The Georgia Civil War Commission Stumbles

Kevin Levin has brought to the attention of his readers another one of those claims about black Confederate soldiers that doesn’t appear to stand up to scrutiny. I direct you to Kevin’s blog to learn more.

What is interesting (and disturbing) is that this sort of fiction is promoted by a state agency in Georgia.

Exactly who’s on the commission?

The Georgia Civil War Commission is made up of fifteen Georgia residents who are appointed to their term on the commission by the governor, lieutenant governor, or the house speaker.

An examination of the roster of the members of that commission is educational. Chairman John Culpepper of Chickamauga’s found himself in hot water before. Charles Kelly Barrow is an SCV officer well known for his advocacy of the black Confederate myth. Hugh “Rusty” Henderson of Dublin, Georgia (sound familiar? here’s why) loves the Confederate flag as spokesman for the Heritage Preservation Association. James Yancey of Atlanta is another member of the commission as is Charles Lott, Sr., but I have no idea as to why; John B. Carroll III is a pharmacistKaren Ledford of the UDC has explored the lives of Confederates buried in Habersham County, Georgia; her genealogical interests are akin to those of Ted O. Brooke. Bill Reilly’s recent claim to public fame was as a lawyer for the speaker of the Georgia house, David RalstonDavid B. Dove would like to be a lawyer some day, but he knows the governor rather wellCurtis Harris Collier III doesn’t seem to have much training as a historian, although he has some interest in genealogy. Inger Eberhart is a conservative activist. At first I thought her work on “A Runaway Slave” might indicate an interest in history, but I was wrong.

Do you see the name of a single professional historian here? I recall that there are some fine universities in the state.

The Georgia Civil War Commission has a Facebook page, and I’m sure it would appreciate your input.

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23 thoughts on “The Georgia Civil War Commission Stumbles

    • Perhaps it is simply a piece of work, a slapdash effort to give politicians a way to reward friends and secure political support. Its relationship to historical understanding of the past is tenuous at best.

      • It was certainly knee-deep in insider patronage appointments at its origins, when I lived there. In the context of Georgia’s flag wars, it also served as an barely funded (now non-funded) sop to the “save the flags” groups. They’ve at least done some good work in battlefield preservation, notably at Resaca.

      • Perhaps….it just promotes heritage tourism and provides incentives to local landowners and local governments to preserve Civil War battlefields and historic sites……

        • That does nothing to explain the content of the markers. Perhaps you can shed light on how the text was formulated and reviewed. Does “heritage tourism” have anything to do with the production of reliable/informative history?

        • Glad to hear from you, Mr. Reilly. As a member of the commission you are surely in a position to answer a few questions.

          1. Why is the wording on the Clark Lee marker identical to that found on the description for Lee on the Find A Grave website?

          2. What is the GCWC doing to recognize the contributions of Unionist white Georgians as well as black Georgians who served in the armed forces of the United States? How will it recognize the service of these men? What about the 3,486 African Americans hailing from Georgia who enlisted in the armed forces of the United States?

          3. How will the GCWC address the activities of Joe Wheeler’s cavalry in the fall of 1864? Some people claim they were at least as destructive as William T. Sherman’s army on its march through Georgia.

          4. How will the GCWC address the efforts of Governor Joe Brown to take Georgia out of the war after the fall of Atlanta, to the extent that Sherman was willing to negotiate with the governor?

          5. Why has the GCWC spent so much time focusing attention on the experiences of two enslaved African Americans who found themselves brought into the Confederate military because they were slaves (and not soldiers, for, as you know, the Confederacy would not have accepted them as enlisted personnel)? Have you found it difficult to give at least equal attention to the 3,486 African Americans from Georgia who served in the United States military?

          6. How will the GCWC address what happened at Ebenezer Creek? Will it focus more on the actions of Union general Jefferson C. Davis or the actions of Wheeler’s command?

          7. How will the GCWC address Andersonville Prison and the broader issue of prisoner exchanges (and the collapse of the cartel)?

          We all look forward to your responses.

