Civil War sesquicentennial events slowly starting to take shape around state

David Manning/ Morris News Service
Toby Graham shows off Civil War artifacts recently at the University of Georgia’s Hargrett Rare Books and Manuscripts Library
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 Civil War sesquicentennial events are off to a slow start in Georgia, much like the Civil War itself 150 years ago.

But the pace will begin to pick up in a couple of years - also like the actual Civil War played out in Georgia.

"We're starting to organize; we're just doing it very late," said University of Georgia Civil War historian Stephen Berry.

But there's time yet, Berry said.

The 150th anniversary of the Civil War isn't 2011 - it's 2011 through 2015, Berry said.

"I think it's going to build, especially as we get toward 1863 (2013), when the war came to the doorsteps of Georgia families," said Sam Thomas, curator of the T.R.R. Cobb House in Athens.

Georgia seceded from the Union on Jan. 19, 1861, and historical groups marked that last month with a re-enactment of that historic legislative vote in Milledgeville, Georgia's capital back then.

Georgia men went off to fight in the war, and the families they left behind were hungry - in one sense, the North won the war because it was able to feed its people, unlike the cotton-growing South, Berry said.

But for the most part, the fighting part of the war didn't come to Georgia until 1863, when the Union Army laid siege to Chattanooga, the gateway to the lower South.

One big Civil War sesquicentennial event already is planned for 2013, said Charlie Crawford, president of the Georgia Battlefields Association. The nonprofit group is devoted to preserving battlefields.

A national coordinating group for Civil War re-enactors selects a couple of sites every year for big re-enactments, and Chickamauga in Northwest Georgia is one of the group's picks for 2013, the 150th anniversary of that turning point in the war.

Thousands of re-enactors from across the United States and even other countries are likely to come for that re-enactment, Crawford said.

Museums and re-enactors also are likely to schedule some events around late 2014, the 150th anniversary of Sherman's march through Georgia, he said.

Historians, museum curators and others had hoped to see a state-backed, coordinated set of events to mark the anniversary of the war, said Todd Groce, president and CEO of the Georgia Historical Society.

But the lingering national recession hit, state revenues plummeted, and money for a statewide slate of sesquicentennial events never made it into the state budget, he said.

"We weren't about to go to the governor and legislature saying this is more important than K-12 education," Groce said.

The state has helped with a couple of projects, however.

The state Department of Economic Development helped finance a new edition of a University of Georgia Press book, "Crossroads of Conflict: A Guide to Civil War Sites in Georgia."

The state also chipped in to help the historical society replace damaged historical markers related to the Civil War, and place some new ones - just not as quickly as planners had hoped a few years ago.

Of hundreds of older historical markers around the state related to the Civil War, almost all of them are related to battles. But newer markers reflect how historians' views of the war have broadened, Groce said.

"There was nothing about African Americans, nothing about women, nothing about politics, nothing about the home front. Today, we have a much broader view of war and its impact on society," Groce said.

One new marker in Dalton commemorates Georgia slaves who fought for the Union. Another marks food riots in Columbus, when women marched on a government warehouse with clubs and Bowie knives, demanding food for their families.

Even though there's no coordinated state effort to mark the Civil War sesquicentennial, individual museums and groups are planning major events and shows.

UGA's Hargrett Rare Books and Manuscripts Library also will mount exhibits centered on the Civil War.

The library has a huge collection of Civil War-related material, such as books printed in the Confederacy, recruiting posters, soldier's journals, maps and rare photographs, and shows some of them off every year around Confederate Memorial Day - the one day in the year the library puts the Confederate Constitution on display.

But the library will show off even more of its treasures next year, after UGA opens up the new special collections library under construction off Hull Street.

The Atlanta History Center also has planned several major Civil War exhibits.

"I want to dispel the myth that Georgia is not doing anything," said Gordon Jones, senior military historian and curator at the center.

The center has an award-winning permanent exhibition on the Civil War, and also has installed a temporary exhibit, "War in Our Backyards," open through September.

Center administrators are planning more Civil War exhibits, and curators at other museums such as the Confederate Naval Museum in Columbus also are developing major shows, Jones said.

"This is going to be a very decentralized sort of thing," he said. "We're doing a bunch of stuff for the sesquicentennial, just not in traditional form."

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Mr. Thackeray
Mr. Thackeray 02/07/11 - 09:44 am
Starting so late you almost

Starting so late you almost missed the party!

Chillen 02/07/11 - 10:48 am
History cannot be erased. No

History cannot be erased. No matter what the progressives & PC crowd believe. When history is erased, it is doomed to repeat itself.

Each day more & more citizens are being "enslaved" by the govt by accepting the public welfare/handout dole as their lifestyle & sole source of "income". Doomed to a life of poverty & govt dependence forever. A voting block that will continue to vote for those enabling them. A voting block who wants to keep those folks exactly where they are forever so they can remain in power. Sounds like slavery to me.

I for one am pleased to see folks still acknowledging & respecting history.

rmwhitley 02/07/11 - 12:04 pm
It's about time to start a

It's about time to start a new one.

Riverman1 02/07/11 - 03:59 pm
If General Lee hadn't

If General Lee hadn't mistakenly ordered the charge up Cemetery Ridge at Gettyburg and had just continued on through Pennsylvannia to New York, today we would all have free tickets to any show on Broadway anytime we visited the northern territories.

seenitB4 02/07/11 - 05:17 pm
Nah riverman....we would

Nah riverman....we would probably have that wall built by know along the mason-dixon line....haha lol

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