Today, we’re pleased to get a “man in the field” report from guest poster Michael K. Shaffer of Civil War Historian, who attended Friday’s grand opening of the new battlefield park at Resaca, Georgia. He sent us this dispatch.
Gathering in Camp Creek Valley, on the 152nd anniversary of the opening salvos of the battle of Resaca, a couple hundred visitors listened intently as various dignitaries took the stage. The occasion celebrated a coordinated effort among the Gordon County Board of Commissioners, Gordon County Chamber of Commerce, Friends of Resaca Battlefield, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Years of work came to fruition yesterday with the grand opening of our nation’s newest Civil War battlefield site!
Stimulating an interest to protect this hallowed-ground—step one—began many years ago. Gaining access to the land, and securing needed funds to make the site visitor-friendly, took time. Thanks to the diligence of Ken Padgett and the Friends of Resaca, they kept the dream alive. Their hopes—of opening this section of the battlefield to tourists, historians, and anyone who loves the outdoors—now realized.
One speaker, after giving thanks for a “chamber of commerce day,” delivered remarks beneath a bright blue sky. A pleasant breeze cooled all who gathered in a valley, which soldiers from both sides during the battle recalled as “flowing with a sea of blood.” Somehow, the tranquility challenged one to imagine the horrors these men experienced here in 1864.
Accessing the Resaca Battlefield Historic Site—open each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from, as a promotional piece suggests, “dawn ‘til dusk”—will prove easy. Interstate 75, which cuts through the center of the battlefield, provides quick access. After taking exit 320, and turning right if traveling south, or left if heading north, the main entrance sits just a few hundred yards away. Now, one can walk the ground where several of the Federal units (Schofield, Palmer, and others) approached the dug-in Confederates. A series of trails, each varying in length, will showcase earthworks and other prominent locations of the battle.
As the dedication remarks drew to a close, volleys from the rifles of reenactors supplanted the sound of passing cars and trucks. A nearby gun-crew, after unlimbering, shook the valley floor when they unleashed several rounds (powder only of course) from their artillery piece. The sounds of battle once again echoed across the ground.
Returning after the ceremony, this writer passed various locations of the Atlanta Campaign, sites following the Battle of Resaca, including Adairsville, Cassville, Allatoona, Pickett’s Mill, and Acworth. Nearing home, the peak of Big Kennesaw Mountain seemed aglow on this special day. Perhaps the Cobb County landmark could sense the excitement emanating from her sister land in Gordon County, as did all attending yesterday’s event. Several of the speakers made references to, or quoted from Private Sam Watkins during the ceremony. So, keeping with this standard, and in closing this brief report, a final word from Company Aytch seems in order:
The world moves on, the sun shines as brightly as before, the flowers bloom as beautifully, the birds sing their carols as sweetly, the trees nod and bow their leafy tops as if slumbering in the breeze, the gentle winds fan our brow and kiss our cheek as they pass by, the pale moon sheds her silvery sheen…and the scene melts and gradually disappears forever.
But Resaca will not disappear! No, she will live on thanks to the hard work and dedication of many. The soldiers who fought there, those who died, and those who left something of themselves behind, will forever remain grateful. To support the continuing effort to raise funds for more improvements to the Resaca Battlefield Historic Site, please visit http://www.resacabattlefield.org/.
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Michael K. Shaffer is a Civil War historian, instructor, lecturer, newspaper columnist, and author of Washington County, Virginia in the Civil War. A member of the Society of Civil War Historians, Historians of the Civil War Western Theater, Georgia Association of Historians, serves on the boards of the Civil War Round Table of Cobb County and the River Line Historic Area, and as a Civil War consultant for the Friends of Camp McDonald.