1, 1863. The re-enactment displays many of Pharr’s personal items and tools.

Read more about the re-enactment group

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Louisiana Tigers and Gettysburg

Southern Bookman blogger Louis Mayeux conducts a Q&A with author Scott L. Mingus Sr., whose book concentrates on the Louisiana unit's activities on July 2, 1863. • Article

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Video: Watch the flying kettle corn!

Sutler Billy Shealy of South Carolina offered Ole Tyme Kettle Corn at the Battle of Aiken on Feb. 20, 2010. A couple assistants cook up a big pot, complete with a heaping of sugar.

Paintball players re-enact Antietam

A group of history buffs and paintball enthusiasts took over a paintball park in Oroville, Calif., to reenact the famous Civil War battle of Antietam. The modernized event was complete with story lines, props, costumes and missions. • Article

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cannonball recovered at Hollywood home

The Los Angeles police bomb squad recovered an inert Civil War-era cannonball in the basement of a Hollywood home, authorities said. The discovery came nearly two decades after the same homeowner found similar military ordnance in his basement when he moved into the home. • Article

Monday, February 22, 2010

Citadel cadets show their stuff

A cadet at The Citadel has no shortage of standards to live by. Embracing the honor code is foremost.

There’s also what I call the 3Ds: Duty, discipline and drill.

Lots of drill.

By the time a Knob (first year-student) survives the first year at the military school in Charleston, S.C., he or she can march in formation with best of them. Cadets often drill two times a week before the familiar public parade on Friday afternoons.

The 18 companies, each comprised of between 54 and 60 cadets, perform complex and technical drills. It’s tough, exacting work.

So you may have to excuse cadets who were able to relax a little at last weekend’s Civil War Battle of Aiken re-enactment. The formations were smaller and simpler.

“It’s a little more old school,” said cadet Ryan Mosely of Villa Rica, Ga.

Most of the 14 cadets who camped at the re-enactment fired artillery pieces during the two public events. A few joined infantry units.

Lean and muscled, the cadets were a contrast to many of the 400 older weekend warriors. The cadets pulled the pair of 6 pounder-Napoleons by their own power.

“This is very much a leadership exercise for them,” said Capt. William Sharbrough, who during the week teaches business administration classes. His duties include team building.

Manning an artillery piece is all about teamwork. The well-trained cadets performed an 1860 federal artillery drill at the Battle of Aiken. Their uniforms were of that period.

Mosely and cadet Kent Gonzales of Weddington, N.C., are sophomores in the Army ROTC program. About 30 percent of Citadel graduates join the military.

Each of them told me they love the structure and camaraderie The Citadel provides.

Citadel cadets guarded James Island during the Civil War and saw action, including at Williamston, S.C., and the Battle of Tullifinny in December 1864.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Museum curator ends 2-week picket duty

Saturday, Brett Kelley went home to take his first shower in two weeks. For two weeks, Kelley, the curator of collections for the National Civil War Museum in Pennsylvania, has been living an a replica of the kind of log cabin that would have been shared in winter by four soldiers during that war. • Article

Video: 2010 Battle of Aiken

I shot this on Saturday, Feb. 20. It was my first time there. I really enjoyed the living histories before the re-enactment.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Photo gallery: 2010 Battle of Aiken

Don't mess with these ladies! Photo album from re-enactment marking 145th anniversary of S. Carolina battle.

Union captures a prize at Battle of Aiken

Southern forces at the Battle of Aiken re-enactment Saturday felt a little sheepish when the smoke had cleared.

Union troops pushed the Rebs off the field after about an hour of spirited fighting on a beautiful afternoon in South Carolina. That’s OK. Someone’s got to win at a re-enactment.

The embarrassment came during the fighting when a Federal general and another soldier moved around the estimated 3,000 spectators. They circled behind Confederate commanding officer, Lt. Gen Michael Hardy, who portrays Gen. William Hardee, without being noticed.

The Union general said to Hardy, “'You’ve been captured. There’s a loaded Henry at your back,’” said Federal re-enactor Jim Standard, of Spotsylvania, Va., who had the firearm trained on Hardy.

Confederate staff officers raised their swords, but their blades were no match for Standard’s rifle. The capture was complete.

There was a catch to the funny moment. The Union officer who captured Hardy actually was a compatriot of Hardy’s who had “galvanized.” In other words, he usually portrays a Confederate, but had switched to Union blue for Saturday’s fighting to help even the forces.

