Southern Museum Blog
The Southern Museum will host Virginia’s Civil War 150 HistoryMobile for a one-day visit on June 26 from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. The exhibit, an initiative of the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission, will be located at Depot Park across the street from the museum and admission is free.
The HistoryMobile exhibit will be followed at 7 pm by a lecture given by Michael Shaffer from The Civil War Center of Kennesaw State University. The Southern Museum will offer free admission during special late hours, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The public is invited to enjoy Shaffer’s lecture discussing the ‘Atlanta Campaign and the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain’ and then view the museum’s new temporary exhibit ‘1864’ which commemorates the 150th anniversary.
A tractor-trailer 'museum on wheels’ that is filled with interactive exhibits and activities, the HistoryMobile uses immersive spaces and interactive exhibits to draw together stories of the Civil War and emancipation from the viewpoints of those who experienced it across Virginia — young and old, enslaved and free, soldier and civilian. The HistoryMobile crosses the state visiting museums, schools, and special events. Its tour began in July 2011, and since then it has made over 120 stops and attracted visitors from every state and a number of other countries.
The HistoryMobile was named a 2013 Leadership in History Award of Merit winner by the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH). The award recognizes outstanding accomplishments in the collection, preservation, and interpretation of state and local history. The Award of Merit is one of the nation’s most prestigious recognitions of achievement in state and local history.
More information on the Civil War 150 HistoryMobile and the initiatives of the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission can be found at www.VirginiaCivilWar.org.
Dr. Richard Banz, executive director of the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History, recently received the Eli White Award from the Old Guard of the Gate City Guard of Atlanta.
This annual award has been given since 1967 and is presented to a citizen of Georgia who has shown distinguished support for the military. Banz received it during a Friday, May 2 ceremony at the Southern Museum’s special “1864” exhibition opening.
“I am incredibly grateful to have received the Eli White Award,” said Banz. “Preserving history is my job but also my passion. I am proud to demonstrate support for the military both past and present and honor its contributions and importance. Recognition by this esteemed group is a true honor.”
Descendants of a participant in the Civil War’s Great Locomotive Chase on Saturday donated a 110-year-old Medal of Honor to the Southern Museum.
The family also donated written accounts and personal belongings of Wilson W. Brown, who in 1862, was part of a group of Union soldiers who stole the General locomotive from Kennesaw as part of a daring bid to destroy the Western & Atlantic Railroad between Atlanta and Chattanooga.
Brown was bestowed the Medal of Honor in 1863 for his participation in the Chase, also known as The Andrews’ Raid. The Medal his descendants donated on Saturday was a duplicate Brown received in 1904.
“We are honored to receive this rare Medal of Honor given to a true American hero,” said Dr. Richard Banz, executive director of the Southern Museum. “This Medal will be enshrined alongside other artifacts related to the Great Locomotive Chase and will help us continue telling the story of this remarkable event for generations to come.”
In addition to the Medal, the family donated a letter Brown received in 1906 from William A. Fuller Jr., the son of the Confederate conductor who famously pursued the Raiders from what is today Kennesaw north to Ringgold, Ga., where the Raid ended, and a handwritten account of the Raid that Brown penned in 1909; the manuscript has not been published in its entirety.
“Our family wanted to donate this cherished family artifact to the Southern Museum for many years, and we are proud it will be displayed just feet away from the General locomotive,” said Ed Ward, the great grandson of Brown. “We are gratified the Medal of Honor will be used to educate future generations about the Great Locomotive Chase, and the sacrifices so many made during the Civil War.”
The Brown Medal is the second Medal from a Raider the Museum has received. In 2012, the Medal awarded to Sgt. John M. Scott for his participation in the Raid was donated to the Museum.
The descendants of Wilson W. Brown this weekend will donate a 110-year-old Medal of Honor to the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History.
In April 1862, Brown was one of The Andrews’ Raiders, a group of Union soldiers who stole the locomotive “General” and fled toward Chattanooga, Tenn., tearing up track, cutting telegraph wires and destroying bridges with the goal of destroying Confederate supply lines. Brown was the Engineer of the General on the day of the Raid and was selected for the raid specifically because of his previous railroad engineering experience.
