Battle Of Griswoldville, Georgia

Battle of Griswoldville Georgia

The face off with General William T. Sherman!

History is not an absolute, but cause and effect: Change the cause and you alter the effect. What if a single decision or battle had went the other way? Perhaps an election had turned out differently! We as individuals are capable of altering the future course of history by our activism, or lack thereof. Imagine with us for a moment, certain historical events had indeed taken an alternate course. "Victory is for those with the persistence and fortitude to resist the temptation to withdraw or whose resolve has been tempered, when conditions worsen and the cost rises; it is not for the weak hearted, nor those who are softened by the ease and comfort of a gilded cage, provided by the enemy at the cost of liberty. It is for those who continue to fight the good fight, even after others who have gone before, having faced overwhelming numbers and firepower found themselves unable to complete the mission." — Jay Buckner. In any case Confederate Fiction allows us to dream and envision victory; otherwise "where there is no vision, the people parish." {Proverbs 29:18}

The story told here is not my story, rather retold exactly as related by a dear friend, the late Mr. Elgie Barker, who passed away on 28 December 1995 at the age of 78 years. Mr. Barker was a Southern Gentleman in the truest sense of the word, but more important to the story, he was by his own definition, a ‘Negro’ and a ‘colored man.’ While relaxed he reverted back to what I considered his true dialect, that of the Ole South Negro. But he could also speak in the modern context of our times when called upon to do so. The family cared for their totally disabled adult son Rochelle Barker!

I knew the family for about ten years or more prior to his death, and daily transported their son to various activities and medical appointments. On one such occasion a prolonged delay at the Barker residence gave us time to speak and it being a pleasant day, we did so. Every one being inside the house and the two of remaining outside and standing along side my large cargo size van, old Mr. Barker began to speak. "Thomas, I am gettin’ up in years – my time draws near. I have a story and I’d like to tell it before it can’t be told. I am a native of Georgia you know, but what you don’t know is my Grandpappy was a Confederate Soldier – died in that terrible war, fightin’ those Yankee folks. The story I want to tell you, won’t be found in no ‘White History Book.’ But it happen just the same!"

"When all the white folks went off to do the fightin, only the women and the colored folks were left behind to do the work. We were treated good, not like them Yankee folks say now a days – it was alright. We took care of the plantation and saw to it the women were alright. We wanted to go fight too and not many of us colored folks got to go at first, but later many did. The fightin’ wore on and the victories turned to loss, as our boys began to loose ground. Finally the summer of 1864 came and rumors had it that the whole Yankee army was outside of Atlanta. Us colored folks got real concerned, because we heard that fella Sherman was killin’ and burnin’ everything in his path – killin women, children, colored and white alike. So some of us got together and went to the white ladies so as to say how we felt. We said, sooner or later this Yankee Sherman and his army is comin our way and we’ll all be doin some fightin and diein’ soon enough. We said, could we form what you white folks call a militia, so we would be ready. The ladies said alright, so we began preparin’ – We over heard all about such things from those white boys, before the war. So we chose us a Commander"

"It wasn’t long in comin’ and we soon heard Sherman had burned Atlanta, killed all kinds of people and was now comin’ out the other side, headin’ this way. We rounded up such weapon as we could find, some were old revolutionary muskets left behind, machetes, pitchforks and even clubs. But still we had no fightin flag. All the cotton and wool was gone to the war, so we rounded up what rags that we could and made us one of them Confederate Battle flags out of them rags. The colors didn’t come out too good, but we had a flag. Come the day when we were fixin’ to march off to face down Sherman’s Army, we gathered in the town square, 300 of us. Raggiest army I ever did see. We’d be out numbered over 200 to one, but that’s alright, it was our homes and families too, and we’d fight to defend them. What a motley bunch we were, daring to face off with the mightiest’ army in the land."

"Those 300 colored men and their Confederate Battle Flag sewed out of rags – Had I been alive back then, they would have had 301, because I would have been amongst them." Ole Mr. Barker looked far way into yesteryear as he was telling his story, and he finished. "Before we left to face off with Sherman an elderly colored lady come up to our new commander and spoke to him. If’n those white boys couldn’t stop this fella Sherman, what makes you think you can? The ole colored commander paused while looking back at the lady then answered, "I don’t know about such things" he said "but if Sherman’s fixin’ to come through Georgia, he’ll have to come through us." "Thomas," he said, "300 colored Confederates marched off that day and face off with this General Sherman. Takin down as many of them Yankee soldiers as they could. Only three came back, and my grandpappy wasn’t among them that come back."

Ole Mr. Barker still far away, he looked at me with glassy eyes and said to me, "these modern African-Americans like so many modern white folks, couldn’t cover one inch of the ground those colored Confederates stood on." After hearing that story, I was deeply moved! I’ve never had to face those kinds of odds in peace let alone in battle and while so only men such as these can only talk of heroism. But these are heroes of the highest order and as for me, I’d build a monument as big as a house to these 300 brave Soldiers of the Confederacy. These men were in every respect Southern Gentlemen. Mr. Barker had one last remark before closing his story. "Thomas," he said with deep emotion, "I’d give every thing I own in this world if I could but hold in my hands that Confederate Battle Flag made with rags, that my grandpappy and those motley 300 men carried off when they face off with Sherman."

The story you have just read as I said, is not my story, so I can only relay the story as told to me, beyond that each individual must each judge, for ourselves. As for me, based on the honor and integrity of Mr. Elgie Barker, I believe the story to be true. I was invited into the Barker home many times and once I was even asked to wear my Confederate Uniform, so their disabledd son could see what a real Confederate looked like, since the son could not get out in order to attend the local reenactments. I even held a kind of humorous reveille on him one morning at the family’s invitation, and drafted their son into the Confederate Army, in which he found great joy. Lying across the mirror of his dresser was ever so carefully draped a Confederate Battle Flag and upon his dresser were several audiocassette tapes of Confederate Period Music.

God save the Confederacy