John K. Derden, Professor Emeritus of History at East Georgia State College, will conduct his annual tour of sites associated with Sherman’s March through East Central Georgia on Saturday, February 24, 2018. The tour will also include a visit to the site of Camp Lawton, the Confederate POW camp located on the grounds of Magnolia Springs State Park north of Millen. Dr. Derden is author of a recent book (The Largest Prison in the World: The Story of Camp Lawton, Mercer University Press, 2012) on the history of the prison, and he has conducted this tour annually since 1989. This activity is offered through the Office of Institutional Advancement of East Georgia State College. Participants will gather at 9 a.m. for a pre-trip orientation at the Sudie A. Fulford Community Learning Center on the EGSC campus. Lunch and transportation will be provided for the day, and the tour should return by 6 p.m.
Dr. Derden, who has conducted this tour since the 125th anniversary of the March in 1989, commented on the significance of this event which so heavily impacted this part of the state: “The sesquicentennial of the American Civil War has brought to the forefront the significance of that conflict and of the central issues with which it dealt. Fought on American soil from Pennsylvania to New Mexico, from Missouri to Florida, and on the high seas, the war pockmarked the map of the U.S. with the sites of the conflict’s skirmishes and battles. Virtually every U.S. family was affected by it, and its memory persists as is revealed by the fact that more books have been written on the fratricidal war than on any other aspect of the American past, and many more American soldiers died in the Civil War than in any other U.S. war. One of the major campaigns that hastened its end was undoubtedly Sherman’s March to the Sea in the fall of 1864. The main units of Sherman’s 60,000-man force marched through East Central Georgia on their way to Savannah. As they marched, they passed through what are now Jenkins, Burke, and Emanuel counties, and they were on the road from November 15 until the first week of December 1864, when they approached Savannah. Many of the roads, some of the houses, and a goodly number of descendants of the original families are still there.”
Join Dr. Derden and fellow enthusiasts on this fun and fact-filled day tour of sites associated with the March to the Sea in Emanuel, Jenkins, and Burke counties. Along the way the group will visit Birdsville Plantation, locate some of the places where General Sherman spent the night, retell stories told by families who lived along Sherman’s route, visit the Old Buckhead Church where Kilpatrick’s Union cavalry and Wheeler’s Confederate cavalry skirmished, walk the site of “the largest prison in the world” (Camp Lawton) and see some of the recent archeological finds related to it, and travel on some of the actual roads that Sherman’s forces used. Each participant will also receive a packet of informational material related to the March.
Sponsored by the Office of Institutional Advancement at East Georgia State College, the tour fee (which includes all expenses) is $80 per person. EGSC students are $10 per person. Registration deadline is February 21. If interested, please call Marsha Moore at (478) 289-2193 to reserve a seat.