Posts tagged ‘Georgia’

1st Minnesota Light Artillery in the Atlanta Campaign May-Sept. 1864

Much has been written about the First Minnesota Infantry and its well-deserved place in Civil War history, but the experience of that famous unit was not typical. The great majority of Minnesota soldiers served in the Western theatre of the war taking part in battles from Mill Springs, Kentucky, to Sherman’s March through Georgia and the Carolinas.

Surviving members of the 1st Minnesota Light Artillery years after the war. (Photo courtesy of MN Historical Society - http://www.mnhs.org)

One of the best examples of Minnesota units serving in the West was the 1st Minnesota Light Artillery. Formed in the fall of 1861, the battery saw its first action at the bloody battle of Shiloh, where they played an important part in the defense of the “Hornets’ Nest”. They saw more hard fighting at Corinth, Mississippi, and as part of the Army of the Tennessee they endured the long campaign to capture Vicksburg. Later the battery joined General Sherman’s forces in the Atlanta Campaign and his famous “March to the Sea.” The Minnesotans continued with Sherman’s forces through the Carolinas to the final battle of the war at Bentonville, North Carolina. They also participated in the Grand Review of the major Union armies in Washington, D.C., following the war’s end. [Text courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society]

Report of First Lieutenant Henry S. Hurter, First Minnesota Battery

HEADQUARTERS FIRST MINNESOTA BATTERY

IN THE FIELD, GEORGIA, Nov. 11, 1864

 OSCAR MALMROS,

Adjutant General of the State of Minnesota

GENERAL:  In accordance with your request of September 24, 1864, I herewith send to you a morning report of this battery from the 1st day of November 1864, also a report of the casualties, etc., during the year, and within a short history of the company.

On the 1st of November, 1863, the battery laid in camp one mile south of Vicksburg; Captain Clayton, then commanding, received orders to go to Minnesota on recruiting service, and started on the 9th, the command then coming in my hands. The months of November and December were, whenever the weather allowed, improved in drilling the battery, also January and part of February, in which latter month, on the 11th, Captain Calayton returned with 73 recruits; on the 24th of February 5 veterans of the battery, in charge of Lieutenant Hurter, left for Minnesota. On the 5th of March captain Clayton exchanged the old guns, two 12-pound howitzers, and two 6-pound rifled guns, caliber 3.67, for four new rifled 3-inch Rodman’s guns. On the 25th the battery went out to black river, twelve miles from Vicksburg, with the First Division of the Seventeenth Army Corps, under Brig. Gen. E.S. Dennis. On the 4th of April we were transferred to the Third Division, under brigadier General Legett, and marched back to Vicksburg, were put on board the transport Z.C. Swan, left at dusk and proceeded up river and landed at Cairo, Ill. On the 17th disembarked and came into camp; there the veterans joined the battery again on the 21st. On the 27th embarked on transport Colossus, and moved up the Tennessee river, landed at Clifton, Tenn. On the 1st of May landed there, and after camping four days marched with the so-called Tennessee River Expedition, under Brigadier General Gresham, via Pulaski, Tenn., to Athens, Ala., camped there eight days and left on the 19th for Huntsville, Ala., arriving there on the 20th. On the 22d Captain Clayton left on leave of absence for Minnesota.

