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Civil War Began 150 Years Ago

By Nancy Leighton
April 16 marks 150 years since the fighting of the American Civil War started. It began with the firing on Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor by Confederate forces. Over the next several years, all the events of the Civil War will be having their 150 years anniversary such as: Vicksburg, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, The Emancipation Proclamation, the Battle of Atlanta, the fall of Richmond, the surrender at Appomattox, and many more.
Many events in the Civil War took place here in Georgia. With the first action in nearby Charleston, the U.S. military took control of the Georgia coast early on and held it throughout the war.
In 1862 a group of Union soldiers called Andrew’s Raiders came to Atlanta dressed in civilian clothes. Their goal was to hijack a railroad locomotive. They took control of an engine called the General in Marietta and headed north. The conductor of the train, Captain Fuller, took control of another train called the Texas and chased Andrew’s raiders. They caught up with them before they made it to Chattanooga. They were stopped because they ran out of fuel and water. The locomotive the General is still in existence and on display in Kennesaw. The Texas was also preserved and is on display at the Cyclorama in Grant Park. Many of the people involved in this incident are buried in our own Historic Oakland Cemetery.
By late 1863 Union forces were fighting in the mountains north of Chattanooga. After Christmas that year, they began to make their way towards Atlanta. There is literally a trail of battles between Chattanooga and Atlanta. Many of these places are easily accessible to the public, and some have public tours and displays.  As the troops approached Atlanta they split up. Some units flanked around to the south of Atlanta to create attacks from both the north and the south of the city at about the same time.
In just over a week, there were battles in Jonesboro, Hapeville (which was called Rough and Ready at that time) a battle at Peachtree Creek, and the battle of Atlanta right here in our neighborhoods spreading between East Atlanta and Decatur. Two generals, one from each side, were killed in this battle. Finally, there was the battle at Ezra Church near Douglasville.
After that there was Sherman’s famous March to the Sea. Months later Sherman was met 30 miles outside Savannah by city officials ready to surrender the city.
Anyone who has friends or relatives who are interested in history or the Civil War should start now to invite these people to visit Civil War sites in Atlanta, in Georgia, or throughout any of the other states where activities related to the Civil War took place. 
In our neighborhood, the theme of the commemoration is “Civil War to Civil Rights, 1864 to 1964.” It was given this theme because of the importance of Atlanta in the modern Civil Rights Movement. The commemoration is usually held in the third weekend in July to be close to the anniversary of the actual battle. This year the event will be July 15, 16, and 17. It starts with a gala dinner on Friday evening. Early on Saturday morning there will be a Fun Run within the neighborhoods and then guided tours. Several large vans, with very knowledgeable guides, drive around the area explaining the sights. There are also walking tours, bicycle tours, and self-guided tours. Three historic cemeteries will be open for tours. Throughout East Atlanta Village, there will be music of the period, storytelling, readings, and discussion groups. There will be ceremonies at the historic markers where General McPherson and General Walker were killed. There will be military and living history re-enactors throughout the area. The Cyclorama will be open for visitors. On Sunday evening, an author of a book about that era will give a lecture at the Cyclorama.
The activities are organized by BATL-of Atlanta Commemoration Organization, Inc., City Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong is the honorary chairperson. The group is currently recruiting re-enactors for the civilian aspects of the living history exhibits. The organization will provide costumes, script scenarios, and a small stipend. Civil Rights re-enactors may be able to play themselves and tell visitors about their own experiences.
To find out more about the Battle of Atlanta Commemoration check the following website,

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