Spectators whooped and cheered during some of the action, enjoying a scenario put on by about 400 re-enactors. The forces included about 40 horsemen and about 20 artillery pieces.

Don’t be surprised if the Confederates exact a little vengeance Sunday, which is the final day of the annual event about 20 miles east of Augusta, Ga.

The Battle of Aiken occurred in February 1865. Federal cavalry troops under Brig. Gen. Hugh Judson Kilpatrick entered what is now Aiken County near White Pond and battled Confederate forces Feb. 9. He stationed some of his troops in Montmorenci and made for downtown Aiken with a force of 2,000.

Gen. Joseph Wheeler, commanding 4,500 Confederate cavalrymen, skirmished with the Union troops in Montmorenci and eventually consolidated his forces in Aiken. On Feb. 11, the Federal troops reached Park Avenue, Richland Avenue and Barnwell Street in what is now downtown Aiken. Fighting ensued, leaving to a Union retreat.

Offering face time with Abe Lincoln

An exhibit at the Bruce Museum in New York allows visitors to confront Abraham Lincoln as they might have if they had stood before him 150 years ago. In addition to artifacts connected to Lincoln’s tumultuous presidency, galleries are lined with approximately 70 enlarged photographs of his face. • Article

Friday, February 19, 2010

Exhibits upgraded at Pea Ridge museum

Nearly 150 years ago, one of the most pivotal civil war battles was fought right in Northwest Arkansas. Each year thousands of people pay tribute to those who fought at the battle of Pea Ridge, but for the past few weeks the park's museum has gone through major renovations. • Article

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I'll be blogging from Battle of Aiken

I'm making my first trip to the annual re-enactment in Aiken, S.C. Look for a report and photos either Sunday or Monday.

O'Reilly writing book on Lincoln assassination

Fox News host and best-selling author is working on "Killing Lincoln," a book that will take readers "into Ford's Theater and into the mind of Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth, and on the manhunt to find and bring to justice the killer of one our greatest presidents," according to a statement issued by Henry Holt and Company. • Article

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tickets for Bentonville March event going fast

Advance tickets for North Carolina’s largest Civil War re-enactment, the 145th anniversary of the Battle of Bentonville, are still available, but organizers report that tickets are selling at more than twice the rate of prior years. • Article

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Art of the deal at Civil War shows

Come with cash -- and an iPhone.

It’s not unusual for these days for visitors to Civil War shows to look up prices and check a firearm’s serial numbers on the Internet before plunking down serious money for a prized item.

And then the dickering begins.

“Everything is negotiable,” said dealer Jeff Clapp (right) of Nolensville, Tenn.

I attended the Chickamauga Civil War Show in Dalton, Ga., earlier this month and spent a few hours talking with dealers and buyers on the sprawling trade center floor.

You don’t see many guns snapped up by re-enactors. Most are not meant to be fired and are destined for a spot over the fireplace or in a display case.

Clapp says it takes good people skills and knowledge to be in the collectibles business.

A customer approached Clapp while we spoke, asking whether the seller might make a trade for two pocket pistols, including an 1849 Colt.

“For some, history of the pieces are important. For some not,” says Clapp, who says he always asks a customer to name a price before the haggling begins.

Like “Antiques Roadshow” on PBS, many patrons are there just to see what something they have is worth.

Clark Crawford of Ooltewah, Tenn., brought a bayonet and sheath that he got from his father-in-law. The good news: the bayonet was authentic Union. The bad news: the sheath was British.

“I had hoped they were a match,” said Crawford.

Still, the pair were worth about $200. Crawford went home with the keepsake. “I would rather pass it on to my son than sell it.”

John Dietrichs (photo above) of Dunwoody, Ga., was the proud new owner of a $310 8” artillery round used at Fort Pulaski, Ga.

The Dalton show is considered mid-level by collectors and sellers. Another in Franklin, Tenn., tends to have higher-priced items.

John J. Hayes of Gettysburg, Pa., says serious collectors look quickly at merchandise and move on if it’s not something they really want. They are less deterred by the economic downturn than most buyers.

“The guy who is spending $15,000 is not as affected,” Hayes (right) said.

Research and authentication are important for high-priced tickets.

Hayes had a 1-inch thick folder with documents, a history and a notarized family letter ensuring the authenticity of an 1836 flintlock pistol used by Confederate Brig. Gen. Porter Alexander.

