Press Release courtesy of Robert Scott Davis, Jr.
PICKENS COUNTY IN THE CIVIL WAR FEATURED IN NEW BOOK
One of Georgia’s most popular legends has been the story of how a group of citizens in Jasper raised a United States flag in front of the courthouse in 1860 in protest to Georgia seceding from the Union. That incident begins the first chapter of John D. Fowler and David B. Parker, eds., Breaking the Heartland: The Civil War in Georgia, published this month by Mercer University Press in Macon. That essay, “War on the Edge: Civil War Politics and Its Legacy in an Appalachian County,” is by Robert S. Davis, a former resident of Pickens County with deep in roots and many ancestors in the area’s Confederate and Union Civil War past. Professor Davis teaches History and operates a genealogy program at Wallace State College in Hanceville, Alabama. He has recently appeared on the History Channel concerning lost Confederate gold and interviewed on Georgia News Network concerning his books on Civil War Atlanta and Andersonville Confederate prison. His mother Elizabeth Holbert Forrester lives in Hickory Flat.
Davis begins his story with the documented facts of the flag incident to illustrate how the county rigidly divided. Pickens County eventually gave 500 volunteers and conscripts to the Confederate army, 100 men to three Union companies, and other citizens to local home defense units. A Pickens County doctor helped men to escape the draft by falsely declaring them unfit. During the last years of the Civil War and afterwards, differences became deadly and men walked the streets of Jasper with guns and others fled to the West. In 1864, Sheriff David S. McCravey even formed a permanent posse to protect the citizens from Captain Benjamin Jordan’s Confederate Conscript Bureau Company.
Opposition to the secession or to the war or to both could be found in many parts of Georgia but Pickens County’s dissention became the most famous, perhaps because it remained to modern times. Until recently, the funeral home for a local resident would depend upon the politics of the deceased and politicians ran as independents so as not to offend voter sensibilities. Pickens County has the oldest continuous Fourth of July celebration in Georgia. This history of local remembrance received notice in numerous histories and television shows.
Breaking the Heartland: The Civil War in Georgia, published in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, stands as a landmark work because so many prominent scholars contributed chapters to it. Much of the book deals with North Georgia including Keith S. Hébert, “`The Bottomless Pit of Hell’: The Confederate Home Front in Bartow County, Georgia 1864-1865.”