Summing up the scene Virginia Unionists faced at the end of March, 1861, “So March ended in Richmond with the Unionists remaining in solid control of the Virginia State Convention – and with public support in the state solidly in their favor. Ominously for the peace of the nation, March ended in the nation’s capital with the president, his cabinet, the military high command and all their subordinates in a state of extreme turmoil and confusion. It was a scene from a tragic-comic opera, as the first days of April will attest.”
Referring to the defeat of the first Ordinance of Secession, “In a stunning victory for the Unionists, Harvie’s Ordinance of Secession was defeated by a vote of ninety to forty-five. Of the forty-five votes for the Ordinance of Secession, 70 per cent came from the black belt counties of the Piedmont and Tidewater regions of the state (representing the Slave Power), a handful came from heavily enslaved pockets in the Southwest Region and, as previously noted, three votes came from the Northwest region, where those three delegates were clearly not representing the wishes of their constituents.”
Finally, a summary comment regarding these men who risked their political careers, indeed for some their lives, to save the nation from war, “In hindsight, it is easy to see the reasoning of many Virginians in relation to their Unionism. In mid-April 1861, looking forward, and not knowing that war would soon envelope them, these men were loyal, patriotic Americans who believed the leadership of the country would not desert them. In the end, the heroic Unionists of Virginia were betrayed by the politicians in Washington – and be the aristocrats in their very own state.”
To their enduring credit, “The Unionists of Virginia felt there was a better way than that of total war.”
The date of the exhibit’s opening coincides with the 150th anniversary of Hood’s assault on Decatur, and is a part of a variety of activities that weekend in remembrance of that event. On October 25th, the Old State Bank, the Archives, the Blue and Gray Museum, the Dancy-Polk House, and the grounds of the Burleson-McEntire house will be open to visitors, and guided walking tours will tell visitors more of Decatur’s fascinating Civil War History.
On Sunday, October 26, a Community Period Church Service will be held at the Daikin Amphitheater. The service will be conducted by members of First United Methodist and King’s Memorial United Methodist. These congregations were once one congregation until the black membership of First U.M.C. created their own congregation in1854. That congregation was first named St. Paul, but changed their name to King’s Memorial in 1908.
Living history re-enactors will be encamped at the Dancy-Polk house and doing demonstrations in other areas. There will be a special showing of The Red Badge of Courage at the new amphitheater at Founder’s Park. On Monday, October 27 at the Amphitheater, the Madison Community Band will give a concert of period music and afterwards will be a performance of Chuck Puckett’s two-man play Lee and Grant at Appomattox, sponsored by the Bank Street Players.
On Tuesday, October 28th, at Rhodes Ferry Park in Decatur, there will be a ceremony to honor the charge of the 14th United States Colored Infantry on a Confederate artillery emplacement near that site 150 years before. Asa Gordon, Secretary General of the Sons and Daughters of the U.S.C.T., will speak, and in the evening the Princess Theatre will have a special screening of Glory.
I’ve been designing a Civil War exhibit in my mind since I was 10! So this project was like being a kid in a candy store. The Historical Society has a great collection of Civil War objects, letters, and diaries.
One of the challenges was that we were charged with creating a display that would be on continual display for the entire 4 year length of the Civil War Sesquicentennial.
As a result, we weren’t able to show some of the best things that we had for that length of time. We ultimately decided that the stories that we could best tell, that our collection supported, were the stories of everyday people. Initially there was this sense that the exhibit would be all of the great Civil War objects of Virginia history collected from institutions all over the country.
Instead, what the exhibit became was an exhibit about ordinary people during extraordinary times doing extraordinary things, as told through relatively simple objects that they left behind.
Please welcome guest author Katie O. Gobbi. Gobbi is the Director of Euharlee History Museum in Euharlee, GA. The Euharlee History Museum , located 15 minutes west of Cartersville, GA, recently opened a new temporary exhibit on the Civil War history of the area. This is an important year in Georgia as it is […]
Local legend has always held that Belle gave her speech from the Blount Mansion. But there are some issues with that legend. Belle is very specific that she stepped out of a window onto a balcony to address the crowd. The problem is there has never been a balcony at Blount Mansion. There have been porches on both the front (Hill St) and back of the house at times but never anything that could be considered a balcony. Also there are no windows that would open in a way to allow you to step out onto a porch or a balcony. So what is going on with this story?