The asking price? $7,500.

Hayes bought the piece from another dealer, and of course, wants to make some money on the sale. “You have to pay for what it’s worth.”

Sellers in Dalton say the event is like any other retail operation.

“Everybody goes away thinking they’ve won,” Hayes said.

Black soldiers cheated of pension equity

During the Civil War, researcher says, black soldiers were less likely to be admitted to a field hospital when they became sick. As a result, those soldiers would be less likely to have records to back their claims that they became ill while serving. • Article

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Re-enactment teaches about Aiken history

More than 500 pounds of black powder will be fired in Aiken, S.C., this weekend. The re-enactment of the Battle of Aiken has become the largest living history event in the Southeast. • Preview

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Can Georgia county afford to build battlefield park on I-75? Can it afford not to?

Advocates of a planned Civil War battlefield park in northwest Georgia tout an old real estate maxim: Location, location, location.

Several Georgia Civil War sites are within a few miles of Interstate 75, the busy highway that shadows the route of the 1864 Atlanta Campaign.

But the people of Gordon County say they have something unique.

Interstate 75 actually runs through the middle of the Resaca battleground, making the Civil War site literally just an exit ramp away.

“If they build it, even casual visitors will be in a matter of moments on the Resaca battlefield,” says Sam Weddle, park management assistant at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, about 30 miles to the north.

(Click above map to enlarge)

Gordon County, which recently inherited the project from the cash-strapped state of Georgia, would like to see Resaca Battlefield Historic Site open in time for the national sesquicentennial of the Civil War, which lasts from 2011-2015.

Supporters have waged an at-times frustrating 15-year campaign to build a road and a state-of-the-art visitors center to draw dollar-spending historical tourists to a county needing economic diversification. Gordon County’s unemployment rate is 13.1 percent, well above the state average 10.0 percent.

“This could be a huge impact for the county,” says Beth Grubbs, tourism chief for the Gordon County Chamber of Commerce.

But the project is not a done deal.

Gordon County is grappling with its own budget woes because of the economy. The carpet industry, one of the economic mainstays of the county, and other businesses have endured a long slide in lost jobs.

Estimates for construction (which includes site work, the road, the visitors center and a septic system) and exhibits at Resaca run as high as $5 million.

The state gave Gordon County $3.3 million and a 50-year lease to the nearly 600 acres. But the county will have to come up with the additional $1.7 million.

That might be a tough sell for five commissioners who had to temporarily stop the county’s contribution to the retirement plans of 320 employees. They also suspended 10 paid state holidays, effective next month.

Commission Chairman Alvin Long, like others interviewed for this article, hopes bids will come in low. “My heart tells me to go forward. But I can’t take money from taxpayers,” he says.

County administrator Randall Dowling, who will present the bid package and recommendation to the board in April, says the battlefield park is an exciting project that will be of interest to people of all ages.

The visitors center will “be the hub in the spoke” of several Civil War sites in Gordon County, including the county-operated Fort Wayne and a Confederate cemetery, he says.

Opinions on the project are mixed, Dowling says.

He says county employees ask him whether it’s right to build the site during a tough economic time in which they are making a sacrifice.

“The board is wrestling with this,” Dowling says.

At the same time, Gordon County leaders are worried the $3.3 million in state money will go away forever if they don’t spend it.

“If we don’t move forward then the state will move it to other projects,” says Long.


Thousands of I-75 motorists traveling between Chattanooga, Tenn., and Atlanta have no idea that 6,100 men were killed or wounded just off Exit 320. The exit to Ga. 136 at Resaca has no hotels and little fanfare. You wouldn’t know where the battlefield was unless you were told.

On May 13-15, 1864, Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s army and Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate Army of Tennessee bloodied each other. There was no clear winner. Sherman continued his march toward Atlanta, which he took several months later.

Local residents began pushing for the park in the 1990s and the state acquired the property. The Friends of Resaca organized support and raised money. Finally, the state appeared poised to build the visitors center after a November 2008 groundbreaking.

Plans, however, soon went south.

The Department of Natural Resources realized it did not have the money to finish the project.

State parks spokeswoman Kim Hatcher says the FY09 appropriations for the Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites Division were $27.4 million. After budget reductions announced last May, state appropriations were $16.8 million for FY10. The DNR, which curtailed hours and staff at many sites, retreated from the project.

Frustrated, Gordon County stepped in a few months ago and took over, agreeing to do the construction and staff and maintain the facility. The pact allows the county to keep all revenue.

