For four long years, the War Between the States raged on, pitting brother against brother, dividing the nation.
General William T. Sherman ripped through the state of Georgia, battling his way through Rocky Face, Adairsville, and many other areas surrounding and including Atlanta during what’s known as the Atlanta Campaign. In a colloquium centered on Sherman’s tirade through Georgia, the Bandy Heritage Center for Northwest Georgia presents its 2014 Civil War in the Western Theater Colloquium, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia: The Atlanta Campaign,” a day-long symposium, on Saturday, Feb. 8.
Taking place in the Lecture Hall of the Northwest Georgia Trade & Convention Center, the colloquium will feature four lectures and discussions about this time period with local historians, Dr. Keith Bohannon, Dr. Richard McMurry, Robert Jenkins, Sr., and Dr. Steve Davis.
“Despite the attention given to the Battle of Gettysburg and the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War by modern historians, the outcome of the conflict was ultimately decided by the Atlanta Campaign,” says Dr. John D. Fowler, executive director of the Bandy Heritage Center and B.J. and Dicksie Bandy Chair of History at Dalton State.
“Lincoln’s reelection bid and his determination to prosecute the war to the end meant that the Confederacy had to stall the 1864 Union military drives until the November election. Rebel General Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia were able to do just that in the Eastern Theater against Ulysses S. Grant,” he said.
“If Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston and his Army of Tennessee could keep William T. Sherman’s Union forces out of Atlanta, the Northern public might just vote Lincoln out of office over an unpopular and seemingly unwinnable war,” Dr. Fowler continued. “Therefore, on the outcome of the Atlanta Campaign hung the fate of two nations.”
“Ultimately, the Confederates failed to stop Sherman, and the fall of Atlanta proved to be a crucial event in convincing the Northern populous to allow Lincoln to push the war to a victorious conclusion,” he said.
Local history, civilian life, and battles will be a few of many subjects discussed throughout the colloquium.
“Dalton’s role in the Civil War has been greatly underappreciated,” said Mr. Jenkins. “The fate of our country 150 years ago rested largely on the events that happened in the summer of 1864 in and around Dalton.”
Starting off the seminar will be Dr. Bohannon, associate professor of History at the University of West Georgia. Dr. Bohannon teaches classes that focus on the Civil War and Reconstruction, Southern United States history, and Georgia history. His lecture, entitled “Witness the Redemption of the Army: Re-enlistments in the Confederate Army of Tennessee, January-March, 1864,” begins at 9 a.m.
At 10 a.m., Dr. Richard McMurry will speak on “A New Framework for the Atlanta Campaign.” Dr. McMurry is a former professor of History at North Carolina State University and Valdosta State University. He is the author of several books, including “Atlanta 1864” and “John Bell Hood and the War for Southern Independence.”
Following lunch, Robert Jenkins, Sr. will present a lecture on his first book “The Battle of Peachtree Creek,” at 12:30 p.m. Mr. Jenkins is a local Dalton attorney and works actively in researching, protecting, and preserving local Civil War sites.
Dr. Steve Davis will lecture on his latest book, “What the Yankees Did to Us: Sherman’s Bombardment and Wrecking of Atlanta” at 1:30 p.m. Dr. Davis is the author of “Atlanta Will Fall” and is the book review editor for “Blue and Gray” magazine.
Between the hours of 2:30 and 4 p.m., there will be a roundtable discussion as well as a book signing.
“This year’s colloquium is dedicated to the memory of Mr. Larry Miller of Big Canoe, Georgia,” said Brian Hilliard, project director for the Bandy Center. “Mr. Miller was an enthusiastic supporter of the Bandy Center for many years and donated sculptures, documents, models and artwork from his personal Civil War collection.”
The colloquium is free and open to the public and will take place in the Lecture Hall of the NorthWest Georgia Trade & Convention Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information about Bandy Center programs, contact Brian Hilliard at 706 272-4452 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.