Clement Evans (1833-1911)
A Confederate war hero, Methodist minister, and public servant, Clement Evans was a prominent Georgian during the nineteenth century.
Civil War Career
When Civil War (1861-65) broke out in April 1861, Evans resigned from the legislature and joined the Confederate army as a private. Wounded five times (twice severely), he rose to command the Thirty-first Georgia Infantry (Bartow Guards) in May 1862. He fought in the Shenandoah campaign and participated in nearly every major battle of the Army of Northern Virginia. During the Gettysburg campaign, the Thirty-first Georgia reached York, Pennsylvania, the most northern advance of any Confederate unit. The regiment was also the last Confederate unit to leave Union territory, providing rear-guard support for the retreating Army of Northern Virginia after the Battle of Gettysburg.
While surveying the aftermath of the battle at Fredericksburg in December 1862, Evans felt divinely inspired to teach the lessons of humility, brotherly love, and Christian forbearance. He promised God and himself that he would enter the ministry after the war. Keeping his promise, Evans began a twenty-six-year career as a Methodist minister in 1866 by applying to the Annual Methodist Conference for admission to the ministry. He served churches in Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Cassville, Cedartown, and Rome during his life.
In 1888 Evans was offered the position of chancellor at the University of Georgia but declined in order to continue his ministry. In 1896 he decided to seek the state's governorship but withdrew before the Democratic primary. The next year he was appointed to Georgia's first prison commission and spearheaded the effort to exempt first-time offenders from wearing the traditional white-and-black-striped prison uniform.
When Evans died in Atlanta on July 2, 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.
Clement Anselm Evans, Intrepid Warrior: Clement Anselm Evans, Confederate General from Georgia; Life, Letters, and Diaries of the War Years, ed. Robert Grier Stephens Jr. (Dayton, Ohio: Morningside, 1992).
Jim Gigantino, University of Georgia
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