“The Civil War touched Bartow County in a number of ways,” said Trey Gaines, director of the Bartow History Museum, 4 E. Church St. in Cartersville. “One, obviously a lot of families were affected as far as family members going off and being soldiers in the war. We were also impacted when troops began moving through Bartow County later in the war. There was a battle at Allatoona Pass in October of 1864 and then prior to that thousands and thousands of troops had moved through Bartow County.
“The Great Locomotive Chase took place in northwest Georgia but much of it occurred right here in Bartow County. Kingston and Cassville both have connections to the war. There were hospitals and troop movements through both of those areas. Cassville was the county seat during the war and prior to the war of the then Cass County. Cassville was destroyed during the war and was not able to rebuild and Cartersville was voted to be the county seat shortly after the war.”
The Civil War Comes to Kingston
On April 20 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Kingston Woman’s History Club Inc. will highlight the Civil War’s impact on their town with The Civil War Comes to Kingston event. Along with Confederate and Union re-enactor demonstrations, the free offering also will feature concerts, cannon demonstrations and presentations from seven local historians: Bob Crowe, Clent Coker, D.J. Gould, Louise Young-Harris, Joe Head, Robert Jones and Gaines.
Known for coining the term “Heart of the Chase,” Head’s address will focus on Bartow’s role in the Great Locomotive Chase.
During the Chase, civilian spy James Andrews and his Union accomplices tried to disrupt a key supply line of the Confederacy on April 12, 1862. After stealing the General locomotive in Cobb County, they planned to destroy the Western & Atlantic Railroad’s tracks and telegraph lines en route to Chattanooga, Tenn. Their plan was spoiled, however, when a southbound freight train pulled by the Texas locomotive decided to help pursue the General, traveling in reverse from south of Adairsville to catch Andrews north of Ringgold.
“I will go ahead and talk about the story from A to Z — the hijacking of the General in Kennesaw or Big Shanty and then its eventual mission failure, which ended just north of Ringgold,” said Head, who also is a member of the Etowah Valley Historical Society. “But I will do more of my discussion about the events in Bartow County because the event itself primarily unfolded mostly in Bartow County. The event had more activity, stops, if you will, encounters [and] distance [in this county, and] all of the Chase engines for instance that pursued the General were acquired in Bartow County. So I’m going to go into some depth about our role and why we should be as proud or if not prouder than even Cobb County.
“The embedded story I’m going to tell is going to be that of ... Uriah Stephens [who] was working as a station agent in Kingston. ... [He] knew the operation of the state-owned Western & Atlantic Railroad and when the Raiders arrived in Kingston, he was immediately suspicious of their story and the manner in which they arrived and what they were insisting upon. And he challenged them. So I’m going to tell his story. So I’ve got a story within a story, and the beauty of it is I’m going to be able to really showcase why Bartow is the ‘Heart of the Chase.’”
For more information about The Civil War Comes to Kingston, call Nettie Holt at 770-386-0146.
Civil War Comes Alive!
Like the Kingston event, Civil War Comes Alive! will provide insight into this time period through re-enactors, demonstrations and musical performances. Presented by the Bartow History Museum and the Booth Western Art Museum, the event will be held April 27 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“This is our third year to hold the event and really it’s just an opportunity for us to look back 150 years ago at the events of the Civil War and what led to it, what some of the causes of it [were] but also what it was like to live in the time period both on the home front and the battlefront,” Gaines said. “So you get to experience both sides of the war.
“[I hope people will gain] an appreciation for the events of the time [and] the people who lived during the war and what they experienced. [For example] if you were a soldier, what that was like to be away from family while fighting in the war but then also back here at home, what it was like to make do or live without lots of your family members around and experience soldiers or armies marching through your town, your home. ... [This] is definitely a family event. It’s a great opportunity for kids to come out and really learn more about the war by witnessing [the demonstrations] and experiencing some of the things — you hear about it and read about it in school and this is an opportunity for you to experience some of it.”