“We are seeing a trend to [such] partnerships when possible,” Hatcher says.

She cited the state’s decision to turn over the Jefferson Davis Memorial Historic Site to Irwin County. Georgia’s FY09 cost to operate Jeff Davis was $125,061, at a loss of $105,696. The state no longer has to fund the site since Irwin took over.

Gordon officials say the state originally allotted $5 million for the project, but diverted funds to other projects, including one in Cobb County. But Ms. Hatcher told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that the amount always was $3.7 million and about $400,000 of it already has been spent on surveying.

The 600-acre tract is shaped like a fish hook. Some of it is in wetlands, and the U.S. Army Corps ordered the county to move the location of the planned visitors center.

Because of the wetlands, Gordon must build both a nearly 1-mile road and the visitors center on a raised surface. Phase 2, which is years away, will include a trail or trails.

The battlefield is well-preserved, says Friends of Resaca President Ken Padgett.

“The [Confederate] entrenchments are in pristine condition,” Padgett says. Federal trenches are on a protected easement. [Trenches highlighted in color in above photo]

The Friends of Resaca, which gave $66,000 for Fort Wayne, will help with fund-raising and volunteer at the park. The City of Resaca has pledged $200,000 and Calhoun is expected to pitch in.

Officials said the 7,100-square-foot modern visitors center will host a 20-minute movie and include exhibits, including some loaned or given by members of the Friends of Resaca. Padgett hopes it will be open by summer 2011.

“It’s not going to be boring,” says Padgett. A group of supporters has visited four or five other Civil War sites in the region to look at their exhibits. “This is the closest we’ve been. I’m real optimistic.”

The county has to follow state directives on the visitors center, limiting how much cost it can trim. As it stands, site work, a septic system, the visitors center and the road have an estimated price tag of $4.1 million, according to the architecht BRPH. Buying exhibits and the architect’s fee bring the project total close to $5 million.

Dowling says the “county could go cheap on the exhibits, but that is why people come in the first place and back again.”


The cost of maintaining and operating the park is an estimated $100,000 to $200,000.

If the county charges $3 per person and 100,000 patrons stop there each year, then it will more than cover that expense. “I don’t see us losing money on that facility,” Long says.

Chickmauga/Chattanooga and Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park are the closest major Civil War sites.

The former saw nearly 1 million visitors in 2008 and is 8 miles off Interstate 75. Kennesaw, in suburban Atlanta had about 1.4 million visitors in 2009. The vast majority are local recreational patrons using its trails. A small minority are interested in the historical aspects. Driving distance is about 2.5 miles from I-75 and through several traffic lights.

Weddle says Chickamauga includes the story of the Atlanta Campaign. “Resaca is one of the better examples because it is still there.”

Currently, rangers tell Chickamauga visitors that there is battle site in Resaca. “We do not promote it as an educational place because there is not one [a visitors center] yet.”

That will change if the Resaca plan becomes reality.

“When the time comes we will more aggressively include the visitors center as a place to stop,” Weddle says.

There has been no formal study on expected visitation and the economic impact of Resaca Battlefield. But the upcoming sesquicentennial is expected to bring a boost to national and state Civil War sites.

Officials claim historical tourists generate about $7.38 in extra revenue for every direct dollar spent at a site.

Beth Grubbs of the Chamber of Commerce and Long think the county could get an economic windfall of $3 million to $4 million a year.


County Administrator Dowling this month is drawing up details and will select the top 5 out of 15 qualifying companies to bid on the project. The state has given Gordon the option of walking away if bids are too high.

Commissioner Long is feeling the tug of building and not building.

“I think this is a project that should go forward,” he says, citing tourist dollars, hotels and restaurants the county has been lacking.

But Long also says he doesn’t want to use general funds on the park.

He says the move to cut employees holidays and retirement match was a “no brainer” because he didn’t want to go the other route of cutting 21 positions. “These are tough decisions to make when it affects people.”

“I foresee this board will not go forward if [the project] goes over state allotment” of $3.3 million, says Long. “I’m optimistic we have construction companies who can do it for what we have.”

Like others interviewed for this article, Long is unhappy with Georgia for not completing the project. He says commissioners may ask Georgia for additional funding.

Ken Padgett of the Friends of Resaca said the state has missed an opportunity. And he expressed frustration with how long the effort has gone on.

“We’ve been beating around the bush 15 years when the war took five,” he says.

