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Southern Heritage <br>News and Views: CORPORAL JAMES GOINS and the JOY of BEING SOUTHERN

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


By Bob Hurst

Serendipity is the wonderful term applied to the fortuitous occurrence of discovering something by accident that proves to be of much value. I mention this because I had initially intended to write this article about General Ambrose Powell (A.P.) Hill since I have not written in a while about our great Confederate generals. Instead, because of some serendipitous events of the past two months, I have decided to write about Corporal James Goins, Company K, 19th Louisiana Infantry Regiment, and the recent headstone dedication at his grave site in the Confederate section of the lovely old cemetery in Forsyth, Georgia.

Why Corporal Goins and not General Hill? Well, its all about family, and dedication, and sacrifice, and most of all about being Southern and what a wonderful thing that is.

This story began back in mid-June when I received a phone call from a gentleman who lives near DeRidder, Louisiana. He told me his name was Mack Goins and that he ranched near the Texas line. I can't explain why but I could tell from the gitgo that this was a man that I would like. He told me that he was almost 81 years old and had, at one time, lived over in this area before ending up in Louisiana. He then told me that he subscribed to the WAKULLA AREA TIMES and had been reading my columns for several years and that was why he was calling. He first told me how much he enjoyed the articles and I, of course, was flattered. He even said that he always turned to page 21 first. Like I said, I knew I was going to like Mr. Mack from the gitgo!

He then told me that his great uncle, Corporal James Goins, had been killed in 1864 during the fighting around Atlanta and had been buried somewhere in Georgia. It was only recently that the family had located the grave of Corporal Goins (who for 146 years had slept in a grave marked "unknown") and had been able to secure a proper headstone for his grave. I later learned that Jack Bridwell, Commander of the Georgia Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, had assisted the family in securing the headstone from the Veterans Administration.

This was the reason for Mr. Goins' phone call. He said the family had planned a headstone dedication ceremony for Corporal Goins and was wondering if I could speak at the dedication ceremony. I was a bit taken aback (after all, a call from someone in Louisiana asking if I could speak at an event in Georgia) but quite flattered. I asked when the ceremony was to occur and Mr. Goins asked when could I come. Now I was doubly flattered. I responded that it would have to be in August at the earliest becaue I was committed for every weekend in July. I gave him some dates and in a subsequent phone call we settled on August 14. I generally don't travel this far to speak (Forsyth is between Macon and Atlanta) but this event certainly picqued my interest.

I was completely intrigued by the possibilities of this occasion. I love Confederate-related events. I had never been to Forsyth. The town, however, is located in an arc beginning in LaGrange on the Alabama line and extending east to Milledgeville and then upward to Athens and Washington (GA) that includes many beautiful and historic (especially Confederate history) small Georgia towns. I love small Southern towns and always welcome the opportunity to scout out an area for antebellum homes that I might photograph. Plus, Mack seemed like a really nice man.

Mack Goins told me that his niece, Debbie Thompson Jordan, lived in Moultrie, Georgia and that she would be in contact with me concerning the event and also with information about Corporal James Goins. I later learned that Debbie was instrumental in finding that the grave of Corporal Goins had finally been identified after all these years.

Now, before I get to the dedication ceremony of August 14th, let me tell you a bit about Corporal James Goins.

James was one of fifteen children born to William and Charlotte Goins who lived in southwestern Louisiana. There were six boys and nine girls. William, the father, and four of the brothers served the Confederacy. James and one of his brothers, Daniel, did not return from the War and Daniel has never been found.

The 19th Louisiana Infantry Regiment, the unit of Corporal James Goins, saw much action during the War. The regiment fought at Shiloh, Corinth, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Mill Creek Gap and Resaca , among others, before the untimely death of James, just shy of his 28th birthday, during the Seige of Atlanta when the beast Sherman laid waste to so much of Georgia.

James Goins was one of that myriad of young Southern men who answered the call to defend their homeland against the attacks of the blue-coated horde. James was one of those gallant young men who made the supreme sacrifice in defense of their country.

As I spoke that day in Forsyth to the assembled crowd, some coming from as far away as Arkansas for the occasion, I tried to stress the point that by honoring Corporal James Goins, Co K, 19th Louisiana Infantry Regiment, we were also honoring every young man who had the dedication and had made the sacrifice to serve the Confederacy in the cause of Southern independence. That is one of the reasons that it is so important that we, as a Southern people, not forget our history and the sacrifices of our noble ancestors. Our history as Southerners is unique since we understand that east, north and west are merely directions but South is a place.

I also tried to emphasize that gatherings such as this headstone dedication are also important because they can be used as vehicles to debunk the many myths that are taught in the government schools of this country and promulgated by the various media about the motives and the actions of our ancestors who wore the sacred gray.

