Nashville Civil War Roundtable
Founded April, 2009 – Nashville, Tennessee
September 14th, 2009 – Our 6th Meeting
The next meeting of the Nashville (TN) Civil War Roundtable will be on Monday, September 14th, 2009, in the visitor’s center of Ft. Negley Park, a unit of Metro Parks, Nashville, TN.
This is located off I-65 just south of downtown between 4th Avenue South and 8th Avenue South on Edgehill Avenue/Chestnut Avenue. Take Exit 81, Wedgewood Avenue, off I-65 and follow the signs to the Science Museum. The meeting begins at 7:00 PM and is always open to the public. Members please bring a friend or two – new recruits are always welcomed.
OUR SPEAKER AND TOPIC:
“Stealing The General: The Great Locomotive Chase and the First Medal Of Honor”
One of the great stories of the Civil War is the Great Locomotive Chase, or Andrews’ Raid. It has been the topic of several books over time, including memoirs by participants. Two movies, a silent film featuring Buster Keaton, and a later Disney production with Fess Parker that made every effort to be accurate, added to the popularity of this great story.
The book, Stealing The General: The Great Locomotive Chase and the First Medal Of Honor, by Atlanta attorney Russell S. Bonds, is the latest, and in the opinion of your newsletter editor, the finest treatment of this raid to date, and it adds much to our understanding of the story. It will be the topic of Mr. Bonds’ program for this month’s Nashville CWRT.
In the Spring of 1862, Union Gen. Ormsby Mitchell conceived a campaign to capture northern Alabama and threaten Chattanooga. As part of this offensive, Mitchell dispatched raiders (mostly Ohio soldiers in civilian clothing) under James J. Andrews to hijack a freight train on the vital Western & Atlantic Railroad from Atlanta to Chattanooga and tear up track, burn bridges and cut the telegraph lines. This would prevent reinforcements coming up from Atlanta.
The train in hand and driven by the locomotive The General, Andrews’ men tried to break tracks and burn bridges but were stymied by rain that fell during the raid. They were also pursued by the intrepid conductor, William Fuller and a few others, who first chased them on foot, then by hand car and finally by another locomotive running backwards! After running out of fuel, Andrews and his men were captured north of Ringgold, GA and sent to prison. Some were executed as spies, others escaped and made their way back north. Some of those survivors were the first American soldiers to receive the new Medal of Honor.
Russell Bonds is an in-house lawyer for The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta and the author of Stealing the General: The Great Locomotive Chase and the First Medal of Honor and the newly released War Like the Thunderbolt: The Battle and Burning of Atlanta. He is also a member of the Atlanta CWRT and the Friends of Kennesaw Mountain. An Atlanta native, Russ is an honor graduate of Georgia Tech and of the University of Georgia’s School of Law. Russ lives in Marietta, Georgia with his wife Jill and three daughters—Caroline (11), Sophie (9), and Ava (5).
Please join us as Russell Bonds speaks about the Great Locomotive Chase to the Nashville CWRT at historic Ft. Negley!
LAST MONTH’S MEETING
Fred Prouty, Military Sites Preservationist and Director of Programs for the Tennessee Wars Commission, gave us a fine program on the archaeology of Ft. Negley. Supported by numerous slides, Mr. Prouty delved into the history of Ft. Negley as well as its preservation. Included were the several archaeological digs done on the site that unearthed a number of artifacts as well as provided many clues to how the fort was built and maintained over time. This was a fascinating program and delivered with a fine command of the topic. Thanks very much for coming to speak to us Fred!
