Georgia played a significant role in the Civil War. The fall of Atlanta was a turning point in determining the outcome of the war as it assured the reelection of Abraham Lincoln and the Confederates’ defeat. Today, you can still visit many of these historical sites throughout the Peach State, including forts, prisons, cemeteries, battlefields, and museums. Georgia has some of the most well-preserved Civil War locations in the country. If you are a Civil War history buff or just want to enjoy a fascinating trip, take a look at these Georgian sites.
Andersonville National Historic Site – Andersonville
Camp Sumter was established as a Civil War prison in Macon County. It was used as a camp to provide supplies and medical aid to Union prisoners from the Richmond, Virginia area. However, the camp was quickly known as Andersonville Prison. In 1864, this location was the largest prisoner camp in the country. When it closed in May 1865, the prison had a reputation for overcrowding and poor health conditions, which made it the most notorious Confederate prison camp during the war.
Just after the war ended, the prison site was preserved as a national cemetery by Clara Barton. She worked tirelessly to identify and mark all the graves at the site. Today, you can visit the Andersonville National Historic Site and walk among the 13,714 graves of those who lost their lives at the location. This site is also the home to The National Prisoners of War Museum. It is open to the public, and it commemorates all American POWS through displays, video presentations, and photographs. In addition to the POW displays, the museum also serves as the visitor center for the park.
Battle of Kennesaw Mountain – Cobb County
Kennesaw Mountain became an essential location for one of the campaigns in Atlanta. On the morning of June 27, 1864, Union troops bombarded the Confederate soldiers along the base of the mountain. However, Union soldiers were unfamiliar with the terrain, and the Confederates defeated the North during this skirmish. The battle was over within a few hours, but the casualty totals made it the bloodiest single day in the campaign for Atlanta.
After the war ended, Lansing J. Dawdy purchased sixty acres of land as he wanted to preserve the site. In 1917, Congress dedicated the area as the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield. However, the park was not a designated visitor’s site until 1935. Since that time, the park has focused on the preservation of the remaining buildings. The Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield welcomes over one million visitors per year.
Throughout the park, you can take a ranger-led talk about the battle or visit the monuments erected to the various soldiers who lost their lives. With its rising popularity with tourists, the site has been named one of the Civil War Preservation Trust’s “Ten Most Endangered” battlefields due to increased traffic and urban sprawl from Atlanta.
The Battle of Pickett’s Mill – Paulding County
Another decisive battle in the Atlanta campaign occurred in Paulding County. The Pickett’s Mill Battle Historic Site is one of the most well-preserved battlefields in the country. In May 1864, the Confederate army prevented the Union troops from taking over the strategic base near Atlanta. Pickett’s Mill was one of the bloodiest battles at that point, and it delayed the capture of Atlanta by Sherman.
It wasn’t until the 1960s that the public started to take an interest in the location. By the Civil War’s centennial, the state of Georgia purchased the land and established it as a state historic site. The state would have to negotiate with other owners to finally buy the last portion of the park in 1981. Ten years later, Pickett’s Mill Battlefield Historic Site opened to the public.
You can explore over 765 acres of wilderness with some of the battle trenches still visible throughout the park. The Pickett’s Mill structure is an original piece from the war, and it is still standing over the field. The site also contains over four miles of walking trails. The Visitors Center also includes two original cannons used in the battle. If you are lucky, you might even catch a reenactment of the famous battle on the last weekend of May.
Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park – Fort Oglethorpe
Chickamauga is a historically significant site to Cherokee Nation, and it was the site of the bloody Battle of Chickamauga. This battle was fought between September 18-20, 1863, and it involved more than 128,000 Union and Confederate soldiers. It was the second bloodiest battle of the war, with 34,000 casualties. The Battle of Chickamauga was one of the most decisive victories for the South. However, the battle would spill over the nearby town of Chattanooga until November. The Union troops won that battle and took control of the city. These battles marked the downfall of the Confederacy.
In 1890, the site was designated as the largest national military park in the country. Visitors can visit both battlefields at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. With over 10,000 acres, you can find plenty of things to do. The park rangers offer talks and tours of the park. If you would rather head off on your own, you can take a self-guided tour of the Chickamauga site. For those wanting to stay in the car, the park even offers a car caravan tour that takes visitors to locations throughout the site.
Due to its massive size, there are two visitors centers. One is located at the Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center, and it is the primary contact site for most visitors. While you are there, you can see the 26-minute film on the “Campaign for Chattanooga.” The Lookout Mountain Battlefield Visitor Center is the second visitors’ location. This location also has many exhibits on the other battles that occurred throughout the region.
Georgia played an important part in the war between the states. You can still see many of these original structures and undisturbed land from those vital battles. Make sure to pay your respects as you view these historic Civil War sites.