Thursday, June 30, 2011

Town makes pitch with bobblehead

A Civil War officer known as "the hero of Hagerstown" is being immortalized as a bobblehead.

The Hagerstown, Md. convention and visitors' bureau said Wednesday it will present bobblehead dolls of Capt. Ulric Dahlgren to the first 1,000 fans at the Hagerstown Suns minor league baseball game July 9.

Dahlgren led an outnumbered Union cavalry unit against Confederate forces in the streets of Hagerstown on July 6, 1863. • Article

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Survey of shipwrecks in Virginia river

A two-day research expedition began Monday to survey two sunken Civil War vessels in Virginia's James River. The archaeological survey of the USS Cumberland and CSS Florida is being conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Navy. • Article

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Georgia battlefield supporters set events

The Brown’s Mill Battlefield Association, which supports a planned park at the scene of an 1864 cavalry clash during the Atlanta Campaign, is planning a series of events that culminates with a barbecue fund-raiser.

Friends President Carolyn Turner said the lecture series is planned through July and is meant to increase membership and make the public aware of the site's history.

The Picket wrote about the group's plans in a February post. The Friends are working on the site a few miles outside of Newnan, southwest of Atlanta.

There is no charge for the lectures. Topics include Newnan hospitals, Confederate cavalry figure Joe Wheeler (left), Lee and Grant at Appomattox and documentation of the Brown's Mill site.

The culminating July 30 event will feature a barbecue meal at $10 a plate. The group will sell other items, including glass totems, aprons and T-shirts.

For more information on the lecture series, call 770-253-8264 or click the link below. E-mail Turner for more details on the barbecue and to reserve tickets at

Complete schedule, times and locations for lecture series and other events

Friday, June 24, 2011

"Show Me" state wants to tell its story

With 2011 marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War's beginning, tourists and history buffs are expected to travel to famous battle sites, such as Gettysburg and Bull Run, in record numbers. Missouri would like some of that attention — only Virginia and Tennessee contain more Civil War sites. • Article

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Diary on display slowed bullet

A diary credited with saving the life of Nebraska's first lieutenant governor will tell his wartime story as part of a Nashville, Tenn., museum exhibit. The Travellers Rest Plantation & Museum is commemorating the Civil War's 150th anniversary. • Article

Monday, June 20, 2011

Atlanta Cyclorama sponsors lecture

Local historians and researchers Brad Quinlin and Ken Denney will speak Wednesday (June 22) at the second event in the Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum's summer series marking the conflict's 150th anniversary.

Beginning at 6:30 p.m., Quinlin and Denney will "invite participants to a Civil War experience and through their detailed research will immerse listening audiences in the smells, sounds and tastes of 1860s Atlanta," according to a city press release.

"They also will provide little-known information about African-American participation in the Civil War and details of their burials in a local cemetery."

Admission to the lecture is free. The Atlanta Cyclorama is at 800 Cherokee Ave. SE, Atlanta, GA 30315.

The series will continue annually until the year 2014, the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Atlanta. "Activities will challenge Atlantans in dialogues on race, politics, slavery, business and culture," according to the city.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Atlanta neighborhoods to restore aging monuments to Union, Confederate generals

At 35, James Birdseye McPherson, a favorite of Union Gen. William T. Sherman, was awaiting a furlough so that he could return to Ohio to marry his sweetheat.

William H.T. Walker, 47, was a grizzled Confederate veteran nicknamed “Shot Pouch” for the numerous wounds he received during the Mexican-American War.

On July 22, 1864, their paths nearly intersected. About a half mile from each other, the major generals were shot from their horses during the Battle of Atlanta.

Monuments, each featuring a centerpiece cannon, went up years after the war in East Atlanta.

Time and, in one case, traffic have taken a toll on the memorials. They sit on dislodged or structurally weak foundations. The cannons have water damage and are rusting in places.

Restoration and preservation are riding to the rescue.

The Battle of Atlanta Commemoration Organization, which marks the 147th anniversary of the battle with a variety of events the week of July 12-17, has won a grant through the state of Georgia to begin the process.

BATL was awarded $13,000 in federal dollars to hire a conservator and other experts to study the monuments, research their history and make a proposal on the restoration. BATL, through fund-raising, must come up with another $9,000 to launch the effort.

BATL hopes to sign a contract with the city soon, which will allow the study to go forward, said chairman Henry Bryant.

BATL must follow National Park Service preservation guidelines.

“You don’t just go in there with heavy-duty chemicals,” said Bryant.

The monuments today are a study in contrasts.

The McPherson monument was put in place by the 1880s, surrounded by simple fence. It remembers the youthful general (above) killed near his front lines when he tried to escape Confederate troops.

Like many cities, portions of Atlanta went through a period of decline and, by the 1970s, the monument was in a transitional neighborhood and had seen hard times.

Revitalization in the 1980s and 1990s brought a new wave of upscale residents to East Atlanta, Kirkwood and East Lake -- communities where soil was bloodied during the Atlanta Campaign.

Delegates as the Democratic National Convention in 1988 wanted to see the city’s Civil War history and some residents of East Atlanta began to learn more about the battle and its significance, said Bryant.

“Each monument has a history in its own right,” Bryant told the Picket.

The McPherson monument is surrounded by homes. A longtime resident, supported by BATL, has made it a beautification project.

A bench, mosaic tiles, trees and flowers surround the fence and the monument, fittingly located on McPherson Avenue at Monument Avenue.

“When you drive past it, it looks OK,” said Bryant.

But a closer look shows the foundation is in rough shape and mortar has disintegrated (left). It’s as if the pedestal and cannon are floating by their own determination, Bryant said.