At the reorganization of the Seventeenth Army Corps, commanded by Maj. Gen. F.P. Blair, the battery was attached to the Fourth Division, Brigadier General Crocker commanding. The corps left Huntsville for Decatur, Tenn., on the 25th of May, and from there marched via Summerville, Warrenton and Hendricksville, Tenn., and Cedar Bluff to Rome, Ga., 5th of June; from there to Kingston, Cartersville, Allatoona and Acworth, Ga., where we arrived on the 8th of June, joining there Sherman’s army, and especially the Army of the Tennessee, under the gallant McPherson, consisting then of three army corps; the Fifteenth, under Major General Logan, Sixteenth, under Major General Dodge, and the Seventeenth under Blair. On the 12th of June our guns opened for the first time on the enemy, who had works north of the Kenesaw Mountains, on the top of which we could observe large crowds of people looking at the doings of the two armies. More or less firing until the 20th, when the rebels evacuated their lines, and the army advanced about two miles and took position on the foot of the Kenesaw Mountain. Heavy fighting was done there, but the enemy’s position being very strong, Sherman moved the Army of the Tennessee, then forming the left wing, on the night of the 2d of July, in rear of our lines of the other troops on the extreme right, thus forcing the enemy to give up his position on the mountain and in Marietta, in order to oppose our crossing the Chattahoochee river. On the 4th of July the right section with two regiments of infantry, Fifteenth and Sixteenth regiments of Iowa Volunteers, advanced towards Nickajack creek, but soon found the enemy in force; the whole corps was engaged before night, and on the morning of the 5th, after shelling the rebel works for about half an hour, the infantry stormed and took them, pushing the rebels slowly back in their main works on the river. The battery was in position on a high hill, in full view, about two miles from the rebel works, and although for some time fired on very lively, had nobody hurt. On the 11th the rebels evacuated during the night and fell back on the opposite shore. On the 16th the Army of the Tennessee made another flank movement to the extreme left again, passing through Marietta, Rosswell, crossing the Chattahoochee river near that place, and after passing Decatur turned westward, meeting the enemy about two miles from Atlanta on the 20th. The battery took position and opened with good effect, but so did the rebels, killing five of our horses, their shells falling thick around us, one shell striking under the trail of one of our guns and setting the piece straight on its muzzle. Fired some on the 21st. Changed position twice that day, and occupied that night and part of the 22d a fort in rear of the Third Division, Seventeenth Army Corps, near the place where Major General McPherson fell. The bloody battle of the 22d was fought under our eyes, we not being able to fire one round, as our trains were moving between us and our lines, until in the evening, when we silenced a rebel battery, who opened a flank fire on the Sixteenth Army Corps. On the 26th we made another flank move to the right again; arrived on the morning of the 28th near Ezra Church, when about noon the rebels made an assault on the Fifteenth Corps, but were badly repulsed, leaving the front literally covered with dead and wounded. The left section had taken position and fired a few rounds, but could not do much, the position being too much exposed. On the 30th July, when we had just moved into park, a 64-pound shell from the rebels struck the right caisson, exploded the powder in two limber chests and some of the shells, but did not harm a man with one exception, although we were at close intervals, and men promiscuously among the carriages. On the 2d of August the centre and left sections, and on the 6th the right section, moved into positions fixed for them in the lines; we were then about two miles from Atlanta, but fired our shells with ease into town. More or less firing was done, according to the enemy’s annoyance, we advancing our works ever few days. On the 14th Lieutenant Koethe was killed inside of our works by a stray rebel bullet passing through his heart, killing him instantly. On the 26th we moved from our position and with the army to the right, striking the Montgomery railroad on the 28th, destroying it effectually, and then moving towards the Macon railroad, meeting the enemy on the 31st near Jonesboro, and driving him steadily, following to near Lovejoy Station, when we returned to Eastpoint, going into camp there to rest, refit and recruit up. We laid there from the 10th of September to the 3rd of October, when marching order came suddenly; as our horses were not all in condition for a long, tedious march, only two sections turned out, the centre section remaining in charge of Second Lieut. John D. Ross at Atlanta, Ga. The other two sections were under command of First Lieut. H. hurter, Captain Clayton being chief of artillery, Fourth Division, Seventeenth Army Corps. We left camp at 6 o’clock on the 4th of October, marching over very bad roads till night, and next morning to a place three miles southwest from Marietta. From there we went through Acworth and Allatoona, where a few days before the rebels were nobly repulsed by a small garrison, of which the Fourth Minnesota Regiment of Infantry formed a part – Cartersville, Kingston, Adairsville, Calhoun, Resaca, through Snake Gap, to near Villanow, Ga., where we remained two days, and from where we sent all surplus baggage, etc., to Chattanooga, Tenn., leaving but one team with the battery. Marched on the 18th from here to Summerville, Alpine, Ga., to Gaylesville, Ala., where we camped from the 21st to the 29th. During this time the artillery of the Seventeenth Army Corps was organized into an independent brigade under Major Powell, Second Regiment Illinois Light Artillery, Captain Clayton being assistant chief of artillery. Out of ten batteries belonging to the corps, only three were selected to remain with the army, via.: the Fifteenth Ohio Battery, First Lieutenant Burdick commanding; Company C, First Michigan Light Artillery, First Lieutenant Shier commanding, and First Minnesota, Lieutenant Hurter commanding. All the others were sent back to Nashville, Tenn., into the reserve artillery pack. Left camp on the 29th at 6 o’clock A.M., marched through Cedar Bluff, and arrived on the 30th near Cave Spring, Ga., where we remained in camp on the 31st in order to have the troops mustered for pay.