While the Andrews’ Raid — also known as the Great Locomotive Chase — failed to achieve its main objective, the participants were the first to receive the Medal of Honor for their participation in the heroic endeavor.
Following the Chase, Brown, along with the other Raiders, was captured and imprisoned by Confederate soldiers, but eventually succeeded in a daring escape and made it on foot back to the Union lines after six months imprisonment in harsh conditions. In November 1862, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant and later saw action at the Battle of Stones River in Middle Tennessee, at the Battle of Dug Gap near Dalton and at the Battle of Chickamauga, where he was severely wounded.
The donation will culminate the Museum’s Descendants’ Weekend expected to be attended by more than 150 relatives of the 22 men who participated in the Chase. The Medal will complement one given to fellow Raider Sgt. John M. Scott in 1863. Scott’s descendants donated a Medal to the Southern Museum in 2012 to coincide with the sesquicentennial of the Raid.
Interestingly, Al Ward, the great grandson of Brown, saw the General in 1963 in his hometown of Toledo, Ohio, as the locomotive made a trip through Ohio as part of the Raid’s centennial commemoration. The Southern Museum recently spoke with Ward about Brown and what it means to donate the Medal to the Museum; the following transcript of that conversation has been edited for length.
What does it mean to be related to Wilson Brown?
It significant to us that our forebear, Wilson W. Brown, was a volunteer in the Union Army and participated in the Raid without knowing at the time the details of what he was volunteering for. We think that’s significant. The family’s always been proud of that history. We do appreciate very much what he did for the country.
Why did the family decided to donate the Medal now?
It was the hope for many, many years … that we could do something along these general lines — to put it where the public could see it, appreciate it and perhaps other generations could become aware of some of the sacrifices that ordinary people made in extraordinary ways.
(After the older generation passed), we decided it was time after many years to place the medal in a museum where it could be preserved and where Wilson Brown’s story could be told and honored. So, that all led to the decision to find an appropriate place. We thought since the General was already housed in the Southern Museum that it would be fitting if the Medal earned by Great Grandfather Brown on April 12, 1862, could at last be placed within a stone’s throw of the locomotive itself.
What has the story as a whole meant to your family over the years?
I guess the story just signified what ordinary men can do when they are faced with extraordinary challenges. And, that’s not an original thought with me; that was a statement made by Admiral Bull Halsey in World War II when he was congratulated as being an extraordinary man. He said there are no extraordinary men; there are only ordinary men who by circumstances are called upon to do extraordinary things.
I’m sure that’s the way Grandpa Brown looked at it, and that’s the way the family looks at it. It was service above and beyond. A bunch of young guys, about 24 years old on average, went off 200 or so miles below enemy lines risking their lives for the sake of their country.
What do you hope people take away from seeing the Medal?
We hope that they get the idea by looking at the medal and reading his story that here’s a guy who without any special equipment and just ordinary in intelligence put it all on the line when he was called upon to do so. They did not succeed in the stated mission, but the daring and heroic nature of the event generated quite a time of enthusiasm or the raising the spirits among people supporting the Union.
This brought a bright light of hope to the North, and grandpa was a contributor to that. We just hope they would look at it as an important, interesting time of history, and that people from any and all walks of life can come to the fore and do what their country needs them to do when the circumstances dictate.
Visiting the Southern Museum and Kennesaw, where the Raid started, must have been quite an experience.
It put it all into three-dimensions. I could go up there into the cab and let my imagination take over and see myself pushing the throttle just like Great Grandpa Brown and sending the locomotive on up the rails and into history.
The Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History will host a members-only event on May 2 to kick off the Museum’s new “1864” special exhibit.
Wayne Motts, director of the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, Pa., will deliver the keynote address during the event, which starts at 7 p.m. on May 2. The temporary exhibit is open to the public 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 “1864” exhibit features letters, interactive lessons and a number of never-before-displayed artifacts that identify how the tactics of warfare changed and 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 to enhance the visitor experience of the display.
Thank you to the event sponsor:
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.
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.
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).