The Sons of Confederate Veterans are right about Stone Mountain
by Jay Bookman, Atlanta Journal Constitution, October 13, 2015
The Sons of Confederate Veterans have a valid argument.
As they point out, Georgia law requires that Stone Mountain Park be maintained as “an appropriate and suitable memorial for the Confederacy.” It’s right there in the code, 12-3-192.1 They argue further that installing a memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. on the property, as park officials now propose, would be “an intentional act of disrespect toward the stated purpose of the Stone Mountain memorial from its inception.”
(In its own “intentional act of disrespect,” the SCV refers to King as “Michael King,” rather than the name by which he became known to posterity, I guess so we have no misconception about where they’re coming from.)
As the Sons see it, you simply cannot put a memorial to a civil rights leader such as King in a park dedicated by law to the Confederacy. The conflict between the two would be too blatant. It “would be akin to the state flying a Confederate battle flag atop the King Center in Atlanta against the wishes of King supporters,” the SCV argues. “Both would be altogether inappropriate and disrespectful acts, repugnant to Christian people.”
So how to resolve this dilemma? Personally, the solution seems clear: State law must be changed. If we have a state law that forbids the honoring of Georgia’s most famous son in one of its most popular parks, as the SCV claims, then that law is wrong. That law must be repealed.
And the truth is, the law is wrong for more important reasons as
well. It’s 2015, more than a century and a half since the Civil
War ended. Georgia should not have a law still on the books mandating
that we honor a government formed for the primary purpose of keeping
millions of our fellow Americans in bondage and perpetual servitude. We
are better than that.
I know there are some who to this day will argue some other purpose for the Confederacy. They are simply wrong, and they are wrong not because I and others might say so, but because those who formed the Confederacy say so, unanimously and with vigor. Alexander Stephens, a Georgian who had already been elected to serve as vice president of the Confederacy, explained its purpose in no uncertain terms in an 1861 speech in Savannah.
Stephens told his listeners that the Founding Fathers had believed in their hearts that slavery was wrong. Even slaveholders such as Thomas Jefferson believed that “the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically,” and would eventually be ended.
But the Confederacy was different:
“Our new government is
founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its
cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to
the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his
natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first,
in the history of the world, based upon this great physical,
philosophical, and moral truth.”
We should not have a state park to memorialize such a government. We should not have a law on the books requiring that such a government, founded on such a cornerstone, should be honored in any way. The law must be repealed. And if our state leaders tell us that the time has not yet come for such a repeal, then they tell us and the rest of the world that we are not yet ready to fully divorce ourselves from that attitude.
To be clear, that doesn’t by any means suggest that the sculpture carved into the side of Stone Mountain should be removed or even altered. That should never happen. The flags should come down, the Confederate memorabilia that by law must be sold on park grounds should be removed. But the sculpture can no more be removed from Stone Mountain than the lasting scars of the Civil War can be removed. It is part of our mutual history, a relic of an earlier time that reminds us how far we have come, and when necessary how far we have yet to go. It is important to all Georgians, of all races, that it be preserved. It is heritage.
But the law must go, and soon. And I appreciate the public service performed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans in making that point so clear.
An Unexpected Gift Comes from the Cyclorama's Move
Atlanta's Oakland Cemetery Gets A New Greenhouse
By Kate Sweeney, WABE News, July 6, 2015
Once, there was a greenhouse at Oakland Cemetery. But for decades, all that remained of the old Victorian structure was rubble. However, that’s changing as the cemetery erects a new greenhouse in the exact same spot.
The story of how the cemetery got its new greenhouse is a tale of historical musical chairs. It starts at Zoo Atlanta, in Grant Park. As the zoo expands, Grant Park’s Cyclorama is moving to the Atlanta History Center. However, the plot of land at the History Center where the giant Civil War mural is slated to go is presently occupied by a greenhouse.
“So the greenhouse had to move or be bulldozed,” said Sara Henderson, Oakland Cemetery’s director of gardens.
The Buckhead Men’s Garden Club, which owns the greenhouse, gave Henderson a call, asking if Oakland wanted it. “And when we started doing the initial measurements and drawings, we discovered that it slips almost perfectly within the walls of our historic greenhouse — so it was clearly just kind of meant to be!”
The greenhouse measures 30 by 50 feet, and Henderson says it will allow Oakland to offer gardening programming to the public.
Of course, you might be asking why a cemetery would have a greenhouse in the first place. It turns out that back in the 19th century, when Oakland was built, families were completely responsible for caring for their loved ones’ graves. That included any gardening — and the Victorians loved their gardens, especially plants that required extra TLC through the cold winter months.
“The Victorians adored flashy, showy plants, tropicals, especially. One that I can definitely mention are bananas! We know that those were being used here at Oakland. I can actually walk out to the spot and say, ‘This is where a banana would have been growing.’”
Turns out that the Victorians did not share our modern appreciation of native plants.
Henderson says it’s history lessons like these that the new greenhouse will allow Oakland to tell — not just about the 70,000 souls buried there, but about the cemetery itself in its heyday.
The new greenhouse is expected to be fully erected in Oakland and operational this fall.
Confederate Battle Flag Loosing an unwinnable War (again)
In the wake of the terrible mass racist murder in Charleston South Carolina, there has developed what seems to be an unstoppable movement to ban the Confederate Battle Flag from public display.
On Monday, June 22nd, South Carolina Govenor Nikki Haley publicly called for the removable of the Confederate Battle Flag from the State Capitol grounds, next to a Confederate memorial. Earlier in the day, Senator Lindsay Graham first called for its removale. This comes despite polls showing a major of South Carolinians wanting the Flag to remain in place.
Late Monday, Wallmart announced it would stop all sales of Confederate Flags and items with the flag. Tuesday, Sears / Kmart and the online sites ebay and Amazon also joined the movement. Then on Wednesday it got to a point of insanity that Warner Bros. is pulling it line of Dukes of Hazzard General Lee Dodge Charger Model cars that have the flag on the car's roof!
This all comes just one week after the Supreme Court ruled States could refuse to offer Sons of Confederate Veteran license tags along with any other type of license tag the State deems offensive. Today, the Virginia Bovernor has ordered the State's SCV plate removed from circulation.
Georgia SCV Tag to be ChangedBy Hal Doby June 25, 2015
Last year, the Sons of Confederate Veterans license place was revised to include a Confederate Battle Flag as a faded watermark on the background of the plate during the process of the State converting from stamped plates to digitally printed plates. The new design was controversial among those who have demanded the Battle Flag be removed from Public Display.
In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling that license tags are government property and thus speak for the government, that allows each state government to control what is offered to its citizens. That, combined with the overwhelming public pressure in the aftermath of the Charleston mass church murder, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal in under 24 hours has reversed his stance on the SCV license plate and has ordered a redesign of the tag.
I imagine that the new plate will be rushed into place and will be offered no later than January 1, 2016. It is not known whether the two previous SCV tags will be allowed to continue to be used or will be forced to be replaced with the new, less controversial tag when it is time for them to be renewed.
The Supreme Court makes a ruling against the SCV
Today, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) released a ruling on a case involving the State of Texas and the Sons of Confederate Veterans regarding their SCV license Tag. Like in many states that offer an SCV tag, many people regard the Confederate Battle Flag as offensive to Black People, especially due to its use by the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan as part of their agenda against people of color.
