Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Atlanta Garden #9: Handy Andy & Surrender to Sherman


Atlanta Garden #9: Handy Andy by Addie

Handy Andy recalls Atlanta's Civil War mayor James Calhoun, remembered for his leadership in a number of the city's trying situations, such as enemy occupation, giant conflagrations, refugeeing citizens, etc.

James Montgomery Calhoun (1811-1875)

Lawyer and politician James Calhoun was unsuccessful at politics before the war because he was a Whig in the Democrat-voting state of Georgia. His father's cousin, fire-eating Democrat John C. Calhoun, advised him to switch parties but James would not compromise his principles. Whigs favored spending money on what we'd call infrastructure; they were rather inconsistently opposed to the economic system of slavery and its expansion into new territories and strongly in favor of the national union and an active central government. Whigs had mixed support for tariffs on imported goods to support Northern industries, a federal tax that infuriated the South.

Jeanne's doing two sets.

Calhoun was considered a moderate and a Unionist in a Secession-determined city. But once war began and the ranks of Democrats joined the Confederate Army James won enough mayoral votes to be elected to four one-year terms from 1862 through 1866.

Atlanta, September, 1864 before the fires and destruction

As mayor of a Confederate city Calhoun did little to punish or bother the small group of Unionist sympathizers that were part of Carrie Berry's extended family. His own personal loyalties were in question with Marc Wortman in The Bonfire: The Siege and Burning of Atlanta surmising that Calhoun, "certainly knew of clandestine gatherings and very likely joined in."

Handy Andy by Becky Collis

In June, 1864 as Union troops grew closer, James Calhoun sent his family 65 miles south to Thomaston and gave the Calhoun slaves a choice. Twenty accompanied his wife Amelia Arnold Hightower Holt Calhoun to Thomaston; thirty people set off on their own to await Union liberation.

Handy Andy by Denniele Bohannon

"Such excitement there was."
Carrie's diary

After the Confederate Army abandoned the town Carrie Berry and the rest of Atlanta awaited Union troops. An official city committee was dispatched to surrender Atlanta, but first they had to locate someone to surrender to. 

James Calhoun and a group of city leaders, including Uncle William Markham, found Union Colonel John Coburn marching into town on Marietta Street and formally handed over the city.

The Mayor recalled saying: "Colonel Coburn, the fortune of war has placed Atlanta in your hands. As Mayor of the City I come to ask your protection for noncombatants and for private property," protection Sherman's Army refused to insure.

Handy Andy by Becky Brown
Her I Spy center here is a puppy.

Did the occupying officers contact their Atlanta spies? Carrie's Auntie seems to have welcomed the Union officer who spent the night, perhaps someone they had been communicating with in the weeks leading up to the surrender. 

After peace in spring, 1865 Atlantans returned to rebuild the city. The 1870 census found James and Amelia Calhoun living in Atlanta with 20-year-old Black servant Henrietta. There was money to be made and James prospered as indicated by his worth here of about $55,000. When he died in November, 1875 Amelia moved back to Thomaston.

The Block

Handy Andy by Jeanne Arnieri

Handy Andy, About 1910
Ruth Finley in her 1929 book called this block Handy Andy.
It uses same pieces as #7 Grandmother's Favorite with
the half-square triangle units arranged differently.

Above the cutting instructions for 10" and 15" blocks.

Lydia Ann Good Baker of Pulaski County, Indiana
made this version in the 20th century, recorded by the Indiana
project and the Quilt Index.

And the Michigan project photographed a late 20th-century version.

The mayor's wife Amelia is associated with this Irish Chain.

Irish Chain quilt (84" x 97") in the collection of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts
(MESDA), attributed to Amelia Arnold Hightower Holt Calhoun (1811-1889) of Georgia.

See more about Amelia and the quilt here:

Becky Collis's, quilted bound and hanging on the wall 
war.. Darn that AI-
Three more blocks to go.


Danice G said...

What a pretty quilt block. Thank you again for all of the history that you impart along with the quilt blocks.

Barbara Brackman said...

Danice, always glad to hear from you!

Martha said...

Calhoun had 50 slaves, wow, obviously he wasn't one of the Whigs even "inconsistently opposed" to slavery. One wonders, with his northern/union sympathies, what he saw his fate however the war ended. Seems like a whatever way the winds blows sort of politician. Interesting history as always, thank you.