Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The History of the Park, Part 1: The Illinois Monument

By 1899, the U.S. Congress had begun to preserve several of the more prominent battlefields of the Civil War, such as Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Antietam and Shiloh, as national parks within the Department of the Interior. The area in which the Atlanta Campaign took place had not yet been considered for inclusion, yet even so, the first steps toward preservation came from the action groups most concerned with Kennesaw: the men who had fought there.

That year, Lansing J. Dowdey, who had served as adjutant of the 86th Illinois Infantry, purchased 60 acres of land from one Virgil Channell, a resident of Cobb County, Georgia. Dowdey, a member of the Colonel Dan McCook Brigade Association, intended to use this parcel for the site of a memorial to McCook (seen below), killed in the fighting at Kennesaw, as well as the other men of McCook's brigade who had perished there.

From this initial 60 acre tract, the park would eventually expand to include over 3,000 acres.

After initial plans to raise money through the Mccook Brigade Association fell through, the Kennesaw Mountain Association of Illinois stepped in with extra funding from the state of Illinois. Eventually they were able to purchase a $25,000 monument, built by the McNeel Marble Company of Marietta, which had carved monuments for similar organizations.

Finally, on June 27th, 1914, the 50th anniversary of the battle, all was ready. Illinois veterans and Marietta townspeople alike (including the author's then-three-year-old maternal grandmother) converged on the site for the unveiling, along with such organizations as the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Marietta Chamber of Commerce. Even Illinois Governor Edward F. Dunne was in attendance.

Afteward it was rumored that there occured some "discussion" between the Kennesaw Mountain Association and the City of Marietta as to the placement of the monument. According to the story, the Association wanted to place the monument atop the Confederate trenches, in recognition of the ultimate victory of the Union; the city fathers insisted that the monument be placed within a few yards of the outer works---or, in other words, as close as the Federal attackers got to the trenches that day. Whether or not this is story is anything more than apocryphal, visitors today can clearly see that the farthest eastern edge of the monument is located about 5 to 6 yards short of the Confederate trenches.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Mountain

Since I live within a few minutes' drive of it, I guess the first thing I ought to do is post a link for the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park:


For those who aren't familiar with the battle, here's a nice summary:


And for your viewing pleasure, here are a couple of shots of the mountain:


And now*---

*Well, recently, anyway; this is actually a postcard view, date uncertain, but it shows the
mountain's distinctive twin "humps" (the summits of Big and Little Kennesaw Mountains).

Kennesaw Mountain is roughly 1,800 feet above sea level; however, about half of that height is part of the Appalachian Mountain plateau on which the mountain is located. By way of comparison, Cedar Mountain, VA (where another battle was fought in 1862) is 813 feet above sea level*, roughly the same height from foot to summit, although it sits in the Virginia piedmont rather than on the Appalachian plateau, leaving it 1,000 feet short of Kennesaw's total elevation (plateau + mountain).

Next up: a history of the park.

*Source: Topozone.com


Hello, I'm Dan and this is my blog. I've been looking at other peoples' blogs for quite some time, and I figured I'd give it a shot. I may succeed wonderfully at this...or I may fail terribly; the jury's still out. But here goes...

The primary focus of this blog will be the era of the American Civil War (1861-1865), particularly as it pertains to Georgia, and especially as it pertains to the Atlanta Campaign of 1864 and the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain (the mountain referred to in the title of this blog), which took place a few miles west of where I live.

I have a bachelor's degree in history (political science minor), I'm a member of the Atlanta Civil War Round Table, the Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society, the Kennesaw Mountain Historical Association, and the National Association of Intrepretation...not that any of that means much; a man can have plenty of credentials to his name and still have no idea what he's talking about. And some times, especially when I read other peoples' blogs on the subject, I feel as if I truly don't know anything. Still, I enjoy it; I also enjoy working as a volunteer at the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park (and I fondly hope that one day the National Park Service will hire me!).

I'm not sure at this point if I'll attempt to be scholarly or prosaic in my posts; each has its advantages and its drawbacks (added to the fact that I often have a hard time being either scholarly or prosaic). We'll see...

Well, that's enough for now. Good night.