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1864-1Summer of 1864 Still Resonates 150 Years Later

By Jonathan Scott, curator of the Southern Museum

This summer marks the sesquicentennials of General William T. Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign and March to the Sea, two military episodes that forever changed the Georgia landscape.

While it’s been 150 years since Sherman and his troops wreaked havoc on our state, the stories of those who witnessed and survived this devastation are as vivid and as relevant today as they were in 1864. It is important that we remember and study the events of that year to better understand its historical significance as well as how it helped to shape the future of Georgia.

Starting this May, the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History will host a special exhibit titled “1864.” To tell the story, we are relying on rare artifacts, photographs, and letters which will allow our visitors to get a sense of the situation experienced by soldiers and citizens alike as that dreadful year got underway.

Until 1864, Georgia escaped much of the devastation and hardships other Southern states – mainly Virginia and Tennessee – had endured during the first three years of fighting. The Great Locomotive Chase of 1862 and the 1863 Battle of Chickamauga are two exceptions; neither, however, resulted in widespread destruction. The southward march of Sherman and his troops from Chattanooga to Atlanta and beyond thus signaled a dramatic change for Georgians.

By early 1864, the ways in which the Civil War was fought were rapidly changing as technology improved, tactics shifted, and hearts hardened. Sherman’s March devastated parts of Georgia’s landscape and left some citizens barely able to survive. We hope to tell the stories of not just the soldiers and military strategists, but some of these everyday citizens who endured hardships at the hands of warring armies.

One of those who participated in the fighting was Capt. George Hudson, a captain in the 36th Georgia. Publically available for the first time will be scans and transcriptions of letters that Hudson wrote to and received from his wife, Sarah, as well as other family members.

"I want to live through this war for your sakes. I will try to be a better Husband and Father Than what I have been,” Hudson wrote in one heartbreaking letter which was donated to the Museum in 2006.

Even though it’s been 15 decades since the Civil War was fought, the stories of Hudson and others who lived during this transformative time in our nation’s history remain as relevant as ever. The sesquicentennial gives us an opportunity to reflect on their lives, as well as the broader impact of the war in the century-and-a-half since.

The events of 1864 are perhaps the most pivotal in our nation’s history, and laid the groundwork for the end of the war the following year. The return of peace opened new doors of opportunity, and the former Confederate states began to industrialize. Companies such as Marietta’s Glover Machine Works, a locomotive builder the Southern Museum highlights in one of its permanent exhibits, brought new opportunities to the region.

The thousands of soldiers and citizens who gave their lives in the Kennesaw area, North Georgia, and across the nation during the Civil War should be remembered. We hope you will take a moment this summer to reflect and pay tribute.

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Blue Ridge Scenic Railway Trip Supports Southern Museum

Proceeds from the March 22 excursion on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway benefit the Kennesaw Museum Foundation in its support of the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History.

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1864-1Southern Museum to Commemorate Sesquicentennial of Atlanta Campaign, Sherman’s March

The Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History will commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Atlanta Campaign and the final full year of the Civil War with a special exhibit.

From May 3 until July 20, precisely 150 years after Union troops under Gen. William T. Sherman wreaked havoc on the north Georgia landscape, the Southern Museum will host its “1864” exhibit.

The exhibit, which features letters, interactive exhibits and a number of never-before-displayed artifacts, examines both how the tactics of warfare changed as well as the war’s effect on soldiers and civilians alike. On Fridays through Sundays throughout the duration of the exhibit, Southern Museum staff will offer interpretive programs aimed at bringing the exhibit to life.

“By early 1864, how soldiers fought in battle was rapidly changing as strategy, tactics and weapons improved,” said Dr. Richard Banz, Executive Director of the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History. “Residents of north Georgia had yet to fully feel the impact of the war that had been raging for nearly three years.

“Sherman’s March devastated parts of Georgia’s landscape and left some citizens barely able to survive,” Banz said. “Our hope is that guests will have a better understating of how the war impacted the lives of not just the soldiers doing the fighting, but also the residents forced to grapple with its consequences on the home front.”

Kennesaw, known as Big Shanty during the Civil War, was the location of two battles during 1864 and witnessed three separate occupations by Union and Confederate troops.

Artifacts that will help tell the story include the snare drum and equipment used in Big Shanty by Pvt. Jesse Thornburgh (39th Iowa); letters from Capt. George Hudson (36th Georgia); letters and receipts from Union soldiers stationed in Big Shanty; and original ambrotypes of two brothers who served in the 7th New Hampshire. The special exhibit will also feature a number of weapons, including muzzle loading rifles and repeating carbines.

Southern Museum members will have an exclusive opportunity to preview the exhibit a day before it opens to the public. Wayne Motts, director of the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, Pa., will deliver a lecture during the special members-only event on May 2.