The name “MCPHERSON” is fading on the white granite. The cannon is not sealed and is rusted at the base.

The Walker monument to the east is more easily seen, but doesn’t get the protection the McPherson monument receives.

It sits on a busy road (Glenwood Avenue at Wilkinson Drive) near Interstate 20. Walker (below) was shot while leading his forces across the backwaters of Terry’s Millpond in Kirkwood and East Atlanta.

“It’s been hit more than once,” said Bryant. “That’s why it sits off-kilter on its pedestal.”

The red granite monument’s steps and plaque are gone. At least two feet of water and gunk are in the cannon barrel. An inscription is difficult to read and the stone has turned orange, apparently from rust.

Bryant said the monument was dedicated in 1906. It used to rest on a nearby hill, but was moved in the 1930s (top photo).

“There was a reverence for everything Civil War here,” said Bryant. BATL will hold wreath-laying ceremonies at both markers on July 16.

Bryant expects the study to be completed by July 2012. After that the real work begins – the pursuit of even more dollars for the actual restoration of the two monuments.

BATL is dedicated to educating residents and visitors about the battle, through living histories and storytelling. “When we first began, people would say, ‘So what, it was a battle.’”

BATL website on July events marking battle anniversary
Boyhood home of Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Cruising and the Civil War

Beginning next summer, Civil War enthusiasts will be able to take a cruise that not only visits historic battle sites, but brings the Civil War era onboard. American Cruise Lines' new, 140-passenger sternwheeler, the Queen of the Mississippi, will take passengers to Civil War monuments, museums and battlefields off the ship, while offering entertainment and cuisine reflecting the era onboard. • Article

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Debate continues over black Confederates

As America embarks on four years of Civil War commemorations, it revives an unsettling debate: how to view the role of African Americans in the Confederacy. • Article

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Trust wants to buy Fredericksburg property

The Civil War Trust wants to buy the former GM Powertrain plant site in Spotsylvania County, Va., the ground where historians say the Battle of Fredericksburg was decided. • Article

Friday, June 10, 2011

Re-enacting flight of first spy balloon

Civil War memories take an aerial turn Saturday, with a 150-year-anniversary celebration of the birth of the U.S. Balloon Corps on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. • Article

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Trail club repairs ground around famous Kennesaw Mountain monument

Illinois soldiers made a valiant effort to take Cheatham Hill during the June 27, 1864, battle at Kennesaw Mountain, Ga.

Led by brigade commander Gen. Dan McCook, Union units charged up the hill, literally yards away from Rebels who plugged away at them. Eventually, Confederates on top of the ridge withdrew.

Confederate and Union entrenchments thrown up before and during the furious assault remain at the killing ground dubbed the “Dead Angle.” A memorial to Illinois troops recalls the mortally wounded McCook and his compatriots, who suffered horrific casualties.

Since 1914, perhaps the park's most famous monument has stood on the knoll, facing the wheat field from which Illinois units charged. Surviving Illinois veterans purchased 60 acres for the monument.

Time and erosion have taken their toll on the ground around the white granite memorial.

The Kennesaw Mountain Trail Club has had three work sessions for its grading project, intended to repair erosion and control water flow at the 25-foot-tall Illinois Monument.

"Our goal is to re-grade the area into sustainable contours that will route rain water away from the monument and into the woods," it said in its most recent newsletter. "We are also repairing the damage done two years ago during the heavy rains that affected most of Cobb County with severe flooding and erosion."

Three trails converge there: the Unknown Soldier trail, the Illinois Monument trail and the Cease Fire trail.

To learn more about the monument, call 770-325-0444770-325-0444 and enter stop #103.

Project photos by Scott Mackay, Trails Supervisor, KMTC

More information on trail club
Picket's profile of the organization

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

'Fantasy' re-enactments in Germany

Civil War re-enactments are spopular in Germany, where battles are staged outside of Berlin. "There were about 200,000 who had German roots that fought in the Civil War," Tobias Melchurs,21, said. "I think it is important for our history." • Article

Monday, June 6, 2011

Three held in gravesite thefts

Police arrested three women they believe to be connected to the theft of 380 military grave markers, including some from the Civil War, that were takenn from cemeteries in Burlington and Camden counties in New Jersey and sold for scrap metal. • Article

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Handsome flags on display in Gainesville, Ga.

A collection of handmade reproduction Civil War flags is going on display through July at a history center in Gainesville, Ga.

Robert Banks set up the two dozen banners over the weekend at the Northeast Georgia History Center at Brenau University.

Made of a variety of authentic materials, including silk and wool bunting, the handsome flags will be exhibited beginning Tuesday in the center's rotunda.

I met Banks, who lives near Helen, Ga., last May at the Confederate Cemetery in Resaca, where he set up many of his hand-sewn flags for a memorial service.

Banks, a recent retiree, makes reproductions of flags that were used by both Confederate and Union units.

"Im always working on a flag," Banks told me recently. "I will start a new one soon."

In the past year, he made flags of the 9th Connecticut Infantry, 57th Georgia Infantry and the 69th New York Infantry (part of the Irish Brigade).

The Northeast Georgia History Center, 322 Academy St., Gainesville, Ga., is open from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Admission is free for members, $5 for adults, $4 for senior citizens (65+), $3 for students (5-18).

Closer look at his flags | • History center website

Friday, June 3, 2011

City honors U.S. Colored Troops

Hundreds of African-American Union soldiers buried in the National Cemetery in Wilmington, North Carolina, after the Civil War were honored Thursday with a state highway historical marker. • Article | • Previous coverage

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

N. Carolina photo exhibit begins tour

Photos of people and items from the Civil War are going on display at two county libraries in North Carolina. • Article