It is undeniable that the Confederate battle flag is a symbol that evokes passionate viewpoints, both in favor and in opposition. The discussion that arises about the Confederate battle flag is exactly the sort of robust debate that is protected by the First Amendment. When the Texas DMVB rejected the SCV’s license plate, it entered into the debate over the flag’s meaning and endorsed a particular viewpoint. The DMVB gave its opinion that the Confederate battle flag is a symbol of “racism,” and discriminated against those who view the flag as a historic symbol of the Confederate soldier’s sacrifice, independence, and Southern heritage. It was the view of the SCV that the DMVB’s rejection of the SCV plate constituted impermissible viewpoint discrimination prohibited by the First Amendment. Further, the explanation given by the DMVB fails to justify the denial. As explained by the Supreme Court in Snyder v. Phelps, 131 S. Ct. 1207 (2011), it has long been an established rule of First Amendment law that speech cannot be curtailed simply because it may be offensive to some. As a result of the foregoing, the Texas DMVB’s denial of SCV’s specialty license plate application amounted to a clear violation of the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause.
Until now, the Supreme Court has not expressly decided the issue of private vs. government speech with regard to specialty license plates, it has previously held that messages on a license plate are the speech of the driver. In Wooley v. Maynard, 430 U.S. 705 (1977), a majority of the Court recognized that messages on license plates are “readily associated” with the driver and implicate the driver’s free speech rights. The Court noted that the purpose of a message on a license plate is “to advertise the message it bears,” and a license plate is akin to a “mobile billboard,” and a driver is a “courier for such message” expressed on a license plate. If messages on license plates were merely government speech, the Free Speech Clause would not have been implicated in Wooley, and the case would have come out differently.
People in Texas objected to the use of the Confederate Battle Flag on the State license tags. A law suit was made against the State to have it removed from the tags offered to the public. The suit contended that what is displayed on a license is not the free (private) speech of the driver, but rather the speech of the Government. The Supreme Court had to make the determination that the specialty license plate program in this case publishes either the speech of the government or the private speech of the driver/owner of the vehicle. Then the Court considers whether the specific denial of the SCV plate in this case amounted to impermissible viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.
The Supreme Court finding was released to the public. The Supreme Court ruled that Texas is allowed to reject any license plate design because the tags are now considered to be the speech of the Government.
In an opinion joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, the majority held that license plate designs are governmental speech and not private speech, and therefore the government is allowed to discriminate based upon content when it deems appropriate.
The decision is likely to affect specialty license plate programs in other states including such tags that advocate "Choose Life". But other types of speech could also be affected in the future including advertisements in a bus, "adopt a highway" signs, public school brick programs and government websites. The court could give guidance to other states saying, for instance, that public displays can only be commercial speech, or specialty license plates have to go through the legislature.
What does that mean to the SCV? Well, Plenty.
First off, this means that the Texas Division of the SCV looks to have a major revenue stream cut from it's Treasury. As in Georgia, The Texas Division receives a portion of the fee paid by the consumers who have the SCV license tag. In Georgia, that amounts to around $100,000 a year. With the SCOTUS' decision, that is now all but gone for the Texas Division.
The SCOTUS ruling does not just effect Texas, it effects all 50 states. Therefore with the politically-correct sentiment that is so pervasive in our country, many states that have a large Black population with a strong “Liberal” agenda in their legislatures, it is just a matter of time before activists and politicians bring up in their state governments to have the SCV license tag removed from circulation.
In Georgia, that money is held in a trust controlled by the Georgia Division to be used for various projects that protect, restore, and honor Confederate Veterans. If this revenue stream is cut, a lot of very good projects will no longer be funded.
In 2014, the Georgia SCV tag was redesigned to include the Confederate Battle Flag as a faint watermark over the entire tag. The SCV logo remains on the left-hand side of the tag. There was a huge media circus when the tag was unveiled as many Black activists declared the tag racially inflammatory. Now it seems those same people now have the power to have the tag removed from circulation. I expect that if this comes to pass in Georgia, current owners of SCV tags will be forced to replace their tags with another one.
The only hope of the SCV tags being allowed in circulation is for them to be re-designed with no Confederate Battle Flag or the SCV emblem. This is a very sad thing to have happened.
Georgia Division, SCV Responds to the attempt to place an MLK Monument on Stone Mountain(ATLANTA - October 12, 2015) The Georgia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans responded today to the proposal by the Stone Mountain Memorial Association to erect a monument to MLK, former black civil rights activist. This decision by the Stone Mountain Memorial Association is wholly inappropriate in that it is an intentional act of disrespect toward the stated purpose of the Stone Mountain memorial from its inception as well as a possible violation of the law which established the Stone Mountain Memorial Association and charged it with promoting the mountain as a Confederate memorial.
The Venable family, which owned Stone Mountain in the early 1900's, leased the face of the mountain to the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1916 for the purpose of creating a carved memorial to the Confederacy. The UDC contracted Gutzon Borglum, who later sculpted the Mount Rushmore carving; after the work was halted due to a disagreement with Borglum, the carving remained unfinished for several decades. As the state began to discuss interest in reviving the memorial project as a state project, the Venable family deeded the land to the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial, Inc. in 1956. Two years later, in 1958, the state of Georgia purchased Stone Mountain; and the General Assembly created the Stone Mountain Memorial Association expressly to maintain the mountain and all adjacent property as a Confederate memorial and complete a portion of the original design for the carving.
The act of the General Assembly which created the Stone Mountain Memorial Association specifically states the park, including both the mountain and all adjacent property, is to be maintained and operated as a Confederate memorial (OCGA 12-3-191). The erection of monuments to anyone other than Confederate heroes in Stone Mountain Park is in contradistinction to the purpose for which the park exists and would make it a memorial to something different. The park was never intended to be a memorial to multiple causes but solely to the Confederacy. Therefore, monuments to either Michael King or soldiers of any color who fought against the Confederacy would be a violation of the purpose for which the park was created and exists. The opinions of the park's current neighbors and opponents are of no bearing in the discussion.
Furthermore, the erection of a monument to anything other than the Confederate Cause being placed on top of Stone Mountain because of the objections of opponents of Georgia's Confederate heritage would be akin to the state flying a Confederate battle flag atop the King Center in Atlanta against the wishes of King supporters. Both would be altogether inappropriate and disrespectful acts, repugnant to Christian people.
For more information about the Sons of Confederate Veterans or any of this year's planned events to commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the War, contact the Georgia SCV at 404-271-8473 or online at www.GeorgiaSCV.org
Web Master's Note: Please read my opinion on this controversy on our main page.
The Georgia SCV License Tag Returns!SCV Georgia Division Press Release, September 30, 2015:
The Georgia Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans is pleased to announce that effective today, the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicles has begun re-issuing the Georgia Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) specialty plates. After the Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR) stopped issuing SCV specialty plates in the wake of the recent hysteria over Confederate Historical Monuments and Symbols, the Georgia Division (SCV) began negotiating with the DOR to have the specialty plate reissued on the basis of contract law and Georgia statutory law that has been in effect since 2001 when the SCV plates were first issued to the citizens of Georgia.
The Georgia Division, SCV agreed to remove the faded battle flag background image from the plate as requested by the DOR, provided that the specialty plate retained the 120 year-old Sons of Confederate Veteran's logo which represents the core of the organization's charge "To defend and honor the good name of the Confederate Soldier." The SCV logo prominently incorporates the Confederate Battle Flag, which was the flag of the Confederate soldier during the War for Southern Independence and is the most recognizable symbol of the South and its glorious heritage.
