Minutes of the Avon Historical Society, 3-7-12

  • 4-4-12: The Avon Historical Society presents "General Quincy A. Gillmore, Lorain County's Forgotten Civil War General,"

    President Jack Smith called the March 7, 2012, meeting of the Avon Historical Society to order at 7 p.m. There were 21 members and guests present.

    The minutes of the February 1 meeting were read. Nancy McGhee expressed dismay that during the report on "Santa Comes to Avon" that no mention of the fact that the event had been going on for 50 years and had been ably hosted by the Avon's Lion's Club and Avon Historical Society. "It's not a new thing," she said. Jack said he, too, took note of the omission and said that the event was staged at Avon Isle for the first time.

    The minutes were approved as read with Theresa Szippl making the motion and Jean Fischer seconding.

    Landmarks Preservation Commission Chairman Joe Richvalsky said that there are 230 properties listed as being 50 years or older. Currently the sawmill foundation associated with the site of Avon Isle, off in the woods, is being considered for the preservation list.

    Jim Szippl said that AHS is seeking nominations for officers: president, vice president, treasurer and secretary. Volunteers and nominations will be accepted now through April. Elections will be held at the May meeting.

    Trustee Jim Szippl also reported on the newly erected guard rail at the basement stair well. A participant at last month's meeting walked the walk east of Old Town Hall which leads directly to the unsecured stairs.

    There is no lighting on that side of the building and the stairs were not visible. The city was notified and a barrier was immediately erected. Jim said he and Joe will review securing the open stairs end with a gate and devise an attractive screen for the metal pole enclosure.

    Jean told of the planned April 4 meeting. Matthew Weisman of the Black River Historical Society will present a program on General Quincy Gilmore of Civil War fame. He was born at the site of what is now Lakeview Park in Lorain.

    Jack said that Gilmore was not only a general but an engineer who was responsible for having introduced the rifled cannon barrel during the Civil War and was responsible for the retaking of Fort Sumter.

    The meeting adjourned with Nancy McGhee making the motion and Susie Cory seconding.

    Jean introduced the speaker, Jim Smith of the Lorain County Historical Society and the program, "The Underground Railroad."

    Respectfully submitted, JoAnne Easterday

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    Matt Weisman from the Black River Historical Society will present "General Quincy A. Gillmore, Lorain County's Forgotten Civil War General," at the meeting of the Avon Historical Society at 7 pm on Wednesday, 4-4-12, at the Old Town Hall of 1871, southeast corner of Detroit and Stoney Ridge. For more information, contact Jean Fischer at 934-6106 or Stan Hawryluk at 934-0224.



    Quincy Adams Gillmore (February 25, 1825 - April 11, 1888) was an American civil engineer, author, and a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War.

    He was noted for his actions in the Union victory at Fort Pulaski, where his modern rifled artillery readily pounded the fort's exterior stone walls, an action that essentially rendered stone fortifications obsolete.

    He earned an international reputation as an organizer of siege operations and helped revolutionize the use of naval gunnery.

    Gillmore was born and raised in Black River (now the City of Lorain) in Lorain County, Ohio. He was named after the president-elect at the time of his birth, John Quincy Adams.

    He entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1845. He graduated in 1849, first in a class of 43 members. He was appointed to the engineers and was promoted to first lieutenant in 1856. From 1849 until 1852, he was engaged in constructing the fortifications at Hampton Roads in coastal Virginia. For the next four years, he was instructor of Practical Military Engineering at West Point and designed a new riding school.

    With the outbreak of the Civil War in early 1861, Gilmore was assigned to the staff of Brig. Gen.Thomas W. Sherman and accompanied him to Port Royal, Virginia. After being appointed as a brigadier general.

    Gillmore took charge of the siege operations against Fort Pulaski. A staunch advocate of the relatively new naval rifled guns, he was the first officer to effectively use them to knock out an enemy stone fortification. More than 5,000 artillery shells fell on Pulaski from a range of 1,700 yards during the short siege, which resulted in the fort's surrender after its walls were breached.

    "The result of the efforts to breach a fort of such strength and at such a distance confers high honor on the engineering skill and self-reliant capacity of General Gilmore. Failure in an attempt made in opposition to the opinion of the ablest engineers in the army would have destroyed him. Success, which in this case is wholly attributable to his talent, energy, and independence, deserves a corresponding reward." -- New York Tribune

    After an assignment in New York City, Gillmore traveled to Lexington, Kentucky, where he supervised the construction of Fort Clay on a hilltop commanding the city. He was then assigned to replace Maj. Gen. Ormsby M. Mitchel in charge of the X Corps after that officer's death from yellow fever.

    In addition, Gillmore commanded the Department of the South, consisting of North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, with headquarters at Hilton Head, from June 12, 1863, to May 1, 1864. Under his direction, the army constructed two earthen forts in coastal South Carolina -- Fort Mitchel and Fort Holbrook, located in the Spanish Wells area near Hilton Head Island.

    He commanded forces that occupied Morris Island, Fort Wagner, and Fort Gregg, and also participated in the destruction of Fort Sumter. On July 18, 1863, during the siege of Charleston, South Carolina, Gillmore launched a major assault on Fort Wagner.

    The troops who assaulted Ft. Wagner were primarily from the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, which included only African-Americans in its complement. Gillmore had ordered that his forces be integrated and that African-Americans were not to be assigned menial tasks only, such as KP or latrine duty, but instead they were to carry arms into battle.

    They and their assault on Ft. Wagner were the subject of the 1989 Civil War movie Glory, which starred Morgan Freeman and Matthew Broderick. "So shortly after 6:30 p.m., on July 18, 1863, the Union Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (played by Matthew Broderick) readied the 600 men of the 54th Massachusetts regiment for an assault on Ft. Wager. Shaw was the 25 year old son of Boston abolitionists, was white, as were all his officers. Again, all the regiment's enlisted complement were ... African-American." [from the History Net, African American History, 54th Massachusetts Regiment].

    Although he does not receive attribution for his command in the credits, the African American troops in the movie "Glory" were in fact under General Gillmore's command and were engaged in battle because of his orders ordering that they be allowed to do so. Prior that time, a 1792 law forbade African Americans from participating in the military, i.e., it forbade "persons of color from serving in the militia" ...

    Gillmore asked for reassignment and left for Washington, D.C. On July 11, 1864, Gillmore organized new recruits and invalids into a 20,000-man force to help protect the city from a threat by 10,000 Confederates under Jubal A. Early, who had reached the outer defenses of the Union capital.

    Gillmore was breveted as a major general of volunteers and a lieutenant colonel of engineers in the regular army. In mid-May 1865, Gillmore ordered all remaining slaves in the territory under his command to be freed; later that month he imposed martial law to enforce his orders.

    With the war over, he resigned from the volunteer army on December 5, 1865.

    Gillmore returned to New York City and became a well known civil engineer, authoring several books and articles on structural materials, including cement. He was involved in the reconstruction of fortifications along the Atlantic coast (including, ironically, some that he had destroyed as a Union general) ...

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