The Madison County Journal
August 9, 2000
Sunken Confederate battleships
Two historic ships are being rescued from watery graves. Both
reveal a long-neglected truth about the Confederate States of
America. The two ships, the CS Hunley and the CS Denbigh, each
contained major innovations. The Hunley was the first submarine
actually used in combat. The Denbigh, a blockade runner, contained
design features in both its hull and its steam engine that made
it one of the fastest ships of its time.
Innovation was a hallmark of the Confederate war effort. But
many of the artifacts of that innovation have been lost or forgotten.
For example, the Augusta Powder Works used innovative production
techniques that produced the best gunpowder in the world. Not
only did they make the best gunpowder, they produced it in high
volumes. The Confederate army never lost a battle due to lack
of gunpowder. It is noteworthy that the entire workforce for
that factory was black!
Irregular forces supporting the Confederacy pioneered guerrilla
warfare in Missouri and other western areas. Small bands of fighters,
often consisting of fewer than 10 men, fought to disrupt Yankee
troops. A recent movie, "To Ride With the Devil," is
a good representation of these fighters.
Both sides made use of modern transportation in maneuvering on
the battlefield. Railroads and riverboats were regularly used
to move troops into unexpected positions. Many of Robert E. Lee's
victories were due to such rapid shifting of forces.
Now that the Hunley and the first artifacts from the Denbigh
have been recovered, we have an opportunity to learn more about
the innovations of that war. The discovery of these ships will
create more interest in the War Between the States and prompt
new studies about the history of the period.
Reports from the Hunley indicate that it is in excellent condition.
Searchers expect to find documents, artifacts, and even the bodies
of the nine men who died when it sank. The information to be
gleaned from the ship is dramatic and extensive.
Recovery and restoration of the two ships will be expensive.
Special holding tanks have been built to house the Hunley until
it can be preserved. Several years of effort will be required
before it is ready to be put on display.
To me, that is as important as the actual recovery of the ships.
We as a nation have neglected our history in recent years. Our
students have little knowledge of events that produced our modern
nation. If the work to recover these vessels can excite more
interest in history, the effort to recover them is well worth
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal.
His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net.
The Madison County Journal
August 9, 2000
should be stopped
Clearly, some advertisers employ questionable tactics in pushing
their products on people.
Unfortunately, those who use suspect methods aren't limited to
cigarette and beer companies. The state of Georgia is guilty
Lottery advertising is unnecessary, irresponsible and costly.
The Georgia Lottery spends one percent of its sales revenue on
advertising annually. That translated into $18.6 million for
lottery promotion in 1999.
Meanwhile, the Georgia Lottery allots just $200,000 yearly from
the unclaimed lottery winnings to the Department of Human Resources
for gambling counseling. These numbers should be reversed, with
substantially more money going into programs for educating people
about the real risks of gambling.
While purists in some states maintain that the lottery is essentially
bad, a tax on the poor, we've warmed to the idea in Georgia,
because there are clear benefits. The lottery has raised $3.87
billion for state education programs and 499,000 HOPE Scholarships
have been awarded, giving many kids who may not have had the
opportunity otherwise a chance for a college education.
This is great, but the downside of the lottery should not be
The lottery is a financial drain on thousands of families in
this state. Of course, it's their choice. And those who blow
their money on the lottery are responsible for their own difficulties.
Unfortunately, those who toss their money away are often responsible
for the hardships of those dependent on them, too. Many prefer
the thrill of scratching off a ticket to providing a hot meal
for their kids.
But through its advertising, the state perpetuates the dream
that the lottery is a viable ticket to riches. This is reprehensible.
Neither kids nor adults should be encouraged by the state to
squander their money on false hopes.
No parent wants their child to view the lottery as a long-term
investment opportunity. And no Dad will tell his son, "Forget
your piggy bank, put $20 per week into lottery tickets and you'll
be just fine."
We'd call this parent a nut for such advice.
However, we accept the state's promotion of the lottery in the
name of education. It's a strange paradox, because in raising
money for education, the state appeals to the uneducated with
a misinformed notion that astronomical odds are conquerable.
The fact is: the lottery would do just fine without the advertising.
Plenty of people are already hooked on the tickets. It seems
the real target of the lottery advertisers, then, is the youth
of Georgia and getting a new generation into the gambling mode.
While Georgia leaders can feel good that many kids are benefiting
from the lottery, they should not ignore the fact that millions
of dollars a year are spent promoting an elusive dream that degrades
the quality of life for thousands.
Surely we can do without the misleading commercials in favor
of more socially responsible projects.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.