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The Times is planning a series of stories beginning in April to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. To help with our coverage, we're looking for local ties to the war. We're interested in stories from area residents who had relatives who served in Georgia units or took part in key battles. Send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org (with "Civil War" in the subject line) and your contact information.
Civil War remembrances will look a lot different with the 150th anniversary than they did during the 100th, Glen Kyle of the Northeast Georgia History Center, said Tuesday.
In the 1960s, America focused on the national importance of the struggle, which began April 12, 1861, with shots fired on Fort Sumter, S.C.
Expect more of a regional and local push this time around, the center's managing director told the Gainesville Kiwanis Club.
The sesquicentennial will be about "refocusing on the local area and what sort of changes the Civil War brought on the community," he said.
And in a larger context, "I don't think anyone would argue it is the most important event in our nation's history, with the possible exception of our nation's birth in the 1770s."
Kyle added, "Nothing has defined what our country is and what it's become, the struggles it's faced and the achievements that it's made better than the Civil War, especially here in the South."
Northeast Georgia, including Hall County, wasn't as active in the Civil War as other parts of Georgia, unfazed by major, bloody battles.
Soldiers from the region did fight in the war, including leaving from Redwine United Methodist Church off Poplar Springs Road in South Hall.
But otherwise, the region, particularly the more mountainous spots, didn't even support Secession, Kyle said.
"Why? The geography up there doesn't really lend itself to large cash-crop plantations, which means you're not going to need a large slave force to work that," he said.
"So they were very unsympathetic to the southern and coastal Georgia planter class trying to pull them into a rich man's war."
Also, the area was too mountainous to move armies across and lacked railroad lines vital in supplying troops.
"Nevertheless, by the end of the war, this area ...was laid to waste," ripped apart by family feuds, as well as Confederate forages and searches for deserters, Kyle said.
As for the war itself, the Atlanta Campaign was the turning point of the war, not Gettysburg, as most people believe, he said.
"It was the Union victory in Atlanta that allowed (President Abraham) Lincoln to be re-elected," Kyle added.
But it is the personal accounts by families affected by the war, even today, that "really brings it home."
The 150th anniversary "gives us a chance to look to the past, to learn from it ... and understand what those lessons are and how they can help us go forward in the future," Kyle said.
He shied from delving into causes of the Civil War.
"I am not remotely going to go into that today with anyone," Kyle said. "The difference of opinion, though, shows how strongly it is with us today."