Friday, September 25, 2009

Pickett's Mill Battlefield rebounds from flooding; visit it Saturday for free

Pickett’s Mill Battlefield State Historic Site took a licking from this week’s historic flooding, losing three foot bridges and part of the foundation of its namesake mill.

Still, its staff and volunteers from the Friends of Civil War Paulding County will be ready for Saturday (Sept. 26), when visitors can walk the trails and see the well-preserved Civil War battlefield for free.

The $5 parking fee will be waived, along with admission, as part of Georgia's Free Day in the Parks.

Interpretive ranger James Wooten says the foundation of Malachi Pickett’s mill is now rounded instead of square. “Some stones were washed away.” Water was up 15 feet in some places before slowly receding.

The flooding also closed one trail and means the merging of two others until repairs can be made. Wooten advises visitors to stay on marked trails and not go beyond yellow tape or rope.

Fortunately, the park’s infantry entrenchments are still intact.

Union Gen. William T. Sherman learned some tough lessons when he tried to flank and push back his foe at the Battle of Pickett’s Mill on May 27, 1864. Troops under Gen. O.O. Howard clashed with those of Gen. Patrick Cleburne.

The Federals charged down ravines and uphill against the Confederates. At least 700 of the men in blue died and the advance on Atlanta was delayed a week.

In addition to no proper reconnaissance beforehand, “the charge was difficult at best, suicidal at worst,” says Wooten.

Pickett’s Mill is one of the best-preserved Civil War sites in the country.

Visitors are able to look at the area where the Union troops climbed and say, “They had to go up that?” says Wooten.

Due to state budget cuts this summer, Pickett’s Mill is open three days a week, Thursday-Saturday. Wooten is the only employee remaining from a staff of five.

Pickett’s Mill Battlefield: 4432 Mt. Tabor Church Road, Dallas, GA 30157, Click its Web site for more information.

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