More about the Friends of Resaca
Renderings of interpretive center

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Flag at Pickett's Charge to rise again

One of North Carolina’s most famous flags soon will be publicly displayed for the first time since Union forces captured it nearly 150 years ago at the Battle of Gettysburg. • Article

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pa. to remember black soldiers

Many months of work will culminate in November with soldiers' descendants and the public invited to a reenactment of a grand review through Harrisburg and a re-enactors' encampment in the Capitol complex. • Article

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tenn. launches sesquicentennial site

The site has five main sections, each with photos and video.

The section on history offers a basic primer on the Civil War in Tennessee and its impact on Tennesseans. A timeline walks visitors through the major battles, political campaigns and other events of the war, such as East Tennessee's bridge-burnings in 1861 or the battles for Chattanooga in 1863. • Article

Monday, February 8, 2010

S. Carolina fort may finally get its due

Next year marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, and the guardians of the remains of a Union fort on Hilton Head Island hope it will get its moment in the spotlight. • Article

Atlanta museum curator networks at show

It seems everybody loves Gordon.

The affable curator at the Atlanta History Center draws a lot of handshakes and conversations at Civil War collectible events. After all, he’s known many vendors for years.

Saturday, at the Chickamauga Civil War Show in Dalton, Ga., Jones was making the rounds, photographing rare items and getting some history on them.

“I’m here to get knowledge and exchange it,” says Jones, who uses events like these to network.

Jones seldom makes on-the-spot purchases for the AHC. He cites finances. “At the moment we don’t have any money.”

Of course, there’s a chance that the AHC might make a deal with a collector after the show. Often, Jones is there to find out about items that may have a link to something in the vast AHC Civil War collection. It’s a good time for all parties to share information on a soldier, military unit or collectible.

For example, the AHC has a Morse 1858 Confederate bullet. Jones learned Saturday about some weapons he had not known were made by Morse. He also was impressed by a Confederate cavalry uniform trimmed in red, a color usually reserved for artillery soldiers.

Jones pointed to a display of artifacts manufactured during the war by Leech and Rigdon. Among the items (above) was a sword and scabbard belonging to Col. Calvin Harvey Walker of the 3rd Tennessee Volunteer Infantry. Harvey was killed in Powder Springs, Ga., during the Kennesaw Mountain battles in 1864.

The Atlanta History Center has the belt Walker was wearing in battle. Jones says the linking of the items helps in books and exhibitions.

Jones, wearing a ballcap and toting a backpack, continued working his way around the vast Northwest Trade and Convention Center.

“I enjoy making contacts and renewing contacts with the collecting community,” he said.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

WWII items big sellers at Civil War show

Go to a Civil War show these days and you may come home with a helmet worn by a GI at Normandy.

Nearly 10 percent of the record 450 tables at the Chickamauga Civil War Show in Dalton, Ga., this weekend are featuring World War I and II collectibles.

“World War II is the next big collectible market,” says Mike Kent, who has put on the Dalton show for 15 years.

I spent several hours at the show, which had at least 1,200 visitors Saturday.

I expected to see items from the Revolutionary War and Indian Wars, but seeing that many WWI and II uniforms, holsters and guns sharing space on the same table as Civil War items was a bit surprising.

In the old days, dealers of Civil War and world war items didn’t mix, Kent told me.

But with a tougher economy, many dealers are willing to market collectibles from all wars.

“There’s such a demand for those items. There are so many collectors. And the items are much more available and much more affordable than some of the Civil War stuff is,” Kent told the Daily Citizen earlier this week.

The show, which concludes Sunday, goes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $8. Children 12 and under are free if accompanied by a parent.

Retiree photographs South Carolina weapons

Kraft, Goldschmidt & Kraft was one of two principal sword makers in Columbia, S.C., during the Civil War, turning out some of the finest blades in the Confederacy.

But it also made common, unrefined swords for lower-ranking officers and enlisted men.

Saturday, Walt Lineberger was taking photos of both extremes at the Chickamauga Civil War Show in Dalton, Ga.

The craftsmanship was markedly different.

K.G.& K. made money selling the fancy swords “and the less expensive ones out the back door,” said Lineberger, who is putting together a photography book with the working title “South Carolina Implements of War.” He is looking for a publisher to print the book in the next few years. It will include swords, buckles, plates and other items.

