By 1st Lt. William Carraway
Media Relations Officer, Public Affairs Office
May 14, 2012
Captain Ben Penton squinted against the sunlight as it reflected off the rippled surface of the Chattahoochee River some 30 miles south of Columbus, Ga. The air was perfumed with diesel exhaust, and the rumbling groans of hydraulics betrayed the source of the Captain’s interest. Along the river bank, bulldozers of the 560th Engineer Battalion worked to clear mud from a massive wooden form. Penton inspected the object thoughtfully. It was a vessel, wooden framed, and massive. Half of its 220-by-60-foot frame had been excavated from the river mud, and Penton could clearly see that many of the vessel’s pine timbers were badly charred. Observing the work of the Guard engineers and civilian excavators, it is doubtful Penton knew that nearly a century earlier Guard and civilian volunteers had been engaged in a far more desperate struggle over control of these very timbers.