Eighth battle marker to be installed Thursday

Published 10:11 pm Wednesday, April 8, 2015

With just a few weeks to go until the historic 150th Battle of Selma re-enactment, the April 1865 Society will unveil the eighth in a series of historic markers Thursday, April 9 at 10 a.m.

The marker, which sits on Broad Street near the old Alabama and Mississippi Railroad tracks, tells the story of the last Confederate stronghold.

The depot was the Confederacy’s last line of defense before Union soldiers took control of the city.

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Just like the seven markers that have been unveiled since July, the eighth marker recounts the battle through Major Joseph Hardie, who led Confederate troops during the final resistance.

“The defenses consisted of the track and the ditches on each side of the track, cotton bails thrown out and whatever buildings may have been along that line. That was the main defense,” said James Hammonds, president of the April 1865 Society. “At some point, Wilson’s second charge took Redoubt No. III … and that left the depot as the last standing stronghold of the Confederate defense.”

It wasn’t long before Hardie’s troops were overrun with Unions soldiers.

“At 7 p.m., troopers from the Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry took the depot,” Hammonds said. “That is when the last stronghold fell in the line of defense. What Major Joseph Hardie tells us is, at some point he saw he was flanked and tried to lead his men out, which means he must have evacuated that, mounted his troops and tried to take them out of Selma.”

From that point on, the Battle of Selma changed. It was no longer an organized fight amongst Union and Confederate troops.

“It was pure chaos once the last organized resistance stopped,” Hammonds said. “You had riderless horses going everywhere, you had dust being thrown up, there was darkness and fires were all being set. There were women screaming, and horses and men dying.”

According to Hammonds, as Confederate troops tried to escape town, Union soldiers rode through Selma battling small groups of southern soldiers and taking prisoners.

Hardie was eventually captured and held with other prisoners at Watts Hall, which is now known as Sturdivant Hall.

Before the battle is re-enacted, Hammonds said two more markers will be unveiled.

“I think with those ten, we can have a core of Civil War trail, and as we go along we can add a couple or three a year, and we’ll have about 20 of these markers spread out over town,” Hammonds said.

The markers have allowed people to learn more about Selma’s Civil War history much easier than before.

“Before we started putting up these markers, people could ride by and see a couple of the buildings,” Hammonds said. “But if [people] can ride by, see and hear the narratives from these markers and see the buildings that were here during the Civil War … then that starts giving somebody a complete picture.”

The 150th Battle of Selma Re-enactment is scheduled for April 23-26.