The SCV specialty plate is available to all citizens of Georgia. One does not have to be a member of the SCV in order to obtain the SCV specialty plate; and no tag office may deny Georgia drivers their choice of the plate. A portion of the specialty plate fee goes to the SCV and is used to fund historical projects in the State of Georgia such as new monuments, monument restorations, veterans' grave markers, and educational projects related to the Confederate soldier and his Christian values.
For more information about the Sons of Confederate Veterans or any of this year's planned events to commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the War, contact the Georgia SCV at 404-271-8473 or online at www.GeorgiaSCV.org
Atlanta Cyclorama is now closed.
As previously announced, the Atlanta Cyclorama, located in Grant Park for 100 years, is now closed. This is the first step in its restoration and relocation to its new facility at the Atlanta History Center's main campus that is now under construction. I do not know whether the restoration phase will take place at it current location or at another location, but it is expected to take approximately one year to complete. When complete, the painting, "The Battle of Atlanta" will restore the existing painting, plus add approximately 3,268 square feet that has been removed over the years.
The painting will be returning to its original dimensions as sections were removed when it was installed in the Cyclorama at Grant Park that was purpose built to house the painting. The sections will be re-created as part of the restoration includes one panel, 6 feet wide by 50 feet high, depicting part of the battle. Eight feet of sky was removed before its installation in its current home will be re-created from photographs and added back to the top of the painting, running all the way around its restored 371-foot circumference. A section of the painting that was destroyed by moisture was concealed by the addition of the three-dimensional diorama that currently serves as the painting's foreground. The painting will go from it's current size of 42 feet by 365 feed to 50 feet by 371 feet.
It is expected the restored painting will be debuted at the Atlanta History Center mid to late 2015.
Cyclorama to Move from Grant Park to Atlanta History Center in Buckhead
and amended by Hal Doby, Web Master
In a move of literal and figurative historic proportions, plans call for the Cyclorama, one of the city’s most valuable cultural artifacts, to leave its Grant Park home of nearly a century and relocate to a new building at the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead.
A streaming video by the Atlanta History Center's Architects of the proposed new Cyclorama in Buckhead as part of the renovated Atlanta History Center.
The announcement about the move of the painting, which has an appraised value of $25 million, was made by Mayor Kasim Reed at a City Hall press conference the morning of July 23rd. Kasin declared this a Win-Win for all stating that with the anticipated redevelopment of the Turner Field area once the Atlanta Braves relocate to Cobb County, the ties between Zoo Atlanta and the redeveloped area will help revitalize the entire neighborhood. Funny, didn't we hear something like that back prior to 1996 and the Olympics?
A big surprise was that the Atlanta History Center, recently completed an unrelated $21.1 million capital improvement campaign, already has raised $32.2 million specifically targeted for the aquisition of the Cyclorama's assets. The amount that has already been raised is sufficient to move the painting, construct a 23,000-square-foot building that will be accessible to visitors from its main entrance, conduct an extensive restoration on the painting and create an endowment to maintain it. Once again, this Web Master finds it really suspect that a group like the Atlanta History Center would make the effort to raise any amount of money for a specific project if there wasn't some sort of firm deal in place that would ensure they aquired the Cyclorama's assets. The fact that the AHC has raised over thirty million dollars already goes far to indicate the powers that be at the Atlanta City Hall had already made the decision of what to do before their "advisory group" completed their puppet show. Hmmm.....
The Cyclorama painting will remain the property of the city. The AHC and city still have to reach a long-term license agreement, and the deal will be contingent upon City Council approval. Zoo Atlanta would receive the existing Cyclorama building, renovating it for use as the new offices and event venue for the zoo.
The Cyclorama building in Grant Park has housed the massive, panoramic, painting, which depicts the Battle of Atlanta, since 1921. Both are owned by the City of Atlanta. With the painting in need of a restoration estimated at more than $8 million and the Cyclorama building in need of renovation work, combined with what was regarded as low patronage of the venue that could not generate the funds needed to remain open and perform the needed work, the city appointed an advisory group in 2012 to explore options.
According to Mayor Reed, the group's members, that included downtown business leaders, historians, city officials and foundation leaders, the advisers recommended three options last year. The panel’s suggestions were to move the painting to either Centennial Park, the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead, or to leave the painting and museum in Grant Park. All three suggestions included the restoration of the cycloramic painting.
Though Reed and other city leaders had strong interest in the Centennial Park location, the Atlanta History Center moved to the top of the list when an Atlanta couple, Lloyd and Mary Ann Whitaker, stepped forward offering it a gift of $10 million in support of a relocation to Buckhead. That gift, which became the lead donation in a successful rapidly executed fund-raising campaign. The Whitaker's initial donation, will be designated as the painting’s endowment fund to care for it perpetually. The Whitakers, who had not previously been History Center supporters, made the offer after reading a January 2013 story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that detailed the various future options for the painting.
Web Master's Sarcastic Note: I'm sure the fact that the City and the City of Atlanta are working out a "Licensing Agreement" (Read: City Hall wants to make a buck off of what it does not want to deal with itself), I'm sure the best interest of everyone was their top consideration, not making a buck off the deal and not having to lift a finger to get those bucks.
Weighing nine tons and currently measuring 42 feet tall and 365 feet in circumference, the Cycloramic painting, officially titled “The Battle of Atlanta,” is among the world’s largest oil paintings. As big as the painting is, it will get even bigger, returning to its original dimensions as sections were removed when it took up residence in Grant Park. those sections will be re-created as part of the restoration that includes one panel, 6 feet wide by 50 feet high, depicting part of the battle. Eight feet of sky that was also removed before its installation in its current home will be re-created from photographs and added back to the top of the painting, running all the way around its restored 371-foot circumference. A section of the painting that was destroyed by moisture was concealed by the addition of the three-dimensional diorama that currently serves as the painting's foreground. In total, the history center will restore 3,268 square feet of the painting that was removed in 1921.
The plan calls for the detailed restoration to begin panel by panel, at Grant Park while the custom-build facility on the Atlanta History Center's 33-acre campus is under construction. Construction would begin in summer 2015 and is expected to take a year. Once the building is complete, the restoration would continue while the painting is relocated to the new Buckhead facility. The plan would have the facility open to the public during the process for public to view the on-going work. A completion date has not been projected.
Once the painstaking process is complete, the painting will be mounted in its originally designed hyperbolic, or hourglass shape, restoring the illusion for visitors that they are viewing it in 3-D. (Web Master's Note: While it was not directly mentioned, I can only assume and hope the 93 year-old diorama foreground will be retained.)
Battle of Atlanta Cycloramic Painting
The Battle of Atlanta cycloramic painting was created on a comission by the American Panorama Company. They were to create it along with a painting of the Battle of Missionary Ridge. Once completed, they would display the two paintings that would tour the United States individually. The paintings were made in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the company's studios. The artists worked in three groups under the supervision of F.W. Heine and August Lohr. Heine was in charge of the master composition.
The Battle of Atlanta was completed in 1885. It was exibited in several large cities, beginning in Detroit and ending in Indianapolis in 1887. During the tour it was publicized as Logan's Great Battle in reference to General John A. Logan, commander of the Union Army of the Tennessee in the Battle of Atlanta.
In 1888. The paintings were sold due to legal problems the company found itself in. The Battle of Atlanta was bought and sold several times. By 1892, The Battle of Missionary Ridge was sent to be stored in Nashville when it was destroyed by a tornado while in storage. When the Missionary Ridge painting that was being displayed off of Edgewood Avenue in Atlanta was sent to Nashville, The Battle of Atlanta was erected to replace it.
