“You get a feel, it’s kind of an eerie feel when you walk those trails for the first time and you see where all this activity occurred on one fall day on Oct. 5, where so many people either were wounded or killed. ... It’s just a neat place to go. A lot of battlefields somewhat were isolated [like this one] but you just don’t find as many features in a compact area as this one has,” said Parmenter, referring to its trenches and earthworks. “So it is really educational to go see a battlefield that basically is unique. It was actually a fortification built by the United States Army, or the Union forces, to defend against attacks from Confederate forces.
“Most battlefields are where you meet. They pop up overnight when two armies come together and they clash at a certain point. However, that did happen here but it’s not the case that it was spontaneous overnight or over a two-day period where troops meet and they start digging in because they’re going to get attacked. Basically, this was months of preparation on the part of the Union and the attack did indeed come and it’s just a real study in battlefield history.”
At this year’s Battle of Allatoona Pass Remembered, Parmenter and other EVHS members will share their knowledge about the battlefield with the public. To be held on Oct. 6, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Oct. 7, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the commemoration will feature an interpretation of the battle, a tent city with Civil War re-enactors, cannon firing demonstrations and self-guided battlefield tours.
The Battle of Allatoona Pass occurred nearly a month after the fall of Atlanta when the Confederate Army tried to destroy the Union's supply line, the Western and Atlantic Railroad at Allatoona Pass. The railroad was cut into the Allatoona Mountain range in the 1840s and was about 360 feet long and a maximum of 175 feet deep. The battle consisted of 5,301 soldiers — 2,025 Union and 3,276 Confederate — and resulted in 1,603 casualties. Six Confederate and five Union states participated in the battle, including Missouri, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, Louisiana, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio.
“It was a major battle in [Gen. William T.] Sherman’s march to Atlanta and it was one of the bloodiest battles,” said Steve Hadley, Resource Manager II for Red Top Mountain State Park, which operates the Allatoona Pass Battlefield. “At that time, Sherman had control of the rail line so it was actually the Confederates attacking the Federals to break up Sherman’s supply line. A lot of people think it’s the other way. ... [We hope people will see] how both sides were determined to their cause and [remember] history so we don’t maybe make the same mistakes again.”
Since taking over the site’s operations about five years ago, Red Top Mountain State Park continues to lean on the guidance of Etowah Valley Historical Society members, who had maintained the battlefield and made it more accessible for the public from the mid-1990s to October 2007. Under Red Top’s management, the site’s more than two miles of hiking trails have been revamped and about 25 interpretive signs along the paths have been replaced with sturdier markers and more detailed messages.
For this year's Battle of Allatoona Pass Remembered, EVHS members have assisted in the planning of the event and they will be present to provide patrons additional information.
There will be no admission to the observance and guests are encouraged to take a shuttle to the event from Allatoona Landing, 24 Allatoona Landing Road, Cartersville. For more information, call Red Top at 770-975-0055.