This, general, is a short sketch of the military history of this battery. Any particulars you wish to add, you will be enabled to get from our non-veterans, who will soon be discharged and return to the state.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

H. HURTER

Senior First Lieut., Comdg. Battery

1st Minnesota Light Artillery flag

EXTRACT FROM MONTHLY REPORT OF CAPT. WILLIAM Z. CLAYTON, FIRST MINNESOTA BATTERY, DATED IN THE FIELD, GEORGIA, JULY 31, 1864

            On the 2d day of July the battery moved from its former position at the foot of Kenesaw Mountain to the right. On the 4th it was ordered, section at a time, to the front and went forward with the skirmishers. During the day it fired about 80 rounds of ammunition; during the night constructed a work and on the morning of the 6th went into it. On the 8th the enemy opened from a post in front of us, with 18 pieces of artillery. We, with other batteries of our division, returned the fire. We fired 123 rounds with good effect. On the 16th moved to the left and crossed the Chattahoochee river at Roswell; went into position on the 20th and fired 130 rounds. While in this position we had 1 private and 4 public horses killed with one shell from the enemy’s gun. On the 26th moved to the right. On the 27th the battery was engaged while the enemy was stubbornly endeavoring to turn the extreme right flank of our army, and fired 22 rounds from one section. On the 30th the battery was relieved and moved into park at 5 o’clock P.M. At 6 P.M. we had 1 caisson blown up by the explosion of a 64-pound shell thrown from the enemy’s gun.

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The 3-inch Ordnance Rifle, like the one seen here, was a staple of the Battery from March 5, 1864 through the end of the war.

 HEADQUARTERS FIRST MINNESOTA BATTERY,

BEFORE ATLANTA, GA., Aug. 18, 1864

 OSCAR MALMROS,

Adjutant General Minnesota,

SIR:  I have to report the death of First Lieut. William C.F. Koethe of the First Minnesota Battery, who was killed on the 15th of August, while temporarily in command of four pieces of this battery, which were in position to operate against the city of Atlanta.

The enemy had a complete enfilading fire upon the position which Lieutenant Koethe occupied, and a rebel sharpshooter shot a ball through his left arm, which passed through his heart and came out on his right side. He died without a struggle.

Lieutenant Koethe was from Germany, where his father still resides. He entered the battery, at its original organization, as a private; served as such until the 1st of September, 1863, when he was promoted to second lieutenant for his noble worth in the service of his adopted country. He was again promoted to junior first lieutenant, July 19, 1864. He rendered noble service on the 20th, 21, 22d and 28th of July, in command of his section of the battery, during the fearful struggle in front of Atlanta.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM Z. CLAYTON,

Captain, First Minnesota Battery

—————–

EXTRACT FROM MONTHLY REPORT OF FIRST MINNESOTA BATTERY, DATED AUG. 31, 1864.

            On the 1st of August the battery laid in park near Ezra Church, Ga., in rear of our lines. Centre and left section moved into position on the 2d and the right on the 6th; they fired more or less every day until the 25th, when the whole army of the Tennessee moved to the right, striking the Montgomery & Atlanta railroad on the 28th. After destroying the same effectually we moved on towards Jonesboro, on the Macon road; we came into position on the 31st, but did not fire any that day.

—————–

HEADQUARTERS, FIRST MINNESOTA BATTERY,

NEAR ATLANTA, GA., Sept. 15, 1864.

OSCAR MALMROS,

Adjutant General Minnesota,

GENERAL:    Inclosed please find the return of this company for the month of August, 1864, it having been utterly impossible to forward the same at an earlier period.

The battery is now in camp, resting from the fatigues and troubles of the late campaign, but preparing vigorously for a fall and (who knows), if necessary, winter campaign. May only the North make one more effort, send forth the scores of young men lounging around in the great cities, wasting their money and their health, and fill up our decimated ranks once more, I am sure that the next summer would not see anything more of this rebellion.

But, alas! How many homes will be desolate, how many hearts of loving wives, endearing children will wait in vain for their returning husbands and fathers! Many a place will be vacant, that before the war was blooming in health, beauty and love, its occupant lying silent and cold in strange soil! We too have to lament the death of two of our men, two of our best soldiers, who have died, not on the battle-field, but victims to disease and the treatment that our soldiers receive from those so-called surgeons in the hospitals. William Vincens, sergeant, and Gustavus Andre, private, both from New Ulm, died, the latter on the 4th inst., at Vining’s Station, Ga., the former at Atlanta on the 7th inst. Their friends will be much surprised at the news, as the time of the enlistment of the two was almost expired.

