Throughout United States history, from the colonial era to the present, Georgia and its citizens have experienced and shaped every major military and social conflict, including the American Revolution, Native American removal, Civil War, World War II, and the struggle against racial segregation through the Civil Rights Movement.
Hernando de Soto and his men, already rich from fighting with the Incas in South America, arrived in La Florida searching for gold. Jerald Milanich, an archaeologist at the University of Florida, explains the conquistadors’ success.
Michael Williams, a colonial surgeon reenactor at Wormsloe Plantation, displays various surgical instruments and “demonstrates” on students how treatments of amputation, bleeding, and even cutting holes in the skull (trepanning) were used to treat injuries.
David Gurnsey of the Ships of The Sea Maritime Museum in Savannah explains how Georgia’s coast and coastal islands were havens for pirates during the colonial period.
Using Stately Oaks mansion in Jonesboro as a setting, a group of men and women recreate a typical after-dinner discussion on whether or not the colony of Georgia should take sides in the impending fight to separate from Great Britain.
Dr. Preston Russell, a medical doctor and historian, and colonial reenactor J. Edward Jackson explain fighting in Savannah from September to October 1779, when Georgia Patriots aided by the French tried to retake Savannah from the British.
Located about 20 miles south of Atlanta, Jonesboro was situated on the Macon & Western railroad, the last link of the supply route into Atlanta. Reenactor Peter Bonner describes the Battle of Jonesboro and had the outcome been different, the course of history may have been changed. Douglas Cubbison, a Union reenactor discusses the toll that bacteria and disease took on all soldiers throughout the war.
During the Civil War, both sides had terrible prison camps, but one particular Georgia camp has become synonymous with inhumane treatment. Fort Sumter outside the town of Andersonville housed 30,000 prisoners in a facility designed for 10,000. Union reenactor Mark Stivitz and World War II POW and Andersonville National Historic Site volunteer Bob Windham describe the filthy conditions and wonder how Americans could possibly treat one another like that.
Three Georgia women performed very different jobs during World War II and represent the various roles of women in wartime. Pat Barrett of Norcross, worked at Bell Aircraft Company in Marietta--a true Rosie the Riveter. Creola Barnes Belton of St. Simons Island became a domestic worker in order to attend nursing school, eventually becoming an Army nurse. Helen Kogel Denton of Riverdale joined the Women’s Army Corps and found herself stationed in London and working for Gen. Dwight Eisenhower.
The Liberty Boys and the signers of the Declaration of Independence knew that their resistance to the government of Great Britain and the Stamp Act could result in their hanging. Colonial historian professor Harvey Jackson and Wormsloe Plantation ranger Joe Thompson compare America’s break up with Great Britain to a parent-child relationship that eventually changes dramatically when the child grows up.
When the British attacked Savannah, Mordecai Sheftall was captured in a skirmish when he refused to abandon his son. Marion Levy Mendel, a Sheftall ancestor, Professor Harvey Jackson, and John Sheftall, Esq., another ancestor, recall the costs and high price of waging war.
Robbie Ethridge, a University of Georgia graduate student, Dr. Ray Rensi of North Georgia College, Bill Kinsland, owner of the Hometown Bookstore in Dahlonega, and University of Georgia professor Dr. Charles Hudson discuss how new people poured into central and north Georgia wanting to own land. The forces eventually driving Indian removal were largely economic.
War is expensive. In addition to munitions and equipment, soldiers need to be paid for their services—and it was no different during the Civil War. Storyteller Peter Bonner recounts tales of Civil War paydays—payroll deductions, each Southern state printing its own money that soon lost its value, and replaced clothing at the soldier’s expense.
Bruce Hetherington at Oglethorpe University and Dr. Frances Harrold at Georgia State University explain that after Union ships enforced a blockade of Southern ports and harbors during the Civil War, Atlanta grew as a result.
University of Georgia historian Emory Thomas, reenactor J.C. Nobles, and Marty Willett, a historic interpreter at the Jarrell Plantation in Jones County explain Gen. William T. Sherman's March to the Sea, where Union soldiers were under orders to forage liberally and live off the land as they marched from Atlanta to Savannah.
Historians discuss the events of the sensationalized Leo Frank case and the broader implications of the many social conflicts that prevailed during those times.
World War II played a big part in the baby boom. Two World War II veterans, Cdr. Tyler Gresham and Lt. Col. Charles Dryden, recall the loneliness of WWII while June Duncan, wife of Gen. L.C. Duncan, describes what it was like when the soldiers did return home. Between 1946 and 1951, a record 22 million children were born in the United States. Emory University history professor Patrick Allitt discusses the many ways that babies stimulate the economy.
To deter Union shelling of the city of Charleston in 1863, South Carolina brought Union prisoners into the city as targets. In response, Union leaders sent 600 Confederate prisoners to Morris Island within site of the city where Union artillery was located. After a prisoner exchange, 600 more Union prisoners to deter shelling in 1864. Again in response, the Union brought 600 Confederate prisoners. The cruel treatment of these men was retribution for the treatment of Union prisoners at Andersonville.