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"the book is a delight"
—The Chattanooga Free-Press

Below are three stories Victoria wrote for
Touring the Backroads of North and South Georgia
on Lagrange's all-female Civil War Militia
General Sherman's Georgia Romance and
Ellijay's only legal hanging


LaGrange's All-Female
Civil War Militia

A sample from Tour Seven in
Touring the Backroads of North and South Georgia

During the Civil War, the women of LaGrange organized themselves into a military company which they named the "Nancy Harts" for the Revolutionary heroine (see Tour 4). Preceding the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) of World War II by 80 years, the Nancy Harts were ready to fight and had even become excellent markswoman (although their first practice ended in the death of a cow). Two of the Harts, 3rd Lt. Andelia Bull and 2nd Cpl. Sallie Bull, held the practice at their father’s, Judge Orville Augustus Bull, pasture. Their first rounds were fired with eyes shut and resulted in the death of one of their father’s cows.

They continued their target practice with few mishaps. Former 1st Cpl. Leila Pullen (later Mrs. James Allen Morris) remembered the day one woman’s shot hit a hornet’s nest, "The hornets responded to the attack!"

Every capable woman of LaGrange, married or single, enlisted as a Nancy Hart, and the captain of this group was Mrs. Brown Morgan, who actually outranked her husband who was a 1st Lt. in the Confederate Army. They had no uniforms and twice a week they were drilled in their long-skirted dresses by Dr. H.C. Ware, who could not fight with the Confederates because of a physical disability. The women used whatever weapons they could find, and according to Mrs. Morris in a paper she wrote for the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) in 1902, "It was an open question whether the muzzle or the breach was more dangerous. I have yet a feeling of how the flint lock fowling piece of my grandfather got in its vigorous kicks. But we soon became expert and didn’t mind shooting." Formed in 1861, the Nancy Harts had to wait until 1865 before they faced their first battle, but until that time, they staged military marches and continued target practice twice weekly. They also served as nurses in the local military hospitals.

According to the story, when Wilson’s Raiders invaded the defenseless city of LaGrange after the War had ended in 1865 (it was April 17 and Lee surrendered to Grant on April 9), the Nancy Harts in their incongruous costumes marched out to meet them in battle. Col. O.H. LaGrange, which happened to be the name of the man leading the Raiders, was so impressed that he "surrendered" to them immediately.

According to Mrs. Morris, "We were standing in front of my house when we saw coming down College Hill a body of blue coats rushing upon our defenseless city . . ." Mrs. Morris noticed that one of the prisoners of war was Major R.B. Parkman, and that he was riding next to LaGrange.

She went on to say, "I said, ‘Major, I regret to see you in this plight.’

"The Colonel inquired, ‘Miss, is this your sweetheart?’

"I replied, indignantly, ‘Yes, he is.’

"’Such honesty deserves reward,’ the Colonel said. ‘I will give him a parole and let him spend the evening with you.’

"Both officers dismounting, Major Parkman then introduced us. "Colonel LaGrange, I have the pleasure of introducing you to a regularly commissioned officer of the Nancy Harts.’

"The Colonel very pleasantly replied, ‘I should think the Nancy Harts might use their eyes with better effect upon the federal soldiers than their rusty guns.’"

Parkman then asked Mrs. Morris if she could invite the Colonel and two of his officers to tea as they had been very kind to him. The Nancy Harts then broke ranks and all proceeded to the home of Mrs. Morris. When they arrived, they discovered all the servants had disappeared and the female soldiers retreated to the kitchens to prepare food for the invading army and their prisoners of war.

Confederates and Federals, alike, left the following morning for Macon where they learned the War was over. The prisoners were released.

In an ironic twist of events, LaGrange remained in Macon where he found met and married a young woman and took her back North with him. Mrs. Morris, as her name reveals, did not marry Major Parkman but rather a James A. Morris of Morristown, Pennsylvania, whom she met after the war in the home of Confederate General John B. Gordon in Atlanta.

Mrs. Gordon was the former Frances Haralson of LaGrange, daughter of General Hugh A. Haralson (see later in this tour), and while not a Nancy Hart, she actually followed her husband to war. Gordon was wounded five times at the Battle of Sharpsburg, Virginia, and gave up only when he fell unconscious from his horse. Mrs. Gordon nursed him back to health, and he states in his Reminisces of the Civil War that had it not been for his wife, he would not have lived following this battle.

