February 18, 2014
Charles Evans, retired professor of psychological science at LaGrange College, will be discussing two Georgia Civil War battles during a talk today at Frank and Laura Lewis Library at 7:30 p.m.. The talk is open to the public.
Evans said he’s always been interested in the Civil War, but it was a discovery he made after graduate school that sparked his passion.
“I read about my great-great-grandfather William Hannibal Weeks who served in the war,” he said. “He was captured in the Battle of the Wilderness, a huge battle in Virginia, and shipped to a prison camp in Elmira, N.Y., where he died. That camp was known as Andersonville of the North.”
Learning about Weeks’s experiences and putting them into the context of the entire war brought everything to life for him.
“My great-great-grandfather was captured at dawn,” Evans said. “The troops weren’t ready. Supposedly (General James) Longstreet’s men were going to come and take over the positions, but they didn’t get there in time. It was so powerful, just thinking about him waking up in the morning and seeing the enemy infantry coming at him. He was overwhelmed and sent away from everything he’d ever known. And there he died.”
Evans has the only photograph of Weeks that is in the extended family.
“It was probably made about 1858,” he said.
Although he is fascinated with the entire war, Evans said he is much more familiar with the eastern campaigns.
“It’s hard not to be fascinated with some of the eastern battles such as Gettysburg and Antietam.”
However, Evans will be concentrating on two cavalry raids that occurred in Georgia: McCook’s Raid that led to the Battle of Brown’s Mill near Newnan and Stoneman’s Raid, which was stopped at the Battle of Sunshine Church near Hillsboro.
“George Stoneman and Alexander McCook were two cavalry generals who were commanded by (General William) Sherman to cut the railroads that supplied Atlanta,” Evans said. “Sherman had come down from North Georgia and wanted to avoid a siege of Atlanta. He thought if he could cut the railroads, he could force the Confederates to evacuate Atlanta.”