Markers Can “make a Difference”

The Georgia Historical Society, and other groups associated with the state’s Civil War 150th markers, continue to impress.

We have two recent entries from Dalton, Georgia into the Historical Marker Database.  Speaking chronologically, the first is a marker noting General Patrick Cleburne’s famous proposal to arm slaves.  Cleburne was in Dalton when making the proposal on January 2, 1864.  The text of the marker accurately and succinctly covers the reaction of Confederate leaders.

The second marker, placed earlier, discusses two actions near Dalton involving US Colored Troops.  On August 15, 1864 the 14th USCT helped repel a Confederate cavalry raid on the Western and Atlantic Railroad – through which Sherman’s forces around Atlanta depended for supply.  Later on October 13 of that year, Confederate forces forced the surrender of the 44th USCT defending the same railroad at Dalton.  Significantly, many of those from the 44th captured that day were returned to slavery.

Reading those two markers, there’s a lot to think about.  Almost like two book-ends for a long shelf of ideas.   And some of those ideas lay along “third-rails” of the Civil War topic – always sure to rile an argument from one quarter or another.  Yet, the historical facts place the events less than a mile apart. (A rhetorical question, then:  Could either of these markers have been placed in 1961?  Or 1981?  Maybe 2001?)

An article run in the Dalton Daily Citizen captures that sentiment.  Speaking of the Cleburne proposal marker, Curtis Rivers, director of Dalton’s Emery Center, said, “Things like this will really make a difference….  It’s the ideal location for the marker, and I was happy to help them out however I could.”

The text of both markers conclude calling attention to “nearly 200,000 free African Americans served in the U.S. armed forces.”