By Henry Bryant
There are geographical and physical remnants left in our neighborhood from the Battle of Atlanta nearly 160 years ago. 40 years after the battle, one of the remnants proved to be deadly to a young boy. For this young man, Wayne Hightower, the remnant was found in East Atlanta near the McPherson Monument. It was a shell that was probably fired from the Confederate defenses in what became Grant Park, either along present-day Boulevard or from fortifications above Maynard Jackson High School or overlooking the Kroger store on Glenwood Avenue.
The shell flew through the air and landed without exploding. It lay in the ground at least partially buried for over 40 years until it was found. The Hightower family had lived on Gaskill Street in Cabbagetown, but had more recently moved to Ellenwood in South Dekalb County 13 miles south along the Southern Railroad line. The unexploded shell was dug up and carried with them to their farm.
Before the shell exploded young Wayne and his playmate, Ing Bowden, were examining the shell. Wayne had opened it and was emptying the powder onto the wet ground with his dad standing about 10 feet away when it suddenly exploded. Wayne was terribly mangled and in great pain as he was carried into the farmhouse. Chloroform and whiskey were administered, and a doctor was summoned. Soon the family decided that they would take the 7:30 train from the small Ellenwood Station into Atlanta where he was taken to Grady Hospital. It was too late to do very much but continue to pray. Wayne died about an hour later. He was buried at Westview Cemetery. Young Ing was injured but survived and recovered.
This newspaper may come out too late for you to make the October 9 BATL tour of the north battlegrounds stretching from the railroad tracks down to the spot where the Battle of Atlanta began, but you might try for tickets. You definitely should have time to reserve a spot for the November 13 Front Lines Tour. It will cover ground in East Atlanta where the fateful deadly shell was found. To discover more about BATL’s monthly tours and arrange to see the sites that remain in your neighborhood you can visit www.batlevent.org or call 404-377-6148.