Lineberger, a Yale University graduate living in Bluffton, S.C., has been working about five months on the book. The retiree is taking photos of his extensive private collection and collectibles at shows like the one in Dalton.

I spoke with him briefly as he took shots of the beautiful K.G. & K sword valued at around $35,000 that belongs to a dealer. The guard was ornately designed and the blade featured several motifs, including laurel leaves.

“Very few people collect South Carolina stuff per se,” says Lineberger, who is doing research along with the photography. He owns one of 10 known cavalry swords linked to Gen. Wade Hampton-style, a native son of the Palmetto State.

The Civil War seems to run through Lineberger's blood. His great-grandfather rode with Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was involved in more than 100 skirmishes and battles. Other relatives fought for the North. The active collector is considered to have one of the best collections in South Carolina.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Trip to a rarely-seen Knoxville fort

Fort Stanley looks a good deal different than it did just over 146 years ago, when men climbed the steep hill and dug embattlements out of the cold clay. • Article

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Coming up: Update on Resaca

I am working on an item about plans to complete a battlefield project and open an interpretive center at the site of an important May 1864 battle in North Georgia. Look for it next week.

Judge hears case over Wilderness Walmart

After listening to more than three hours of legal wrangling Wednesday, a judge will decide whether to throw out a lawsuit opposing a planned Walmart within a cannon's shot of the endangered Wilderness battlefield in Virginia. • Article

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

This year's Dalton show may be biggest yet

The Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center is trying to squeeze in a few more vendors tables for this weekend’s Chickamauga Civil War Show and Sale. “We’ve got 425 tables so far. It’s probably the largest show we’ve ever done, and we are about maxed out,” said event organizer Mike Kent. • Details

Book a tragic tale of the Civil War

“Seen The Glory: A Novel Of The Battle Of Gettysburg” tells the tragic tale of the Civil War as seen by soldiers, slaves and civilians, ending in the killing field of Gettysburg. The historical novel, the eighth book by John Hough Jr., records the daily hardships and camaraderie of ordinary soldiers, particularly the story of two teenage brothers coming of age who volunteer. • Article

Monday, February 1, 2010

MIA: I've misplaced (lost!) paper written by Yankee soldier in 1864

If I weren't sitting down while writing this, I'd be kicking myself.

I've spent several hours trying to find something very precious to me. I have on weathered writing paper a Union soldier's handwritten copy of the lyrics to a sentimental song written during the Civil War.

Charles Carroll Sawyer wrote "Who Will Care for Mother Now?" in 1863. It became a maudlin hit among soldiers.

Many years years back, my northeast Missouri grandparents gave me a bag of old letters, bills and papers that once belonged to a neighboring family.

Most were addressed to a John Jones.

Among the papers was the now-missing sheet of folded paper. It is dated in the summer of 1864 in Resaca, Ga., site of a major battle a few weeks before. The ruled paper includes an embossed seal from some Federal unit. I couldn't believe I had a piece of paper that was written by a homesick soldier in enemy territory.

I did a little research 15 years or so ago and put the lyrics away for safekeeping. Or so I thought. I've looked all over the house for it.

No luck.

I will keep searching and kicking myself. For now, here are the lyrics:

Who Will Care for Mother Now?
(Charles Sawyer)

Why am I so weak and weary?
See how faint my heated breath,
All around to me seems darkness,
Tell me, comrades, is this death?
Ah! how well I know your answer,
To my fate I meekly bow,
If you'll only tell me truly,
Who will care for mother now?

cho: Soon with angels I'll be marching
With bright laurels on my brow;
I have for my country fallen,
Who will care for mother now?

Who will comfort her in sorrow?
Who will dry the falling tear?
Gently smooth he wrinkled forehead?
Who will whisper words of cheer?
Even now I think I see her
Kneeling, praying for me! How
Can I leave her in anguish
Who will care for mother now?

Let this knapsack be my pillow,
And my mantle be the sky.
Hasten, comrades to the battle
I will like a soldier die.
Soon with angels I'll be marching
With bright laurels on my brow;
I have for my country fallen,
Who will care for mother now?

Now that would be a cool roadside attraction

History buffs in northwest Georgia are talking to local officials about re-creating some of the wartime towers to draw attention to the area’s rich Civil War history. "The idea is to have three towers on three of the highest points around Dalton, preferably where they were during the Civil War. And these towers will display the history of how they used the flags,” said Dalton architect Kenneth Harless, who is helping to design some of the towers. • Article