The exhibit structure and the painting was damaged when the roof collapsed due to a snow storm. It was sold to Ernest Woodruff at auction along with a collection of circus animals that was being displayed alongside the painting.
George Valentine Gress bought The Battle of Atlanta and the rest of the exhibit's assets from Woodruff. Gress donated the circus animals and that became the origin of what became the Atlanta Zoo. Gress then asked the City of Atlanta to assign a space for the painting's location to be displayed in a new wooden building in one of the City's parks. The City chose Grant Park (not named after Union General Ulysses S. Grant) and a wooden structure was erected for the painting in Grant Park. Gress eventually gave the painting to the City of Atlanta in 1898. In return, he asked the City restore the painting and either build a new building for it or upgrade the existing struture to better protect the painting.
This prompted an amendment to the Atlanta city charter enabling the city to erect a new fireproof building. The building was designed by Atlanta architect John Francis Downing. Contruction began in 1919 and was completed in 1921. The building was erected several hundred feet northeast of the old wooden building. The current building was dedicated on Oct. 1, 1921.
In 1936 a diorama was added, providing a three-dimensional foreground that blends seamlessly into the painting. The diorama was made using many natural materials such as real Georgia Clay. Confederate and Union Figurines were created for the diorama modeled after the five craftsment that made them.
In 1939, the movie Gone with the Wind premiered in Atlanta. As part of the events that surrounded the event, the principal cast members were given a special tour of the Cyclorama. Legend has it that Clark Gable made an off-handed comment that the Cyclorama would be perfect if only it had a figure of him on it. Shortly there after, a special new wounded Confederate soldier was added to the diorama that bears Mr. Gable's face.
The water content of the natural materials used in the diorama eventually caused serious water, mold, and mildew damage to the lower portion of the painting. In 1979, the diorama materials were replaced by fiberglass and other synthetic materials as part of a major 2 year restoration to the painting and building.
In 1979 the Cyclorama was closed for two years while the painting was repaired and the museum's facilities updated. The work was completed in 1982.
At one time The Battle of Atlanta was the largest oil painting in the world. It originally measured 50 feet high by 371 feet long. When it was installed in its permanent Grant Park home, it was reduced in size by 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide. The lower portion of the painting was damaged and about 2 feet of the lower portion of the painting was destroyed. Despite the reduction in size, "The Battle of Atlanta" retained its size record until 2004, when it was surpassed in size by a mural at the Kalamazoo Air Zoo measuring 32 feet high by 800 feet long.
There are two Cycloramic painting on display in the United states. The other painting depicts the Battle of Gettysburg and is located in the Gettysburg National Military Park. There are two other cycloramic paintings in the United States, but they are not on display. There are a total of 16 surviving cycloramic paintings in the world today.
Another massive artifact, the Civil War locomotive the Texas, which has been displayed with the painting in Grant Park since 1927, will move to the history center, as well. Though other entities, including the city of Marietta, have expressed interest in the Texas, a principal in the Great Locomotive Chase, Atlanta leaders felt that it and the painting should remain together.
The Texas being relocated in the Cyclorama during the building's 1981 renovation.
The painting and locomotive should complement what is regarded as one of the country’s pre-eminent repositories of the Civil War’s artifacts, built around the DuBose Civil War Collection of 7,500 Union and Confederate objects.
Visiting the Cyclorama will be part of the history center’s regular admission, which is currently $11 to $16.50.
Meanwhile, Zoo Atlanta is expected adapt the Grant Park Cyclorama building for administrative offices as well as events rental space that will overlook a habitat area for African elephants.
Web Master's Opinion:
I think we all have been a bit worried about the fate of the Battle of Atlanta cycloramic painting for a few years since Atlanta City Hall begun making noises it wanted to get rid of it. I was told in a private conversation that showed how little the current Mayor thought of it when he offered to "throw it in" should it be decided if the Texas would be donated to the Southern Museum in Kennesaw. It seems that changed when somebody pointed out the painting actual was worth millions of dollars. So now it will be "licensed" to the Atlanta History Center so the City can continue to make a buck off of it.
From my conversations with other compatriots regarding the Cyclorama, I had the feeling that those who cared about it felt they had no say that would sway the determined politicians to get rid of it. But thanks to the Whitaker's pro-active generous offer of ten million dollars to the AHC, it allowed the AHC to quietly raise enough money from other people that cared about this issue to not only give the painting a new home, but to restore it to its former glory and create a preservation fund to keep it around for decades, if not centuries for generations to come. At least it will be in the hands of people that do care about the painting so many more can see it. Admittedly, while I would have loved for the painting to remain where it is now, it will be seen by many, many more people at the History Center.
I'm also glad to hear Zoo Atlanta will be retaining and using the old Cyclorama building, but I also find a lot of irony in that as well. According to the City, the building needs at lot of restoration work. Not only will that be needed to make the building viable, but there will a good cost to remove the painting and locomotive that was moved into the building by a crane when the building was built, then relocated during the 1980 renovation of the building. There will be the high cost of renovation to re-purpose the building for Zoo Atlanta's needs once the painting and the museums assets are relocated. Wouldn't it have been cheaper to simply restore the building and renovate the painting in place and let the Atlanta History Center manage it as a remote off-campus site?
At least the future for the Cyclorama and the "Battle of Atlanta" is all but certain now and we can look forward to it being around Atlanta for a long, long time. .
General George Pickett Satirized on the Internet
Just as you think things can't get any more bizarre, now I've heard what has to be one of the most outrageous claims made regarding the Confederacy and its military men. There is a news report that seems to have gotten some traction that makes the incredible claim that Confederate General George Edward Pickett was a woman! This claim turns out to be totally false as the source of the story is the satirical “news” reporting site The World News Daily Report.
The imaginative story is based on documents including the will of Gen. Pickett’s father, Colonel Robert Pickett. According to the tale, George Edward Pickett died in his childhood at the age of 16. Colonel Pickett desperately wanted a son to carry on the family’s legacy but his family had several girls and only one son who was now dead. The story continues with Mary sue Pickett, George’s sister who was one year his senior. Mary Sue suffered from a rare genetic disorder called hypertrichosis. This disease causes an excess of testosterone/androgen and this creates a hormonal imbalance that not only make a female more masculine, but it also causes the growth of facial hair.
With this, Colonel Pickett decides to take advantage of Mary Sue’s condition and let her assume the identity of dead George. She, now he, enrolls in Military school as George and later joins the Confederate cause and eventually becomes involved in one of the most famous engagements in the War Between the States that becomes known as Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg.
Of course, there is no basis in truth whatsoever, however with the ever-growing trend of people getting most of their news from the Internet, there will inevitably be unwitting souls that will take this as absolute truth.
City of Atlanta Could Sell the Cyclorama in Order to Fix Potholes!
The Cyclorama, the historic Civil-War-themed panorama painting located in Grant Park, could be on the move, or even sold, in the near future.
For years, city officials have considered moving the massive image that depicts the Battle of Atlanta, which was fought 150 years ago. Those conversations, including a task force three years ago that looked at what to do with the painting, have resurfaced as Mayor Kasim Reed looks for ways to free up as much as $20 million of the city's budget to help fund a potential $250 million infrastructure bond referendum next March.
To find those funds, Reed has assembled a panel of elected officials, corporate execs, and union heads to suggest cuts or potential new revenue streams. The working group, known as the "efficiency commission," is putting the finishing touches on its recommendations to Reed, which include selling nearly $80 million in city-owned properties such as Underground Atlanta, the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center, and, it turns out, the iconic Civil War mural housed in a 93-year-old museum just outside Zoo Atlanta's gates.
