Sam Burnham, Curator
It’s finally time to take a look at the fourth book by author Jordan M. Poss. Griswoldville could fit in several categories. It’s a coming of age tale, a multi-generational drama, a war novel, and a work of historical fiction.
A book based in Georgia during the War Between the States by definition carries built-in foreshadowing for anyone familiar with the impact the war had on the state. In December of 1860 it seemed that only Alexander Stephens realized what the war would unleash on the state. But hindsight is 20/20 and a knowledgeable reader turns the pages waiting on the horrors to unfold.
I’m going to avoid spoilers because this is a book you really should read. Poss has done his homework on the topics at hand. The dates and places follow along the historic record. He paints the picture of Georgia before and during the war, including an accurate portrayal of the striated social class system.
His descriptions drop you into a country church, along a dirt road, around the fire at story time. You get the sights, the sounds, the smells. You find yourself in Georgia in the mid-19th century. It’s hard to come across a narrative that is so historically accurate while maintaining that personality, that soul. Griswoldville has both.
There’s a wonderful touch to this book as well. Poss has mentioned several times that his grandfather was part of the inspiration in this story. There’s a multi-generational narrative in the story. The theme of learning from our ancestors threads its way through the story. The relationships between grandfather, father, and grandson bring a young boy into manhood. It is akin to the process of an apprenticeship where the experienced initiate the youthful.
In this “progressive” era, it’s a risk portraying Confederates as protagonists. Poss does exactly that and does it well. I highly recommend Griswoldville. You can get you own copy here or here.
Jordan M. Poss is also the author of No Snakes in Iceland, Dark Full of Enemies, and The Last Day of Marcus Tullius Cicero.
We’d like to close out February by looking forward to spring and summer. Spring is certainly not fully here although it has teased us a bit in recent weeks. The forecast is pretty clear that next week will not be springlike, at least not in North Georgia.
March is always tricky and should never be trusted as winter and spring tend to swap out and it is possible to experience both, perhaps even in the same day. However, by the end of March, it will likely be springtime.
Spring and summer mean adventures, small and large. So we are sharing some of our favorites from our YouTube channel.
Ft Pulaski was built to guard the mouth of the Savannah River. For over 100 years the post served as a military installation different eras contributed different renovations and additions, including the demilune.
Below the surface, Ft McAllister was an impervious fortification where troops were well protected from any shipboard weapons of its era. No artillery assault could defeat it. Only a infantry charge by an overwhelming force defeated the McAllister garrison.
Above the surface, Ft McAllister is one of the most beautiful locations in all of Georgia. With living history encampments and re-enactments as well as car shows, musical performances, and other events, McAllister is a great destination for a day trip or even a week at the cottages or campground.
Milledgeville served as the state capital from 1807 to 1868. Now the Old Capitol Museum tells the story of that era, when a city specifically designed and planned to be the state capital served in that capacity.
Milledgeville received the entirety of the state administration, treasury and documents, via a convoy of 15 wagons that travelled from Louisville to Milledgeville in 1807. The seat of a larger government moved to a larger city, the resurrecting Atlanta in 1868.
Any history fanatic has to visit Colonial Williamsburg. Seeing the militia demonstrations on the town green are but one of the amazing experiences that await.
155 year’s ago today, The HL Hunley became the first submarine to successfully sink an enemy ship. The privateer vessel attacked the USS Housatonic nearvthe mouth of Charleston Harbor and sent the Union warship to rest forever on the continental shelf.
In a mystery that is still being actively investigated, the submarine was also lost along with its entire crew. As more evidence has been unearthed, answers have been found but so have questions.
A visit to the Hunley at the old Charleston Navy Yard is highly recommended.
While Hunley was forbidden to submerge after previous accidents, the ship’s design left most of the ship underwater even when surfaced. A nighttime approach left the vessel undetected until it was beneath the range of Housatonic’s cannon. Small arms fire from crew members was ineffective and Housatonic’s fate was sealed.
Sitting in an alkali bath to neutralize over a century of salt water, Hunley continues to provide evidence of its story. Scientists have created new practices in order to preserve and study the ship, artifacts, and remains of the crew. By learning from Hunley as they go, researchers are laying the groundwork for future projects in engineering and science.
There was a legend about an old gold coin with an engraving. Hunley skipper Lt. George Dixon reportedly carried the coin for luck after it stopped a bullet and saved his life at the battle of Shiloh. During artifact and remains recovery work, researchers found the coin, complete with bullet deformity and an engraving confirming the story.
At 48 inches tall and 42 inches wide, the Hunley’s interior left very little room for the 8 man crew. The top right photo is of a movie prop that was roomier than the actual ship.
Scientists used the recovered skulls of the crew to build facial reconstruction models to give visitors an idea of what the crew members looked like. Without surviving photos, partial names were all anyone had on some crew members. As each man was found at his post, the assignment roster was used to determine which remains went with which name. This helped identify the crew for both facial red construction and burial.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire