Fitzgerald was settled as an “Old Soldiers’ Colony” by a Union veteran and was known in its early days as a place of reconciliation, where veterans from both sides of the Civil War lived side by side in relative harmony. Fitzgerald’s Blue & Gray Museum, was established in the old Lee-Grant Hotel by Beth Davis in 1960 to document this fascinating history. It’s now located in the restored Atlanta, Birmingham & Atlantic Railway depot. The story is also told on the city seal, designed by David Jay. It depicts a Union and Confederate soldier shaking hands, flanked by the flags of their respective sides. The museum has evolved over the years to include other aspects of local history.
The early settlers of Fitzgerald were very involved in commemorating the Civil War. Union settlers were members of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) and the Women’s Relief Corps (WRC) and Southern settlers were part of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV) and the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC).
Henry Bruner, the last Union veteran in the colony died in 1940, and William Joshua Bush, the last surviving Confederate veteran in Georgia, died at the age of 107 in 1952. Personal items belonging to these men, and other veterans, are part of the museum collection.
Beth Davis was focused on the early history of the community, and initiated a “Roll Call of the States” to reflect the diverse background of the pioneers. It was her tradition to photograph people from other states when they visited. This was also a part of the pageant Davis wrote to celebrate the city’s history, “Our Friends, the Enemy”.
Alongside Civil War relics, ephemera related to the town’s commercial and educational history are a big part of the collection. Fitzgerald’s large railroad presence is also highlighted.
It took many years, and is still incomplete, but the story of Fitzgerald’s black community is now included in the museum. This is an area that I hope to see expanded through community input.
I’ve served on the board of the Blue & Gray board for nearly ten years and am proud of my hometown’s history and my connection to it. I spent many afternoons with Beth Davis, often taking her home because she never learned to drive. Beth’s daughter Betty graduated from high school with my father and her daughter Julia graduated with my mother. David Jay was part of a regular tennis doubles group with my father for many years and played as well as most men half his age. Janie Law, stepdaughter of William Joshua Bush, graduated from Fitzgerald High School with my grandmother and was a family friend, as well.
The museum is open from 10-4 on weekdays (excluding holidays) and admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children. Call for more information: 229-423-5069.
The congregation of Mt. Ararat Methodist Church was organized in 1824. The sign on the church notes that the church was built in 1824, but a marker at the entrance to the cemetery notes that the church was destroyed by Sherman’s army in the winter of 1864. It’s possible that elements of the old structure were incorporated into the present structure.
The vernacular Greek Revival form was very common in 19th century Georgia.
This historic chimney, standing 150 feet tall, is all that remains of the Confederate Powder Works, which was the only major industrial facility built by the Confederate States. Augusta was chosen as the site of the powder works for the ready power source provided by the adjacent canal and good railroad infrastructure. Lieutenant Colonel George Washington Rains oversaw the construction of the project and Major Charles Shaler Smith was the chief architect and engineer. Construction began in 1862 and when complete consisted of 26 well-spaced buildings stretching two miles along the Augusta Canal. It was soon the second largest powder works in the world. Around 2.75 million pounds of gunpowder were produced here until operations ended in April 1865, though production was slowed by a massive explosion in August 1864. When the Powder Works was demolished during a widening of the canal between 1872-1875, the chimney was saved as a monument at the request of Colonel Rains, who remained in Augusta and later became dean of the Medical College of Georgia. The adjacent Sibley Mill was not part of the Confederate Powder Works but was constructed with bricks leftover from the ruins of the complex.
Augusta Canal Industrial District, National Register of Historic Places + National Historic Landmark + Augusta Canal National Heritage Area
The original section of this structure, dating to circa 1851, served as a mission of the Presbyterian Church, and though that congregation was not successful, the location was used as a Sunday School for enslaved Blacks during the Civil War. It later served as the Greene Street Methodist church before it became the Union Baptist Church in 1883. The Augusta architectural firm of MacMurphy & Story created the exquisite structure seen today in 1888. The Society of Architectural Historians considers it “one of the finest Carpenter Gothic buildings in the state” and I concur. Historic Augusta, Inc., restored the structure for the congregation between 1997-2010.
Greene Street Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
This is one of the most outstanding Greek Revival houses in Georgia and is well-maintained. I believe it was built by Thomas T. Napier, whose Virginia-born father, Thomas Napier, owned over 6000 acres in Bibb and surrounding counties at the time of his death in 1838. Thomas T. Napier also built a home in Ringgold in 1836. I will do my best to clarify this history when I can better discern the genealogy.
St. Paul A. M. E. is the most historic Black church in Rome, established in 1884. A plaque placed by the Rome Area Heritage Foundation notes that this church was built incorporating the sanctuary of the1852 Rome Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and that it was purchased by St. Paul in 1884. A cornerstone dates the building to 1899 and I believe that is when it took on its present appearance. Perhaps this indicates the year that the steeple was added.
