Sunday, October 31, 2010

One writer's take on the war's 150th

The Picket urges you to take in this eloquent op-ed piece by Tony Horwitz, author of "Confederates in the Attic." It includes this: "The Civil War isn’t just an adjunct to current events. It’s a national reserve of words, images and landscapes, a storehouse we can tap in lean times like these, when many Americans feel diminished, divided and starved for discourse more nourishing than cable rants and Twitter feeds." • Column

Saturday, October 30, 2010

N.C. planning events, May symposium

The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources is planning the commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the war. • Article

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Civil War items are missing in Pa.

A new audit says a Pennsylvania state agency can't locate more than 1,800 historical artifacts, including sculptures worth $42,000 and Civil War items, including a rifle. • Article

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dolls checked for signs of smuggling

Two Civil War-era dolls thought to have been used to smuggle medicine past Union blockades were X-rayed, disclosing hollowed papier-mache heads that once could have contained quinine or morphine for wounded or malaria-stricken Confederate troops. • Story

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Modern waterproofing for ironclad replica

The addition of NASA-approved waterproofing technology to the CSS Neuse II has enabled the Civil War ironclad replica to do what the original ram could not — stand the test of time. • Story

Sunday, October 24, 2010

University has Camp Lawton website

Georgia Southern University students earlier this year found artifacts from a short-lived prison camp near Millen. A recent web page has an overivew of the project, a history, illustrations, details on the museum exhibit and a Facebook page • Website

Saturday, October 23, 2010

From Hardee hat to correct footwear, Authentic Campaigner website espouses accuracy

It appears no detail or footnote is too small for the dedicated Civil War living historian.

To wit, FranklinGuards NYSM went online to ask, “How do YOU break ranks.” He added a couple sentences from some of what he had read and asked other groups what they do.

“Casey's Tactics, Vol. I, School of the Soldier Part III, para. 426; Hardee's do., para. 411,” was the one-sentence reply from Pvt. Schnapps, posted on the Authentic Campaigner.

Since 1999, the Authentic Campaigner website has served a loyal community of living historians, many of whom do their research on what life, drill and fighting was like for a Civil War soldier.

They come to the site to learn about events and join the myriad discussion threads on authenticity, preservation, music and other topics. They also buy, sell and trade items. They have a fondness for "Events By Us and For Us" or "EBUFU", which unlike most re-enactments, are closed to the public and promote scenarios that are as close to the real thing as possible.

The Civil War Picket recently spoke with the website’s founder Paul Calloway, a 41-year medical sales professional in Fort Wayne, Ind. Calloway is a member of the Tar Water Mess, a living history unit based in Kentucky and Indiana.

Q. Why did you set up Authentic Campaigner?
A. Several units had websites. I first set up a glorified list of resources. The purpose was to take the good news of authenticity and share it with everyone. This wasn’t secret information. The originators just wanted credit. I could post a link to it or I could host.

Q. What is the principal message?
A. To do your best to be as much like a Civil War soldier as possible.

Q. How would you describe the different classifications of re-enactors/living historians?
A. FARBs (those who show an indifference to authenticity in behavior and gear); mainstreamers, who tend to buy uniforms and equipment off the rack; progressives, who are trying to improve their impressions; and hardcores, who flat out try to do it right. We look at research on uniforms, what they wore and ate. For some re-enactors, the coolers come out after dark when the public is away.

(Click this link for a more detailed description of re-enactors).

Q. What is the evolution?
A. As you move along, you tend to steer clear of doing a particular impression. When you look at some guys, particularly for the Trans-Mississippi, they can do 10 different impressions.

Q. Who are your readers? What kind of page views?
A. They cross the entire spectrum, but they trend toward progressive and hardcore. Sometimes we have to dial down the mainstream discussion if it strays from authenticity. Our civilian forums section has continued to grow. We get between 10,000 and 15,000 page views a day, with big interest particularly in spring and early summer.

Q. What about politics and moderation of forums?
A. We have several moderators. Our mission is to steer clear of modern-day politics. People who post on forums must use their real names.

Q. What kind of costs are involved for you and readers?
A. For $10 a year, a reader can access the site to buy, sell and trade items. (There are no fees to be in discussion groups). It costs us about $300 a month to run the site. Advertising helps. It’s not a profit-making website.

Q. How about fundraising? I’ve seen where the Authentic Campaigner has partnered with the Civil War Preservation Trust.
A. We have been able to donate some money for preservation. We were able to give money to help present the McRae Family Papers at the South Carolina Relic Room & Military Museum.

