Columbus, Georgia   Leave a comment

Day 7-8

As we received news that tornados were on their way, many of our group got on the road early to head for Stone Mountain, Georgia. We got a late start and arrived without seeing a drop of rain or hail.

The National Civil War Naval Museum was first on our list.

On Dec. 22, 1864, the Jackson, known as the “Muscogee” and ironclad warship, was successfully launched into the Chattahoochee River. A shortage of armor plate delayed the completion of the Jackson. Originally over 4 million pounds of heart pine and solid oak encased in iron. It was still unfinished when General James Wilson’s Union raiders captured Columbus April 16, 1865. The following day, the nearly completed ship was set on fire and cut loose by her captors. After drifting downstream some 30 miles, the Jackson grounded on a sandbar and burned to the waterline. Its remains were located in 1960 and were raised in two large pieces. The 106 foot stern section came up in 1962 and the 74 foot bow section came up in 1963.

The sunken hull of the Chattahoochee, a rare surviving example of Confederate shipbuilding, was found during a period of low water in 1961 while recovery of the Jackson was underway.

Below is a photo of the crew of the USS Hunchback, 1864. As you can see, there was quite a range of ages, races and uniforms typical of the Civil War navies, North and South. The young boys in the photo were known as “powder monkeys.” These boys were recruited into the navies at ages ranging from 10 to 17 and were to bring bags of gunpowder to the cannons between shots.

African-Americans served on most U.S. Navy ships during the war and were integrated into the crews, serving in every enlisted service job. It is estimated that the U.S. Navy was consisted of 15 to 20% African-Americans during the war. Many also served on southern naval ships.

Leaving Columbus, we headed for Plains, Georgia to visit the town where President Jimmy Carter was raised.

We dined at Mom’s Kitchen. Maggie Crimes, “Mom” of Mom’s Kitchen, started her business in Preston 1981.

President Jimmy Carter wanted a local restaurant, for the older people and the children of Plains. Maggie was the mother of 10 children and daughter of a 95 year old who still cooks biscuits every day at the Preston restaurant. She found it hard to resist President Jimmy Carter’s request so she opened Mom’s Kitchen in Plains, Georgia, in 2000 with her daughter, Gwen Hill, as manager. President Carter occasionally comes in and eats at Mom’s himself. Below is a photo of Bill in his seat. We had the best port barbecue sandwich ever!

Plains High School opened in 1921, racially integrated in 1966, and served students until 1979. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, graduated from Plains High School.

Miss Julia Coleman taught in a classroom like the photo below. She was President Carter’s 7th grade English teacher. She saw Jimmy Carter with a special potential and was a big influence on his life.

We drove by the train depot, which was used as President Carter’s campaign headquarters when he ran for President in 1976.

His brother, Billy Carter, owned and operated the local service station from 1972 to 1981.

We toured Jimmy Carter’s boyhood farm where he lived during the great depression. It was his home until he left for college. The farm was a place where he ran, dodging dogs, chickens, geese, and guinea fowl. A chinaberry tree near the house held a tree house where Jimmy played.

Below is his bedroom, but check out the indoor shower!

Down the road “a piece” I found cute yard art for an auto repair.

Andersonville, or Camp Sumter as it was officially known, was one of the largest of many Confederate military prisons established during the Civil War. It was built in early 1864 when it was moved from Richmond, Virginia, for greater security and more food supply. During the 14 months the prison existed, more than 45,000 Union soldiers were confined here. Some 13,000 died from disease, poor sanitation, malnutrition, overcrowding, or exposure.

The prison pen initially covered about 16 ½ acres enclosed by a 15 foot stockade fence. It was enlarged to 26 ½ acres in June 1864. About 19 feet inside the wall was the “deadline,” which prisoners were forbidden to cross upon threat of death. In the photo below, the white posts mark where the stockade fence once stood and the “inner” white posts mark the deadline where the four foot high rail once stood.

We drove through Anderson National Cemetery which was established July 26, 1865. It is the permanent resting place of honor for deceased veterans. The initial interments were of those who died in the nearby prison camp were buried in Sections E, F, H. J, and K. By 1868 over 800 additional interments (Union soldiers who died in hospitals, other prisoner of war camps, and on the battlefields of central and SW Georgia) were put in Sections B and C bringing the total to 13,800. Today the cemetery contains over 18,000 interments, with 18 sections A through R. Gravesites can be located at Andersonville’s National Prison of War Museum.

Horrific conditions, along with a breakdown of the prisoner exchange system, resulted in much suffering and a high mortality rate. When the war ended, Capt. Henry Wirz, the stockade commander, was arrested and charged with conspiring with high Confederate officials to “impair and injure the health and destroy the lives . . . of federal prisoners” and “murder, in violation of the laws of war.” Such a conspiracy never existed, but anger throughout the North over the conditions at Andersonville demanded appeasement. Capt. Wirz was tried and found guilty by a military tribunal. He was hung in Washington, D.C. on November 10, 1865. Below is a photo of his headquarters.


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