Between the Rivers Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
Ainsworth Emory Blunt, Sr., (22 February 1800-21 December 1865) was born in Amherst, New Hampshire and in the 1820s came to Chattanooga as a missionary with the American Board of Foreign Missions to teach English, religion, and agriculture to Cherokee natives of the Brainerd Mission. After traveling with some of the Cherokee on the Trail of Tears, he returned to Chattanooga and helped establish the First Presbyterian Church there. He moved to Dalton, then known as Cross Plains, around 1843, and built a successful mercantile business with his son-in-law Benjamin Morse.
Blunt served as the first mayor and first postmaster of Dalton. He built this Federal Style house, the second oldest house and the first two-story example in Dalton, in 1848. In 1863 and 1864, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston and his staff were entertained by the Blunt family in this home. After the Confederates pushed south toward Atlanta, Union forces used the house as a field hospital. It remained in the ownership of Blunt’s descendants until 1978. The house is now a museum operated by the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society.
This congregation was organized on 2 September 1837 as the Chickamauga Presbyterian Church and is believed to be the first church in what is now Catoosa County. A log cabin and nearby home served as the first meeting places. The organizers were a group of Scotch Irish Presbyterians from Tennessee or the Carolinas and the charter members were Robert Magill, James H. McSpadden, Robert C. Cain, Sarah Black, Alfred McSpadden, Fanny Magill, Susan McSpadden, Winfred Cain, Margaret Cain and Nancy Tipton.
In 1850 construction on this structure began. Member Robert Magi and his brothers hauled limestone quarried at White Oak Mountain to this site and the church was completed in 1852. The church served as a Confederate hospital during the Civil War, and was also commandeered for use by Union troops. The name was changed to Stone Church in 1912 and in 1921 it was transferred to a Methodist congregation. It was used by other congregations subsequently and is now owned and maintained by the Catoosa County Historical Society.
There are over 500 monuments and markers within the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, the majority of which were placed between 1890-1910. This is a very small sampling of them and in no particular order or preference. It would take several days to document them all. Text from the monuments or accompanying markers is included, as well as the dates they were erected. These monuments represent the greatest collection of public sculpture in Georgia and even someone with little interest in the Civil War should appreciate them from an aesthetic perspective.
26th Ohio Infantry, 1st Brigade, 1st Division. 21st Army Corps. (Erected 1894 by the State of Ohio)
This Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel William H. Young commanding, occupied a position at Lee and Gordon’s Mills from the afternoon of September 18th, 1863, till about 3:00 P.M. September 19th, when it was ordered at double quick to this position. It went into action at this place about 4:00 P.M. and continued in action the line alternately advancing and receding, till about 6:00 P.M. September 20th, it first occupied a position near the Brotherton House till about 11:00 A.M. when it was ordered with the Division to the left at double quick. While executing this movement by the flank, it was struck by the advancing enemy and forced to the ridge near the Vidito Place. It there rallied and fought until it lost connection with the rest of the Army and finally retired to Rossville. Number Engaged, Commissioned Officers 23: Enlisted Men 354: Loss, Killed, Officers 5: Enlisted Men 23: Wounded, Officers 6: Enlisted Men 133: Captured or Missing 45: Aggregate 212: Most of this occurred on the 19th.
Third Wisconsin Battery. 3rd [Barnes’s] Brig. 3rd [Van Cleve’s] Div. 21st Army Corps.(Erected 1890 by the State of Wisconsin)
About 1:30 p.m. the battery with Barnes’ Brigade moved from the line near Lee and Gordon’s Mill to this position. By order of Major Mendenhall the battery came into position on the right of the 2nd Minnesota Battery, southeast of the Viniard house. The battery fired until a battery on the left was captured by the Confederates, when it limbered up and returned to this position, opened fire on the woods filled with the enemy, checking his advance. The brigade having been driven back rallied and took position on each flank of the battery. From this position the battery opened a very effective enfilade fire on the enemy in the Viniard cornfield. This position was retained with slight changes until 2 a.m. of the 20th.
51st Ohio Infantry. 3rd Brigade. 3rd Division. 21st Army Corps (Erected 1894 by the State of Ohio)
September 18th, 1863, this Regiment, Colonel Richard W. McClain commanding, was under fire of the enemy at Class’ Mill. At 5:00 P.M. ordered to a position about one half mile north of Lee and Gordon’s Mills, where we lay on our arms all night.
September 19th, about 3:00 P.M. became heavily engaged in the timber southeast of this point and near Hall House, the engagement lasting till about 6:00 P.M. when being overpowered, were forced to retire.
