02229 - Shell-damaged Ponder House; Atlanta, Ga; November 1864 [LC-DIG-cwpb-02229]
While the image was originally mislabeled as the “Potter house”, this was the home of Ephraim Ponder, a wealthy slave dealer in Atlanta. Built in 1857, it was used by confederate sharpshooters during the battle of Atlanta and heavily damaged by Union forces. The house was never rebuilt or occupied after the war and was abandoned.
One of Ponder’s former slaves did go on to achieve a measure of fame in his own right. Henry Flipper, son of Festus Flipper, a shoemaker owned by Ponder, was only five years old at the start of the war. Following the war he attended Atlanta University where he was received an appointment to West Point. Four other blacks were attending at the time, but it was Flipper that was the first to graduate in 1877. The Army, still being segregated at the time, assigned him to an all-black Buffalo Soldier regiment at Fort Sill, in what is now Oklahoma. During this time, he was accepted by the commanding officer and was even made adjunct.
In 1880, he was transferred to Fort Davis in Texas, were he was not accepted by the commanding officer. He was assigned the role of quartermaster and made responsible for the unit’s safe. Flipper discovered a discrepancy of $2,000 in 1881, which he attempted to cover up. When the shortage was discovered, Flipper lied and was arrested for embezzlement. During the preceding Court Martial, Flipper was found innocent of the charge of embezzlement, but guilty of “conduct unbecoming to an officer and gentleman” and was dishonorable discharged from the Army. Following the war he worked in Texas as a civil engineer and even attempted to serve during the Spanish-American War, but his requests was ignored. He died in 1940. He received an official pardon by Bill Clinton in 1999. After his discharged was changed, West Point honored him by unveiling a bust of him and establishing an annual Henry O. Flipper award for cadets that exhibit “leadership, self-discipline, and perseverance in the face of unusual difficulties”.