Reed spokesman Carlos Campos says that conversations about what's next for the Cyclorama painting are "still ongoing." City officials say the piece of art, one of only two panoramic murals of its kind in the United States, has an appraised value of $25 million. The painting could be relocated to either the Atlanta History Center or a Downtown facility near Centennial Olympic Park.
But some concerns have been voiced about the future of the Cyclorama image that has hung in the park since 1921. Museum officials claim the historic artwork is the world's largest oil painting at 358-foot-by 42-foot. David Dreyer, chairman of the Grant Park Conservancy, says the painting is a "rare treasure" that commemorates the neighborhood's ties to the Battle of Atlanta. He declined to comment without knowing more details about a specific moving or sale proposal, but said he hoped that upcoming talks would take Cyclorama's historical significance into account.
As with prior Cyclorama talks, Grant Park residents say they hope that the museum and painting stay in place, albeit with some long overdue improvements. Grant Park Neighborhood Association President Lauren Rocereta says the city should take steps to improve the attraction's programming, renovate its museum, and expand its hours. If the museum stayed put, the building would likely require major restoration facilities to the tune of nearly $10 million. In 2014, museum administrators expanded programming to include additional lectures, movies, and performances.
"Whatever happens with the Cyclorama, most people in Grant Park would prefer it stays in Grant Park," Rocereta says. "The Cyclorama is an integral part of the neighborhood's story and history."
For now, the efficiency commission's proposal to unload the painting is a recommendation. Atlanta City Councilwoman Carla Smith, who represents Grant Park, wants her constituents to be included in future decisions made about the art.
"It would be a long and difficult process to sell [the Cyclorama]," Smith says. "But the neighborhood should be in on the decision."
The group's suggestions will land on Reed's desk sometime in the coming weeks.
Sons of Confederate Veterans Announce "Flags Over Georgia" Campaign
Following up the redesign of their specialty license plate in Georgia which now prominently features the Confederate battle flag, the Georgia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans announced today the launch of a bold "Flags Across Georgia" campaign which will raise Confederate battle flags and 1956 Georgia flags in prominent places throughout the state of Georgia as part of the ongoing effort to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the War and to promote Southern Heritage.
A 60 foot flagpole flying a 180 square foot Confederate battle flag on US Highway 19 in south Georgia's Mitchell County is the newest addition to a rapidly growing number of highly visible flags being erected by the SCV all over Georgia. More than a dozen huge flagpoles have quietly gone up awaiting the announcement of the beginning of the "Flags Across Georgia" campaign. These flags include 50 foot flag poles in both Augusta and Ringgold, both on major highways in heavily commercialized areas. The pole in Augusta is located on Wheeler Road, a busy four lane highway just off I-20. The flagpole in Ringgold is located on Battlefield Parkway at I-75 exit 350. Each of the poles is located in a highly visible location and flies a large 10 x 15 foot battle flag which is visible for miles around to those travelling Georgia's roads and interstates.
The largest flag erected so far is a Confederate battle flag just north of Tifton, Georgia right beside I-75. The huge flag is 30' x 50' atop a pole that stands a towering 120' above the landscape and has attracted a huge amount of attention, especially since it is positioned on the main route travelled by millions of tourists heading to and from Florida from all over America. The sites selected for the existing flagpoles in the "Flags Across Georgia" campaign include parcels of land which have been sold, deeded, leased, and loaned to the SCV by the original owners. A list of land owners offering their properties as potential sites for additional flagpoles in prominent locations has been growing as word of the bold new campaign has leaked out around the state in recent weeks.
As part of the "Flags Across Georgia" campaign, homeowners around the state are also being encouraged to fly the Confederate flag and 1956 Georgia Memorial Flag bearing the Confederate Battle Emblem on smaller flagpoles at their homes and in their communities as a demonstration of their love for Southern Heritage and to commemorate the War during its 150th anniversary.
The "Stars and Bars" - or First National flag of the Confederacy - after which Georgia Rep. Bobby Franklin designed Georgia's current state flag is not the Confederate battle flag. The Confederate Battle Flag has incorporated into it, the very recognizable "St. Andrews Cross", or Crux Decussata. The X-shape is a Christian symbol which has historically stood for freedom from tyranny and oppression dating back a thousand years to its origins during Scotland's wars for independence.
While the raising of the flags in the "Flags Across Georgia" campaign is a part of the sesquicentennial commemoration of the War, the SCV plans on continuing the project after the commemoration draws to an end in 2015 according to Georgia Division officers.
For more information, please call 404.271.8473 or contact the Georgia Division SCV online at www.GeorgiaSCV.org
Georgia's 2014 SCV Tag Spawns Controversy
must be a slow news week. Metro
Pre-2014 Georgia SCV Tag
New 2014 Georgia SCV Tag
The reports, especially those continually repeated by Atlanta's "All News 106.7" FM radio station, who works with television's WAGA, Fox 5, make this out as if this is the first time the SCV has had a specialty license plate. In my opinion, they have baited this story by seeking out responses from area Civil Rights Leaders and the organizations they represent such as the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC), founded by Mr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As would be expected, they have made loud and resounding negative comments and have deplored the State for allowing the Battle Flag to be displayed on Government issued tags. They cite the display of the Battle Flag as a serious insult and affront to every Negro in the country.
Since this is an election year, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has taken an "Obama-like" response to the whipped-up controversy by stating he had no idea this was taken place. While very plausible the Governor indeed had no idea, his response came off as nothing more than placation in order to gain votes in November.
According to State Law, a specialty plate can be offered to any group that gets a certain number of signatures, I believe just over 60,000, for an application for a specialty tag. The State charges a premium for the custom tag, then an additional annual fee. Of those fees, the sponsoring organization, in this case the Georgia Battalion, SCV, receives $10 annually of the proceeds. In the case of the Battalion, this has raised in excess of over $100,000 and is used for educational and memorial efforts. By Georgia Battalion rules, any Georgia SCV encampment may have access to these funds if they raise a small percentage of the estimated budget for their educational or memorial project, then the disbursement must be voted upon at the next Georgia Battalion Reunion, held the first of June each year.
While the State has approved the design for distribution, it has yet to be seen if the media-created furor over the tag will be enough for force the State to reconsider that approval. In a major election year, that very well could happen.
HL Hunley Continues to Reveal Major Secrets!
By Hal Doby from a report on CNN Online, February 16, 2014
Born and built amid gray-cloaked secrecy during the American Civil War, the H.L. Hunley -- the first submarine to sink an enemy ship -- has held tight to its murky mysteries.
The 150th anniversary of the Hunley's daring and dangerous raid will be marked this Monday, but the overarching question remains: What caused the submarine and its eight-member crew to slip to the bottom of the sea on the moonlit evening of February 17, 1864, after it signaled to shore a success that changed naval warfare.
The Hunley, housed at a laboratory in North Charleston, South Carolina, has yielded its secrets slowly and sparingly, even to researchers armed with the latest in technology.
Was the loss of the Hunley the result of the torpedo's detonation? An unsecured hatch? Or perhaps a lucky enemy shot that blasted a hole in the Confederate vessel's viewing port?
And why were the crew's remarkably preserved remains found at their stations, rather than jammed together near an escape hatch?
These and other questions continue to enthrall scientists and historians as the sesquicentennial is observed with tours and events in the Charleston area.