A funny story is told about Mrs. Gordon’s constant attendance on her husband. At one point, Confederate General Jubal Early watched a carriage as it pulled into camp and asked who was inside. When he was told it was Mrs. Gordon’s carriage, he is said to have remarked, "Humph, if all my men kept up as well as Mrs. Gordon does, there would be no stragglers."

Yet another story is told of Mrs. Gordon in 1864 when The LaGrange Reporter carried a story headlined, "A Gallant Lady and a Cowardly Cavalry." Written by the paper’s Winchester, Virginia, correspondent, the article related how Mrs. Gordon seized the Division Headquarter’s flag during the retreat from that town and rushed into the street calling for all her husband’s men to rally around the flag and she would personally lead them back into battle. According to the newspaper, she succeeded in rallying 200 men and they rushed back into the fight.

General Sherman's Georgia Romance
A sample from Tour Two in
Touring the Backroads of North and South Georgia

It is on private property beyond this gate that the home of Shelman Heights once stood. Now, many Georgians can say that they outsmarted Sherman’s army and by various means ended up with home and goods intact. From the use of Masonic symbols to downright conniving, Georgians went through all manner of manipulations to keep their personal property from being destroyed. But Cecelia Stovall Shelman of Shelman Heights could truthfully say that love saved her home. But not just any love. First love. And that love was William Tecumseh Sherman.

Cecelia’s brother, Marcellus, was attending West Point Military Academy in 1836, when she went up to attend the dances. And who should fall hardest for the dark-eyed beauty but her brother’s roommate, William Tecumseh Sherman.

The daughter of a wealthy Augusta cotton merchant, Cecelia met Sherman’s advances plainly: "Your eyes are so cold and cruel," she is said to have told him. "I pity the man who ever becomes your foe. Ah, how you would crush an enemy."

Sherman is said to have responded, "Even though you were my enemy, my dear, I would ever love and protect you."

But, the romance was not to continue. Marcellus resigned from West Point because of ill health the following year, and decided to make the Grand Tour of Europe. Cecelia accompanied him and managed to be in London to witness the coronation of Queen Victoria.

Afterwards, she returned to Augusta where she became interested in another West Point graduate. Unfortunately, Richard Garnett, stationed at the U.S. Arsenal there, did not have a large enough salary to suit Cecelia’s father so he packed her off to South Carolina to visit relatives and to let distance kill the blossoming romance. Oddly enough, while Cecelia was cooling her heels in South Carolina, who should be stationed in Augusta but Sherman. Chances are the young lieutenant wouldn’t have suited Cecelia’s father either as he was looking for someone wealthy to marry his daughter. One must wonder, though, if Sherman’s heart didn’t beat a little faster when he was told where he was to be stationed.

While in South Carolina, Cecelia met and fell in love with Charles T. Shelman, who was a native of Cass (now Bartow) County. Her father approved of this match and the two were married in 1848. Later, the two would return to Bartow County where Shelman would build his wife a beautiful white home with six Doric columns atop a bluff overlooking the Etowah River. The couple was living here when the War Between the States began in 1861.

In 1864, Sherman arrived to pay a call at Shelman Heights. This time he was a major general at the head of an invading army. When the home was brought to his attention, Sherman decided to see what it had to offer despite the fact it was slightly off his course.

Riding up to the gate, Sherman and a fellow officer were met by an elderly black slave who was lamenting their arrival.

"I sho’ly is glad Miss Cecelia ain’t here to see it with her own eyes," he is said to have uttered repeatedly.

"Miss Cecelia?" Sherman is said to echoed, "Not Miss Cecelia Stovall?"

Well, yes, but she was now Mrs. Shelman. Sherman was just asking to be received by his former belle when he was informed that Captain Shelman was in the Confederate Army, and that Miss Cecelia had refugeed. This aged servant was the only one left to take care of the place. Sherman then left a written message that still remains in the family today.

Before riding off, Sherman made sure that everything that had been taken was replaced, and he made sure guards were left to stand watch until the entire Army passed through.

To Joe, Cecelia’s faithful servant, he said, "Say to your mistress for me that she might have remained in her home in safety; that she and her property would have been protected. Hand her this when you see her."

And when Cecelia returned to her unharmed home, she read:

"You once said that I would crush an enemy and you pitied my foe. Do you recall my reply? Although many years have passed, my answer is the same. I would ever shield and protect you. That I have done. Forgive all else. I am only a soldier.
Wm. T. Sherman"

Shelman Heights later burned to the ground (on New Year’s day in 1911). Captain Shelman died in 1886 but Cecelia lived on until 1904 in her home that stood tall and beautiful on Shelman’s Bluff.

