Robert G. Stephens Jr. collection

Robert G. Stephens Jr. collection

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Hargrett Manuscripts
Title: Robert G. Stephens Jr. collection
Dates: 1830-1904
Quantity: 0.4 Linear feet (1 document box)
Abstract:Collection consists of the primary source materials from which Robert G. Stephens, Jr. compiled his Master's thesis on his grandfather, Clement A. Evans, and important figure in Georgia Civil War-era history. Included are Evans' diaries, speeches and an autograph book.
Coll. Number: ms3664.TEMP

Biographical/Historical Note

Robert G. Stephens, Jr., was the grandson of Clement Anselm Evans and donated all of the materials in this collection. Stephens wrote his Master's Thesis in History at the University of Georgia in 1937 based on these diaries. In 1992, he compiled and edited "Intreprid Warrior," which contained 150 letters and segments of C.A. Evans' diaries.

Clement Anselm Evans was born in 1833 in Stewart County. At 21, he married Mary Allen Walton, and together they had eight children, three of whom died in infancy. After studying law in Stewart County and Augusta, Evans was admitted to the bar at 18, elected a county judge at 21, and elected as a state senator in 1859 as a Know-Nothing Party member.

When the Civil War began, Evans resigned from the Georgia legislature and joined the Confederate army. After being wounded a number of times, he finally rose to command the 31st Georgia Infantry in May 1862.He fought in the Shenandoah campaign and participated in almost every major battle that the Army of Northern Virginia engaged. In May 1864, Evans commanded Lawton's-Gordon's Brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia as a brigadier general. In November 1864, after John B. Gordon took over command, Evans was given the temporary rank of major general. He took command of Gordon's old division during the Petersburg campaign. He notably gave rear-guard support during Lee's retreat toward Appomattox, Virginia, in April 1865.

After the War, Evans took inspiration from several spiritual epiphanies he had in the service. Beginning in 1866 and continuing for the next 26 years, Evans became a Methodist minister. He served churches across Georgia, including in Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, and Rome. Although he was offered a few academic and political positions, Evans refused them to continue his work in the ministry.

Later in his life, he focused on the Confederacy and the Lost Cause. He served as editor of "The Confederate Military History"; coeditor of "Cyclopedia of Georgia"; and author of "Military History of Georgia." Evans helped found the United Confederate Veterans and served as its Georgia Division commander for several years. Although he became commander-in-chief in 1909, he retired in 1911, shortly before his death.

When Evans died in Atlanta in 1911, his body lay in state in the central rotunda of the capitol, and the state legislature adjourned for a day to attend his funeral. He is buried in Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta. To honor his memory, the legislature created Evans County in the southeastern part of Georgia in 1914.


Scope and Content Note

The autograph book is from 1878, although a few signatures are from the 1880s. These autographs of those of federal governmental officials, including the President and his wife (Rutherford B. Hayes and Lucy W. Hayes), Secretaries, Supreme Court officials, Congressmen, and territorial delegates (i.e. of Dakota, Montana, etc). It is in good, clean condition.

The published book is "The Life of Nathanael Greene, major-general in the army of the revolution" edited by W. Gilmore Simms, Esquire. It was published in New York by Derby & Jackson in 1858. It is in fair condition with a bit of damage to the pages.

The first speech/oration book may not be Clement's, but it is not clear who it belongs to if not him. The speeches seem to be written in from another source. They concern school anniversaries, Shakespeare, and temperance issues. The book is in great condition though it has lost the cover to its binding.

The second speech/oration book is small and thin, though the speech itself is very long. The book contains just one speech (possibly a draft) by Clement A. Evans, given to the Georgia legislature in December 1860. It rails against Lincoln's election, the "Black Republican" party, and internal divisions in the South.

The first diary focuses on two different portions of Clement A. Evans' life. The first portion considers Stewart County, Georgia, and lists out "fees and commissions," apparently from legal cases. This is from before the war in the early 1860s. The second part focuses on Clement's personal and professional life while at the Atlanta Trinity Church from 1871 to 1874.

The second diary concerns Clement's Civil War service when he was in the 31st Georgia Regiment. The first part seems to be more about inventory and includes some sketches. The second part transitions into a full diary about his daily experiences in the war. At the very end, it appears to include speeches that Clement gave while in service for re-enlistment and other projects.

The third diary is of Clement A. Evan, Sarah Lee Evans, and Lucy Evans and is rather extraordinary in design: all three write on the same page for each day in 1903. While some of their notes mention each other, one can clearly see the different activities of each Evans member. In 1903, Clement was apparently 70 (b. 1833), Lucy was 24 (b. 1879), and Sarah Lee was 14 (b. 1889). While the girls talk about Sunday school and their home life quite a lot, Clement writes about state business and religious activity. All three write frequently of family matters. Without fail, the family celebrates the anniversaries of important Confederate leaders and often times Civil War battles.

The fourth diary is of the same format as the third diary: Clement A. Evan, Sarah Lee Evans, and Lucy Evans write on the same page for each day in 1904. He comments extensively on General John Brown Gordon's illness, death, and funeral (which he helped organize) in early January 1904. Likewise, he talks about his visits with Stephen Dill Lee, the commander-in-chief at the time of the United Confederate Veterans society. The family does split up throughout the year, with Clement staying in Augusta and the girls staying in Atlanta. He often discusses his business with the Board of Pardon Commission. To note, at this point, Clement was a widower two times over as his second wife had died in 1902, the girls were half-sisters as each had a different mother, and Lucy had not yet married, though she would in 1907 at age 28 (as would Sarah Lee in 1915 at age 26).


Arrangement

Arranged by record type.


Index Terms

Diaries.
Evans, Clement A., (Clement Anselm), 1833-1911
Georgia--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Sources.
Georgia--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Veterans.
Methodist Church--Bishops--Georgia.
Stephens, Robert G., (Robert Grier), 1913-
United Daughters of the Confederacy. Georgia Division.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation note

Robert G. Stephens, Jr. collection, MS 3664. Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries.


Series Descriptions and Folder Listing

 
Box
1Autograph Book - United States Government officials (Congress, Supreme Court, etc), 1878-1884
 
Published Book - "The Life of Nathanael Greene" edited by W. Gilmore Simms, 1858
 
Speech/Oration Notebook - topics including a Sabbath School, Shakespeare, temperance, and a Masonic Institute, 1830-1853
 
Speech/Oration Notebook - a secession speech to Georgia legislature, December 1860
 
Diary - Stewart, GA. listing (1860) and full diary (1871-1874)
 
Diary - 31st Georgia Regiment, Gordon's Brigade, Early's Division, Ewell's Corps in 1862-1864 / Law School roster in Augusta, Georgia, 1833-1859, 1833-1859, 1862-1864
 
Diary - Clement A. Evans / Sarah Lee Evans / Lucy Evans, 1903
 
Diary - Clement A. Evans / Sarah Lee Evans / Lucy Evans, 1904