|Marker in 2008 (Photo by Felch Dumas, HMdb.org) and remnants of post, near stop sign (Picket photo)|
One of those casualty situations recently occurred in an Atlanta neighborhood. The “Battle of Atlanta Began Here” sign, detailing how marching Federal troops chanced into a surprise Confederate assault on July 22, 1864, was either hit by a vehicle or a downed power pole, said Henry Bryant, a local preservationist.
Like other safekeeping custodians of damaged markers in the area, Bryant is working with the Georgia Historical Society to see that repairs are made and the sign is put back up.
But that takes time, funding and the proper materials, depending on whether the sign, its pole or both are damaged.
A couple miles from where Bryant and a tour led by the Battle of Atlanta Commemoration Organization (B*ATL) encountered the damaged sign on July 18 is a spot where a suspected drunken driver knocked down another Civil War marker.
|Marker before it was hit by car (Photo by Felch Dumas, HMdb.org) and in storage (David Mitchell)|
The DeKalb Avenue marker was damaged a few years ago and is currently being kept by David Mitchell, executive director of the Atlanta Preservation Center, until it can be repaired. The base, where the post is inserted into the sign, is gone, Mitchell said.
The state of Georgia ran the Georgia historical marker program from the 1950s until the mid-1990s. The historical society began to erect new markers in 1998. GHS took over the coordination for maintaining the older state markers in 2015, Butler said.
“As such, we are currently working through the state’s backlog of marker projects. While it may take some time to address the damaged marker (Noon Under the Trees), please be assured a plan for replacing the marker is currently under review.”
Charlie Crawford, president emeritus of the Georgia Battlefields Association, has led countless tours of area Civil War sites and is very familiar with pertinent historical markers.
It was common for 50-60 historical markers to be in a state maintenance shop awaiting repairs in the mid-1990s, he said. They came from around Georgia, but the highest concentration was from metro Atlanta, scene of the worst traffic.
“I feel comfortable saying that more markers were victims of vehicle collisions in the Atlanta area than elsewhere around the state. Often, the aluminum markers would survive a vehicle collision but the posts would not, so not all markers would need repair, but they might languish in storage until resources -- i.e., workers, materials, and funds -- were available,” Crawford wrote in an email.
|Another view of damaged Clay Street sign post near utility pole (Picket photo)|
“The Surrender of Atlanta” marker that was at the V-intersection of Northside Drive and Marietta Street was knocked over so frequently that it was moved to the west side of Marietta Street. A Georgia Tech alumni and businessman paid for the relocation, Crawford said. When it ran the marker program, the cash-strapped state increasingly turned to donations for maintenance.
A homeowner in Kennesaw, northwest of Atlanta in Cobb County, does not mind having a marker in his yard but would like it relocated a few yards away so that it doesn’t block his view of traffic when trying to exit his driveway,” said Crawford.
In 2010, the Picket wrote about a Civil War marker that mysteriously ended up a few miles from its original location. The sign, which details the movements of the Federal left wing in Decatur in 1864, had been missing for some time. The state picked it up and the marker eventually was reinstalled at the proper location near Interstate 285.
|Volunteers expect to have this sign back up soon (Henry Bryant)|
“The sign was not significantly damaged. The post was a near total loss. The power pole is still on the ground at the site. Fortunately, I had another post for the marker,” he said in an email.
He has located a power auger and will work with volunteers to make the repairs and installation. “At this point a schedule for completion is a matter of logistics.”
Bryant described what can happen when a sign needs to be fixed or replaced. The “Bate’s Battle Line” sign a couple blocks east on Memorial Drive is listed by the GHS as missing.
|McPherson monument in East Atlanta (Henry Bryant)|
A traffic accident last year damaged the fence to an East Atlanta monument where McPherson was killed. Two volunteers reconstructed the fence's pipe rails and masonry posts, Bryant said in email.