Tendering you my best respects, I am, yours very respectfully,

H. HURTER,

First Lieutenant, Commanding Battery

—————–

EXTRACT FROM THE MONTHLY REPORT OF FIRST LIEUTENANT H. HURTER, FIRST MINNESOTA BATTERY, DATED NEAR ATLANTA, GA., SEPT. 30, 1864.

            The battery marched on the 2d instant from the position it held on the 1st near Jonesboro, Ga., to the right, and when near Lovejoy’s Station, came in sight of the rebels, firing about thirty shots at them. On the 5th instant it left this position again, marching back to Jonesboro and Eastpoint and reaching the present camp grounds on the evening of the 9th, whence we tried to fix ourselves as comfortably as possible.

On the 4th instant Private William Winges was wounded in camp by a rebel rifle ball passing through his left cheek.

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EXTRACT FROM REPORT OF LIEUT. SAMUEL EDGE, SIXTEENTH OHIO INFANTRY, ACTING SIGNAL OFFICER, DATED HEADQUARTERS SIGNAL DETACHMENT, FIFTEENTH ARMY CORPS, EAST POINT, GA., SEPT. 12, 1864

 * * * June 14, moved to the front of Kenesaw Mountain, and established two stations of observation. Lieutenants Edge, Worley, and Allen occupying one, and Lieutenants  Weirick and Fish the other, received several contraband messages of considerable importance, which were transmitted with promptness to Major Generals McPherson and Logan. June 15, occupied the same stations; received several contraband messages, all of which were transmitted to the generals. Lieutenant Weirick directed the firing of the First Minnesota Battery, Captain Clayton, by the aid of his glass, which resulted in blowing up a caisson and knocking off one wheel of a gun. * * *

 —————–

 EXTRACT FROM REPORT OF COL. WILLIAM HALL, ELEVENTH IOWA INFANTRY, COMMANDING THIRD BRIGADE, OF OPERATIONS JUNE 27 AND JULY 5 AND 22, DATED HEADQUARTERS THIRD BRIGADE, FOURTH DIVISION, SEVENTEENTH ARMY CORPS, IN THE FIELD, GEORGIA, JUNE 28, 1864.

 * * * My line of battle extended from the left of the First Brigade and behind a line of rifle-pits thrown up by me on the crest of the hill on the 24th instant. My regiments were posted in the following order: The Fifteenth Iowa Volunteers on the right in support of the First Minnesota Battery, and having on its left the Tenth Ohio Battery. * * *

 —————–

EXTRACT FROM REPORT OF BRIG. GEN. WILLIAM W. BELKNAP, COMMANDING THIRD BRIGADE, DATED HEADQUARTERS THIRD BRIGADE, FOURTH DIVISION, SEVENTEENTH ARMY CORPS, NEAR ATLANTA, GA., SEPT. 11, 1864.

 * * * September 9, moved at 9 A.M. and reached present position at 12 M., where the command is in line with the Fifteenth, Thirteenth, and Sixteenth Iowa on the left of the First Minnesota Battery, the Eleventh Iowa being in reserve. * * *

 —————–

[Source: Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars, Vol. II, pp. 517-522]

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National organization recognizes battlefield preservation champions from Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee


(Chattanooga, Tenn.)
 – During a ceremony this evening Fairyland Club on Lookout Mountain, the Civil War Trust, a national battlefield preservation organization, will recognize three outstanding historic preservation advocates with its Chairman’s Awards for Achievement.  The awards, presented by the Trust’s chairman, Henry E. Simpson, will honor Alabama historian Daniel Fulenwider, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park historian James Ogden and Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association executive director Mary Ann Peckham.

“The long term commitment to historic preservation and education demonstrated by each member of this trio is inspirational,” said Simpson.  “Their enthusiasm for American history knows no bounds and their work will continue to benefit the public for generations to come.”

For more than two decades, Daniel Fulenwider of Cullman County, Ala., has worked to promote appreciation and understanding of “Streight’s Raid” — Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest’s pursuit of Col. Abel D. Streight across north Alabama in the spring of 1863.  He has led tours of the campaign for military personnel from 27 countries and has traversed the entire route, from Mississippi to Georgia, on foot.  He was instrumental in orchestrating the Trust’s efforts to purchase of land at Hog Mountain, scene of fighting during the Battle of Day’s Gap, and continues to be involved in efforts to promote and interpret the site.

Mary Ann Peckham is the Executive Director of the Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association a statewide organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Tennessee Civil War Battlefields.   She retired from the National Park Service in December 2000, after serving in six National Park areas.  Her final assignment was as Superintendent of Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro, Tenn.  In addition to her work with TCWPA, she is active with a number of area conservation organizations, including serving on the advisory board of the Southeast Region of the Land Trust for Tennessee.

