orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

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April 17, 2011

In North, Civil War sites, events long 'forgotten'

(Continued)

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. —

Mark Simpson, 57, South Carolina commander of Sons of Confederate Veterans, said his family knew for generations about his great-great-grandfather's service in the Confederacy. "I visit his gravesite every year and put a flag down," Simpson said. "He is real to me."

Mintz said the North has another factor affecting its Civil War memory: immigration from Italy and Eastern Europe at the turn of the 20th century. He said those populations, and more recent immigrants, sometimes struggle to identify with that war compared to more contemporary ones.

Then, Mintz said, after the Civil War a number of Northerners moved West — and to the South.

History buffs with the Framingham History Center in Framingham, Mass., a town where residents say "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" was first sung, said they are using the sesquicentennial to bring attention to long-forgotten local Civil War sites and personalities. Included in a planned event is a celebration at Harmony Grove, site of many anti-slavery rallies where abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison famously burned a copy of the U.S. Constitution and called it a "pact with the Devil."

Today, only a small plaque in front of a house announces the historic site now surrounded by industrial lots, train tracks and a motorcycle shop.

Volunteers also hope to raise around $1 million for Framingham's dilapidated Civil War memorial building to repair its cracked walls and leaky ceiling. The building houses a memorial honoring Framingham soldiers killed in the war and an American flag that flew over the Battles of Gettysburg and Antietam. (Murphy said the flag was discovered in the 1990s after being forgotten in a case for 90 years.)

Fred Wallace, the town's historian, said that more importantly, volunteers wanted to bring attention to General George H. Gordon, a long-forgotten Union hero from Framingham who was a prolific writer and organizer of the 2nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. "I don't understand how this man was lost to history," said Wallace, who has researched Gordon's life and is now writing a biography on him. "He was in the middle of everything."

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