By Henry Bryant
In the early morning hours of July 29, the McPherson Monument Park in East Atlanta was damaged. It marks the site where Union Army General James Birdseye McPherson was killed in the opening moments of the Battle of Atlanta. The monument has stood at the intersection of Monument and McPherson Avenues since 1877. When the damage was discovered, it was unknown whether it was the result of vandalism or some other cause.
The monument, consisting of a retired circa 1837 cannon and a marble plinth, was untouched during the apparent incident on the traffic island in the middle of Monument Avenue. But the surrounding fence, made of iron pipe filled with cement connected to masonry posts, was demolished on three sides. Though it is unlikely that the damage was caused by a single action, further examination by a structural consultant revealed that a sharp blow to the solid pipes in one spot would cause them to act as battering rams to the other posts, resulting in its current state. That, and some scarring to the curb suggest that an automobile with an errant driver was the cause. There was also a loud thunderstorm that night which might have covered or disguised any noise associated with such a collision.
The City of Atlanta is self-insured for such access which means that any repairs to the monument would be paid for out of the city’s general fund which is sourced from local taxes. The Battle of Atlanta Commemoration Organization has already been working with the Atlanta Parks Department to restore the weathered and timeworn Battlefield monument, so additional funds will be needed for repairs to the McPherson Monument. Donations can be made by visiting the website at www.batlevent.org or calling 404-377-6148.