Thursday, January 28, 2016

Civil War show in Dalton, Ga.: Chance to buy period items, learn about failed strategy

(2010 Chickamauga Civil War Show -- Picket photo)

Failings of Confederate leadership in the Western Theater will be the subject of an upcoming seminar held in conjunction with the Chickamauga Civil War Show in Dalton, Ga.

Bandy Heritage Center for Northwest Georgia’s Feb. 6 colloquium will draw patrons who flock to the annual firearms, artifacts and relics show at the Dalton Convention Center, 2211 Dug Gap Battle Road.

“We have held our colloquium in conjunction with the Civil War show every year since 2010,” said Brian Hilliard, Bandy project director. “It is a natural tie-in with the community interest in the show.

The talks in the lecture hall on the upper level of the trade center are free and feature three prominent Civil War historians and authors. The schedule for “Losing the Heartland: The Failure of Confederate Theater Command in the West” is:

Tim Smith
9:15 a.m.: “Albert Sidney Johnston: Hero or Villain?”
Tim Smith will examine the general’s strategic and tactical decisions and their repercussions. Smith, including in “Shiloh: Conquer or Perish,” has written extensively about the fallen leader’s conduct at that 1862 battle. In an America’s Civil War magazine article, Smith took on the myth that the South would have won the battle if Johnston had lived.

10 a.m.: “Joseph E. Johnston and the Mess in the West”
Richard McMurry will explore the complex relationships between Johnston and his superiors and subordinates and how that affected strategy. The general had a defense-and-retreat strategy in northwest Georgia that eventually led to his loss of command. Johnston later argued he was heavily outnumbered and won support from early postwar writers, but McMurry has raised questions about his effectiveness. “It turns out that Joseph E. Johnston is not regarded now by a lot of people as the greatest thing since grits,” the historian said in 2014, adding the general’s retreat toward Atlanta was a political and logistical disaster for the South. (Coincidentally, Johnston led troops against Maj. Gen William T. Sherman around Dalton during the Atlanta Campaign).

Steve Davis
11 a.m.: “Bonnie Blue Flop: P.G.T. Beauregard and Confederate Strategy in the Autumn of 1864”
Steve Davis, who has written extensively about the Atlanta Campaign, will discuss Beauregard’s role in Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ failed efforts to create a unified command structure in the West. The Louisiana-born general did not get along well with Jefferson Davis and other leaders.

11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Discussion panel

In the same building, the Chickamauga Civil War Show is scheduled for 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6, and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 7. Admission is $10 for adults; children under 12 get in free.

Show organizer Mike Kent told the Picket he expects to have 475 tables with dealers from more than 20 states and England. Rafael Eledge, who appears on PBS’ “Antiques Roadshow,” and his business Shiloh Relics will be among the vendors. Eledge will give free appraisals, Kent says.

“We expect a great crowd as always, with several local Civil War Roundtables making their annual pilgrimages to the show,” said Kent.

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