On January 19, 1861, Georgia passed its ordinance of secession at the Statehouse in Milledgeville. It was signed by 293 delegates on January 21. This source document lists the names of these 293 delegates as well as the 6 protest signatures at the bottom. George W. Crawford, who wrote the ordinance above the signatures, was at the time of the signing, a representative of Richmond County but had also been elected chair of the proceedings. Crawford had previously been both Attorney General of Georgia and Governor. Below the original source, the transcription of Crawford’s letter is linked.
Robert Hamilton Harris (1842-1929), of Thomasville, Georgia, served in Company A, 29th Regiment of the Georgia Infantry. On October 13, 1863, Harris married Martha “Mattie” Love (1845-1900). Several of Harris’ letters to Mattie, before and after they were married, have been preserved. This particular letter includes Harris’s hand-drawn map of Sapelo Island. During the Civil War, sea islands like Sapelo were strategically important because of the Union’s emphasis on creating a naval blockade of the Southern coastline.
Letter from Robert Hamilton Harris to Martha “Mattie” Love, c.1861-1863, Sapelo Island, Georgia. Courtesy of the Georgia Historical Society Manuscript Collection. MS 2135.
On July 4, 1856, Georgia Democrats held their state convention in Milledgeville. This rare pamphlet has a transcript of the address given by William H. Stiles at the Georgia State Democratic Convention in 1856.
An address, delivered before the Georgia Democratic State Convention held at Milledgeville, July 4th, 1856 by William H. Stiles. From the Georgia Historical Society Rare Pamphlet Collection. E435 .S85 1856.
This ten dollar note was issued by the Confederate States of America in 1864. The Confederate currency–called “Greyback” to differentiate from the Union “Greenback”–was first issued at the outbreak of the war, and this money was based on no collateral assets, but instead it was a kind of “I owe you” for after the war. It was merely a promise to pay back the Confederate government once the South was victorious. Since this never came to be, the money lost value as the war went on.
Primary sources allow students to study all aspects of Georgia’s Civil War period. Despite the destructive forces of war and time, excellent primary documents from this period still remain. The economic, social, and political issues debated leading up to the Civil War come to life in political speeches, newspaper articles, broadsides, legislation, etc. The experience of war is revealed in images, diaries, letters, and reminiscences of those who lived through the period. Historians use the term “watershed” to describe the most significant and impactful events in history. For example, historians studying Ireland debate whether or not the famine from the 1840s was a watershed event or not. A similar debate could be held on whether or not the Civil War was a watershed event in Georgia’s history. After studying the Civil War through primary and secondary sources, students should be able to give a clear argument as to what extent they believe the Civil War was a watershed event. With this framework in mind, students can approach the primary sources and secondary sources they read with purpose and direction. This primary source set includes five primary sources related to this period.