The capture of Atlanta in early September 1864 was the culmination of months of fighting between Union and Confederate troops. Pitched battles were fought along the way from Chattanooga, Tenn. One such engagement took place in late June on and around Kennesaw Mountain, northwest of Atlanta. A small portion of the battlefield is preserved as a national park.
Kennesaw Mountain is about 250 miles from Charlotte, about a 4 1/2-hour drive, one way.
To see and do
Gen. William T. Sherman’s 100,000-man army began the campaign for Atlanta the first week of May 1864. Opposing them were 65,000 Confederates commanded by Joseph E. Johnston. Repeatedly, rebel troops assumed a defensive position, only to be forced to fall back further south as Union forces outflanked them and threatened supply lines. The Confederates gave up ground grudgingly, eventually preparing a formidable position a few miles north of Atlanta, anchored on the left by Kennesaw Mountain, a humped ridge with rocky slopes rising above the surrounding countryside. When initial flanking attempts failed, Sherman ordered a frontal assault on June 27. With a diversionary move on the left, the major thrust consisted of a two-pronged attack against the Confederate center. Both attacks were brief, and very costly, with the Federals being repulsed. The diversion on the left, got Sherman closer than Johnston to key crossings over the Chattahoochee River. The Confederates were once again forced to abandon their lines and retreat south.
The self-guided auto tour includes stops at Pigeon Hill, where many well-preserved entrenchments are readily seen. A short trail leads to the mountaintop, with gun emplacements and exhibits along the way. Overlooks near the summit provide views of the northern Georgia terrain on one side and the modern Atlanta skyline on the other.