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New markers to promote tourism and educate
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The Georgia Historical Society is on a storytelling mission. The society and its president and CEO, Dr. Todd Groce, were in Dawson County last week to dedicate a new marker.

As part of the national sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) of the Civil War, the historical society and the Georgia Department of Economic Development have teamed up on a project to use historical markers to promote tourism and create better access to Georgias Civil War history.

Many of the new markers will focus on different aspects of the Civil War, according to Groce.

There are almost no markers giving the whole picture, he said. This is a storytelling campaign.

The society says that of the nearly 1,000 markers around the state about 90 percent deal strictly with military topics.

This leaves vast segments of the Civil War story untold, Groce said.

The new influx of markers will deal with a wide range of topics, including the wars impact on citizens, politics, industry, the home front, African-Americans, women and even Unionism in the South.

The new marker in Dawson - which is located at the historic courthouse - tells the story of Georgians in the Union Army.

The First Georgia Volunteer Infantry Battalion (U.S.) was a United States Army unit raised in North Georgia in 1864 - it was the only Union battalion formed in the state. More than 5,000 Georgians, black and white, fought against the Confederacy during the Civil War, but most served in units that were formed in East Tennessee or northern Alabama.

We decided to locate this marker in Dawson because more than half of the soldiers in the First Georgia Volunteer Infantry Battalion were from Dawson County, said Groce.

According to the marker, North Georgia was a focal point of Unionist sentiment and resistance to Confederate conscription and taxation policies that resulted in brutal civil war within the state, throughout the Civil War.

We live in a time of huge complexity and we are searching for complex answers to our problems, but we often look at the past and we dont expect the same level of complexity, said Dawson County Commissioner Gary Pichon, who spoke at the unveiling last Wednesday. This marker tries to explain some of the complexity of this region during the Civil War. Things were not as black and white as we would like to imagine.

The historical society also is introducing a new program that will allow people to visit markers more easily. Each marker has been placed into a database, which is searchable online and through a smartphone app.

We want to build heritage tourism and teach people about the Civil War, said Groce. From the site you can pick the sites that you want to visit and it will plan your trip.One of the featured sets of markers will outline Shermans march so people can retrace his steps.

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