A note to the reader who has this story reproduced here without the benefit of the remainder of the tour in the book. The former site of Shelman Heights is just off GA 113 west of Cartersville.


Ellijay's Only Legal Hanging
A sample from Tour Three in
Touring the Backroads of North and South Georgia

In May of 1877, the earlier courthouse on the square provided the forum for Anthony Goble’s murder trial. The previous November, Goble was drinking whiskey next to Matt Barnes government-licensed distillery, part of the small crowd of drinkers on hand that day. Wofford Brown of Gordon County approached Goble to confront him about an incident that occurred during the Civil War. Brown accused Goble’s father of stealing meat from Brown’s father and further charged that Goble had eaten some of the stolen meat himself. Goble answered the charges saying that he was just a boy during the war and didn’t know anything about what Brown was talking about.

Goble was a powerfully built man, who didn’t take insults lightly, but witnesses noticed no animosity between the two after the accusation. In fact, Goble seemed to befriend Brown, who later asked that Goble show him the way to the Watkin’s house. Goble obliged and accompanied by Brown’s travelling partner, William Gentry, left in good spirits to show his new acquaintance the way. Gentry left the two men a short distance later about 1:30 p.m.

At eight that evening, Goble showed up at the home of a Mrs. Tuck. He told her and several others in her house that he had been fighting and killed a man, showing them his blood-soaked hands. They assumed he was joking, using the blood of a slaughtered animal for his ruse. But when he saw their disbelief, he pulled a handful of ragged whiskers from his pocket as further evidence of his crime. "If you give me a dollar apiece for them, I will go and stick them back," he said to the horror of those in Tuck’s home.

Goble lead them to Brown’s body. He was horribly injured, and the Dahlonega Signal and Advertiser reported it from the trial as, "the worst mangled body that was ever heard of." But, to the relief of the group, Brown was still alive and seemed to be trying to crawl away from his attacker. Goble then attacked Brown a second time, kicking and beating until he was pulled away by the men at what was now a murder scene as Brown was dead.

Goble was sent to the jail in Cobb County to prevent his family from breaking him out. He returned to the courthouse in Ellijay on May 14 of 1877 and pleaded "not guilty." Numerous witnesses testified against Goble, who offered no words in his own defense, nor would anyone testify on his behalf. He was pronounced guilty and sentenced to hang, with the execution slated for June 22.

No legal hanging had ever taken place in Gilmer County, as law was dispensed on a more personal level, retribution, in most cases. Several officials were uneasy at how Goble’s family and friends might react toward whoever pulled the trap on the execution. The sheriff, to whom this duty would usually fall, resigned his job over the matter. Several others refused to trigger the gallows. Dr. James Johnson, county coroner and a friend of Goble’s from their early days finally agreed to do the deed.

The execution took place in a natural amphitheater up the hill behind the town and cemetery. It became known as Hang Hollow. Today it is on private property off Corbin Hill Road. On the morning of the execution, Goble made a profession of faith and was baptized into the Methodist Church. He rode in a wagon, seated on his own coffin, up the steep winding path to the gallows, where a large crowd was on hand for the spectacle. Goble read a confession, blaming his crime on bad influences and hard liquor. He then personally greeted several hundred friends and family who filed by the wagon to say their last good-byes.

A thunderstorm moved in over the town as the time of the execution neared. When everything was in order and Goble said he was ready, Dr. Johnson tried, without success, to pull the trigger on the trap door. Several hard pulls on the trigger rope were with no effect. The coroner then dug his feet in, wrapped the rope around his wrists and pulled with all his might. The trap released and Tone Goble was hanged at last.

Dr. Johnson, whose house then stood on the courthouse square at the site of today’s courthouse, soon moved out of town.

A note to the reader who has this story reproduced here without the benefit of the remainder of the tour in the book. This story is relates to the courthouse square in Ellijay.

Touring the Backroads of
North and South Georgia
by Victoria and Frank Logue

The 15 tours in this book—the ninth volume in John F. Blair's Touring the Backroads Series—hold surprises even for longtime Georgia residents. Avoiding major thoroughfares wherever possible, they seek out hidden treasures—scenic vistas, people famous or colorful, the tangible reminders or the tales they left behind. Both a touring guide and an informal history primer, it is sure to satisfy residents, visitors, and armchair travelers alike.

"Written as a lively narrative, Touring the Backroads of North and South Georgia
explores the best kept secrets of the Georgia countryside with humor and style."
Georgia Historical Quarterly

Published by John F. Blair, Publisher
ISBN 0-89587-171-8
$20.95 retail

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