Friday, April 1, 2011

Preservationist honored, dedicates marker

The Civil War Trust recently honored Charlie Crawford, president of the Georgia Battlefields Association, and two other battlefield advocates in Georgia.

Crawford, of Atlanta, (left, in photo) received the trust's Chairman's Award last month in Savannah.

"Charlie Crawford is an indispensible source of information on all aspects of the preservation movement in the state," the trust said of the honor.

Also honored were Fort McAllister interpretive ranger Talley Kirkland and Rossville, Ga., history teacher Robert Stinson.

The GBA has assisted in the research and writing of historical markers, including one unveiled in downtown Savannah after the awards ceremony.

On January 16, 1865, Union Gen William T. Sherman issued his Special Field Order No. 15. The short-lived order redistributed roughly 400,000 confiscated acres of land from South Carolina to Florida to newly freed black families in 40-acre segments.

On January 12, Sherman met with 20 black leaders of the Savannah community, mostly Baptist and Methodist ministers, to discuss the question of emancipation, according to the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

The meeting helped convince him many of the slaves could operate their own farms, says Crawford.

"Sherman had an immensely practical orientation," Crawford added. "He knew very well that his orders would be effective only until the president and Congress addressed the issue, but he was unwilling to leave all these people unable to provide for themselves. As the last sentence of the marker explains, President Johnson rescinded the orders a few months later."

Photo by Cindy Wentworth, GBA vice president

More on awards | • History of Sherman's order

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