Dothan native Johnny Mack Brown (1904-1974) gained fame in two very different arenas: college football and Hollywood Westerns. A gifted athlete, he first achieved notoriety as an All-American running back for the University of Alabama for his efforts in a stunning upset of the heavily favored University of Washington Huskies in the 1926 Rose Bowl. The subsequent media attention brought the notice of Hollywood legendary director and producer King Vidor, and Brown went on to a successful career as an actor in film and television.
Brown was a star football player at his high school, and his athletic abilities earned him both the nickname "the Dothan Antelope" and a football scholarship to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa—one of five Brown brothers recruited. He played first under popular coach Xan Scott, but his potential reached its fullest under Coach Wallace Wade. Brown led the team to the 1926 Division 1-A championships and earned a spot on the Wheaties cereal box. In addition to his athletic endeavors, Brown participated in drama club events and courted and married his college sweetheart, Cornelia Foster, the daughter of a prominent judge, with whom he would have four children (this was the judge for whom Foster Auditorium is named).
He achieved financial success in his career, and the family resided in a large, Tudor-style Beverly Hills home with a swimming pool and a skeet-shooting range. Brown continued athletic hobbies, playing polo with stars such as Leslie Howard and Spencer Tracy; swimming with Duke Kahanamoku and Johnny Weissmuller; and duck-hunting with Clark Gable and Charlie Starrett, the "Durango Kid."
John McElroy wrote in 1864 of the beginning of his stay at the Confederacy's largest prison camp, Andersonville Prison, or Camp Sumter as it was officially known, in southwest Georgia:
Five hundred men moved silently toward the gates that would shut out life and hope for most of them forever. Quarter of a mile from the railroad we came into a massive palisade with great squared logs standing upright in the ground. Fires blazed up and showed us a section of these and two massive wooden gates with heavy iron hinges and bolts. They swung open as we stood there and we passed through into the space beyond. We were at Andersonville.¹
Approximately 45,000 prisoners would enter Andersonville's gates during its 14-month existence. Nearly 13,000 would never see freedom again.
... IV. The army will forage liberally on the country during the march. To this end, each brigade commander will organize a good and sufficient foraging party, under the command of one or more discreet officers, who will gather, near the route traveled, corn or forage of any kind, meat of any kind, vegetables, corn-meal, or whatever is needed by the command, aiming at all times to keep in the wagons at least ten day's provisions for the command and three days' forage. Soldiers must not enter the dwellings of the inhabitants, or commit any trespass, but during a halt or a camp they may be permitted to gather turnips, apples, and other vegetables, and to drive in stock of their camp. To regular foraging parties must be instructed the gathering of provisions and forage at any distance from the road traveled. V. To army corps commanders alone is entrusted the power to destroy mills, houses, cotton-gins, &c., and for them this general principle is laid down: In districts and neighborhoods where the army is unmolested no destruction of such property should be permitted; but should guerrillas or bushwhackers molest our march, or should the inhabitants burn bridges, obstruct roads, or otherwise manifest local hostility, then army commanders should order and enforce a devastation more or less relentless according to the measure of such hostility. VI. As for horses, mules, wagons, &c., belonging to the inhabitants, the cavalry and artillery may appropriate freely and without limit, discriminating, however, between the rich, who are usually hostile, and the poor or industrious, usually neutral or friendly. Foraging parties may also take mules or horses to replace the jaded animals of their trains, or to serve as pack-mules for the regiments or brigades. In all foraging, of whatever kind, the parties engaged will refrain from abusive or threatening language, and may, where the officer in command thinks proper, give written certificates of the facts, but no receipts, and they will endeavor to leave with each family a reasonable portion for their maintenance. VII. Negroes who are able-bodied and can be of service to the several columns may be taken along, but each army commander will bear in mind that the question of supplies is a very important one and that his first duty is to see to them who bear arms.... — William T. Sherman , Military Division of the Mississippi Special Field Order 120, November 9, 1864.