Q. What about research for the hobby?
A. Guys want to look at records and photos to better understand the battles. Some regiments have a lot of details [in archives or libraries] while others do not. You can get information at the Library of Congress and local libraries. My advice is to get off the computer and go to the library. To research the 105th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, we went to Ashtabula to read postwar accounts, letters and to learn what they ate. We wanted to be sure we were acting appropriately.

Q. How can the layman spot authenticity?
A. Look at the way the fabric falls o a uniform. You can tell by how someone is wearing the equipment. You can look at photos to learn these things. A lot of re-enactors look at what they guy next to them is using [without thinking about it]. If you are on a march and see wall tents that weren’t in that area during the war, you know it’s wrong. For example, with the 105th Ohio, we knew they didn’t have knapsacks in one battle.

Q. Are there some authentic events that particularly stand out?
A. In 2000, Craig Hadley of the Cracker Outpost put on an event in at Lookout Mountain, Tenn. Twenty-five young men around 20-years-old practiced drills. It was very impressive. Perryville 2003 was good. RippaVilla Plantation in Spring Hill, Tenn. These events are best when you are living like a soldier. No freeways. Fill your canteen from the river. It’s not as hard as you think to speak in the first person (portrayal of a character).

Q. Today’s re-enactors are heavier and older than the lean young men of the Civil War?
A. There’s not a lot we can do about the latter, but we can do something about the former.

Q. What about authenticity of camps during events?
A. It’s interesting. Kids recognize the difference right away. They’ll say ‘these are the real soldiers.’ They can tell uniforms and camps are different. They way we interact is different.

Q. Who are your competitors?
A. The Civil War Reenactors home page is a big site. It tends to be more mainstream. We work with them and aren’t really competitors. Both serve an audience.

Q. What trends have affected the hobby in recent years?
A. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have taken a lot of the guys out of the ranks. A lot are part timers. The hobby has a lot of people from the military. The hobby will be around. The 150th anniversary series of re-enacted battles will provide an opportunity for the hobby to restore itself.

Q. What about costs and the way to get into the hobby?
A. I’d say a gear and gun for the mainstreamer will run around $1,000. That will be about $1,500 for authentic. People look at vendors on the site for that kind of thing. A mainstream Hardee hat will cost about $70. A Tim Bender hat, with authentic material and hat forms, might go for a little more than $100. Start with an infantry impression and then branch out to something like the cavalry or artillery.

Q. What’s the outlook for your website?
A. It’s odd in that we don’t care about money. We don’t want to grow at the expense of authenticity. We want to do this the right way. You’re going to find people from all walks of life on the site. We don’t want to promote FARBism.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Peach State launches 150th website

Georgia, a linchpin for a Union victory in the Civil War, Thursday rolled out Phase One of its long-anticipated website marketing the 150th anniversary of the conflict.

The state, which is sponsoring no events during the sesquicentennial, sees the modest site as a tourism portal and primer on the war.

It's posted an interactive map of sites, with popup descriptions and photos. I also like the interactive timeline of Georgia and the war. The second phase of the site will include driving trails; stories and written observations from Georgians during the Civil War; and a multimedia section for video and images.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Upcoming in Picket: Authentic Campaigner

I hope to be posting soon a Q&A from my recent interview with the founder of the Authentic Campaigner website, a popular place to learn about events, buy, sell and trade items and discuss issues.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Flap over textbook, black Confederate soldiers

A textbook distributed to Virginia fourth-graders says that thousands of African- Americans fought for the South -- a claim rejected by most historians but often made by groups seeking to play down slavery's role as a cause of the conflict. • Article

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Medicinal plants aided Civil War doctors

Through Oct. 30, the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morris Township, N.J., will offer an exhibit and cellphone tour on medicinal plants of the North-South conflict. Plants in the tour include the poppy, used as a painkiller; tansy, a tiny daisy-like flower, brewed as a tea to reduce fever; and the native dogwood tree, a substitute for quinine in the battle against malaria. • Details

Monday, October 18, 2010

Complexity of loyalties in Appalachia

Why did some Appalachian communities support the Confederate cause while others remained loyal to the Union? That's one topic to be covered during a Tuesday lecture at the Culture Center in Charleston, W. Va., by Auburn University history professor and Civil War author Kenneth W. Noe. • Article

Sunday, October 17, 2010

N. Carolina trying again on death count

The Tarheel State has long claimed 40,000 of its citizens died during the Civil War, more than any other state of the Confederacy. A state official is doing extensive research and expects to find a smaller number. Still, he expects North Carolina to retain its sanguinary status as No. 1 in deaths. • Article

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The remarkable story of the French flag ruse and imprisoned women and children of Roswell

Reflecting on the 14 months since I launched The Civil War Picket has reminded me of just little I know about the Civil War, especially in my own back yard.

