Historical Society hosting Professor

Published 6:16 pm Monday, October 15, 2018

VALLEY — An author and researcher with a special interest in the Civil War era will be the guest speaker at the quarterly meeting of the Chattahoochee Valley Historical Society to be held at 3 p.m. EDT, Sunday, October 21 in Bradshaw-Chambers County Library’s Lanier Room. Dr. Keith S. Bohannon, professor of history at the University of West Georgia, Carrollton, will be discussing the Georgia Military Institute and its Civil War connection to West Point, Troup County and the west central Georgia region.

Located in Marietta, most of the buildings on the GMI campus were burned by Sherman’s troops in the 1864 Atlanta campaign. Prior to this, the wartime roster of GMI cadets contained the names of a number of young men from the West Point area with most of them being in their teen years. In late May 1864, a number of the cadets were sent by train to West Point for the purpose of guarding the railroad trestle over the Chattahoochee. Sherman was moving toward Atlanta at the time and it was feared that Union cavalry would be seeking out such targets.

The high point of the stay was the presentation of a flag reportedly hand sewn by Miss Mary Jones of Burke County, Ga. who implored them to display the same kind of courage shown by VMI cadets at the Battle of New Market. Those cadets earned lasting fame in a Field of Lost Shoes.

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The cadets would later endure two weeks of hazardous duty manning trenches during the Battle of Atlanta.

Dr. Bohannon writes of some of those cadets being killed in their service, some due to being hit by enemy shells and bullets and some dying back at home on leave, succumbing to diseases contracted in the field.

After the fall of Atlanta, the cadets endured more hardship, aiding Confederate troops in doing the best they could in slowing down Sherman’s March to the Sea. Their duty extended for several weeks after the war’s end when they were given the task of quelling riots by paroled Confederate soldiers in Augusta.

“Dr. Bohannon’s expertise is in the history of the Old South, the Civil War and Reconstruction,” said Dr. Mac Holderfield, editor of the CVHS publication “The Voice,” “He has co-authored two monographs and 21 published articles as well as multiple book reviews and professional journals.”

Holderfield adds that Bohannon’s research and writing covers topics ranging from  battlefield breastwork engineering, soldiers’ stories of battle and women’s wartime riots.

The public is encouraged to attend what should be an outstanding program. Special invitations have been issued for those who may be descendants of the GMI cadets from the west Georgia area.

Some of the cadets with West Point addresses include J. Dorsey, W.T. Sheppard, W. Baker, D.A. Jones, and W.W. Little.