Along with touring the Cartersville museums, patrons will be able to listen to Civil War music, talk with re-enactors portraying Union and Confederate soldiers, and examine art and artifacts of the time period. Cannon firing demonstrations will occur at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on the Booth’s festival grounds, 501 Museum Drive in Cartersville. The event also will feature a Bull Run/Manassas presentation by actor Kathy Kaemmerlen at 10:30 a.m., a delivery of the Gettysburg Address at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m, performances by the 8th Regiment Band at noon and 2:30 p.m., and the recitation of letters penned by members of the U.S. Colored Troops at 1:30 p.m.
Admission to the event will be $10 for adults, $8 for senior individuals, $7 for students, $3 for children 12 and younger, and free for Booth members, Bartow History Museum members and active military personnel with identification. Along with entrance into Civil War Comes Alive!, the admission fees will gain visitors access into both museums.
For more information about Civil War Comes Alive!, call 770-387-1300 or visit www.boothmuseum.org or www.bartowhistorymuseum.org.
Since April 2011, which marked the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, Regina Wheeler — deputy director of the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau — said she is continuing to see a renewed interest in Bartow’s Civil War-related sites and offerings.
According to the Bartow History Museum’s data, “By May 1864, more than 90,000 Federal troops had passed through Bartow County. While many local refugees fled, others remained to witness the occupation of Kingston by Gen. William T. Sherman and his men. It was from here in November 1864 that Sherman made preparations for his 'March to the Sea.’ That same month, orders were given to destroy Cassville.”
From the trenches at the Allatoona Pass Battlefield to Confederate gravesites and inscriptions left in residences from a once-occupying Union force, reminders of the Civil War are throughout Bartow County. Along with artifacts and structures that date back to the 1800s, the war’s aftereffects still can be seen in the area’s landscape and the birth of Cartersville’s prominence after becoming the county’s seat.
“Heritage tourism is something that while it may be a new buzz word for many communities, it’s been something that has long brought people here to Bartow County to visit attractions not only related to the Civil War but also to our rich Native American history that we have here as well as many other facets of our history and shaping of Georgia and also the U.S.,” Wheeler said. “Bartow County has a very unique standing within the Civil War.
“[We had] early on actions, such as the Great Locomotive Chase, which celebrated its sesquicentennial or 150th anniversary last year, that took place but also other skirmishes, battles. Then more activity began as we approached 1864 and then even our county was vital to reconstruction as well. The last surrender east of the Mississippi took place in Kingston. And then in reconstruction efforts — having the rail lines through our community was very important to getting goods in and out and kind of the rebuilding effort of the South.”
To help promote Civil War-related events, the CVB’s website, www.visitcartersvillega.org, will continually post local happenings, such as Red Top Mountain State Park’s Spring at the Homestead on April 27 and 28; and three events honoring Confederate Memorial Day: Gen. P.M.B. Young Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy Chapter No. 2373’s observance at the Stiles Auditorium in Cartersville April 20 at 11 a.m.; Stiles-Akin Camp No. 670 Sons of Confederate Veterans’ service at Cassville Confederate Cemetery April 27 at 9 a.m.; and the 149th Annual Kingston Confederate Memorial Day Service at Kingston Baptist Church April 28 at 2:30 p.m.
“[Due to the Civil War’s sesquicentennial] we expect to see increased visitation over the next several years,” Wheeler said. “It just maybe brings people that haven’t thought to visit their ancestors, where their ancestors’ fought or where those battles took place. It kind of brings them out. In terms of what people see when they get [here], it could be as simple as tracking down all of the state historic sites, all of the state historic markers, if you will. ...
“There are various events throughout the year [at Allatoona Pass] that people can go enjoy and actually have a guided tour, things like that. But then with other attractions, such as the Booth museum’s War is Hell Gallery, that really brings it to life for a lot of people. Of course, they’re hosting events here in the month of April. And then there will be tours and other things throughout the year that take place from Adairsville all the way to Emerson and beyond. There are plenty of attractions related specifically to the Civil War that will bring you a renewed interest and a renewed appreciation of the Civil War, which really changed the shape of America.”