Take, for example, the Atlanta History Center’s permanent exhibit, “Turning Point.”

This trove of artifacts that speaks to the humanity of those who fought is powerful. It took only took 20-plus years in metro Atlanta for me to make the discovery.

I got that feeling again recently when I pored through the state of Georgia’s new map of Civil War sites, with vignettes on fascinating people, such as “Blind Tom” Bethune, and places like Stone Mountain Village.

What most intrigued me was the account a curious Frenchman named Theophile Roche and the “Exile of the Roswell Women.”

Thus began my search to learn more about the story, which got little notice from historians, scholars and writers until the 1980s.

Roswell is an old town north of Atlanta. Today it’s associated with suburbia, but back in 1864 it was known for its mill complex that spun clothing and items for the Confederacy. Some say the workers were akin to indentured servants, earning low wages that went back to the mill owners for housing, food and goods.

I contacted Michael D. Hitt, a Roswell police officer, historian and author of a 1991 book, “Charged With Treason,” that details this peculiar footnote of the Atlanta Campaign.

In the spring and summer of 1864, Union Gen. William T. Sherman’s thundering herd was descending on the prize of Atlanta, but first it had to negotiate the Chattahoochee River.

On July 5, 1864, Brig. Gen. Kenner Garrard and his Union troopers were battling the home guard for a vital bridge at Roswell, but the Rebels set it afire.

Garrard was surprised to see a most unexpected banner above the Ivy Woolen Mill at the river.

It was a French national flag. Another French tricolor waved in downtown Roswell above Bulloch Hall, built in 1839.

Garrard rode in to investigate and was met by mill workers claiming to be English or French citizens.

“They were scratching for ideas to save the factory,” said Hitt.

Roche, a journeyman weaver from Paris who claimed at least part ownership of the mill, had concocted the idea of flying the French flags, to show the mill was not part of the Confederacy and subject to seizure or destruction.

“He thought it might work,” Hitt said of Roche. “If it didn’t work, what did they have to lose?”

A lot, apparently.

We’ll get to the rest of the amazing story but for now, here’s how the mill drama went down.

The union cavalry commander (left) walked into Ivy Woolen Mill on July 6 to discover bolts of cloth with the letters CSA woven in. He was shown records indicating the material would be used to make uniforms for Confederate troops.

Game over. Roche’s ruse failed.

The mill workers wouldn’t leave voluntarily, but Garrard forced their exit. Some took mill records to owner James King, who was in the Roswell Battalion, the home guard fighting the Yankee advance.

Garrard ordered the mill burned and moved along the river to the Roswell Manufacturing Co., a larger complex that had nothing to do with the French flag incident but did make goods for the South. It was owned by the absent Barrington King, brother of James.

It, too, went up in flames. Some employees unhappy with wages and other conditions, assisted in its destruction, Hitt said.

Sherman (below) wrote a letter to a superior in Washington, explaining his rationale.

“They [Roswell mills] were very valuable and were burned by my order. They have been engaged almost exclusively in manufacturing cloth for the Confederate Army, and you will observe they were transferred to the English and French flags for safety, but such nonsense cannot deceive me. They were tainted with treason, and such fictitious transfer was an aggravation. I will send all the owners, agents and employees up to Indiana to get rid of them there.”

Union troops rounded up 400 of the Ivy Woolen and Roswell mill workers (a contingent that included 87 men -- some soldiers, some deserters), and then added another batch that worked at a mill at Sweetwater Creek, west of Atlanta, for a total of about 600 people. Five hundred were women and children.

Very few had anything do with the caper at the Ivy mill.

Sherman charged the assembly with treason. That included men, women and their children.

“This was the only time in the Civil War that something like this occurred,” said Hitt. “It was newsworthy at the time.”

At the time, rules of engagement called for treason, which was akin to obstruction if it was a civilian offense.

From the Northern perspective, the workers were American citizens in open rebellion, Hitt said.

Sherman wrote a letter to Garrard, giving him instructions on what to do with Roche and the workers.

