By Henry Bryant
At the end of 2013 Council Members Natalyn Archibong and Carla Smith got the city to establish an Atlanta Civil War Commission for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in Atlanta. The goal of the commission is to bring together organizations that are interested in the city’s history, especially the part pertaining to our nation’s largest conflict and its connection to all the other parts of Atlanta’s history. Those groups include several in the Porch Press area including The Atlanta Preservation Center and Oakland Cemetery in Grant Park as well as the BATL organization in the neighborhoods east of there. The Commission has planned a big kick-off for the year’s activities to be held on May 3rd. This date in late spring is particularly appropriate, since by that time of year 150 years ago, the Atlanta Campaign had already brought Sherman and his troops to Atlanta’s doorstep after months of cold, wet fighting along the corridor now adjacent to I-75 north of town.
At ten in the morning on May 3rd, everyone is invited to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library for the opening ceremonies of this Civil War Season in Atlanta. The library and museum is located on Copenhill which is where Sherman later in the summer established his headquarters to take the city. Todd Groce, director of the Georgia Historical Society will be the first of several who will set the stage for the activities to come later that day and through the rest of 2014. Afterwards, visitors are invited to fan out to various other venues for free tours and activities.
Free Trolleys will shuttle the visitors to and from the venues throughout the day. Schedules and maps will be provided so that people may also use their own vehicles. Later that day, a new film on the Atlanta Campaign will be shown in the Theater at the Carter Library, one of the Commission members. The Atlanta History Center, another Commission member, will have a special exhibit on the war in Atlanta at the antebellum Grant Mansion, the headquarters of the Atlanta Preservation Center.
The theme of the kickoff and the year will be “Civil War to Civil Rights – Atlanta150” and in keeping with them, the Preservation Center will offer a special tour of Auburn Avenue on May 3rd at 1pm. In East Atlanta at 2pm and 4pm, the authors of the new East Atlanta history book will offer a new Frontlines to Front Porches Illustrated Tour, where visitors will visit sites from the Battle of Atlanta and view enlarged photos of the battlefield and the changes that have happened since that time.
Also in East Atlanta at 3:30pm there will be a “Salute to Fallen Heroes” with the Georgia Armory Guards at the historic McPherson Monument. In Grant Park, the Cyclorama will be open for business and a free tour of Ft. Walker will be led by David Mitchell at 2pm. At 2:30 and 4:30pm in Oakland Cemetery, docents will lead special Civil War tours of Oakland. As the day is drawing to a close, everyone is invited to East Atlanta Village for a Frontlines Happy Hour at 4:00 where visitors can join re-enactors, docents and others for libation specials.
Big “Civil War in Atlanta” Year Kickoff Nearby
By Henry Bryant