The museum was established to provide both sides of the Civil War in equal weights. The nonprofit felt that Clemmons was speaking with the authority of the county government, according to spokesman Tim Knight. But county spokeswoman Melissa Robinson insists the request was personal, not official.
Inside the museum, there are portraits of generals who fought for the north and the south at the 1864 battle. Outside, there are three flagpoles. One is empty. Until a few weeks ago, the empty pole displayed a confederate flag with a white field and a St. Andrew's Cross battle flag in the upper left corner.”
The actual battle at Nash Farm is known as the Battle of Utoy, which took place August 5-7, 1864 between the Army of Ohio and the Army of Tennessee. It ended with a Confederate victory.
It was part of what is known as the Atlanta Campaign, in which the Union Army led by Gen William T. Sherman, drove to take Atlanta and then began his infamous “March to the Sea.”
The Nash Farm park has been the site of several battle reenactments, which brought hundreds of Civil War re-enactors to the area for the festivities.
Knight says Commissioner Clemmons returned a few weeks later and insisted on the removal of other Confederate artifacts inside the museum as well. Once again, Knight said it appeared the commissioner was speaking on behalf of county government.”
Stuart Carter, a local resident and museum supporter, maintains that Nash Farms has always represented both sides of the conflict.
Carter points out that many critics of public displays of the Confederate flag make exceptions for museum displays.”
County spokesman Robinson continues to defend the actions of Commissioner Clemmons.
Asked if it was reasonable to remove selected historic artifacts from a museum depicting history, Robinson said: “I think it’s reasonable. I think there were plenty of artifacts in the museum that can tell the story of the Civil War. And I think it was a reasonable request.”
The nonprofit running the museum announced it would remove all its artifacts and close the museum. A number of local residents believe Henry County overreached by squeezing Confederate symbols out of a Civil War museum site.
This latest action to erase traces of the Confederacy mirrors what we’ve witnessed worldwide by authoritarian regimes. In the past, the Soviet Union totally rewrote Russian history and was noted for airbrushing photographs to remove historical figures.
More recently, the Taliban in Afghanistan and ISIS in Syria and Iraq have destroyed historic Buddhist, Christian and Jewish sites.
We can’t change what happened in the past, but we can look back and take pride in the progress continuing to be made to create a better society.
Resorting to petty intolerance that besmirches people’s ancestors certainly will not advance that cause. What some fail to take into consideration is that many poor rural Southerners joined the Confederate Army to defend their homeland against an invading power. They’d didn’t own slaves. They worked their farms themselves.
UPDATE 4/2/2019: A debate over the use of simulated rounds at Nash Farm for a Civil War re-enactment allowed commissioners to resurrect the question of whether Nash Farm was actually Civil War battlefield in the first place.
At the Board of Commissioners meeting held March 19, commissioners split a vote, 3-3, concerning the allowance of simulated rounds for the event, which is scheduled for April 13 and 14 at the Nash Farm Battlefield. Commissioners Bruce Holmes, Vivian Thomas and Dee Clemmons were opposed, while Gary Barham, Johnny Wilson and Chair June Wood voted in favor.
Tim Culbreth, who represents the 30th Georgia Reenactors, provided a Department of the Interior letter at Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting indicating the area had been a Civil War battlefield, while Bruce Holmes, the District 5 commissioner, called the story a “fraud.”
“I’ve been voting against Nash Farm since I’ve been serving on the board,” Holmes said. “Nash Farm has always been a myth, a fraud, to be honest with you. When I was initially elected, I sat down with the county manager and you couldn’t find anything on history on Nash Farm other than one page that was under Henry County Parks and Rec. Since then, they’ve made a number of websites and things of that nature. The letter he showed was from 2013 from Lynn Westmoreland, but Nash Farm is not listed under anything federally.”
Holmes said Nash Farm was a proposed subdivision condemned in the mid-2000s that had been owned by Maxie Price, a Chevrolet dealer in the Atlanta area.
“He purchased the property, the county condemned it and they came up with this myth about Nash Farm as a Civil War site,” Holmes said. “The true battle actually happened at Lovejoy Station. In earlier meetings, there was one meeting where a person presenting said there was a skirmish. There’s a difference between a skirmish and a historical battle.”
Holmes said that if an organization wanted to hold a Civil War re-enactment, it should be at a place such as Lovejoy Station and Stone Mountain, not at Nash Farm.
After the meeting on Tuesday, Holmes supplied the Herald with a document from the National Parks Service detailing the study area for the Battle of Lovejoy Station, which, according to those documents, was redrawn in 1993 to include the area of Nash Farm.
That document also states that there was no historical designation attached to the battlefield.
According to the National Parks Service, the battle of Lovejoy Station took place Aug. 20, 1864.