By Bill Hendrick
The Atlanta History Center, which cut 15 employees from its 74-member staff this year in a belt-tightening move, plans to hold a special fundraiser April 5, with proceeds to come in part from sales of a new book on an obscure Confederate general.
That general, John C. Vaughn, will be the topic of a lecture.
The sponsor of the event, to begin at 2 p.m. on Palm Sunday in the center’s McElreath Hall, is a nonprofit group named Salute America, which says it will donate $10 to the center for every person who attends. Admission is free.
Proceeds from sales of the new book, “The Last Confederate General” by historian Larry Gordon, also will go to the History Center.
Gordon Jones, the senior military historian and curator at the center, will discuss Vaughn, the book’s title character, who fought in most major battles of the Civil War and was with Jefferson Davis when the president of the Confederacy was captured in Irwinville a month after Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia.
Author Gordon, a Vietnam veteran, also will discuss Vaughn.
The center’s endowment, a trust fund from donations over the years, has taken a hit with the decline in the stock market in the past year, “so this is an added plus,” center spokeswoman Hillary Hardwick said.
The recession has not affected operations, she said.
But Jones noted that entrance fees account for less than 10 percent of the center’s revenues.
“We need this kind of help to keep our operations going — exhibitions, educational programs, research — and the staff to do it,” he said. “History is a balm in troubled times, reminding us that our sufferings are by no means unique. We have but to look to the past to find examples of others who have suffered even more, and if they can live through hard times, so can we.”
Hardwick said the center is “extremely appreciative of Salute America’s support, as the monies they will donate for each attendee, as well as proceeds from the book sales, certainly help support our operating budget to support exhibitions, collections and programming.”
Jones said he’d never heard of Vaughn until recently, but after reading the book, he concluded that the general was “easily one of the most interesting figures of the war.”
Vaughn was one of more than 400 Confederate generals but was, like most, only mediocre, Jones said, so his story “is much more typical” than those of Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
Added Gordon, the author: “This book is the story of a man who never quit.”
That’s true, Jones said. “Vaughn was one of the first to raise his own outfit and go off to fight in June 1861. And he was the last general in the eastern theater to surrender in May 1865. Bottom line — this book shows yet again that the Civil War was not what you think it was.”
Time will be reserved for the author to sign the book, which is listed at $27. For more information, call 404-814-4056.