Program will observe battle anniversary

Published 10:06 pm Monday, March 30, 2015

The 150th anniversary of the Battle of Selma will be observed with an official commemoration Thursday.

The April 1865 Society, Inc. will sponsor the observance on April 2, the exact date the one-day battle took place in 1865.

The Carneal ArtsRevive Building, at 3 Church St., will be the venue for the commemoration, which begins at 2 p.m.

Email newsletter signup

The battle will be reenacted later in April, but James Hammonds, president of the April 1865 Society, said the organization would be remised to let the sesquicentennial pass without some type of recognition for those who fought on both sides and what the citizens of Selma experienced that day.

“From that day forward, the slaves that were here in Selma and Dallas County were free,” Hammonds said. “Our community has just seen 100,000 people make a pilgrimage here. There are real connections between the monumental events that took place in Selma’s history 100 years apart. While the 1965 Bridge Crossing of the civil rights movement is more analogous with Gettysburg during the Civil War, for many people in Selma freedom started April 2, 1865.”

For the entire war, Selma served as one of the South’s main military manufacturing centers and as such was the target of Union Gen. James H. Wilson’s raid into Alabama.

The Battle of Selma, one of the last of the U.S. Civil War, was fought on the afternoon on April 2, 1865, as Wilson’s columns broke through Selma’s defenses at multiple points.

On Thursday, the stories behind several new Battle of Selma markers installed around Selma will be brought to life.

“I will explain what happened during the battle, and we’re going to highlight some of the stories that were used in the making of the historic markers,” Hammonds said. “I think that makes it a little bit unique because it’s the community participating.”

There will also be brief remarks by Hammonds, Selma Mayor George Evans and Dallas County Probate Judge Kim Ballard.

In addition, the seventh marker will be unveiled, marking the site of the Confederate Army Arsenal. Hammonds said the arsenal produced about 30,000 rifle cartridges a day.

The event is expected to go out with a bang. A Civil War cannon contrived in Selma in 1864 will be fired at approximately the same time the first cannon of the battle was fired.

Hammonds wants everyone to come out and witness part of Selma’s history. He also encourages people to attend the Alabama River Chili Cookoff later that afternoon, which is also on Water Avenue.