Thursday, March 10, 2016

4 recently emplaced artillery guns tell story of Federal bombardment at Kennesaw Mtn.

(NPS photo)

After a 152-year absence, artillery guns have returned to fortifications where Federal crews opened up on Confederate positions on the heights at Kennesaw Mountain near Atlanta.

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park’s cannon crew, working with Eagle Scout candidates and the Kennesaw Mountain Trail Club, on March 5 pulled the four pieces into position on the 1.7-mile long 24-Gun Battery Trail, which opened just before the battle’s 150th anniversary.

Marjorie Thomas, chief of interpretation at the park, told the Picket that one of the 3-inch ordnance rifles was previously located in front of the visitor center. The other cannons are two more ordnance rifles and a 12-pounder Napoleon that were moved to the park.

(Donald Olds, park volunteer)

“This is the initial phase of placing artillery pieces within appropriate locations throughout the park,” she said.

The effort has been a couple decades in the making. Retired park historian Willie Johnson was on hand last Saturday, providing history of the gun batteries and the June 1864 battle (a Union setback during the Atlanta Campaign) to Boy Scouts and volunteers who assisted.

“The Federals massed guns to support attacks. This was for the attack on Pigeon Hill and Little Kennesaw,” Johnson said in 2014. “They were there the entire time the Federals were there and held until Confederates evacuated the line” in early July 1864.

The Union batteries were the 2nd Illinois, 5th Wisconsin Light, 7th Indiana and 19th Indiana Light. Lumsden’s Battery was among those in gray returning fire.

Gun temporarily at site for 2014 anniversary (Picket photo)

A National Park Service wayside exhibit panel has been put in place, said Thomas. “Park staff and volunteers are currently working together to develop historic hike and interpretive programs for the location.”

Donald Olds, a trail club member who facilitates Eagle Scout projects, said the four scouts are with the Atlanta Area Council. They also constructed display platforms for the guns, which weigh about one ton. The platforms are "free standing" so as not to make any archaeological impact, said Thomas.

“It was an awesome site to see these cannon moved into place for the first time since Union Gen. WT Sherman vacated the works in the summer of 1864 on his march to Atlanta,” he said.

Olds said such projects have provided 75 enhancements to the battlefield near Marietta, Ga., in the last four years.

The trail, near busy Stilesboro Road, starts from the entrance of the environmental trail at Gilbert Road. The club urges walkers to stay on the path and not endanger the well-preserved earthworks.

Gun set in place on March 5 (Chuck Dillehay)

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