Since 1988, James Ogden has been the historian for Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.  Earlier in his career, he done interpretive and research work for the Maryland Park Service at Point Lookout State Park, site of the largest Civil War prison, and for the National Park Service at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Russell Cave National Monument and Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.  Ogden speaks regularly on aspects of the Civil War to historical organizations and leads tours of battlefields throughout Georgia and Tennessee.  He has taught Civil War history courses for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, published a variety of articles and appeared on both A&E’s “Civil War Journal” and the History Channel’s “Civil War Combat.”

Beyond his involvement with the Civil War Trust, Simpson is a member of the law firm Adams and Reese/Lange Simpson, LLP in Birmingham, Ala.  He has previously served as a lecturer at the University of Alabama, the state chairman of the U.S. Supreme Court Historical Society and the state chairman of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States.  Its mission is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds.  To date, the Trust has preserved nearly 30,000 acres of battlefield in 20 states.  Learn more at www.civilwar.org, the home of the Civil War sesquicentennial.

Archaeologists comb newly-found Civil War POW camp

By RUSS BYNUM Associated Press

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — When word reached Camp Lawton that the enemy army of Gen. William T. Sherman was approaching, the prison camp’s Confederate officers rounded up their thousands of Union army POWs for a swift evacuation — leaving behind rings, buckles, coins and other keepsakes that would remain undisturbed for nearly 150 years.

Archaeologists are still discovering unusual, and sometimes stunningly personal, artifacts a year after state officials revealed that a graduate student had pinpointed the location of the massive but short-lived Civil War camp in southeast Georgia.

In this undated photo provided by Georgia Southern University, an 1863 Grocer’s Token made of bronze is shown at Camp Lawton a Civil War-era POW facility, near Millen, Ga. This token was issued in Niles, Michigan by C.A. Colby & Co. Wholesale Groceries and Bakery. It circulated for the value of a cent. Camp Lawton was built by the Confederacy to house about 10,000 prisoners of war. But it abandoned after being used for only about six weeks in 1864 before Union Gen. William T. Sherman’s army arrived and burned the camp. Archaeologists say they’re still discovering unusual, and sometimes stunningly personal, artifacts abandoned by prisoners of war at the massive but short-lived Civil War camp a year after state officials revealed a Georgia Southern University graduate student had pinpointed its location in southeast Georgia. (AP Photo/Georgia Southern University, Amanda L. Morrow)

Discoveries made as recently as a few weeks ago were being displayed Thursday at the Statesboro campus of Georgia Southern University. They include a soldier’s copper ring bearing the insignia of the Union army’s 3rd Corps, which fought bloody battles at Gettysburg and Manassas, and a payment token stamped with the still-legible name of a grocery store in Michigan.

“These guys were rousted out in the middle of the night and loaded onto trains, so they didn’t have time to load all this stuff up,” said David Crass, an archaeologist who serves as director of Georgia’s Historic Preservation Division. “Pretty much all they had got left behind. You don’t see these sites often in archaeology.”

Camp Lawton’s obscurity helped it remain undisturbed all these years. Built about 50 miles south of Augusta, the Confederate camp imprisoned about 10,000 Union soldiers after it opened in October 1864 to replace the infamous Andersonville prison. But it lasted barely six weeks before Sherman’s army arrived and burned it during his march from Atlanta to Savannah.

Barely a footnote in the war’s history, Camp Lawton was a low priority among scholars. Its exact location was never verified. While known to be near Magnolia Springs State Park, archaeologists figured the camp was too short-lived to yield real historical treasures.

That changed last year when Georgia Southern archaeology student Kevin Chapman seized on an offer by the state Department of Natural Resources to pursue his master’s thesis by looking for evidence of Camp Lawton’s stockade walls on the park grounds.

Chapman ended up stunning the pros, uncovering much more than the remains of the stockade’s 15-foot pine posts. On neighboring land owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, he dug up remnants of the prisoners themselves — a corroded tourniquet buckle, a tobacco pipe with teeth marks in the stem and a folded frame that once held a daguerreotype.

“They’re not just buttons and bullets,” Chapman said. “They’re little pieces of the story, and this is not the story of battles and generals. This is the story of little people whose names have been forgotten by history that we’re starting to piece together and be able to tell.”

