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Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

A Guide to Georgia’s Civil War Heritage

Posted By on September 1, 2014

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The Georgia Department of Economic Development has produced an interesting and informative guide to the Civil War-related sites in that state.

An earlier version of this brochure was presented on this blog in the post entitled:  Marching Through Georgia.

The current web site describing activities related to the 150th Anniversary Commemoration of Civil War events that took place in Georgia can be found at www.gacivilwar.org.  The site contains many stories, announcements of special events, and a blog.

Many soldiers from the Lykens Valley area of Pennsylvania fought in the battles that took place in Georgia including the Atlanta Campaign and Sherman’s March to the Sea.  Prior blog post articles described some of those men and how these events affected their lives.

In addition to the major events, the brochure contains some interesting vignettes including one on Melvina Shields, the 3rd great grandmother of First Lady Michelle Obama.  Shields was a young slave girl owned by a South Carolinian who bequeathed her to a Clayton County, Georgia, farmer, Henry Shields in 1850.  After giving birth to her first child in 1860 by Charles Shields, the white son of the farmer, she remained with the family for the duration of the Civil War.  The farm was close to the Battle of Jonesboro.  After the war, she remained on the Shields Farm and raised several children who were listed in the census as mulatto.  Later she took the name of Mattie McGruder and lived the remainder of her life in Kingston, Georgia, where she died at age 94 and is buried at the Queen Chapel Methodist Churchyard at Kingston.

In July 2012, a monument was dedicated to Melvinia Shields (1844-1938) in Rex, Clayton County, Georgia.  A news report on this event can be found at Clayton Neighbor.  Speaking at the unveiling was Rachel Swarms, author of American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White and Multicultural Ancestors of Michelle Obama.  She noted that “This is a story of going from slavery to the White House in just five generations.”

There is no way of knowing whether any soldiers from the Lykens Valley area actually encountered Melvinia Shields in their campaigns in Georgia.  But, undoubtedly, they did meet others in the same condition and their view on slavery had to be shaped by what they encountered.

For the calendar of events of the Georgia Civil War Commission, click here.

Unfortunately, the brochure, “Georgia’s Guide to the Civil War,” cannot be located on line in “pdf” form.  It is available in print form at most tourist information centers in and around Georgia and probably can be obtained by contact through the web site of the Georgia Civil War Commission.


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