Civil War bus tour departs Aug. 23
by Marie Nesmith
Aug 13, 2014 | 1924 views | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Presented by the Bartow History Museum, a Civil War bus tour will provide participants fresh perspectives on the conflict’s ties to Bartow County. Set for Aug. 23, “War at Every Door: Bartow County, 1864” will be led by Keith S. Hebert, assistant professor of history at Auburn University and former Bartow County resident.

“Looking back at the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, we wanted to do something that took participants through the county and help them experience parts of the war that occurred here in Bartow County 150 years ago,” BHM Director Trey Gaines said. “There was a lot of activity here in Bartow County, particularly in 1864. This tour will give participants an opportunity to experience and see some of those skirmishes or sites that were affected by the war both from the home front perspective as well as the battle site. We’ll look at ways civilians were affected by the war, particularly in some of the stops we make.

“... I want people to walk away from the bus tour having an appreciation of the history of the war in Bartow County. The war itself lasted several years and affected the people here in many different ways. This is just a way to show the war as it marched right through our backyard and the devastation that occurred during that time period [and] the lives that were changed during that period as well.”

After meeting at the BHM, 4 E. Church St. in Cartersville, at 8:45 a.m., participants will depart at 9 a.m. on the six-hour bus tour, which will visit points of interest in Adairsville, Kingston, Cassville and Cartersville.

“I will be leading the group on the tour and I have selected sites that are related to the history of the Atlanta Campaign, specifically, and the Civil War in general that are not your typical like battlefield sites ... and because of that these are places that often get overlooked in the history of the Atlanta Campaign,” Hebert said. “In many ways even historians and scholars and even amateurs who are just interested in the history generally kind of look over what happened in Bartow County during that three- or four-day period when both armies were marching through the county.

“... What a lot of people don’t realize is that Bartow County was extremely divided, even at the start of the war between those who were adamantly in favor of secession and those who were, I wouldn’t necessarily say staunch loyalists to the Union, but certainly hesitant to go off and secede. So throughout the whole war what you have is a lot of conflict going on throughout the county.”

Among the individuals he will highlight is James McGee, a Unionist who resided near Cassville.

“During the war, McGee’s boarding house kind of became a refuge for Unionists — people who were just kind of stuck in Bartow County at the time,” Hebert said. “If you look through the census for Bartow County in 1860, you’ll see all kinds of people living here from the North — Massachusetts, Connecticut. Bartow was a good place to come in the 1850s for economic .... [opportunities] and a lot of those people [when the war got] started, they’re kind of just on the wrong side, at least geographically. And they hate to just flee back home because they’ve invested all this time and energy into efforts here.

“So his boarding house became kind of a refuge for those folks. He had a Massachusetts physician staying with him. He had a couple businessmen from Connecticut staying with him and because of that he was just constantly under threat of violence from local Confederate partisans in the area.”

By attending the bus tour, Hebert wants participants to obtain a broader picture of area residents’ viewpoints during the Civil War.

“I hope they really take away that this was a war with many perspectives,” Hebert said. “It wasn’t just all pro-Confederates in Bartow County. In Bartow, they’ve certainly memorialized a lot of the Confederates. The county’s named after a fallen Confederate officer. There’s monuments for Confederate leaders [and] there’s historical markers ... but most of these are pretty much told from the Confederate point of view and the Southern point of view.

“There’s nothing ... wrong with that but it certainly needs to be balanced out with what else was going on at the time and the reality of it is a lot of people in Bartow County were kind of very divided about the war — divided about their feelings towards the Confederacy, divided about their feelings towards the Union. It was just a very uncertain time and because of that I think what you have in Bartow County is you have a lot [of] ... shifting loyalties going on.”

With the event having limited seating, those interested are encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance. Tickets — covering admission, transportation provided by Leisure Time, a souvenir, lunch and snacks — are $50 for non-members and $45 for BHM members and can be obtained by calling 770-387-2774 or visiting the BHM Gift Shop.