A year later, Chapman says he and fellow archaeology students working at Camp Lawton have still barely scratched the surface. In July, they used a metal detector to sweep two narrow strips about 240 yards long in the area where they believe prisoners lived.

They found a diamond-shaped 3rd Corps badge that came from a Union soldier’s uniform. Nearby was the ring with the same insignia soldered onto it.

The artifacts also yield clues to what parts of the country the POWs came from, including the token issued by a grocery store in Niles, Mich., that customers could use like cash to buy food. Stamped on its face was the merchant’s name: G.A. Colbey and Co. Wholesale Groceries and Bakery.

Similarly, there’s a buckle that likely clasped a pair of suspenders bearing the name of Nanawanuck Manufacturing Company in Massachusetts.

Hooks and buckles that appear to have come off a Union knapsack also hint that, despite harsh living conditions, captors probably allowed their Union prisoners to keep essentials like canteens and bedrolls.

The Georgia Southern University Museum plans to add the new artifacts to its public collection from Camp Lawton in October along with a related acquisition — a letter written by one of the camp’s prisoners on Nov. 14, 1864, just eight days before Lawton was abandoned and prisoners were taken back to Andersonville and other POW camps.

The letter written by Charles H. Knox of Schroon Lake, N.Y., a Union corporal in the 1st Connecticut Cavalry, was purchased from a Civil War collector in Tennessee. Unaware that Camp Lawton will soon be evacuated, Knox writes to his wife that he hopes to soon be freed in a prisoner exchange between the warring armies.

He doesn’t write much about conditions at the prison camp, but rather worries about his family. He tells his wife that if she and their young son need money for food or clothing, there’s a man who owes him $9. Knox also gives his wife permission to sell the family’s cow.

Brent Tharp, director of the campus museum, said his growing collection from Camp Lawton has definitely drawn Civil War buffs to visit from far beyond southeast Georgia.

“The people who are real Civil War buffs and fanatics, those are definitely coming,” Tharp said. “But I think we’ve also created a whole new group of Civil War buffs here because it’s right here in their own backyard.”

Exec. director of National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Md. is myth-buster, works on shows

STAN GOLDBERG  The Frederick News-Post

FREDERICK, Md. — Actress Ashley Judd learned the truth about her great-great-great-grandfather from George Wunderlich, executive director of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick.

Ashley Judd

She thought her ancestor had lost a leg as a Union soldier in the Civil War.

“He supposedly lost his leg at the prison camp in Andersonville, that’s all that she knew,” said Wunderlich. “What we found out was that he never was a prisoner of war in Andersonville, Ga. He lost the leg in the Battle of Saltville, Va.”

The information came to light when the two were working on “Who Do You Think You Are,” an NBC television series that traces the genealogy of celebrities such as Judd. Wunderlich was doing research for the program.

He showed her how her ancestor would have been treated and what would have happened to him after surgery.

“She was shocked when she heard how the leg was amputated and what conditions were like in the hospital,” said Wunderlich, 48. “She got rather emotional. At one point on the camera she teared up, which was … something I did not expect.”

Wunderlich began working with history-related TV programs in 1999. He and a group of people who work with him try to find out the truth about history, mostly from the 1800s.

“It’s a bit like a 19th-century myth-buster,” he said.

Wunderlich also serves as a commentator, although he rarely sees himself on television because he hasn’t owned a TV for 12 years.

He has done 17 shows over the past 2 1/2 years. Among the shows he’s worked on are “The Real Cowboys” and “Battlefield Detectives” for the History Channel, “Who Do You Think You Are” for NBC, “The History Detectives” for PBS and a tourism program for the BBC.

“I consider myself an historical windbag,” he said.

It started with his interest in banjos. Then he became interested in ballistics and medical history. Now he’s delving into more general history. His main area of expertise is from the 1830s to the 1890s.

“It’s kind of expanded expeditiously since I first started doing this back in the 1990s,” he said. “I’ve gotten a reputation for being a fairly easy person to work with. People know that I’m not a pain. People see me on film, evidently like what I did and will ask me to do different things.”

When he provides commentary he might be on the air two or three minutes for one show, much longer for another. He finds being on TV is good for the museum.

George Wunderlich speaks to a class at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Md.

“Every time I’ve done a show, people arrive at the front desk (at the museum) and say, ‘We just saw your director on television and we want to see the museum,'” he said. “It brings tourists to Frederick and it helps keep our museum in the public eye.”

The exposure has also given him a public face, which has led to lecture engagements at universities throughout the country.

Many of the programs in which he is involved are filmed in Frederick County.