FUTURE PROGRAMS (please check our new web site for other events):
October, 2009 – Myers Brown, Tennessee State Museum, “Tennessee’s Union Troops” (based on his new book)
November, 2009 – Greg Biggs, author/historian – “The Atlanta Campaign, Part 1 – Dalton to Kennesaw”
December, 2009 – Glenn LaFantasie, Western Kentucky University, author/historian – “The Military Rise Of Gen. Grant”
January, 2010 – Thomas Cartwright, historian/author – “The Battle of Thompson’s Station”
February, 2010 – Kent Wright, Tennessee Valley CWRT – “The Union Navy on the Western Waters”
March, 2010 – Thomas Flagel, historian and author – topic TBA
April, 2010 – Krista Castillo, Nashville CWRT – topic TBA
May, 2010 – Greg Biggs, author/historian – “The Atlanta Campaign, Part 2 – “The Chattahoochee River to Jonesboro”
June, 2010 – Jim Lewis, Stones River National Battlefield, “Cavalry Operations in the Stones River Campaign”
July, 2010 – Joseph Reinhart, Louisville CWRT and author – “Germans in the Civil War”
August, 2010 – TBA
MEMBERS AND DUES:
As decided by the membership, the annual dues structure for the Nashville CWRT is as follows:
Single membership – $20
Family – $30
Military – Active duty and Veterans – $15
Military Family – Active duty and Veterans – $25
Student – $10
Senior (age 60 plus) – $15
Senior couple – $20
Thanks to all of you who have paid their dues. When your dues are paid your name badge will be available at the following meeting. Our dues go to paying for speakers as well as donations for Civil War preservation causes especially those of a local nature. Please be sure to pay your dues so we can offer the best programs possible for you!
We also utilize donated items for silent auctions each month to help add to the treasury. If you have something you would like to donate for these auctions, please bring them to the meetings. Books, art, or anything Civil War, works very well. Thanks very much to all of you who have made such donations!
CIVIL WAR NEWS AND EVENTS:
Filson Historical Society of Louisville, KY – Atlanta Campaign Field Trip
The Filson Civil War Field Institute will be doing a tour of the pivotal Atlanta Campaign from October 22-24, 2009. The tour will travel by bus and feature as its guide Charlie Crawford of the Georgia Battlefield Protection Association. On Thursday, October 22nd, a keynote speech will be given by Richard McMurry, one of the finest historians of the Western Theater and a noted author.
Among the sites to be visited are: Resaca, New Hope Church, Pickett’s Mill Battlefield, General Leonidas Polk Monument, Kennesaw Battlefield, Atlanta History Center, the Atlanta Cyclorama, the Southern Museum in Kennesaw and battlefield sites around Atlanta.
The tour will be based in Cartersville, GA (379 miles from Louisville, KY) which is located 45 minutes north of Atlanta at the Fairfield Inn-Marriot. Call 770-387-0400 to make your hotel reservations. Mention Filson Historical Society to get a discounted rate. The fee is:
$298 for members; $345 Non-members and it includes all admission fees to museums and parks, the chartered bus, two lunches, a reception and one dinner for the keynote program.
For more information please contact the Filson Historical Society via their website: http://www.filsonhistorical.org
Officials OK Wal-Mart Near Virginia Battlefield (From the Civil War Preservation Trust email)
Local officials early today approved a Walmart Supercenter near one of the nation’s most important Civil War battlefields, a proposal that had stirred opposition by preservationists and hundreds of historians. The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to grant the special permit to the world’s biggest retailer after a majority of more than 100 speakers said they favored bringing the Walmart to Locust Grove, within a cannonball’s shot from the Wilderness Battlefield.
Historians and Civil War buffs are fearful the Walmart store will draw traffic and more commerce to an area within the historic boundaries of the Wilderness, where generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee first met in battle 145 years ago and where 145,000 Union and Confederate soldiers fought and more than 29,000 were killed or injured. One-fourth of the Wilderness is protected.
But they could not sway supervisors, who said they didn’t see the threat. “I cannot see how there will be any visual impact to the Wilderness Battlefield,” Supervisor Chairman Lee Frame said, casting a vote for the special use permit the store needs to build. “I think the current proposal … is the best way to protect the battlefield.” The retailer said construction could begin in a year.