September 20th, marched to the extreme left of our line, charged and drove the enemy at 10:30 A.M. and occupied a position near General Baird’s left until the Union troops were ordered to retire to Rossville. In consequence of this retirement without notice, to this Regiment, it became involved with the enemy and part of it was captured.
Loss, killed 8; wounded 35; captured or missing 55; total 98. Organized at Camp Meigs, Ohio, October 3d, 1861. Mustered out October 3d, 1865, at Victoria, Texas, by Captain William Nicholas, Commissary of Musters.
99th Ohio Infantry. Barnes’ Brigade, Van Cleve’s Division. 21st Army Corps. (Erected 1894 by the State of Ohio)
This regiment, Colonel Peter T. Swaine commanding, moved with the brigade into action September 19, 1863, at 3:30 P.M., advancing in an easterly direction from this point, through a dense woods; was attacked by a superior force on front and flank; after a spirited battle, lasting till near 5:30 P.M. was forced to retire, which was done in good order.
September 20, at 10:30 A.M. engaged the enemy near General Baird’s left, at the north end of Kelly’s Field, maintaining position there until the Army retired to Rossville at night.
Loss, killed 3; wounded 30; captured or missing 24; total 57.
13th Michigan Infantry. Buell’s Brigade, Wood’s Division, Crittenden’s Corps. (Erected 1895 by the State of Michigan)
This monument marks the position where the regiment performed its most important service.
Sept. 19th, 1863. Casualties: Engaged 217. Killed 14. Wounded 68. Missing 25. Total Loss 107. On the 18th of September 1863 the regiment occupied a position near Lee and Gordon’s Mill on the 19th at 2:30 PM, moved to this position where it was engaged until dark on the 20th. Moved with its brigade to the left, where it was engaged near the right flank of the army until night closed the battle.
58th Indiana Infantry. 1st Brigade-Buell. 1st Division-Wood. 21st Corps-Crittenden. (Erected 1897 by the State of Indiana)
This Regiment formed line of battle about 2:40 p.m., September 19th, charged the enemy, driving him from Viniard House across and east of LaFayette Road, and reformed on line with this monument, where a severe engagement ensued, with very heavy loss during the afternoon. Morning of September 20th went into position at Brotherton Farm and was soon hotly engaged. Moved at 11 a.m. with its Brigade to the left, and became involved in the break at the center. A considerable portion of the Regiment rallied on Snodgrass Hill and remained till the close of the battle. Loss in battle: Killed 16; wounded and missing 155.
105th Ohio Infantry, Col. Edward A. King’s Brigade, Reynolds Division, 14th Army Corps. (Erected 1894 by the State of Ohio)
September 19th, 1863, from about 3:00 P.M. to 4:30 P.M. this Regiment, Major George I. Perkins commanding, was engaged about 600 yards East of the Brotherton House. The success of the enemy at that time on that part of the line compelled it to retire, and it was rallied and reformed in this position, which it also occupied on the 20th, till about 1:00 P.M., when the retirement of Brannan’s Division to Snodgrass Hill made it necessary to take a more refused position facing South.
Loss, Killed 3: Wounded 41: Captured or Missing 26: Total 70.
17th Ohio Infantry. Lt. Col. Durbin Ward Commanding. Connell’s Brigade, Brannan’s Division. 14th Army Corps. (Erected 1894 by the State of Ohio)
September 19th, 1863, from about 10:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M. the Regiment was engaged on the right of Van Derveer’s Brigade, about one mile east of the Lafayette road, and a few hundred yards south of the Reed’s bridge road.
September 20th, was in the first line of battle in this position until 12:00 noon when General Wood’s Division vacated the line on its right, then being assailed in front and on the its right flank, was driven beyond the range of hills west of here and became separated from the left of the Army. Later in the day Lieutenant Colonel Ward was wounded. The command thereafter devolved on Major Butterfield. A detachment of the Regiment rallied on Snodgrass Hill and fought till the Army retired at night. Loss, killed 16: wounded 114: captured or missing 21: total 151.
Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park + National Register of Historic Places
Like the nearby Brotherton and Snodgrass farmhouses, the Kelly House is an historically accurate reconstruction of a typical single-pen dwelling of the era. It has been an integral part of the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park since its inception in 1890.
In their Historic Resource Survey (1999) of the park, Hanson & Blythe note: The Kelly House was a landmark for Union forces moving to extend Gen. Rosecrans’s left on September 18 and 19. The Union left dug in around the Kelly Farm at the north end of the Chickamauga battlefield and repulsed repeated Confederate assaults. [It also] served as [a] field hospital [like other cabins throughout the area] during and after the Battle of Chickamauga.
Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park + National Register of Historic Places