Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sam Thomas to speak on Mitchell's Thunderbolts, Athens' Unique Civil War Militia

Monday, February 21, 7:00 PM at the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF)

OCAF Hosts History Lecture

Sam Thomas' presentation about the Athens Home Guard unit known as Mitchell's Thunderbolts, will tell the spirited tale of a Civil War militia formed to protect the town, and in so doing, developed a persona that was part warrior, part Keystone Kops.

In 1863, with Georgia being threatened by an invasion of Union troops, many communities began to form their own local guard units to protect the towns in the case of attack. These militia groups were known as Home Guards and were generally made up of men either too old to serve in the regular army or those who could no longer serve, having been discharged due to wounds, or of boys too young for regular service. Athens was no different. Confederate authorities and city officials knew the presence of the Cook & Brother Armory would eventually make Athens a target of Union interest. Several Home Guard units were formed in Athens, but none became nearly as famous locally as did Mitchell's Thunderbolts.

Sam Thomas, curator of the T.R.R. Cobb House since 2006, holds both a BA and MA in History. His past life includes 13 years as a tennis professional. He is also credited as an author of numerous articles in journals and newspapers, as well as seven books including, 1861-1864, and A Rising Star of Promise. In 2000, he served as a technical advisor on the Mel Gibson film, The Patriot. He describes himself as primarily a Civil War historian with Scotch-Irish culture and Southern culture as very close seconds. He is past-president of Georgia's Civil War Heartland Leaders Trail, an association of heritage tourism-based museums in northeastern and eastern Georgia.

Free Admission

Date, Time & Location: Monday, February 21, 7:00 PM at the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF), 34 School Street, Watkinsville. For directions visit the website This event is sponsored by the Oconee County Historical Society and hosted by the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF).

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