At this event, I had the opportunity to gain more knowledge about Alabama's historical monuments and their commemorations which took place during the civil war. Many buildings were destroyed and then rebuilt and reconstructed with the use of Roman inspiration in the architecture of the buildings such as the Pantheon in Italy. These buildings stand for something much larger than just the gory aspect of war and violent volatile combat in which we study about in class. It is inevitable to say many confederates died on the South side, the number being much larger in abundance when comparing to the number of Union soldiers. The music video made by the history students was basically urban vs. rural and their all experiences with living in the North and South, being asked many questions about their lifestyles and how they can differ from their native homes. The town was titled "Druid City" reflecting on Alabama's past and historical significance, specifically for this class, the Civil War.
I recently attended the lecture at the Jemison Mansion discussing the Druid City (Tuscaloosa), where a class of students showed the audience a 12 minute music video that they put together. The music video was about the growth of the city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and also whether or not the students in the class grew up in a city or in the country. Not surprisingly, most of the students in the class grew up in the city. Following the lecture, there was a powerpoint presentation about how Tuscaloosa became the city it is today, and the excavation of historic sites. The city of Tuscaloosa was the location of the state capital in Alabama from 1826 to 1846. The state capital moved away to Montgomery following the 20 year stint in Tuscaloosa, and then the capital building was destroyed. Many, many years later, the remnants of the capital building were found at Capital Park in Tuscaloosa. The presentation was discussing the excavation of this historical building, and the speaker was actually one of the people who helped excavate the historic site. The only remaining part of the capital building was ruins of the first floor. From a picture taken overhead, you could see four distinct separate offices from the old building. There were several historic artifacts that were found during the uncovering of the ruins in Capital Park, and the artifacts were carefully uncovered. By discovering old monuments such as the former capital building in Tuscaloosa, historians can learn a lot about the past, and excavating these historic sites is a very important part of this learning process.
The world premiere of the music video “Druid City” occurred at the historical Jemison Mansion on December 3, 2014. Following the premiere of the music video, which featured the city of Tuscaloosa and its many historical sites, guest speaker Dr. Robert Mellown talked about the historical significance of many of the buildings in Tuscaloosa.
Although no huge battle was fought in Tuscaloosa, the Civil War certainly had a presence in the community. This was in large part because Tuscaloosa was home to a Confederate Prisoner of War camp. Union soldiers that were held here during the war faced numerous problems including lack of food and disease, which made this a very deadly place for those who inhabited it. Additionally, Tuscaloosa was home to a Confederate arsenal that stored ammunition and supplies.
When word got out that Union soldiers were headed to Tuscaloosa, Confederate troops burned down the arsenal to prevent the Union form taking their materials. In addition, Union troops burned down many other buildings in Tuscaloosa, including a large part of the University of Alabama. Even though Tuscaloosa had several buildings that were related to the Civil War, very few are still around today because of the large amount of burning that occurred.
Furthermore, a burning that occurred after the Civil War was the previous state capitol building that was in Tuscaloosa. Although the area where it stood remained empty for decades, it was recently rebuilt as a sort of monument made out of its old ruins. There was much thought and decision-making put into making this monument much like many other monuments put up as discussed in Horowitz’s Confederates in the Attic.
Overall, the lecture was very informative about the city of Tuscaloosa during the Civil War and how the city decided to remember the previous state capitol building by making a monument out of it.
The music video/documentary pertained to another history class that discussed rural versus urban ideals and habits. Each student in the class explained where they were from and if this place was rural or urban, and then to say what was “non-country” or “non-city” about themselves. It also followed the class along as they saw different historical sites in different rural and urban areas. This can relate to our own history class in that we discussed how society changed as settlers moved from urban to rural areas, or vice versa. The latter part of the lecture was about interpreting historical sites. A keynote speaker gave a presentation about different historical sites around Tuscaloosa. He and his archeological team used foundations of old buildings to compare them to buildings today. He also spoke of what these buildings and the rooms they contained were used for. Some of these buildings were significant to our own Civil War Discussion. One such building was once used as a holding for Union soldiers that had become prisoners of war. His lecture can also relate to our own Civil War Monument project. My group and I used inspiration of past southern plantations to create our own present day southern plantation. We based our structure on those of past structures and created a blueprint to display what each room would be used for. The project required to interpret these sites and analyze how different groups would react to this monument as well as what it would signify.
During the music video presented by the undergraduate class “The Nineteenth Century City”, many different historical buildings located in Tuscaloosa. Unfortunately, during the 1800s, while the Civil War was still under way, the Union army set fire to and burned several of these timeless buildings. One building lost in the fire was the rotunda for the University of Alabama. Only one photograph of the rotunda found in an old book give us an idea of what the building looked like. It was located where Gorgas Library currently is, and drew inspiration from two notable sources. Both the Parthenon inspired it and the rotunda found in the University of Virginia. Through modern technology, we have been able to take the existing photograph and create a 3-D model of the rotunda. Another building that Dr. Mellown discussed was the former state capitol building that was located in Tuscaloosa. Tuscaloosa was actually the capital of Alabama for twenty years in the 1820-40s, with the capitol building lost to the fire. Several artifacts were recovered from ten feet under the buildings ground, and efforts were made to use the recovered building fragments to create a monument in Capitol Park. Several fragments and sections of columns were found in the backyards of Tuscaloosa resident’s homes. Tuscaloosa lost the title of state capitol due to the lack of roads in Alabama and the only way to navigate to Tuscaloosa on a commercial level was by using the Warrior River, which was only possible six months out of the year.