“If you saw the show and you see me at a gun range, the chances are very good it was the Frederick city police gun range,” he said.

And Judd isn’t the only celebrity he’s worked with. He did another “Who Do You Think You Are” episode with Brooke Shields about her Civil War ancestor. Unfortunately, his part never aired. They found out she was related to King Louis XIV of France and aired that instead.

“It was awesome meeting her,” Wunderlich said. “She was the teen heartthrob of my generation. So getting to spend an afternoon with her was quite an experience.”

Wunderlich had his first TV exposure in 1999, one year before he became the National Museum of Civil War Medicine’s director of education and three years before he became its executive director.

He was invited to appear on PBS’ “The Woodwright’s Shop” with host Roy Underhill because he had been making banjos — mostly in the style of the 19th century — since 1992.

“I was scared to death at first, but he really put me at ease,” he said. “In that show, I was actually building banjos and, at that time, it was something I could practically do in my sleep.”

From there he appeared on “History Detectives.” Soon, other offers started coming in.

He works with a research group from the museum — including his top researcher, Terry Reimer, director of research for the museum. The group will examine the smallest details. They once did a ballistic test on a ham to help determine if a cowboy was shot with a soft-tipped arrow or a rifle.

“We provide research and fact-checking and story line recommendations,” he said. “They come to me and say, ‘We are thinking of doing a show like this. What is your professional opinion?'”

His favorite show was “The Real Lonesome Dove,” on the History Channel. He spent many days in New Mexico following the exploits of Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving, friends and cattle ranchers of the American West. He researched the type of coffin used when Goodnight brought Loving’s body back to Texas.

“He got a coffin made out of tin and soldered it closed,” Wunderlich said. “Then he put the coffin in a wooden box filled with charcoal to absorb any fluids that might come out of the body. We even put a jack rabbit in a coffin and surrounded it with ash to see if it would work.”

He still plays the banjo and put on a conference about the history of the banjo. But now he’s developed more interests.

“I tend to like all history, even if it’s something that is not my normal study,” he said. “It’s fun when I prepare for those shows to do the historical research. I’ve come from being primarily a banjo guy to being a medicine, ballistics, Civil War, history guy.”

Honor the Civil War dead

By James G. Wiles

Next Monday is the first Memorial Day of this 150th anniversary of the outbreak of the Civil War.

With America now in the 10th year of the War with Jihad, it’s hard to get past the fact that U.S. soldiers are being wounded or killed in combat every day. Nevertheless, the Sesquicentennial observance is a good time to recall that Memorial Day itself originated as the day to commemorate the nation’s 618,000 Civil War casualties. As it happens, two of our active local national cemeteries – Florence and Beaufort (as well as Salisbury, N.C.) – also contain Union Civil War dead. Numerous Horry County cemeteries contain graves of Civil War veterans as well.

Beginning in the North as Decoration Day, Memorial Day (first so named in 1882) evolved into an important step towards national reconciliation. Union veterans’ organizations, principally the Grand Army of the Republic, promulgated the idea of a nationwide holiday on May 30. In 1968, Congress moved it to the last Monday in May.

Confederate veterans had their own observances. This was continued by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Daughters of the Confederacy and other organizations. Today, eight states still observe a Confederate Memorial Day, including South Carolina.

Ninety-eight of those Confederate dead were from Horry County.

Other than heroism, there is little to celebrate about a war in which American killed American.

Therefore, this Memorial Day, I have a suggestion. If it’s your custom to visit veterans graves on that day, why not this year consider also visiting the grave of a soldier who fought on the other side of America’s most terrible war?

It’s not as hard as you might think. As noted, Union dead are buried in the Florence, Beaufort and Salisbury National Cemeteries. The largest is Salisbury, which contains at least 11,600 Union graves, principally from the Confederate prisoner of war camp which was located there.

Here in Horry County, the graves of Confederate veterans are maintained by Litchfield Camp 132 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Its website, scv132.org, has a list of their locations, together with the names and units of the men buried there.

A moving alternative, if you wish to visit the Union dead, is to visit the nameless graves of the 2,800 Yankees who died during the five-month life of the Florence Stockade. The POW graves form the heart of the old part of Florence’s National Cemetery.

Locally, Franklin G. Burroughs, a founder of Burroughs & Chapin, suffered in a federal POW camp in Illinois.

Andersonville – located in southwestern Georgia – was the most notorious of the Confederacy’s POW camps. Nearly 45,000 Yankees were held there, of whom 12,920 died. Eye witnesses described some survivors as “walking skeletons.” Its commandant became the only Civil War officer to be executed for war crimes.

