Celebrating General Joe Wheeler’s 182nd birthday

The Civil War cannon has been restored to fire shots once every hour during the celebration.

The Alabama Historical Commission is hosting a birthday celebration for General Joe Wheeler at Pond Spring—his home in Hillsboro—on Saturday, Sept. 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Site Director Kara Long said visitors will be able to sample a Wheeler family cake recipe and enjoy free Pepsi products, donated by the Bottling Company, while supplies last. The cake recipe came from Miss Annie Wheeler and was said to be a favorite of the General’s, said Long. 

The grounds of Pond Spring are open to the public. On Saturday, Sept. 8, re-enactors will demonstrate the firing of a functioning Civil War cannon. “We have the Calvary Artillery, who volunteers their time, and they bring an actual cannon that they’ve restored. That’s something really neat that the kids love to see,” said Long.

“Probably, the most exciting part of the re-enactments are the demonstrations from the Calvary officers and their horses,” she added. “I think that is very special and unique because Joe Wheeler was a Calvary officer. They do drills and teach that to the visitors and children. It’s really exciting to view and be a part of.”

Long said the Calvary demonstrations will occur three times throughout the day, the officers will be present to answer questions and interact with the visitors, and the Civil War cannon will fire a shot once every hour during the event.

Folk artists including local blacksmiths will also be present to showcase their skills, and representatives from the Tennessee Valley Beekeepers Association will offer information on bees and their ecosystems.

Lunch will be available for purchase from a Lawrence County food truck, Copperhead Road Barbeque & Such. Long said the company has provided great food to their annual celebration for the past couple of years.

There will be live music from the front porch of the Pond Spring Museum beginning at noon. The concert and re-enactments are sponsored by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Tours of the museum inside the Wheeler home will also be available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission for adults is $8; for seniors, military personnel and college students tickets are $5; for children six to eighteen years old, tickets are $3; and admission is free for children under six.

Joseph Wheeler was promoted to major general in 1862 at the age of 26. He became the only Confederate corps commander to hold the same position in the U.S. Army after the Civil War when he became a general during the Spanish-American War as well. 

Born on Sept. 10, 1836, Wheeler moved to his wife’s home, Pond Spring, after the Civil War, where they had seven children. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1880 and again in 1885. Wheeler is said to have been a symbol of Reconciliation and Reunion for his efforts in rebuilding and expanding southern economies after the Civil War. 

Pond Spring was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. In 1993, the home was donated to the Alabama Historical Commission by Wheeler’s relatives. The Museum now holds approximately 10,000 items such as furnishings and clothing that were associated with the family. “It really is like stepping back through time,” said Long while discussing the tours offered inside the home.

For more information, please contact Director Kara Long at 256-637-8513.

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