By Henry Bryant
After a month off in May for tour guide training, the BATL organization is starting summer with two tours of the Battle of Atlanta battlefield plus its annual commemoration of the battle. Both tours are easy walking tours that take between one and two hours. They include many stories about the people who fought in the battle and the people who lived on the land before and after the Civil War.
On Sunday June 24 at 3:00pm, a Civil War to Civil Rights Tour will be offered. The tour is in an area that overlaps the Kirkwood and East Atlanta neighborhoods of today. Stephanie Parker, who chaired the Civil War to Civil Rights Living History Experience until the last year of the BATL event in 2014, will lead this tour. It will visit several sites important to the battle including Terry Mill Pond, the place where General Walker was killed and the corner where the Battle of Atlanta began to name a few. Interspersed with the Civil War sites will be equally important historic sites of the Civil Rights era.
On Saturday July 24, there will be a BATL Frontlines Tour at 10:00am led by long-time tour guide Mary Elizabeth Ellard. This is BATL’s oldest tour. It was originally developed as a van tour over 30 years ago as part of EACA’s East Atlanta Festival in Brownwood Park. Then it morphed into a walking tour for the Atlanta Preservation Center’s Phoenix Flies Event. This tour visits historic locations along the frontlines in the East Atlanta Village as well as the historic turn of the century neighborhood nearby. Visitors on this tour will arrive at the McPherson Monument in time to participate in part two of the day’s commemorative wreath-laying ceremony.
Separate from the tours, all are invited to attend the wreath-laying ceremony that begins at the Walker Monument on Glenwood Avenue at the I-20 bridge. This is part one of the two-part Annual Commemoration of the Battle of Atlanta, an event that changed the course of our national story. The ceremony begins on Glenwood Avenue at 10:00am in the small Atlanta City Park where the Walker Monument Stands marking the site where he fell. Part Two continues at the McPherson Monument at 10:45am in the small park at McPherson and Monument Avenues and will be completed by 11:15am. Plans are still being finalized for the ceremony but there will be special guests and a musical tribute as well as reverent spoken words in memorial to the thousands of men who lost their lives on one hot afternoon, July 22, 1864.
The Commemoration Ceremonies are scheduled for the Saturday nearest the actual date of the battle and will go on rain or shine. All are invited to attend this free event. Advance tickets are required for the tours. Both the June and July tour tickets are available online at www.BATLevent.org. Tours will proceed in light rain but alternate arrangements will be made in case of persistent or violent stormy weather. The online ticket office will close at 9 on the evening before each tour date.
The nonprofit BATL organization sponsored a weeklong Battle of Atlanta Commemoration called BATL each July in the ten years leading up to the Sesquicentennial (150th Anniversary) in 2014. Since then, the organization has concentrated on offering monthly tours of the battlefield and restoring the two battlefield monuments. Working with the Georgia State Historic Preservation Office and the Atlanta Urban Design Commission, a preservation assessment was completed documenting the history and condition of the monuments. A plan for restoration was also developed and approved by the relevant neighborhood organizations, the Atlanta Parks department and the Atlanta City Council. Money has been raised to nearly meet the goal established by the restoration estimates. An announcement will be made soon regarding the restoration.