Georgia Civil War 150
Civil War 150 Historical Marker Project
As part of the national sesquicentennial commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the Georgia Historical Society, the Georgia Department of Economic Development and other state and private agencies are collaborating on a project to use historical markers to promote tourism and create better access to Georgia’s Civil War history.
Recognition for People, Sites and Events of the Past
Through its administration of the state’s historical marker program, GHS promotes the use of Georgia history as an economic and educational tool. GHS reviewed and assessed the representation of Civil War history in Georgia and identified opportunities to promote local history, thus increasing tourism to those areas.
Over the past sixty years, the state of Georgia has invested nearly $5 million in historical markers dealing with the Civil War, a considerable state asset that can be used to promote tourism. In 2008 GHS conducted an extensive survey of these 919 markers, noting their subjects, condition, GPS coordinates and accessibility, then uploaded them to a website fully searchable by the public. The survey disclosed that fifteen percent of the markers were missing or damaged, including those along General Sherman’s March to the Sea. Furthermore, it was discovered that over 90 percent of the existing markers dealt strictly with military topics, leaving vast segments of the Civil War story untold. There was virtually nothing relating the war’s impact on civilians, politics, industry, the home front, African Americans, or women.
With assistance and support from the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the Georgia Department of Labor, Georgia Battlefields Association, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, GHS commissioned new markers as well as recast and replaced seven missing and/or damaged markers in the original locations along Sherman’s March to the Sea. The new markers interpret previously unrepresented elements of the war, presenting to the public the full spectrum of Georgia’s Civil War experience. Those historical sites and topics include:
Augusta – Explosion at the Confederate Powder Works
Columbus – Women’s Food Riots
Milledgeville – Secession Convention
Dalton – African-American Soldiers in Combat
Quitman – Slave Conspiracy
Dawsonville – Georgians in the Union Army
Atlanta – The Battles for Atlanta
Promoting Local History through a Storytelling Campaign
Exploring history is the heart of the Civil War 150 Project's Storytelling Campaign. To kick off Georgia’s 150th Commemoration of the Civil War, local events will take place over coming months that centered around the unveilings of the new and refurbished markers. Each ceremony hosts 50 to 100 people, including local governmental and civic leaders, and is tailored to reflect the tone of the marker’s subject. Programs feature a notable speaker and begin with a song, as music was a significant part of Civil War-era history, influencing troops on the battlefield and in turn, was influenced by historical events.
The Storytelling Campaign began May 25, 2010 in Rincon with the dedication of a new marker chronicling the tragic events at Ebenezer Creek, where hundreds of fugitive African-American slaves drowned while following the Union Army during its March to the Sea. Georgia Department of Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond served as keynote speaker. The ceremony opened with a moving solo of “Amazing Grace”—joined by the audience in the chorus at the end—and closed with a benediction by a local minister.
Another ceremony dedicated the seven restored markers on Sherman’s March to the Sea at the Old Mill House at George L. Smith State Park in Twin City on June 25th. Sen. Jack Hill addressed local officials and historians. The program opened with a solo of “Home Sweet Home,” a popular song for both the North and South during the war for its poignant lyrics that reminded soldiers of homes far away and helped encourage the determination to continue the fight.
On October 6, 2010 in Dalton, usual community turnout was tripled for a historical marker dedicated to African-American soldiers in combat. Dalton is the historic site where black soldiers engaged in battle as Union troops. Former Atlanta Mayor, Congressman and U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young addressed the audience, preceded by a song from the local school choir. Patricia Rivers, co-founder of the Emery Center for African-American Heritage in Dalton, closed the dedication with a moving recitation of “A Psalm of Life" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Making Georgia History Accessible to People All Over the State, Nation and WorldBeyond its value as an educational resource, the Civil War 150 Project and the historical markers help drive economic development to rural areas. Most of these markers lay off the beaten path, and those seeking to know more about Georgia history venture off the interstate to these markers, patronizing nearby businesses and restaurants.
To further aid in those travel plans, GHS has developed unique online tools allowing internet users to custom design their own driving routes throughout the state based on existing historical markers. Without a set, pre-designed driving trail format, visitors will have the freedom to plan a trip based on their own interests that takes them to more areas of the state.
Accessible through the GHS Web site (www.georgiahistory.com ) and based on GPS coordinates, travelers can search a continually updated database of historical markers using keywords, subjects, regions, and counties to design customized tours based on their individual interests and travel itineraries. Using origination and destination sites entered by the user, markers plot as points on a Google-based map that includes point-to-point driving directions. Also included in route results are listings of local historical and tourism resources (historic sites, museums, hotels, restaurants, etc.) in the counties along the route thereby promoting local economies and supporting job creation and retention in those areas.
Finally, GHS has collaborated with web design firm Smack Dab Studios to develop a new Georgia Historical Marker Application for iPhone. The app uses GPS location to allow users to view historical markers in their area. Displayed through Google maps, users can see details, photos, and marker text as well as get directions from their current location to the marker, and email marker details to friends. The app is free and available on the iTunes App Store.
By combining Georgia history, rural tourism and online tools, the positive effects of the Civil War 150 Project will last long after the events are over.
To search for markers and create your own driving route, click here .
To read a recent article on the project, click here
To see the Marker Survey blog, visit http://georgiamarkers.wordpress.com.
To read the press release on the GHS Civil War 150 Project, click here .
To visit the Georgia Civil War 150 website administered by the Georgia Department of Economic Development , click here .