The Hunley Project, a consortium of researchers, scientists and state and federal agencies, this year begins a conservation phase that might add an important piece to the puzzle of what happened to the submarine. A chemical bath will peel away the final layer of sediment that covers the exterior of the well-constructed hull and the Hunley's interior.
"You are going to be blown away. You are going to look at the face of the submarine for the first time," says Paul Mardikian, the project's senior conservator.
Already, the Hunley impresses visitors who gaze down to a 90,000-gallon freshwater conservation tank. Dive planes and remnants of other submarine components, including ballast tanks, are evidence of the innovation and care of the sub's designers and builders.
Patrons at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center also see the encrusted sediment, known as concretion -- a mix of sand and remains of sea life -- that Mardikian likens to a "black box."
By removing the material, he says, researchers will be able to do more precise analysis of holes in the hull and its condition, the Hunley's speed and performance in the Atlantic Ocean and whether gunfire from the USS Housatonic, its target, contributed to the submarine's demise.
"If the submarine was hit by a bullet, you should be able to see that in the metal," says the conservator.
By combining new findings with previous study, including that of the remains of the crew, experts believe they will be able tell the complete story of what happened to the Hunley, which was brought to the surface amid much fanfare in August 2000.
"I am confident this is all going to fall into place," says Mardikian. But don't be surprised if everything falling into place won't result in a "smoking gun" that points to a single cause. "There may be several things (factors) happening at the same time," according to Mardikian.
Archaeologist Michael Scafuri says the team is trying to ascertain the truth of what happened that chilly night a few miles offshore from Charleston. But there are no guarantees.
"It is like detective work -- with a really cold case." 'Curious' submarine a danger to its crews, too. The cold case begins in Mobile, Alabama, where the Hunley was built for the Confederate government. The 40-foot vessel, described as "curious" looking and resembling a whale, had watertight hatches, two short conning towers, sea cocks, pumps and ballast tanks.
But there were shortcomings. There was constant concern about a sufficient oxygen supply for the crew, which limited its dive time. The captain had a difficult time monitoring certain movements.
The Hunley was dependent on the crew hand-turning a crank to power the single propeller. Batteries and a steam-powered engine proved impractical for the submersible.
"We don't know how well the submarine functioned," says Scafuri. "This is a case where they settled on what would work. That was hand power."
Confederate officials ordered the Hunley to Charleston, where it and other ships prepared to challenge a blockade of the harbor. The Federal Navy had deprived the Southern city of vital military supplies.
The Union fleet was well aware of the Hunley's danger -- to its own occupants.
Five members of the first crew died in August 1863 when it accidentally dived while its hatches apparently were open. The second crew's eight members succumbed in October when the Hunley failed to return to the surface.
The Confederate commander of Charleston, concerned about the loss of life and the expense of recovering the Hunley, ordered that any attack be made on the surface. Still, the vessel would be mostly under the water line during an attack.
Still, those who volunteered for the mission against the 205-foot USS Housatonic must have been well aware of the perils when approached by Hunley skipper Lt. George Dixon.
"This took some serious bravery here. I wouldn't want to go in there," says forensic genealogist Linda Abrams, who has conducted extensive research on the Hunley crew. "They know some other people had drowned in it. They had to have some faith in Dixon."
Dixon and his courageous crew, which included four European-born men, would target the Housatonic, the closest blockade ship.
Dixon routinely kept a worn good-luck charm in his pocket: A gold coin that was bent when he was wounded nearly two years before at the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee.
In 2001, the shiny talisman was found in the laboratory, along with Dixon's presumed remains. Only one crew member has been positively identified through DNA tests.
On a chilly February evening 150 years ago, the Hunley set out from Breach Inlet, which separates Sullivan's Island and what is now called the Isle of Palms. The vessel churned toward the Housatonic, about 4 miles away, at an estimated speed of 2 to 4 knots.
One of the crew members would have been in charge of bellows, providing sufficient air to breathe when the hatches were closed.
Friends of the Hunley, a nonprofit group established by South Carolina's Hunley Commission, provides a history of the mission on its website.
"While the cold bit through the lookout's coat ... men poured sweat over hand cranks that powered a spinning propeller while their captain manned the dive planes -- steering man, iron, anxiety and raw courage towards its final destination."
"A lookout aboard the Union Navy's largest ship was tired, cold -- but restless. Talk of a Confederate secret weapon was in and out of his thoughts. Suddenly he spotted something move in the chilly waters. A porpoise? There were certainly a lot of them around. But something about this one didn't seem right."
Alarms went out on the Housatonic, which carried 12 guns.
The Hunley was too close and low to be hit by artillery fire, so crew and officers of the Union ship fired small arms, rifles and even a shotgun at the approaching menace.
Once in place, a submarine crew member managed to pull the lanyard for the 135-pound torpedo, attached to a 16-foot spar that was still connected to the Hunley's bow.
The Housatonic sank within minutes.Five members of the Union vessel died; 150 others were rescued.
A Union sailor who climbed to the Housatonic's rigging and a Confederate observer on the shore reported seeing a blue light emanating from the Hunley, signaling mission accomplished.
"That indicates someone was conscious after the sinking of the Housatonic," says Robert Neyland, head of underwater archaeology for the Naval History and Heritage Command and former director of the Hunley Project.
But researchers have been unable to precisely pinpoint the source of the light -- whether it came from a lantern or pyrotechnic device that sent out various signal colors. And it's possible the light came from Union rescuers.
Experts looked at the Hunley's lantern, but found no evidence of blue glass.
"I think it was just Dixon's flashlight, to be honest," says Mardikian, the conservator.
One scenario holds that the Hunley was swamped by or struck by a Union vessel. Or that it plunged to the sea floor to avoid detection, and never made it back up. A latch on the forward conning toward was found to be not properly locked.
In January 2013, Hunley scientists, who work for the Clemson University Restoration Institute, reported a significant discovery.
"Until now, the conventional wisdom has been the Hunley would ram the spar torpedo into her target and then back away, causing the torpedo to slip off the spar," they said in a statement.
Instead, research showed the submarine was less than 20 feet from her torpedo when it exploded.
"There is overwhelming evidence to indicate this was not a suicide mission. The crew no doubt knew the dangers facing them, but still, they hoped to make it back home. They must have believed this was a safe enough distance to escape any harm," says South Carolina Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell, head of the Hunley Commission.
It's possible that the force of the explosion incapacitated the crew, eventually causing the sub to slide down into the chilly depths. Even a small hole or holes could have allowed water to seep or pour in.
"Everything we have tried to explain (as to) how the submarine worked, we were naïve in our approach," says Mardikian.
Researchers at the lab, while excavating the sub's interior silt that held the the human remains, found the eight Hunley crew members were still at or near their stations, despite an unsealed forward hatch.
"We don't see evidence of anyone trying to get out of the submarine. It could have been something catastrophic or they died with a certain amount of resignation," Neyland says.
Detailed examinations of the well-preserved remains of the crew looked for the tiniest of fractures or evidence of concussion. "We did not find any unhealed injuries to their skeletons," says Scafuri, the Hunley Project archeologist.
The team is still gathering and analyzing data on the physics and effects of the detonation on the Hunley and its doomed crew, he says. It also continues to analyze the source of holes in the hull, possibly from battle damage or exposure to currents and underwater conditions.
In 1995, the Hunley was finally located by a group led by author Clive Cussler. It rested in several feet of silt, largely protected from strong currents and the most corrosive effects of saltwater. The environment, mostly free of oxygen, left the skeletal remains and artifacts in amazing condition.