In this Southern and Confederate-bashing period in which we now live, it is accepted as common knowledge or common wisdom by the unlearned and by those with an agenda such myths as the South wanted war, that the South started the War by firing on Fort Sumter, that the War was fought for no reason other than slavery, that the Southern soldier was fighting solely to maintain slavery, that the northern soldiers were fighting to free the slaves and, finally, that our Southern ancestors were traitors.

By contrast, the facts that are not taught in schools or trumpeted by the media are such inconvenient truths as Confederate President Jefferson Davis sending a three man peace delegation to Washington,DC in February 1861 to discuss with President-elect Lincoln ideas such as peaceful co-existence and trade between the two countries (Lincoln refused to speak with the group of Martin Crawford, John Forsyth and Andre Roman); Fort Sumter was a contrived encounter by Lincoln to draw fire against the flag (if simply firing on the flag was a cause for war, why didn't President Buchanan declare war on the South when the "Star of the West" was fired upon earlier [Hint: Buchanan did not want war, Lincoln did]); the fact that only 6 to 8% of Southerners owned slaves blows apart the argument about fighting for slavery; Union commander Ulysses Grant was quoted as saying that if he thought the war was about freeing the slaves then he would resign his commission and offer his sword to the other side; and finally, if Southerners were traitors there would not be so many major U.S. military installations such as Fort Hood, Fort Polk, Fort Benning, Fort Bragg and many others named for Confederate generals nor would the Veterans Administration provide headstones for the garves of Confederate veterans. So many inconvenient truths.

Unfortunately, the politically-correct media and government school system will not allow facts to stand in the way of propaganda.

The entire ceremony for Corporal Goins was coordinated by the family and the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. It was handled well. One of the nicest elements involved each family member in attendance shoveling a spadeful of soil into the hole in which the headstone was planted. It was touching to watch Mack Goins, his sister Jane Thompson, and so many other family members (Debbie, Danny, Susan, Bobby, Marlon, Clint, Marilyn, Renee, young Zachary and others I might have missed) each add a personal touch to the memorial to Corporal James Goins, C.S.A.

It was also touching to have a young police officer with the Forsyth Police Department approach me after the ceremony to shake my hand and thank me for speaking about things he had never heard before. There is truly so much that needs to be said.

As fine as the ceremony had been for me up to this point, it was about to get even better. I was invited by the family to stay just a bit longer in Forsyth and have supper with them. The initial plan was to eat at the Whistle Stop Cafe in the nearby hamlet of Juliette. If the name is familiar it is because Juliette is where the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes" was filmed and the Whistle Stop Cafe developed as a restaurant from the set that was built then left behind by the production company.

Unfortunately, the Whistle Stop Cafe closed early on Saturday before we would be able to get there. Fortunately, a fine restaurant on the square in Forsyth opened just at the time we wanted to eat. This restaurant has the very appealing name of GRITS and, as anyone versed in Southernism knows, GRITS in all upper case letters does not refer to the edible food product but, rather, is an acronym for Girls Raised In The South. And as every male with any sense knows, Southern girls are the best - unquestionably.

GRITS has fine ambience and fine food but even finer was the fellowship I was privileged to share with this special Southern family. While we held hands around the table as Danny offered a blessing, I felt a warmness that was so pleasant and comforting. I felt an assurance that, despite the political mess we are in with all the lies, deceptions and acrimony, there are still many good people and especially here in our beloved Southland.
Oh, by the way, I had Fried Green Tomatoes Napoleon (FGT, great sauce, shrimp) and my tummy thanked me for it.

All in all it was, for me, a most pleasant day in Forsyth. I want to thank Mr. Mack Goins for calling and inviting me to be a part of this wonderful occasion. I also want to salute Corporal James Goins, Co K, 19th Louisiana Infantry Regiment, for serving the Southland in its quest for independence and, by so doing, he died a Confederate hero. I also want to thank all of his present-day family for caring enough about him to see that 146 years after his too-early death he had a proper headstone placed at the site of his eternal rest. I also want to thank them for the warm Southern hospitality shown to me. My pleasant thoughts of the day in Forsyth made the drive back to Tallahassee a time of warm reflection.

I cannot end this article without mentioning a very special lady named Linda Hallman. I had the pleasure of talking with Linda for awhile after the ceremony. While she was attending high school in Forsyth she became interested in the Confederate section of the cemetery. It bothered her that so many of the headstones bore the inscription "unknown". She has since spent years researching the records and has successfully identified many of the previously unknown Confederate dead in the cemetery. It was on Linda's website that Debbie Thompson Jordan discovered that her great-great uncle's resting place had finally be identified. Thank you for caring so much, Linda, and thank you for everyone involved in this occasion for reinforcing the joy I feel in being Southern.


Bob Hurst is a Southern Patriot who has a strong interest in the Old South. His special areas of interest are the Confederacy and the Greek Revival architecture of the Old South. He is Commander of Col. David Lang Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans, in Tallahassee and also 2nd Lt. Commander of the Florida Division, SCV. He can be contacted at 850-878-7010 or


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