Items on display during “The Civil War in Sandy Springs” exhibition include weapons, a soldier’s sewing kit and shrapnel.
Photo by Clarke Otten

It’s just not clear how this rifle ended up in Sandy Springs.

“It’s an interesting gun,” said Kimberly Brigance, director of historic resources and programs for Heritage Sandy Springs.

Someone picked it up from a deserted camp after the Union army marched through 150 years ago this year. But it’s something of a mystery as to just who brought the rifle to the camp and then discarded it, Brigance said. The rifle originally had been purchased by the Confederate government and was used by its soldiers in Vicksburg. Then it showed up in Sandy Springs, repaired with parts from Union weapons, only to be discarded.

“What we don’t know is if it was captured by the Federal Army or whether it was in Confederate hands at all times,” Brigance said.

The weapon joins about two dozen other pieces that are being displayed at the Heritage Sandy Springs Museum in a new exhibit, “The Civil War in Sandy Springs.” The free exhibit opened April 30 and continues until April 1, 2015.

The exhibit concentrates on home life in Sandy Springs during the war, Brigance said. Through letters written at the time by Sandy Springs resident Nellie Jett to her soldier husband, diaries and affidavits filed years later by residents, the exhibit seeks to portray how the community reacted to occupation by the Union army.

“Unlike most other exhibits that are about the military and military maneuvers, this is about people who lived in Sandy Springs,” Brigance said. “You hear the day by day.”

Items on display also were found in Sandy Springs, she said. The display includes a military musician’s sword, a soldier’s sewing kit and shrapnel from a shell that exploded in Sandy Springs, Brigance said.

The museum will supplement its display with lectures, Brigance said, and, during the summer, with “Blue and Gray Saturdays,” when re-enactors will portray soldiers and residents. “Blue and Gray Saturdays” are planned for June 28 with Confederate re-enactors; July 26 with civilian re-enactors; and Aug. 30, with Union army re-enactors, she said.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.