The submarine was brought to the surface five years later and was quickly placed back in protective water at the Lasch laboratory.
The federal and South Carolina governments have contributed an estimated $9 million or so between them on the recovery, lab and research. The Hunley, considered a spoil of war, is the property of the U.S. Navy.
About 40,000 visitors a year marvel at the Hunley, see exhibits and peer at facial reconstructions of the crew members.
Researchers found personal artifacts, including a wallet, watch, bandana, matchsticks and remains of tobacco pipes.
One mystery was answered relatively early in the excavation and conservation process.
"They didn't know whether these guys had escaped and tried to swim to shore," genealogist Abrams says of the Hunley crew. "Or whether they had been taken captive. There was no concrete knowledge that they were still inside."
Inside the sub, scientists found human hair, complete skeletons and skulls of eight people -- debunking one part of the legend that held that nine men were on board.
Abrams has spent years trying to learn more about the crew. She has learned a great deal, but is hampered by the fact that only one is known to have married and have children. And there are no known photographs of any.
Kellen Correia, executive director of Friends of the Hunley, says she expects a permanent museum to be built around the end of the decade, with expanded days of operation, instead of the current weekends.
For the anniversary of the attack, the first 150 visitors on Saturday and Sunday receive free replicas of Lt. Dixon's gold coin, which is on permanent display. Admission on Monday, the actual anniversary, is $1.50, compared to the normal $12 ticket.
Abrams, the genealogist, was to share her latest research on the crew at a $50 Saturday evening reception.
At 7 p.m. Monday -- timed to the hour the Hunley was making its way toward the Housatonic -- a memorial service will be held at Sunrise Presbyterian Church near Breach Inlet for those killed on both warships. Participants will then drop flowers into the water in remembrance.
Correia is accustomed to debates over the Hunley's demise.
"I love that it engages people," she says. "You know why the Titanic went down. With this, you don't have that known factor."
Confederacy is still active according to a History Channel Program!
By Hal Doby, February 16, 2014
Growing up in the 1960s, I certainly remember after President Kennedy was assassinated, how conspiracy theories began to pop up about almost everything, from how the government itself was behind Kennedy's death to how the Moon landing was faked. As an adult, I've found it most interesting to hear these theories and how people love to connect the dots to come up with their contentions.
On History2, there is a series called America Unearthed where forensic geologist Scott Wolter travels the country in an attempt to prove or debunk theories surrounding America's history. In the latest installment of this show, Wolter investigates the claim the John Wilkes Booth assassination of Union President Lincoln was a well planned out covert operation by the Conferate group, the Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC). But wait, its gets way better!!!
The Knights of the Golden Circle is explained as a super-exclusive, super-secret fraternal group, organized and run by a prestigious Mason. It is alleged that the KGC was set up based on Masonic style rituals and fundamental beliefs skewed to favor the Confederate Cause. It was contended that the KGC could be compared to modern day's FBI and CIA rolled into one large organization that had agents deeply placed into the inner working of the Union with a central office being located in Montreal Canada.
During the show, some claims are quickly thrown out and never challenged. Two of which were that President Lincoln's personal bodyguard was prevented from watching after Lincoln at Ford's Theater due a need to attend to other “pressing matters”. Another was that General Grant was invited to join the Lincolns at the theater, but was dissuaded from attending. It was inferred both men were intentionally kept from being with the President in order to give Booth a clear shot at a very unprotected target.
About a third of the way through the show, Wolter interviews Bob Brewer, author of Rebel Gold: One Man's Quest to Crack the Code Behind the Secret Treasure of the Confederacy. In his interview, the contends that as the War was coming to an end in favor of the Union, the KGC began to raise money through donations and thefts in order to fund a second war against the Federal Government.
Then it gets really weird when it is stated that the Knights of the Golden Circle survives to this day! They contend that KGC has morphed into “The New World Order”, a theorized group that is supposed to working to gain total control over the entire world. They further allege that the Georgia Guidstones were funded by KGC/Confederate funds.
Wow, just wow! I think it is totally plausible that Booth was a member of the Knights of the Golden Circle. I think it's also plausible they could have been a driving force behind Booth's successful assassination plot. But beyond that, I really don't know. This went way off on a tangent I truly did not expect. Is it worth your time in catching a replay during the countless times this show is going to air on H2? I think if you're into Confederate History, mostly likely, yes.
updated 9:49 AM EST, Fri November 15, 2013
(CNN) -- In what might be one of the oldest corrections in the history of journalism, the editorial board of a Pennsylvania newspaper has retracted its predecessor's famous panning of President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address as "silly remarks."
"Seven score and ten years ago, the forefathers of this media institution brought forth to its audience a judgment so flawed, so tainted by hubris, so lacking in the perspective history would bring, that it cannot remain unaddressed in our archives," the editors of The Patriot-News wrote Thursday, evoking the opening words and style of Lincoln's most famous speech.
Back then, the editors of the Patriot & Union newspaper -- an ancestor of today's Harrisburg paper -- thought so little of Lincoln's "silly remarks" that they hoped "the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them, and that they shall be no more reposted or thought of."
History didn't cooperate.
While mildly received on its delivery, the November 19, 1863, speech marking the consecration of the national cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, has gone on to become one of the most famous pieces of writing in the American canon -- inscribed on monuments, taught to schoolchildren and frequently surfacing in cultural references.
"Four score and seven years ago," Lincoln wrote in the speech's famous opening line, "our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
Filmmaker Ken Burns recently urged all Americans to learn and recite the speech, calling the address "some of the most important words ever spoken."
And so, on Thursday, the newspaper set the record straight:
"The world will little note nor long remember our emendation of this institution's record -- but we must do as conscience demands," the newspaper wrote.
"In the editorial about President Abraham Lincoln's speech delivered Nov. 19, 1863, in Gettysburg, the Patriot & Union failed to recognize its momentous importance, timeless eloquence, and lasting significance. The Patriot-News regrets the error."
Piece of Civil War ironclad brought to surface in Savannah
updated 7:38 AM EST, Thursday November 14, 2013
(CNN) -- She didn't have enough power to maneuver and effectively trade artillery rounds with enemy vessels in the swift Savannah River. Instead, the locally produced CSS Georgia, a one-of-a-kind ironclad produced for the Confederacy during the Civil War, became a stationary floating battery, bristling with artillery pieces.
She did her job.
The Yankees, intent on taking Savannah, Georgia, refused to take on the CSS Georgia or other nearby defense obstructions.
The CSS Georgia won the battle, but lost the war: The vessel was scuttled in December 1864 shortly before Union forces took Savannah and presented the city to President Abraham Lincoln as a Christmas present. The shipwreck has rested in the murky river since, rarely disturbed and having weathered the indignity of being hit during dredging a couple of times over the years.
This week, U.S. Navy divers, working with archaeologists for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, retrieved a 64-square-foot section of the ironclad, a precursor to the long-anticipated removal and preservation of the shipwreck so the city's vital shipping channel can be deepened.
The Corps expects to spend an estimated $9.5 million on the project. The removal is expected to begin in summer 2014, although funding has not been finalized.
"Over time the ship's casemate, the iron-covered upper portion of the warship, came apart," the Corps' Savannah District said in a statement Wednesday. "The small portion removed Tuesday will give archaeologists the ability to assess the condition of the remainder of the ship."
That remainder includes remaining cannon, pieces of the ship's power plant and propeller shaft and two chunks of the casemate.
