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Friday, February 24, 2017
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  • Writer Login


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    Phil Gast

    Phil Gast
    Phil Gast is a writer-editor living in the Atlanta area.
    Number of posts: 12
    Email address: email
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    By Phil Gast:


      The remarkable story of the French flag ruse and imprisoned women and children of Roswell

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Oct 17, 2010
      The remarkable story of the French flag ruse and imprisoned women and children of Roswell

      Reflecting on the 14 months since I launched The Civil War Picket has reminded me of just how little I know about the Civil War, especially in my own back yard.

      Take, for example, the Atlanta History Center’s permanent exhibit, “Turning Point.”

      This trove of artifacts that speaks to the humanity of those who fought is powerful. It took only took 20-plus years in metro Atlanta for me to make the discovery.

      Cannonball fired at Fort Sumter sits outside Georgia courthouse

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jun 27, 2010
      Cannonball fired at Fort Sumter sits outside Georgia courthouse

      Virginia planter Edmund Ruffin’s first foray into South Carolina seemed peaceful enough. He came to preach advancements in agriculture, crop rotation among them.

      When he returned to Charleston on the eve of the Civil War, however, Ruffin brought with him the seeds of Southern independence.

      At 4:30 a.m. on April 12, 1861, the 66-year-old slaveholder, “fire eating” secessionist and Palmetto Guards volunteer tucked his long white mane under his hat and fired the first shot of a war that would kill more than 600,000 Americans.

      Excavations begin at Confederate prison

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Mar 26, 2010
      Excavations begin at Confederate prison

      Hewn by at least 300 slaves and a platoon of prisoners, the pine timbers stood in mute testimony to the horrors they had witnessed. Between 12 and 15 feet tall, the poles formed the stockade wall at little-known Camp Lawton, Ga., which helped replace the infamous Andersonville prison in fall 1864. The timbers are long gone, but archaeologists and college students are trying to find remnants and signs of where they once stood.

      Ga. county decides against Resaca park

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Mar 18, 2010
      Ga. county decides against Resaca park

      Citing costs and inherited permit problems, a northwest Georgia county has punted on building a Civil War battlefield park at Resaca.

      Gordon County commissioners on Tuesday decided to give the project back to the state of Georgia.

      Gordon County, which only a few months ago agreed to build the park,

      Catching up with Vince Dooley

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Mar 11, 2010
      Catching up with Vince Dooley

      Southern icons don’t always fade away into the magnolia trees.

      At 77, former University of Georgia football Coach Vince Dooley, whose teams won the National Championship in 1980 and six Southeastern Conference titles, is as busy as ever.

      Should a Georgia county build a battlefield park?

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Feb 14, 2010
      Should a Georgia county build a battlefield park?

      Advocates of a planned Civil War battlefield park in northwest Georgia tout an old real estate maxim: Location, location, location.

      Several Georgia Civil War sites are within a few miles of Interstate 75, the busy highway that shadows the route of the 1864 Atlanta Campaign.

      But the people of Gordon County say they have something unique.

      A road trip to Allman country

      by | 14, Add your Comment | Feb 3, 2010
      A road trip to Allman country

      Don’t ask me why I thought of Duane Allman in the predawn hours of a rainy Groundhog Day.

      I don’t know.

      I awoke Tuesday to the patter of a light rain outside the window.

      That sound ended any notion of my driving to the Yellow River Game Ranch in nearby Lilburn. Waiting outside to learn whether General Lee, our esteemed Southern groundhog, would see his shadow had little appeal in the damp chill.

      Thankful for sticking with tradition

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Nov 23, 2009
      Thankful for sticking with tradition

      Each Thanksgiving, I am thankful that I don’t get what I once wished for. A little background first. I enjoy being with my wife’s family, fresh in from Columbus, Ga., Alabama and east Tennessee. We kick and toss the football. In the evening, we gather ‘round the old upright Strohber piano to sing time-honored Christmas songs and hymns. In between, there is one fabulous meal. Everyone does their part, bringing in relish plates, casseroles, sweet potatoes, rice, English peas, desserts, fresh cranberry and a whole lot more. It took me a while to get used to pickled peaches, but I’ve worked through it. The menu never varies. I rarely contribute. One holiday, I asked my wife to shake things up a bit, to try something different. How about some oyster dressing? Susan listened and continued her cleaning. She was up that Thanksgiving morning by 5 a.m., like every year, getting […]

      Hell’s broke loose in Georgia

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Oct 17, 2009
      Hell's broke loose in Georgia

      Not too many years ago, movie audiences clung to a powerful scene from “Gone With the Wind” as their image of Gen. William T. Sherman’s marauding Yankees.

      A soldier comes to Tara to loot the premises, sees Scarlett O’Hara and moves up the stairs toward her, a leer across his bearded face.

      Scarlett calmly shoots him dead, takes his money and, with the help of Melanie, buries him outside.

      To many, the soldier portrayed the worst side of the Union troops who made life miserable for Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina during the 1864 March to the Sea.

      Dancing with the heart

      by | 8, Add your Comment | Oct 13, 2009
      Dancing with the heart

      Her voice was surprisingly clear, bridging the miles between Rome and Atlanta as if she were calling from down the street. My wife, Susan, was excited. After all, this was her first trip abroad. Her first night in Europe. She had returned from a long walk through a city full of celebration. This was the summer of 2006. Italy was on its way to winning the World Cup, and Romans were in a good mood. Soon, Susan would link up with our daughter, who was completing a University of Georgia study abroad program. But she had a few hours to herself before then. I checked in with her late that night. It must have been after midnight her time. Somewhere in her descriptions of the cafes, the historic streets, the people, she slipped it in. “And I danced with Marco.” Marco? She had my full attention now. “We did the […]

      The villification & vindication of General James Longstreet

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Oct 1, 2009
      The villification & vindication of General James Longstreet

      James Longstreet carried his wounds with him until the day he died at age 82. He carried the memory of his five young children who died more than four decades before. Three of them passed away in Richmond, Va., while he was away at the battlefront. The aging warrior also contended with the effects of a wound to his throat, the result of friendly fire during the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864. That wound reopened after pneumonia set in during a visit to his daughter’s Gainesville, Ga., home in January 1904. He bled to death. But perhaps the most enduring wound has been the one to his reputation. The controversy about his conduct at the Battle of Gettysburg and his postwar support of the Republican Party, Reconstruction and suffrage for blacks dogged him to his grave at Gainesville’s Alta Vista Cemetery and for years afterward. And while the debate […]

      Southern-fried Longstreet: Did the general’s hotel invent our chicken?

      by | 5, Add your Comment | Sep 23, 2009
      Southern-fried Longstreet:  Did the general's hotel invent our chicken?

      Joe Whitaker sits at a wooden desk in the library of the restored Piedmont Hotel in Gainesville, Georgia.

      Around him are portraits and books about famed Confederate Gen. James Longstreet, who made this city an hour northeast from Atlanta his home for the last three decades of his life.

      It was time to get to the meat of the matter.

      Was the Piedmont Hotel, which was owned for many years by the general, in fact the birthplace of Southern (battered) fried chicken?

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