Andersonville and Salisbury, however, were not the only death traps. Yankee camps were similar in kind, if not in degree: bad and insufficient food and clothing, exposure to the elements, terrible sanitation, no medical care. At the North’s deadly POW camp, in Elmira, N.Y., some 2,900 Rebels died.

Florence’s POW camp was a direct result of Andersonville. After the fall of Atlanta in mid-1864, Andersonville’s able-bodied prisoners were transferred to a newly-built camp outside Florence. Prisoners soon began dying the rate of more than 100 a week. They were buried in trenches.

When I visited Andersonville last month, a group of warrant officer candidates from Fort Rocker, Ala., were receiving a guided tour. Andersonville’s Chief of Interpretation and Education, Eric Leonard, told me the U.S. military regularly runs tours to Andersonville.

So far, Andersonville’s National Cemetery contains five KIA’s from the present war. One veteran who was instrumental in raising the money for the National POW Museum located at Andersonville – and himself a former Vietnam POW – is now interred there with his wife.

“The continuation of the story,” Leonard said, “is very moving.”

The writer lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Confederate flag at Dodge courthouse stirs controversy

By CARYN GRANT – cgrant@macon.com

As the nation marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, a decision by Dodge County commissioners this week to fly the Confederate battle flag 365 days a year at the county courthouse has sparked more controversy and attention to a years-long debate.

GRANT BLANKENSHIP/THE TELEGRAPH A Confederate battle flag flies Wednesday next to a memorial to Confederate war dead near the Dodge County Courthouse, in the background, in Eastman.

“We’ve been battling this for some time, trying to resolve it without going outside the county,” said John Battle, president of the Dodge County branch of the NAACP, which he said has repeatedly asked the county to remove the flag.

“We don’t have any heartburn about the Confederate flag itself, but we have heartburn because it’s up there on the public property,” he said.

The Confederate battle flag, seen by some as representative of slavery, and by others as a part of our nation’s Southern heritage, has been on the courthouse grounds for years.

The flag is positioned in front of a series of war memorial statues on the side of the courthouse property.

The commission voted unanimously in 2002 to allow the Confederate flag to be flown one day annually, but Battle said it has been flown daily for years.

After years of going back and forth with the commission, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People hired a lawyer, who sent a letter to the Dodge County Commission last week requesting that they remove the Confederate battle flag from public display at the courthouse.

“It’s not representative of the entire population of Dodge County, and if they were doing what they said they would do when they passed the resolution, I don’t think the NAACP would have an issue with it,” said Maurice King, the attorney representing the NAACP chapter, when reached by phone Wednesday.

Battle agreed.

“We can take it that one day,” he said. “It’s not supposed to fly at all.”

But days after King sent the letter to the board of commissioners, they officially voted Monday to allow the Confederate flag to be flown yearlong on the courthouse grounds.

Battle said the decision was like a slap in the face.

Only one commissioner, Archie Dupree, voted against the decision, which was made after a brief closed session.

“I thought it’d be inappropriate to fly it and it would offend people,” Dupree said. “That’s why I voted that way.”

Dupree declined to comment further, and efforts to reach the other commissioners for comment were unsuccessful Wednesday.

Not everyone sees the flag as a big deal.

Lynette Reed, a hairdresser of 44 years who runs the Curl Up & Dye beauty shop in Eastman, said the flag has long flown at the courthouse, and she doesn’t see why people are making a fuss about it now.

“I don’t know,” she said. “All of a sudden, they raise a ruckus. I don’t see a problem with it. You couldn’t make (the NAACP) happy if you wanted to.”

Reed said there was some chatter about the issue in her shop Wednesday, but most people support the flag continuing to fly, although she admitted that “some blacks don’t like it.”

Teena Scarborough, one of Reed’s customers who is retired from Robins Air Force Base, said commissioners did the right thing by voting to keep the flag flying.

She said it represents history.

“There were blacks fighting in the Civil War as well as whites,” Scarborough said. “I don’t see anything wrong with it, myself.”

Battle said that the NAACP would prefer not to have to take this issue to court, but he said he plans to sit down with commissioners again next week.

“We would like it to be taken down because of the hatred that flag represented against minorities,” he said, noting that not only black residents are offended by the flag being flown.

“We should be well beyond this point in life. This is 2011,” he said. “These people are supposed to be the leaders of the county going forward, not backward.”

Staff writer Andy M. Drury contributed to this report. To contact writer Caryn Grant, call 744-4347.

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