Museum admission is $7.50 for adults, $6.50 for seniors, $5.50 for children ages 4-12, and free for children three and under as well as Museum members. The Museum is located at 2829 Cherokee Street in downtown Kennesaw (exit 273 on Interstate 75).

For more information, call (770) 427-2117 ext. 3058, visit or follow the Museum at

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Perishable Foods- 1st place18th Annual Great Locomotive Chase Golf Tournament Set for April 28

The Kennesaw Museum Foundation will host the 18th Annual Great Locomotive Chase Golf Tournament on April 28 at Pinetree Country Club in Kennesaw.

Registration for the tournament opens at 10:00 a.m. on the day of the tournament. The welcoming ceremony is scheduled for 11:30 a.m., a half-hour before the noon shotgun start.

Players will be treated to a progressive lunch during the tournament. Following the conclusion of play, Carrabba’s Italian Grill at Town Center will provide participants a courtesy dinner.

Sponsorship opportunities for this year’s tournament are:

  • Tournament Sponsor ($2,500): In addition to playing privileges and full mulligan packages for four players, including PGA gift cards, raffle tickets and a pair of mulligans. The Tournament Sponsorship also features recognition in all materials and news releases; a one year naming opportunity within the Museum; premier VIP recognition on the Tournament’s Donors Board; a free museum day for employees; and an annual Bronze Corporate Museum Membership.
  • Team Sponsor ($1,000): Playing and range privileges for four players.
  • Participating Green Sponsor ($250): Provides opportunity to network with players and distribute promotional material at the driving range and assigned green.
  • Individual Player ($250):  Playing and range of privileges for one player.
  • Tee Sponsor ($100): Provides prominent tee or green sponsorship sign at the tournament.

Marietta law firm Bentley, Bentley and Bentley is the title sponsor for this year’s tournament. Proceeds from the event will support the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History’s ongoing mission of programming and education.

For more information or to register, visit or call (770)427-2117 ext. 3174 or email

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March 22 Blue Ridge Scenic Railway Excursion to Benefit Kennesaw Museum Foundation

Proceeds from the March 22 excursion on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway will benefit the Kennesaw Museum Foundation in its support of the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History.

The train departs Blue Ridge at 11 a.m. and travels north along the Toccoa River, winding through the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains. After an hour-long journey north, the train stops at the twin border towns of McCaysville, Ga., and Copperhill, Tenn.

Passengers will have two hours at the Georgia-Tennessee line to tour, shop and dine before the return trip back to Blue Ridge.

When purchasing tickets both online and by phone, guests should use select Closed Coach 105 or 106 and use the code “Museum” to receive a 10 percent discount to ensure the proceeds benefit the Kennesaw Museum Foundation. With the discount, tickets are $28 for adults, $24.30 for seniors and $17.10 for children.

For more information on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, visit or call (877) 413-8724. The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is located at 241 Depot Street in downtown Blue Ridge.

For more information on the Southern Museum, call (770) 427-2117 ext. 3058, visit or follow the Museum at

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DSC_5796Southern Museum Gala Will Honor Fred D. Bentley Sr.

The Kennesaw Museum Foundation will honor local attorney Fred D. Bentley Sr. during its annual fundraising gala.

The event, “An Evening with the General,” is scheduled from 6:30-9 p.m. on Friday, March 7, at the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History. Bentley’s law firm has represented the City of Kennesaw as legal counsel for more than 35 years.

“Mr. Bentley has been a longtime financial supporter of the Southern Museum,” Museum Executive Director Dr. Richard Banz said. “He has also donated numerous historic artifacts and offered invaluable legal counsel.”

The evening will include a silent auction and raffle. Guests will also have the rare opportunity to climb aboard the General. Heavy hors d’oeuvres and beer/wine will be served. Dress is cocktail attire.

Tickets for the gala are $75. For information on sponsorship opportunities or to purchase tickets, call 770-427-2117, ext. 3174 or email

The title sponsor for this event is Atlanta Bonded Warehouse.

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Trains 2014_001Huge Attendance for Southern Museum’s Fourth Annual Trains, Trains, Trains

More than 2,000 people turned out Saturday for the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History’s fourth annual Trains, Trains, Trains event.

Museum visitors explored model train layouts, vendors selling train-themed wares and various activities geared toward families.

“We’re grateful to everyone who attended, and we hope everyone had as much fun today as we did,” said Kelly Briscoe, the museum’s event coordinator. “This event is fun for kids of all ages when they have the opportunity to get up and close with trains.”

To view photos from Saturday’s event, visit

“Trains, Trains, Trains is the first of many family friendly events we have on the schedule for 2014,” Briscoe said. “We’re looking forward to seeing everyone at our future events.”