      • Dear Mr. Simpson,

        Thank you for sharing this. I am rather “late” to this conversation but I agree whole with you 100%. I just received my Master’s in American History from the University of Alabama. I have not decided to do a PhD just yet but have immense respect for historians and the work they do. That being said, I was appalled when I came across the GCWC facebook page and the questionable posts they made with very slanted and questionable sources. It does not surprise me that Georgia’s governor “appointed” this council, but it does sadden me when I would have hoped for more progress. There are some very fine historians who teach at some of Georgia’s best universities that I am sure would be happy to be apart of this effort. The qualifications of those on the council are very questionable. They have placed a marker for one African American slave who supposedly fought with the Confederates but have not told the story of the more than 3,000 black Georgians who honorably served in the Union army. I won’t get into more but as a resident of Atlanta, Georgia, I will continue to focus my efforts in supporting more credible organizations such as the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation and the Georgia Historical Society, the latter which told the real and tragic story at Ebeneezer Creek. Thank you for bringing this issue to light.

        Best,

        Ian Michael W. Rogers

        • My apologies on the salutation. I just read your extensive bio as a historian after posting the above. Please excuse my error writing “Mr.” My apologies, Dr. Simpson. Again, thank you for tackling this issue.

  1. Charles Kelly Barrow was at least in 2002 the Historian-in-chief of the League of the South. And it appears that the commission’s FB page does not allow comments or post…wonder why?

  2. Pingback: The (Very) Posthumous Enlistment of “Private” Clark Lee | Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

  3. At least in the Old Dominion, Bob McDonnell the governor (boo, boo, boo) got trounced when he even tried to go there. He then confessed his sins and made sure that slavery was front and center for the 150 in Virginia.

  4. You have my credentials entirely incorrect sir. My research has not been only in Habersham Co. but in eight Northeast Georgia Counties. My work has never said I was a historical expert. It has been a work of profound endeavors to records all the Confederates buried in these counties and to chronicle a indepth genealogical profile of each man with marked grave that served the Confederacy but it is a research book for genealogists so that records are complied in to a one of a kind book. I do not think that my work has anything akin to Ted Brook and that our works are completely different. Mine is not just to chronicle records and transcribe. My books take years of work to complete and document. You my view my webpage at “http://www.thesemenworegrey.com” I was asked to served on this honorable commission and I accepted the invitation because of my wishes to help to preserve our heritage and history in anyway I can be of service. Please wish us well as we do our best to serve the state of Georgia as we begin in 2014 to commemorate the anniversary of the War in Georgia. I thank you for the opportunity to expand on the information stated here. I hope you can appreciate that without commissions or boards of this nature that tourism in Georgia would not be what it is today. The “war” history is a very main attraction to our state. We appreciate any input into helping us do all we can to promote and preserve. Our signs that we are establishing at this time tell little known stories and historical data that would be lost along the way. I also would like for you to correct your information that indicates that in some way I am a member of this GCWC because I am an UDC member, that sir is incorrect as well. Citizens such as myself look to preserve historical information and I assure you that the work that is incorporated into the books that I publish are documented in a way that they establish the service of these men with sources that I cannot even begin to name here. Only a love for preservation and a passion for history would warrant anyone to put the time, work and energy into such a project as I began some 15 years ago. Again I appreciate the opportunity to clarify my work and who I am and what I am about. Please do not categorize me with any membership in any organization or to align my work or compare it with any other researcher because my work is a one of a kind, and unique. Karen T. Ledford/Toccoa, GA

    • Thank you for your input. I don’t see where I have your credentials “entirely incorrect” since I linked to your website detailing your work. Are you suggesting that your own website is in error?

      I wonder, however, why you passed up the opportunity to answer the questions I directed at your fellow board member, Mr. Reilly. You have the same opportunity to answer them. We welcome your input.

      You are a member of the UDC, are you not? Your own website says so. “The author, Karen T. Ledford, was reared in Franklin Co., Ga., is a member of Toccoa, Georgia Chapter #1294, United Daughters of the Confederacy and, in addition to her original membership certificate, holds fifty certified supplemental certificates. She is also the recipient of both the UDC’s Jefferson Davis Historical Medal for her work in the interment records of Confederate Soldiers of Georgia and the Winnie Davis Medal for her work ‘above and beyond the call of duty.’ In addition, she is a member of the Toccoa Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.”

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