"I had no idea that the factories at Roswell remained in operation, but supposed the machinery had all been removed. Their utter destruction is right and meets my entire approval, and to make the matter complete you will arrest the owners and employees and send them, under guard, charged with treason to Marietta, and I will see as to any man in America hoisting the French flag and then devoting his labor and capital in supplying armies in open hostility to the Government and claiming the benefit of his neutral flag. Should you, under the impulse of anger, natural at contemplating such perfidy, hang the wretch, I approve the act beforehand.

“I repeat my orders that you arrest all people, male and female, connected with those factories, no matter what the clamor, and let them foot it, under guard, to Marietta, whence I will send them by cars to the North...The poor women will make a howl. Let them take along their children and clothing, providing they have the means of hauling, or you can spare them.”

The prisoners were marched to nearby Marietta (right) for shipment north. They were placed in the Georgia Military Institute while they awaited trains.

There would be no trials at which they could defend themselves.

The 600 were shipped out July 10 and 11, with stops in Chattanooga and Nashville. Many were sent to Indiana, but most arrived in Louisville, Ky., where they were imprisoned in a hospital. A few died of typhoid, measles and the like.

Many took the oath of allegiance to the United States.

“First housed and fed in a Louisville refugee hospital, the women later took what menial jobs and living arrangements could be found. Those in Indiana struggled to survive, many settling near the river, where eventually mills provided employment,” the New Georgia Encyclopedia says. “Unless husbands had been transported with the women or had been imprisoned nearby, there was little probability of a return to Roswell, so the remaining women began to marry and bear children.

Very few ever made it back to Georgia.

Those who did helped Barrington King (left) get his company back on its feet.

In 2000, the Sons of Confederate Veterans Roswell Mills Camp #1547 erected a monument remembering the troops who fought in Roswell and the mill workers.

The camp cites a Georgia historian who claims the deportation of the women and children was illegal.

I asked Hitt what lesson people may take from the tragedy.

“Don’t mess around with the army in the time of war,” the officer said. “They don’t have time for humor.”

As for the fate of Roche and the two French flags?

Roche jumped the train between Chattanooga and Nashville and eventually fled to France, where he filed a claim against the United States for the Roswell property. The bid failed.

The federal government documented receipt of the flags.

Their whereabouts are unknown.

“Probably up in Washington in a box somewhere,” Hitt said.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Today in history: Hunley mishap

On Oct. 15, 1863, the Confederate submarine sank for the second time off Charleston, S.C., while performing a routine diving exercise. All eight men on board, including H.L. Hunley himself, succumbed. The sub was retrieved and put to use again, eventually sinking a Union warship before it, too, went under.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tennessee offers special license plate

Civil War buffs have a chance to order a new license plate commemorating the 150th anniversary of the war. The Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association, a nonprofit organization, is sponsoring the license plate to raise money for battlefield preservation and the Civil War Trails program. • Click here for info, to order

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Palmetto State has opportunity, risks

South Carolina can claim a huge chunk of the Civil War anniversary tourism dollars if it is first out of the blocks in December and does it right, state leaders were told. But unless the state is aggressive in marketing itself over the next five years, it could lose out to celebrations elsewhere, such as Virginia, as "the" go-to site for Civil War remembrances. • Article

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Georgia city plans to open Civil War site

A North Georgia city, the scene of a Confederate attack that tried to blunt the Union move on Atlanta, is purchasing battlefield land in the hopes of building a Civil War heritage and nature trail.

The City Council of Dallas, in Paulding County, last month approved the $900,000 purchase of 75 acres from a family. It is attempting to buy another 75 acres and merge this with 20 acres owned by the county to make a 170-acre visitors destination, particularly for those interested in the famous Orphan Brigade. (Click map to enlarge)

Mayor Boyd Austin said he would like the site to open by 2014, the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Dallas.

In May 1864, Union Gen. William T. Sherman moved on Dallas so that he could control routes to Marietta and Atlanta. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s attempt to stop these moves resulted in three major battles in Paulding County – New Hope Church (The Hell Hole), Pickett’s Mill and Dallas.

Students of history know that Sherman and Johnston jousted in northwest Georgia during the Atlanta Campaign.

On May 28, Lt. Gen William J. Hardee’s corps probed the Union defenses at Dallas, with fighting in two points.

The First Kentucky “Orphan Brigade”, in conjunction with Florida troops, attacked.

“They were decimated,” said Austin, citing casualties of around 50 percent.

