Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sign recalls Cleburne's call to free, arm slaves

The Georgia Historical Society will unveil a marker recognizing Confederate Gen. Patrick Cleburne's futile proposal to emancipate and arm slaves.

The July 14 dedication will be held outside of the Dalton headquarters of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, where Cleburne's proposal occurred in January 1864 as the South faced a military manpower shortage.

Michael Thurmond, former Georgia labor commissioner and author of "Freedom: Georgia's Antislavery Heritage, 1733-1865," will provide the keynote address at the dedication.

A portion of the sign's text:

"Almost all the other generals present opposed the idea of black Confederate soldiers because it violated the principles upon which the Confederacy was founded. Gen. Patton Anderson said the proposal "would shake our governments, both state and Confederate, to their very foundations," and Gen. A.P. Stewart said it was "at war with my social, moral and political principles." Considering the proposal treasonous, Gen. W.H.T. Walker informed President Jefferson Davis, who ordered any mention of it to be suppressed. In March 1865, with defeat looming, the Confederate Congress approved enlisting slaves, but few did and none saw combat. Conversely, nearly 200,000 free African Americans served in the U.S. armed forces."

The Georgia Battlefields Association helped fund the marker, part of the observance of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

Dedication: 10 a.m., July 14, 314 N. Selvidge St., Dalton, Ga. 30720

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