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Confederate Memorial Day observances begin Saturday

Occurring in the midst of Confederate History and Heritage Month, Bartow’s Confederate Memorial Day commemorations will begin Saturday with the Gen. P.M.B. Young Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy’s observance. Other public programs will be coordinated by the Stiles-Akin Camp No. 670 Sons of Confederate Veterans April 29 and Kingston Woman’s History Club April 30.

“[We hope attendees gain] a little knowledge, maybe spark an interest in their ancestors, and what happened in this county,” said Dale Black, commander of the Stiles-Akin Camp.

Still observed locally, Confederate Memorial Day is no longer officially recognized by the state of Georgia. Instead of marking Confederate Memorial Day, the fourth Monday in April now is referred to as “state holiday” on Georgia’s calendar.

Gen. P.M.B. Young Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy

Starting at 11 a.m., members of the Gen. P.M.B. Young Chapter will conduct their ceremony at Olin Tatum Agricultural Building’s Stiles Auditorium, 320 W. Cherokee Ave. in Cartersville.

“We feel it’s important to observe [Confederate Memorial Day], because it’s our heritage,” said Ann Bridges-Jones, registrar for the Gen. P.M.B. Young Chapter. “We not only honor our Confederate veterans, but we honor veterans of all wars. We feel ... that’s very important, especially now. [I hope the public takes away] a sense of history and pride in our country concerning the sacrifice of veterans in all wars.”

The event will feature guest speaker Robert Jones, president of the Kennesaw Historical Society, and a pair of Crosses of Military Service will be presented to Vietnam War veterans. After refreshments are served, UDC members will place a wreath at the Confederate Monument.

For more information on the program, call Shirley Hamby at 770-224-8656.

Stiles-Akin Camp No. 670 Sons of Confederate Veterans

Observances will continue April 29 at 10 a.m. with the Cassville Confederate Memorial Day Service at the Old Cassville Cemetery.

During the ceremony, Etowah Valley Historical Society Vice President Joe Head will speak about Camp Foster, Laney House will perform music, an honor guard will be provided by the Gilmer Light Guards Camp and Ladies in Mourning will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony.

“My initial interest in this topic was simply an opportunity to uncover a lost story to Bartow history that I thought needed to be salvaged before it vanished forever,” Head said. “Camp Foster was the result of Georgia’s Civil War Gov. Joseph Brown’s effort to establish a bridge guard to protect the Western & Atlantic Railroad in selected counties. Long forgotten, Camp Foster stood near the Etowah River Bridge adjacent to U.S. 41 and was constructed to protect the bridge from Union saboteurs. While not a walled stockade or heavy earthworks, it was likely a field camp with drilling activity, surveillance and picketing duties. Its precise location is not certain, but my research offers a sound case for its purpose and likely a reasonable position on the south side of the river.

“Camp Foster is an example of one of many forgotten installations, camps, fortifications or garrisons that once existed during the Civil War. As with most wars, many such sites are lost to residential and commercial development or literally abandoned, overgrown, scavenged or vandalized to the point of non-existence. Typically, such sites are only faintly remembered or found in personal letters, oral history or briefly mentioned in historical documents with obscure reference to location.”

Incorporated in the early 1830s, Cassville became the most prominent town in northwest Georgia, featuring a courthouse, businesses, hotels and two colleges. While Cassville was under Union occupation beginning in May 1864, it was not destroyed by the 5th Ohio Regiment until Nov. 5. Only three churches and three residences remained, some of which were serving as makeshift hospitals.

In addition to the town’s transformation, its cemetery still shows evidence of the impact that the Civil War had on Cassville with its display of around 300 Confederate graves. Cassville’s downfall reinforced that Cartersville, which was reaping the economic benefits of having the Western & Atlantic Railroad routed through its downtown, would receive the residents’ vote to become the county seat in 1867.

“[This observance is important because] all that’s left of the town of Cassville is the cemetery,” Black said. “There’s 300-plus Confederate graves in that cemetery, and it revolves around what happened in the War Between the States. All the hospitals were there in Cassville. They treated those soldiers and over 500 of them died.”

Kingston Woman’s History Club

On April 30, the observances will conclude with Kingston Woman’s History Club’s 153rd Confederate Memorial Day Service.

Starting at 2:30 p.m, the program will feature a presentation from Michael Shaffer, instructor at Kennesaw State University’s College of Continuing and Professional Education, at the Kingston United Methodist Church, 26 E. Main St. in Kingston. Afterward, attendees will proceed to the Kingston Civil War Cemetery, where children will participate in a grave decoration service conducted by American Legion Carl Boyd Post 42. A tea will wrap up the offering at the Kingston Museum, Martha Mulinix Annex.

According to materials provided by the Kingston Woman’s History Club, “During the Civil War, the women of Kingston began a springtime rite of decorating the soldiers’ graves with flowers in the town’s ever-swelling cemetery. In the spring of 1865, the town was under Union military rule. When the women requested permission from the military commander to continue their tradition, they were told that they would have to decorate all the soldiers’ graves. By then, hundreds of Union soldiers lay in the hillside as well. The women agreed, and thus Decoration Day, the forerunner of Memorial Day, was begun.

“The Kingston Woman’s History Club continues the tradition to this day. The Kingston Confederate Memorial Day Service, which was one of the first services of this type in the nation, has honored all fallen soldiers for 153 consecutive years.”

For more information, call Nettie Holt at 770-386-0146.

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