“Confused by gunfire from a related cavalry action near the Villa Rica Road, a Kentucky unit on the Marietta Road prematurely launched a full-scale assault,” the late historian Philip Secrist wrote. “This unit, the famed Kentucky Orphan Brigade was so badly mauled by being caught in a crossfire that it was subsequently disbanded. Bates’ division became entangled with the enemy and had difficulty disengaging, requiring Hardee to commit additional units from his command to the rescue. The battle continued for the better part of the day along the entire Dallas line. Confederate casualties on May 28 are estimated to have exceeded 1,000 men. “

A road sign says the assault is a notable example of “heroism and disaster.”

After the battle, Sherman moved toward Allatoona, with Johnston following.

Austin would like to see entrenchments on the properties restored and protected. Interpretive signs would help tell the story of the battle and a nature trail would wend through the property.

The tract just purchased by the city connects with Sara Babb Park, which includes recreational facilities.

According to the Georgia Battlefields Association, about 50 yards of trenches are on the Paulding property (right). The purchased 75 acres “has the beginnings of trenches that extend onto Ray Mountain,” says association president Charlie Crawford.

The additional acreage Austin wants to buy has trenches the Union 9th Kentucky held, Crawford said.

“We have a lot of people coming to look for the Orphan Brigade,” says Austin.

Money from the city’s renewed special option local sales tax could go toward the creation of the historic site, the mayor said.

The city also is developing a Civil War Memorial Trailhead to connect downtown to the Silver Comet Trail, popular with bicyclists. A Sons of Confederate Veterans camp is planning to erect a statue at the small park.

Map and Paulding photo courtesy of Georgia Battlefields Association

Monday, October 11, 2010

Longstreet Society remembers namesake

The Longstreet Society, based in Gainesville, Ga., where Confederate Gen. James Longstreet lived out the last third of his life, had a weekend seminar on a leader whose reputation appears on the rebound. Participants were able to take a bus tour of Gainesville which led them to the site of Longstreet's former home, and to Roosevelt Square, which is close to the site of the old courthouse where Longstreet's funeral was held. • Article | • Southern-fried Longstreet

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Ken Burns to lead Civil War tour

Filmmaker Ken Burns is partnering with the Tauck tour company to offer 2011 trips to national parks, Civil War sites and other destinations. Burns said his favorite Civil War sites are places where history is "not just excavating dry dates and facts ... but also listening to ghosts and echoes." • Article | Previous Burns article

Friday, October 8, 2010

Updated Georgia Civil War guide on sale

An updated version of "Crossroads of Conflict: A Guide to Civil War Sites in Georgia" will officially be unveiled at the Atlanta History Center Saturday morning.

The 11 a.m. event is put on by the Georgia Department of Economic Development to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the war. Copies of the publication, which lists for $22.95 in paper, will be available for purchase and can be signed by co-author Barry Brown.

The University of Georgia Press book, which covers 350 sites, was written by former Georgia Civil War Commission staff members Brown and Gordon R. Elwell. The full-color edition is a significantly expanded version of the guide released in 1994.

"Crossroads" serves the "dual purpose as tour guide and as an in-depth history of Civil War Georgia. Included are over 200 modern and period photographs, images, maps, GPS coordinates, and a detailed chronology of events as they unfolded during the four-year conflict," the state says.

"Crossroads" is available at area bookstores, and other online sites.

Markers replace stones above 5 soldiers

Five Union Army soldiers who died 145 years ago were honored with new grave markers earlier this month in Richmond County west of Rockingham, N.C.

The soldiers were foraging when they were killed by Confederates son March 7, 1865. Their graves were marked only with large stones, according to the Charlotte Observer.

White marble, federally-issued tombstones were placed on the graves in an Oct. 2 ceremony while local re-enactors, dressed in both Confederate and Union uniforms, fired salutes.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Andrew Young on soldiers paying the price

Former UN Ambassador Andrew Young on Wednesday paid tribute to African-Americans whose service to their country goes back to the American Revolution.

Young was the keynote speaker at the dedication at Fort Hill School in Dalton, Ga., of a sign honoring the service of the 44th U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War.

I'm indebted to Charlie Crawford, head of the Georgia Battlefields Association, for this account and photos. The GBA helped fund the sign and assisted in its writing.

A clear autumn morning in North Georgia's rolling hills saw at least 200 in attendance. A children's chorus sang "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

According to Crawford, "Young spoke without notes and with great feeling. He went back to Crispus Attucks and black troops in the Revolutionary War, then spent some time on Andrew Jackson assembling an army in New Orleans and granting black volunteers land in western Louisiana as a reward.

