Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sesquicentennial Sons of Confederate Veterans Convention First Day

The Prattville Dragoons hosted the kick-of event of the Sesquicentennial Sons of Confederate Veterans convention on Wednesday July 13th.  A tour of the historic Prattville downtown area as well as the Prattaugan Museum was conducted starting at 10am.  A walking tour down Main Street highlighted the historic 20th century as well as antebellum structures including the old Prattville Mercantile Building and the Pratt Gin Works.  These were the center of Prattville life in the decades before the War for Southern Independence.  The Gin Works is still in business manufacturing cotton gins as the Engineering and Administrative offices for Continental Eagle.  This was once the largest and for some time the oldest continuous manufacturing site for cotton gins in the world.  Overlooking Heritage Park, Tyrone Crowley provided an historical perspective on Daniel Pratt (1799-1873) and his importance as an industrialist and benefactor of the Southern Cause.  Pratt was born in New Hampshire but he adopted the South and specifically this corner of Autauga County Alabama and envisioned a New England style village with a diverse industrial and craftsmen base.  He was not originally in favor of secession and believed the infrastructure of the South needed to be developed but when it became inevitable and his home state seceded, he threw his firm support and fortune behind Southern rights and the Confederate army, contributing approximately $200,000 in 1860s dollars.  He actually helped arm and supply with uniforms and horses the Prattville Dragoons who were the first of the units from Autauga county to be formed and enter the War.  He was always a philanthropist and following the War he continued to provide employment, counsel, and charity to feed and clothe the needy including the freed blacks in the community during the horrible Reconstruction period.  Following the walking tour, a few remained for a tour of the Prattaugan Museum which provides some amazing historical artifacts and records about Daniel Pratt and his village including period photographs, ledgers, letters and other documents, clothing, and even an old cotton gin.  A number of Confederate artifacts from the War including bonds, bullets and shot, and even an old sword and revolver are also displayed; a corner contains some information about the Prattville Dragoons including a reproduction swallow tail First Flag, some period documents and an excerpt from a historical account of the Dragoons by the last Captain of the unit. Hours could be spent perusing the rooms of displays and enjoying the cool air conditioning following a hot summer stroll down Main Street in Prattville.  Following the Prattville tour, the GEC held it's first meeting of the convention at the host hotel, the Embassy Suites in Montgomery and a welcome BBQ dinner was held at the RSA in downtown Montgomery.

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