Saturday, June 3, 2017

Battle of Peachtree Creek monuments temporarily removed for hospital expansion

Monument before it was disassembled (Courtesy of Piedmont Healthcare)
The marker awaits its new home. (Georgia Battlefields Association)

A marble monument to the 1864 Battle of Peachtree Creek in Atlanta has been removed, though it will return in a slightly different location.

Construction crews this spring dismantled the monument that was placed along Peachtree Road in 1944, 13 years before Piedmont Atlanta Hospital was built behind it. They took the marker down for an ongoing hospital expansion that includes a 16-floor tower to be dubbed the Marcus Heart and Vascular Center.

A smaller monument nearby that stood in front of the razed Sheffield Medical Building was moved into storage last summer by its owner, the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

At a time when Civil War monuments in the South are being removed or reevaluated, these two are expected to go back on display. Neither features any Confederate symbols. Rather, they mark the beginning of the battle on July 20, 1864, and the service of a Rebel battery.

“We understand the historical significance of these monuments and look forward to having them be part of the Piedmont Atlanta Hospital Tower moving forward,” Piedmont Healthcare said in a statement to the Picket.

Piedmont Hospital is in center of battle map (GBA)

Officials said the Battle of Peachtree Creek monument will be reassembled at the end of the construction project in 2020 in an area north of Ambulance Drive (the entrance off Peachtree Road.)

CEO Patrick Battey said Piedmont Atlanta Hospital has offered the UDC the option of placing the stone marker for Capt. Evan Howell’s battery close to the other monument.

The Georgia Battlefields Association asked hospital officials to move the Battle of Peachtree Creek monument about 400 feet south from where it stood, to what it calls a more accurate location.

“The first line on the back of the monument ("At this point about 4:30 p.m. the Battle of Peachtree Creek began") could mislead people into thinking the battle swirled around the site of the monument. But its previous location was already behind Federal lines, and it will be more misleading the farther north it goes,” said Charlie Crawford, head of the GBA. “Thus, I suggested reinstalling the monument at the south end of the hospital grounds, as close to Collier Road as possible.”

"Some aerial photos from the late 1940s indicate it was initially more towards Collier Road.  It was apparently moved northward in the mid-1950s, when Piedmont Hospital moved from downtown to its current site," said Crawford.

In response, Piedmont Healthcare said: “The location of the monument was carefully considered based on the functional needs and design of the building. The location off Ambulance Drive was ultimately determined to be the best place for it based on available space.”

Howell battery monument is now in storage (GBA)

The Battle of Peachtree Creek was one of four principal battles in and around Atlanta. “The determined assault threatened to overrun the Union troops at various locations. Ultimately, though, the Yankees held, and the Rebels fell back,” the National Park Service says.

According to the Northside Neighbor, Atlanta historian and artist Wilbur Kurtz spoke at the 1944 dedication of the monument that noted the valor of the combatants. “Eighty years to the day, we mark this spot that it may not be forgotten. There are few recognizable landmarks today; this hill is one of the few left.”

The artillery battery monument already was in an incorrect position.

Stephen Davis, author of "What the Yankees Did to Us: Sherman's Bombardment and Wrecking of Atlanta," told the Picket that the marker, dedicated circa 1919, should have been placed at least a half mile to the south, from where Rebel units attacked. "I am kind of glad the marker is removed because of its offending, inaccurate site."

The Picket reached out to the UDC but received no reply.

The reverse side of the Peachtree Creek marker (Piedmont Healthcare)

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