"Young, who is from New Orleans, said this made quite an impression on his family and explains why he is named Andrew Jackson Young, a name that has recurred in his family over the generations. He spoke of how soldiers pay the price for diplomats' failures and how Americans' willingness to fight for the nation is stronger than any ethnic, cultural, or racial differences."

Related Picket article on the 44th

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hospital house closed for repairs

The house that served as field hospital for the Union army at the Battle of Bentonville (N.C.) is being closed temporarily for plaster repairs. During the three-day Battle of Bentonville in 1865, nearly 600 Union and Confederate soldiers were treated in the home. The 11 members of the Harper family were forced to live upstairs while the downstairs was used as a hospital. • Article

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tenn. archivists to record memorabilia

Representatives from the Tennessee State Library and Archives and the Tennessee State Museum will be in Franklin on Oct. 15 to record and digitize Civil War memorabilia, including photos and documents, owned by local residents. • Article

Monday, October 4, 2010

Honoring 44th U.S. Colored Troops: From slaves to Union warriors

His clothing ragged, Hubbard D. Pryor made his way into Union lines in Tennessee in April 1864.

Pryor (left), an escaped slave from Polk County, Ga., quicky joined up with Company A, 44th U.S. Colored Troops. A photographer captured these images before and after he took on the blue Union uniform.

Perhaps because of the photography style of the day, or because of his ordeals, Pryor’s expression gives little evidence of the pride he surely felt.

The 44th, which was organized at Chattanooga, Tenn., and Rome and Dalton, Ga., eventually saw action in Georgia, one of the few African-American units to fight in the state.

Recruitment of colored regiments began in full force following the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1863.

On Wednesday, a marker honoring the service of the 44th and other African-American units will be dedicated at Fort Hill School in Dalton. It was one of many regiments formed during the war, in which 200,000 African-Americans fought for the Union army and navy.

Former U.N. ambassador and Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young will make the keynote address.

The sign, sponsored by the Georgia Historical Society, the Georgia Battlefields Association and the Georgia Department of Economic Development, honors the 44th USCT, whose enlisted men were mostly former slaves.

By late summer 1864, the 44th USCT contained some 800 black enlisted men and was commanded by Col. Lewis Johnson, who was white, according to the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

On Aug. 15, 1864, the regiment helped drive off a Confederate cavalry attack on the Western and Atlantic Railroad.

Approximately three-fourths of these black soldiers were doing garrison duty in Dalton on the morning of Oct. 13 when advance units of the 40,000-man Army of Tennessee, commanded by Confederate General John Bell Hood, converged unexpectedly upon the little village, cutting off all avenues of retreat.

According to the encyclopedia, Hood vowed to take no prisoners if the Union defenses were carried by assault and later added that he "could not restrain his men and would not if he could."

Although Johnson claimed that his black troops displayed the "greatest anxiety to fight," he surrendered to Hood and secured paroles for himself and the 150 or so other white troops.

“The black troops, by and large, did not want to surrender. They knew that capture for them would mean death or beatings or at the very least being returned to slavery,” Robert Jenkins, a member of the Dalton-Whitfield 150th Civil War Anniversary Committee, recently told the Daily Citizen in Dalton.

The regiment's 600 African-American enlisted men suffered a harsh fate. Some were re-enslaved, while others were sent to work on fortification projects in Alabama and Mississippi. Many ended the war as prisoners in Columbus and Griffin, Ga., where they were released during May 1865 in what one of them described as a "sick, broken down, naked, and starved" condition, the encyclopedia says.

Pvt. Hubbard Pryor survived the war and married in 1870. In 1890, he wrote to learn if he were eligible for a pension, but he died that August before he could apply.

The enduring photos of him are among the finest of tributes to African-Americans who fought for their country.

Official report from Col. Johnson on Dalton
African-Americans in non-combat roles

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Photo donation portrays innocence

A Virginia collector has donated to the Library of Congress the largest trove of Civil War-era photographs depicting average soldiers that the institution has received in at least 50 years, officials said last week. Most of the pictures are of Union soldiers. But there are also several dozen Confederates. • Article

Friday, October 1, 2010

Relics show this weekend in Savannah

Some of the nation's top military memorabilia dealers will participate in the second annual Savannah Civil War Relic and Bottle Show this weekend, looking to sell from or add to their collections, said one of the event's organizers. • Article