Sunday, January 29, 2012

To The Sea!

Found an interesting story about my hometown of Louisville in the book To The Sea by Jim Miles.  A couple with the last name of Canning escaped Sherman's troops in Atlanta and Macon by seeking safety at their plantation on the Ogeechee River near Louisville, or so they thought.  Foragers from Sherman's left wing came upon them and took Mr. Canning out into the swamp in order to force him into telling where the family money was hidden.

They hung him from a tree by the neck repeatedly, bringing him in and out of unconsciousness, questioning him when he came to.  When he insisted there was no money, they took him back to his wife half dead and threatened her life, too.  She ended up giving them a gold watch and some silver she had buried.  As more troops came through, more threats were made against them until a colonel arrived and gave them assistance. 

I have never heard this story until now, and I can't wait to try and find more information about it.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Campaign for Atlanta

Just finished reading the Sherman's March portion of this book: an essay entitled "A Sociological Perspective of William T. Sherman's March Through Georgia", by Charles E. Vetter.  This is an excellent piece by Vetter, and after reading it I am more convinced than ever that Sherman was a genius.  I say this not only because he was successful, but because he obviously learned from his previous mistakes and knew how to refine his strategy for ultimate victory.  The march itself turned out to be flawless, because it did exactly what he set out to accomplish.   Sherman didn't just want to defeat the South militarily, he wanted to bring the entire Southern population to its knees.  The purpose behind the march was to completely destroy the Southern will to fight and wage a war against the Union. 

"If the people raise a howl against my barbarity and cruelty I will answer that war is war, and not popularity-seeking. If they want peace they and their relatives must stop war," said Sherman in a letter to Henry W. Halleck in September of 1864.  This was before the march, and in the following months Sherman would make this sentiment a reality for Georgia and South Carolina.  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The History Channel Version

I ended up watching this documentary by the History Channel again after a few years, if only because a few people have mentioned it to me and I wanted to refresh my memory on it.  I think this is good for what it is, but I do have a few critiques of it. Like most dramatic reenactments, the acting leaves a little to be desired - and it's hard to get the scope of 60,000 men marching when they obviously had only a small percentage of that to work with onscreen.  It's the nature of the beast when trying to recreate something from nothing, so you can't really hold it against them.  

Another thing I want to address here is the generic treatment of the locations.  Besides Atlanta and Savannah, the only towns mentioned by name (that I can remember) were Jonesboro, Milledgeville, Griswoldville, and Millen. There are a number of stories involving the dozens of towns along the route, and it seems to be a shame they are neglected.

That brings me to my goals for the documentary.  I would like to go a little more in depth on the people and places in between Atlanta and Savannah - not just historically speaking, but also from a contemporary standpoint.  What really happened in these towns, and what has lingered in the way of myth and legend 150 years later?     

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Georgia's Civil War

Just finished watching this documentary about Georgia's involvement in the Civil War.  It's basically an overview of all the battles in North Georgia leading up to Atlanta, and then it ventures into Sherman's march.  As it covers a lot of ground, it doesn't really get into deep details about any of the events, especially the march itself.  

It was produced by GPTV about 5 years ago, and it is very well done.  Like I said, it doesn't go into any great detail, but it does serve as a good primer for people interested in Georgia's role. Definitely worth tracking down.  It also features Dr. Gordon Jones of the Atlanta History Center, who has been kind enough to talk to me about my project.  Here's a great piece he did on Atlanta and it's Civil War Resources.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Civil War Heritage Trails

Today I had lunch with Steven Longcrier, Executive Director of the Civil War Heritage Trails.  He is leading an effort to put up historical markers and signs along Sherman's route throughout Georgia.  Be sure to visit their website and see what's been done so far.  Here's a link to their March to the Sea page.  Also joining us was Jeanmarie Bronson Garber, a friend of mine who is a key mover and shaker in the local Civil War Round Table circles.  We discussed the idea of the film and they gave me some insight on books to read and people to interview for the project.

I'm excited about the progress that has been made in such a short amount of time, and I'm encouraged by the fact that I now have some extremely nice people working on my behalf.  Can't wait to see what happens next!

Friday, January 6, 2012

The March Begins!

Every march begins with a first step, and here is my first step in a new project.  Let me explain a little bit about myself and what I'm doing here.  I am a TV producer in Augusta, Georgia, and I am originally from Louisville, Georgia.  Louisville was taken by Sherman on his March to the Sea in late November of 1864.  The thing is, I was not fully aware of this history until recently.

I learned the full extent of my hometown's history in a book my father gave me by Noah Andre Trudeau, called Southern Storm.  In his book, Trudeau follows the path of Sherman's troops on a day-by-day basis from Atlanta to Savannah, giving the reader an excellent overview of the objectives and results of the march.

This was an inspiration to me on many levels. First of all, it bothered me that I literally had history happen in my backyard and I was never fully aware of it. You would think that a field trip in your own town would be in order while studying the Civil War in school.  That didn't happen.  

On top of this, the memory of Sherman's March to the Sea is shunned in this part of the state.  It is not to be celebrated or observed, owing to some lingering resentment that has lasted for more than one and a half centuries.  Go into any other state in the South and you will see history embraced.  In Virginia, for example, you can barely go a dozen miles without running into a monument or a park dedicated in some fashion to the Civil War.  Good luck finding anything more than a roadside marker in middle Georgia.

My desire is to create a documentary about Sherman's March to the Sea, but I do not want it to be a simple history lesson.  I want it to explore the myths and mysteries surrounding the march and why it remains such a touchy topic, generations removed from the event itself.

Right now I am in the preliminary stages of pre-production, which includes seeking funding.  More information is sure to follow, so stay tuned.  

I look forward to working on this project, and I am excited about the prospects.  Thank you for joining me on my new adventure.