Nearly 400 people crowded into Orange County High School to attend the board’s hearing. Some came dressed in period costume, including a dead ringer for Lee, and one speaker ended his remarks with a rendition of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Many residents cited three reasons for supporting the Walmart proposal: jobs, tax revenue and a cheap shopping option for the 32,000 residents of this farming community about 60 miles southwest of Washington.
Speakers who urged the board to reject the special permit said they were not anti-Walmart, but simply worried about the sanctity of the Wilderness. Charles Edge said supervisors should not allow the retailer to build on ground “marked by the blood of the fallen. The establishment of a retail chain makes a mockery of that sacrifice,” he said. Supervisor Teri Pace, who cast the lone dissenting vote, suggested an alternative site, and said the county’s historic attractions were the key to its economic future.
Saving A Florida Civil War Site (From the CWPT email and the Associated Press)
History and nature have combined in a little-known park which was once the major Confederate military base in north Florida near the end of the Civil War. In 1864, Camp Milton was a key Confederate installation aimed at blocking Union advances toward Baldwin, a supply center and rail head. Florida was a big supplier of cattle, salt and other goods to the Confederate army. Although no major battles were fought on the grounds, Camp Milton served as a base for skirmishes between the 8,000 Confederate troops and 12,000 Union soldiers in Jacksonville, about a dozen miles to the east. Soldiers and slaves had built massive wooden defenses.
Less than a decade ago, this 124-acre park on the far western edge of Jacksonville was destined to become a sludge dump, until city and state agencies stepped forward to purchase the land. Now the park is home to towering pines, magnolias, saw palmettos and blackberries, plus foxes, bobcats, snakes, deer, armadillos, opossums and red-shouldered hawks. Youngsters skipping down a boardwalk into the woods on a recent summer day to see the remains of earthworks built in 1864.
Period re-enactors dressed in long, flowing dresses taught the children about life in Jacksonville in 1864, describing laundry, basket-weaving, spinning and toys. Some 1,750 children have visited the preserve this summer. Dressed as a Union soldier in military wool from his underwear to his outer blouse, Michael Meek, 24, described the life of a soldier in the waning days of the Civil War near Jacksonville. Meek described his muzzle-loading rifle, complete with bayonet, to the children while they peppered him with questions. “It’s an honor to talk to the little kids about their history,” said Meek, who has learned that he is descended from a Union soldier who spent time at Camp Milton.
Although Milton was built as a Confederate camp, Union forces from Jacksonville invaded and then abandoned Camp Milton four times before it closed in July 1864. The camp was named for Florida’s Civil War Gov. John Milton, who committed suicide on April 1, 1865, when he realized the South had lost the war. Designed by Gen. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, a specialist in defensive fortifications, the earthworks at Camp Milton were built of wood instead of coquina rock or brick. “These things were very tough to build. You can imagine what these guys went through, the humidity and the heat,” said Fred Singletary, an amateur historian and historical re-enactor. The park is a mostly undiscovered jewel. There are no signs directing visitors from nearby Interstate 10 and it is not advertised in city tourism brochures.
Each year in February, the park holds a re-enactment of the events leading up to the Battle of Olustee with soldiers and women dressed in period garments. The fact that the Camp Milton Historical Preserve exists is a testament to the work of amateur historians and sympathetic city and state lawmakers. Their dreams came to fruition in September 2006, when Camp Milton opened to the public.
But there are other Civil War locations across the South, including some in north Florida, which are being lost to development. “We believe that the ultimate fate of nearly all Civil War battlefield land will be decided in the next decade,” said Jim Campi, a spokesman for the Civil War Preservation Trust.
Camp Milton was saved using a combination of about $1.7 million in city and state matching grants to purchase land and fund amenities.
Editor’s Note: If you have never been to Olustee Battlefield in north Florida, it is one of the most pristine Civil War sites in the nation. It is a state park just east of Lake City off of Interstate 10 heading towards Jacksonville. The battle was the result of a Union raid in 1864 aimed at destroying the region’s cattle industry. The famous 54th Massachusetts Infantry fought there with great distinction. You can visit this site on the way to Camp Milton above.