Civil War Trail

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A visitor to the Atlanta, Georgia area that has an interest in the War Between the States era could not find a better place to visit and explore. So much that was pivotal in that war occurred around Atlanta and the eventual fall of that city paved the way for Sherman's advance to the sea.


Snodgrass Cabin at Chickamauga Battlefield, one of the hotspots during the battle. Photo credit Kathleen Walls

Although there were many battles and conflicts that led up to Atlanta, Kennesaw Mountain was the first stand of the Confederacy in the Atlanta area. The battles from Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge which were followed by battles at Dalton, Resaca, Oostanaula, Pickets Mill and New Hope Church were events that led up to the struggle for Atlanta. At Kennesaw Mountain General Joseph E. Johnston defended a strongly fortified position mostly on two hills at the base of the mountain and wreaked havoc on General Sherman's federal troops at that location. Although being outnumbered two to one the Union forces were repulsed that day in some of the hottest fighting of the war. The early fighting on Pigeon Hill resulted in a withdrawal of federal troops from that assault. The battle at Cheatham's Hill raged so fiercely and took such a toll of devastation on those involved. At the end of the day there were over 4000 casualties. This is a large number considering there were approximately 100,000 federal troops and 50,000 Confederate troops at that battle. The Kennesaw Mountain battlefield has been preserved by the United States Government and is operated as a National Park. It is an absolutely marvelous educational site to visit with an outstanding view from the summit of the mountain. This view is enhanced by the period artillery pieces displayed there where Confederate gun emplacements were once perched. This almost 3000 acre National Park is a historic treasure trove in itself and a thing of beauty to behold.

Reenactment of Battle of Resacka  Photo credit Kathleen Walls

After the battle of Kennesaw Mountain (more about Kennisaw)  President Jefferson Davis, who did not care for General Johnston's prosecution of the war, replaced him with General John Bell Hood.

Entrance to Cyclorama Photo credit Kathleen Walls

Attractions in the Atlanta area include the Atlanta History Center, the Cyclorama, and Stone Mountain (with the relief carved on the mountain face depicting Generals Lee and Jackson along with President Jefferson Davis on horseback.)

Reenactors at Prader's Mill Festival

The first battle under their new leader was the battle of Peachtree Creek which was followed by the battle of Atlanta and the battle of Jonesboro with the Confederate forces suffering severe losses. Although these battlefields have not been preserved as has Kennesaw Mountain, there are numerous sites an interested visitor can experience. There is a state park at Pickett's Mill and part of the battlefield at Resaca is in the process of being preserved. The city of Marietta has a museum along with a large Confederate cemetery and also the "Gone With The Wind" Museum. The two locomotives used in the story of the "Great Locomotive Chase" are located one in Kennesaw, Georgia at the museum there and the other at the Cyclorama in Atlanta. There are maps available for a riding tour of the battles around Atlanta that can be utilized by those with an automobile.

Peter Bonner, as Southern gentleman, joins Scarlett and Union officer, Art Carey, at Stately Oaks in Jonesboro.
Photo credit Kathleen Walls

From May 7 until September 1 of 1864 the two armies struggled in clashes from Dalton, Georgia to Jonesboro, Georgia. (More about Jonesboro) They met time and time again as the northern part of Georgia became like a giant chessboard with move and counter move. General Hood, whose number was severely diminished, especially after the clashes at Peachtree Creek, Atlanta and Jonesboro, finally turned back north toward Tennessee while General Sherman's forces pressed on toward Savannah, Georgia.

Stone Mountain's Confederate heros  Photo credit Kathleen Walls

To bring the Atlanta area visit to a fitting close a trip to Nash Farm Battlefield is in order. The battlefield site along with a small museum is located there in Henry County south of Atlanta. 

Anyone interested in that pivotal period of history would be remiss to not plan to spend a few days in the Atlanta area.  The visit to take in historic Georgia can be coupled with the fine dining and other attractions of the Atlanta area for a superb vacation.

 For more info:

William A. Bowers, Jr. is the author of three Confederate regimental histories, the 27th Georgia, the 47th Georgia and the 54th Georgia.  For information on these books visit his website at





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