Thursday, July 22, 2004

July 22, 1864

[editor's note: Cap'n Ken has attempted to write the following piece, concerning a subject - history - that most people find very dull and boring, in a way that you won't find dull and boring. Please bear with us.]

Today is the 140th anniversary of The Battle of Atlanta. For those of you not intimately familiar with Civil War stuff, "The Battle of Atlanta" refers to the engagement that took place in and around East Atlanta (the broader fight for the city is called "The Atlanta Campaign").

Somewhere around 5,000 - 10,000 men died within a mile of my house on that day. Think about that for a second. We've lost about 900 soldiers in just over a year in Iraq.

In a very real sense, The Battle of Atlanta was the final turning point in the Civil War. If the Yankees had been turned back, chances are Lincoln wouldn't have been re-elected in November and all those New Jersey refugees now living in Alpharetta would have to be here on passports and work visas.

As is typical here in Atlanta, nearly all of the landmarks of the battle have been paved over. "Bald Hill", which was the focal point of the battle, is now the intersection of I-20 and Moreland Avenue, and the scene depicted in Grant Park's famous Cyclorama happened at what is now DeKalb Avenue near Moreland.

The key fight in the battle happened basically at the Flatiron (Flat Shoals and Glenwood), and the spot where Union General George McPherson (the highest ranking officer to be killed during the war) was shot dead is now the intersection of McPherson and Monument Avenues. I guess old George should have realized something was wrong when he saw the McPherson/Monument street sign.

If you dig deep (and I have), you can ferret out a good bit of detail on the whats and wheres of the battle. A couple of cool things that I've found:

This is a piece of a map produced for the 100th anniversary of The Atlanta Campaign, showing the positions and movements of the armies (red are the good guys, blue are the Yankees) overlayed on a modern street map. The shaded area is the main portion of The Battle of Atlanta. I guess you have to know something about East Atlanta for this to be significant to you.

This is General Sherman surveying the battlefield after the fighting was done. I'm pretty sure this is at the Union works on Bald Hill. General Sherman, it should be noted, was the first president of LSU. Geaux Tigers.

I don't really have much of a point in writing about this, other than to observe the anniversary and note the significance of what happened here 140 years ago.

Class dismissed. You can go back to reading about Michael Jackson's quadruplets now.


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