Officials are excited because the recovery of the casemates -- the compartments where artillery pieces were housed -- is believed to be the first of a Confederate ironclad. One of the surviving casemates is huge: 68 feet by 24 feet.
Divers, who have only a few feet of visibility, have been assessing the CSS Georgia wreck, so they know what they will be facing next summer. The site is adjacent to Old Fort Jackson and the main shipping channel.
"This is just a small section. It was not cut off," Corps public affairs specialist Sandra Hudson said of the piece recovered Tuesday. "It was a small piece they found that would be the most viable to pull up."
Archaeologists have the challenge of preserving the CSS Georgia through chemical and other means, making her iron stable so that the remains one day can be displayed in museums.
This 5,000-pound chunk of casemate, lifted by crane onto a barge, is being sent to Texas A&M University for archaeological testing, Hudson said.
The remains of the CSS Georgia may answer some mysteries, including its dimensions and the manner of construction. The casemates were made of railroad iron. The vessel could handle 10 guns, though fewer were onboard when it was destroyed.
There are no known blueprints for the ironclad, which was produced in Savannah in 1862 as part of a defensive naval squadron. Its wreckage straddles the borders of Georgia and South Carolina.
According to the Corps, Savannah's harbor will be deepened from 42 feet to 47 feet, "greatly expanding its capability to handle larger cargo vessels."
The ongoing expansion of the Panama Canal means bigger ships will need deeper water at ports around the United States.
If things go as planned, the remains of the CSS Georgia and associated artifacts will be on the surface before the 150th anniversary of its sinking.
Full Moon gets Partial Blame for General Stonewall Jackson's Death
updated 9:43 AM EDT, Wed May 1, 2013
(CNN) -- A full moon hung just right in the night sky as the fierce Southern Army faced the encroaching Union troops in the spring of 1863.
Though they were outmanned and outgunned, the momentum of the war seemed to be on the side of Generals Robert E. Lee and "Stonewall" Jackson in Northern Virginia.
But the tide turned in the American Civil War not long after Jackson's own men inadvertently shot him that May night at the battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia.
And for that, say two researchers, Americans can thank that full moon.
It's an intriguing concept put forth by astronomer Don Olson and researcher Laurie E. Jasinski from Texas State University in a study appearing in this month's issue of Sky & Telescope magazine.
They say that when the men of the 18th North Carolina Infantry Regiment fired upon Jackson, the whitish lunar light likely obscured the target.
They didn't know it was him.
In other words, they say, a moon phase is partly responsible for the molding of a nation "dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal," as President Abraham Lincoln put it in the Gettysburg Address.
The two reconstructed the scene of the shooting using moon phases and maps, and published the results 150 years after the incident.
Moonlight or no?
History seems divided on whether or not the moon shone bright that night, the researchers say, but they back up their hypothesis with recorded anecdotal accounts.
"The Moon was shining very brightly, rendering all objects in our immediate vicinity distinct...," one confederate captain wrote years later. "The Moon poured a flood of light upon the wide, open turnpike."
Jackson rode out with a party of officers on a scouting mission to see if the Confederate Army could find a way to cut off Union Army troops, according to the National Park Service, which cares for the nation's Civil War battlegrounds.
They were shot as they returned.
Olson and Jasinski say that a Confederate officer spotted them in the moonlight and ordered his men to open fire.
Jackson was wounded in his left arm, which had to be amputated, according to the Virginia Military Institute, where Jackson taught.
He died from complications on May 10, 1863.
His arm was buried separate from the rest of his body.
The South went on to win the Battle of Chancellorsville, but without Jackson, took a decisive blow in July 1863 at the bloody Battle of Gettysburg, often thought of as the turning point of the war.
If Jackson's reconnaissance party was riding in bright moonlight, then his own men should have recognized them as they returned from the Union's side, but Olson and Jasinski say they did not -- for good reason.
"The 18th North Carolina was looking to the southeast, directly toward the rising moon," they said. It stood at "25 degrees above the horizon" at the time, just at the wrong angle.
"The bright moon would've silhouetted Jackson and his officers, completely obscuring their identities."
The Confederate infantrymen likely thought their own men returning were Union cavalrymen on the approach.
"Our astronomical analysis partially absolves the 18th North Carolina from blame for the wounding of Jackson," Olson says.
It comes too late for the man who gave the order to fire.
Maj. John D. Barry died at age 27 -- just two years after the end of the war.
"His family believed his death was a result of the depression and guilt he suffered as a consequence of having given the order to fire," the Virginia Military Institute site says.
Stonewall Jackson may have appreciated the Texas State researchers' hypothesis, not only because it would have alleviated the conscience of the men who took his life.
Before joining the Confederate Army, he was a science professor.
Civil War Sailors Laid to Rest 150 Years Later
From Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent
updated 2:54 PM EST, Fri March 8, 2013
Washington (CNN) -- The remains of two men found in the wreckage of the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor 11 years ago are being laid to rest Friday in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia after an extensive but unsuccessful quest to discover the sailors' identities.
In what seems like a real-life "CSI" episode, a military lab was able to narrow the remains' identities down to five or six men using DNA samples, facial reconstructions and bones -- but not to the individual sailors. With the measurements from the remains, examiners were able to determine scientifically the average height of the individuals and their age. One of the sailors' teeth had been worn away where he held a pipe his whole life.
The researchers also had other clues like the items and clothing left with the two men, including buttons from a uniform, a gold ring, a comb, some coins and a pair of mismatched shoes.
One of the sailors "had a different shoe on his left foot than he did on his right," said David Krop, the conservation project manager for the Monitor. "It is hard to explain why that is. One of the possible options is as these guys were leaving the ship the night of the sinking, it was chaotic, it was dark. Perhaps they just grabbed the nearest clothing they could find."
The Monitor's 1862 battle against the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia was perhaps the most famous naval engagement of the Civil War, signifying the end of wooden warships and the move to ironclad ones. The two ships traded point-blank shots at each other in the Battle of Hampton Roads before both withdrawing from the fight, each crew thinking the other had either been sunk or damaged enough to retire.
On December 30, 1862, the Monitor was caught in a storm while being towed off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Although equipped with various engines and pumps, the ship couldn't keep up with the volume of water rushing in, and it sank to the bottom with 16 sailors.
The Monitor went undetected until 1973. The two crew members' remains were discovered in 2002 some 240 feet below the surface in the ship's 120-ton turret. Due to the location of the remains, it's possible the two were trying to get out through the gun turret when the ship went down. In addition to the remains in the turret, there were shoes, coats, boots and other personal items -- as if the crew members had been discarding clothing to keep from being pulled down into the water as they tried to escape.
As they narrowed down the men's identities, investigators were able to eliminate African-American sailors and officers. The bones were Caucasian, and the buttons were not from officers' coats.
More than 30 living descendants of the crew were to attend the Arlington burial. Because the remains are being buried as unknown, these two men will represent all 16 lost.
"The definition of family in this particular case is a little different than in a contemporary casualty loss," Krop said. "They view them as their ancestors, and they are there to honor all 16."
David Alberg, superintendent of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, said the burials are part of a long military tradition.
"Whether it was 150 years ago or two weeks ago in Afghanistan, the nation's commitment to bringing (its) fallen home, laying them to rest and returning them to their families stays as strong today as it ever was."
Capt. Bobbie Scholley, who led Navy dives to the wreckage, agreed.
"We needed to take all the appropriate steps necessary to recover those sailors with all the honors and dignities," Scholley said.
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