Stiles-Akin Camp No. 670 Sons
of Confederate Veterans
To recognize those who fought and died during the Civil War as well as the town's rich Confederate history, the Stiles-Akin Camp will present the Confederate Memorial Day Service Saturday at 9 a.m.
"When the war was over, the ladies would come and lay flowers on the graves. ... and we just try to carry on the memory, just like they do on Memorial Day -- the regular Memorial Day -- in May of all the soldiers. ... Cass County gave up like 20-plus units to the Confederate Army," said Stiles-Akin Camp Lt. Commander Dale Black, referring to Bartow County's former name. "So many lives were affected.
"All that was left in the town were women and children and little old men to go on and keep the place going. It was the county seat. All the county's business had to be conducted."
Now a quiet, sparsely-populated area, Cassville was once the cultural center of northwest Georgia. Known for its rich terrain, court cases and bustling business community, Cassville's landscape was forever changed in 1864 as Union Gen. William T. Sherman's troops burned the town. Even though Cassville was under Union occupation since May 1864, it was not destroyed by the 5th Ohio Regiment until Nov. 5.
After the torching, only three churches and three residences remained, some of which were serving as makeshift hospitals. In addition to the town's transformation, its Confederate Cemetery still shows evidence of the impact that the Civil War had on Cassville, with its display of about 300 graves.
To be held at the Cassville Confederate Cemetery, the service will feature speaker Joe Head; an honor guard consisting of members of the Gilmer Light Guards Camp of Ellijay, the 52nd Georgia Infantry Reenactor Unit and the Stiles-Akin Camp; and a wreath-laying ceremony conducted by the Gen. P.M.B. Young Chapter No. 2373 of the UDC.
"In 1863, the big Battle of Chickamauga, all these hospitals were made in Cassville and they were treating all these soldiers," Black said. "They were in the houses. They were in the college buildings. There was like four to five hospitals in Cassville. In 1864, well, they kept having all this guerrilla activity and after that the Union soldiers were ordered to come in and burn the town.
"That's why I like this [service] so much because there's nothing actually in Cassville that you can put a finger on saying Cassville was actually there accept there's a little bit of cobblestone, the brick sidewalks left and the cemetery where all those Confederate soldiers are. There's over probably 80 soldiers that are not in the Confederate part that are actually Confederate soldiers buried up in the cemetery. The cemetery's a living history really -- a testament to the people who died."
For more information, contact Black at 678-322-6967.
Gen. P.M.B. Young Chapter No. 2373 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy
The UDC's Confederate Memorial Day Observance will be held April 21, 11 a.m., at Stiles Auditorium, 320 W. Cherokee Ave. in Cartersville.
"We do it to honor all soldiers, both our Confederate ancestors that fought in the CSA [Confederate States of America] as well as any soldiers that have fought for our country," said Barbara Benson, president of the Gen. P.M.B. Young Chapter. "And it is important to us to do this every year because we want to pay tribute to them, and we want to also remember our Southern heritage and our ancestors who fought. We don't want their sacrifices to be forgotten."
During the service, Robert C. Jones, president of the Kennesaw Historical Society, will deliver an address about Civil War prison camps.
"He's going to give just a brief history of prison camps, both the Northern and the Southern prison camps," Benson said. "He says [in his book's introduction] to be a prisoner during the Civil War was a brutal, dehumanizing experience. And at the beginning of the Civil War, neither side was remotely prepared for prisoners but they had to deal with it. So prisoner exchanges occurred sporadically throughout the war, so prison camps became an important fact of life in the war.
"Andersonville Prison in Georgia probably had the worst conditions and the highest death rate of the war. However, the Northern prisons at places like Elmira, N.Y., and Point Lookout, Md., also had a lot of disease and they were known for poor care of prisoners. So he's going to talk about the conditions of the prison camps, both North and South, and how unprepared both sides were to handle prisoners."
After the program, there will be a reception that will feature light refreshments. Closing out the observance will be a wreath-laying ceremony at the Confederate monument on the grounds of the 1903 Bartow County courthouse.
For more information about the April 21 service, call Benson at 770-529-3602.
Kingston Woman's History Club
On April 22, the Kingston Woman's History Club will continue its long-standing tradition of decorating graves at the Confederate Cemetery.
"The first observance was in 1865 in the spring," said Nettie Holt, president of the Kingston Woman's History Club. "There was a ladies' aid society in Kingston and, of course, they were occupied at that time by Union soldiers, Union forces. And they had taken care of a lot of soldiers. About 10,000 soldiers passed through Kingston because [of] its location. The soldiers were wounded or injured or on their way home and this group of ladies provided food and shelter for people as they were passing through Kingston because most of the time they would have to spend the night there. There were no facilities or places for those sick and the wounded to go, so they opened homes and buildings and actually set up the first wayside hospital to aid these soldiers.
"Unfortunately a number of them died and, of course, they were Union and Confederate soldiers involved. Then when they died, they buried them in the local cemetery. The cemetery has about 248 soldiers in it now who died in Kingston. And the ladies went to the commanding officer at the time and asked ... to decorate the graves, put flowers on the graves. The response of the commanding officer was only if you do Confederate as well as Union and so they said, of course, that's what we plan to do. And from that day until this [upcoming observance] that happens every year."
The 148th annual Confederate Memorial Day Observance will begin at 2:30 p.m. at the Kingston Methodist Church. Following a presentation by state Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, children will participate in a grave decoration during the Confederate Cemetery service, directed by American Legion Carl Boyd Post 42. A Memorial Day Tea will follow at the Kingston Museum, Martha Mulinix Annex on East Main Street.
"The Kingston Woman's History Club members bring bouquets of flowers," Holt said. "Usually they're flowers taken from [our] yards and our gardens, and the children take those flowers and place one or two on each grave. I think it's a good lesson for children to learn to honor those who have served them."
To obtain more details about the Confederate Memorial Day service, call Linda Leachman at 770-382-1747 or Holt at 770-386-0146.