The Southern Museum’s next special event is Feb. 22 when it will be open for free during regular hours (9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.). Visitors can explore the Museum’s permanent exhibits to learn about the Great Locomotive Chase, one of the Civil War’s most thrilling episodes, and a full-scale replica of The Glover Machine Works, a locomotive factory in nearby Marietta that helped rebuild the South after the Civil War.

For more information, call (770) 427-2117, visit or follow the museum at

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01_470List: Why It’s Okay to Like Trains…No Matter Your Age

In advance of the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History’s “Trains, Trains, Trains” event on Jan. 25, the Museum’s staff researched the many reasons it is acceptable to like trains at every age. Here are eight reasons everyone, whether young or old, should like trains.

1. Trains are powerful…really powerful.

Consider this: A freight train can easily weigh more than 200,000 pounds – this is equivalent to more than a dozen elephants.

2. You’re in control

On the full-size trains, one person, the conductor, is in charge of all of that power. Now, if you shrink to model size, you're in complete control.

3. Trains make everyone happy

It’s as simple as this: Trains make kids happy – no matter their age. And, when kids tire out, parents can step in and play.

4. Trains ignite nostalgia

Almost everyone has memories of watching trains pass through their hometowns or traversing farmland. Who hasn’t played the “Counting How Many Boxcars” game?

5. Everyone looks good in a conductor hat

Try one. You’ll look good, we promise.

6. Trains make great stories

Throughout history, trains developed countless communities; they have shaped history and continue to impact the world today. Throughout the ages, the best stories begin with a train.

7. Who hasn’t dreamed of being a hobo?

The hobo rule-free life on the rails has been a common theme in literature throughout history.

8. You make friends when you play with trains

Playing with trains brings people together and allows everyone to connect using their imaginations and creativity. Besides, you can never have too many friends.

The Southern Museum is looking forward to seeing you on Jan. 25. Click here to learn more about “Trains, Trains, Trains” or to purchase tickets.

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Southern Museum, LCCA to Host Autism Awareness Day

The Southern Museum, in conjunction with Autism Speaks and the Lionel Collectors Club of America (LCCA), will host a special day for families affected by autism on March 1 from 9 am - noon.

Three different types of model train layouts for children of different ages and needs will be provided by LCCA and museum. Other features include a sensory friendly room with puzzles and activities and special showings of the museum’s Great Locomotive Chase movie. Staff and volunteers from Autism Speaks will be present to assist during the event and offer information and local resources for families.

“The museum staff is looking forward to this collaboration” said Dena Bush, Museum Director of Operations. “We want all our visitors to have a positive museum experience and this partnership will reach out to a community that sometimes is overlooked.”

Reservations for tickets and further information will be available beginning January 8 on the museum website, Reservations are recommended.

Autism Speaks, founded in 2005, is now the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization, funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a possible cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. To learn more, please visit

LCCA, founded in 1970, is a national, not-for-profit, volunteer organization whose purpose is to promote and foster interest, research, education and enjoyment of Lionel trains. LCCA hosts several special events in various cities around the country. For more information, please visit

For more information on this event or to reserve a ticket, call Dena Bush, at 770-427-2117, extension 3184, or e-mail

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1459280_10151756764986791_324542509_nRevived Polar Express Adventure Proves Popular

More than 800 people turned out to the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History today to interact with elves in their temporary holiday shop and meet Santa Claus.

The Polar Express Adventure returned to the Museum’s lineup of events in 2013 following a hiatus and proved to be as popular as ever. Guests felt like they were transported to the North Pole as they wrote letters to Santa and met the jolly fellow himself during the Adventure.

The evening began as a train conductor and a hobo greeted guests and told them what was in store during their festive and family friendly evening. Guests then made holiday crafts and watched elves make toys in their temporary holiday shop located in the Museum’s Glover Machine Works exhibit.

“Kids young and old enjoyed the chance to make their own Christmas crafts and interact with Santa,” said Kelly Briscoe, the Southern Museum’s event coordinator. “As it was in years past, the Polar Express Adventure was popular among Metro Atlanta families, and we are looking forward to being a part of our visitors’ holiday traditions for many years to come.”

In addition to mingling with elves and Santa, guests enjoyed a holiday-themed model train layout that was on display during the event.

GEICO was the title sponsor for the event, while the Acworth location of Home Depot served as the secondary sponsor. The popular event is expected to return in December 2014.

To see more pictures from the event, please visit the Museum's Facebook page. The Museum's next major event, Trains, Trains, Trains, is scheduled for Jan. 25, 2014.

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Our Current Exhibits

The GeneralThe Great Locomotive Chase Railroads ExhibitRailroads: Lifelines of the Civil War Glover FactoryGlover Machine Works Family Fun in the Education CenterThe Jolley Education Center Special ExhibitSPECIAL: "1864" (May 3-July 20)