A 42-acre swath of land holding Civil War-era troop trenches, rifle pits, and cannon placements has been added to the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield in Georgia.
The land, acquired through the help of The Trust for Public Land, adds a significant site tied to the Battle for Atlanta to the park. The site includes Nodine's Hill, where in June 1864 the Confederate Army led by Gen. Joseph E. Johnston tried to halt the advance of Union forces led by Gen. William T. Sherman.
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park is almost 3,000 acres and aside from protecting a major Civil War site, it also provides a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities in metro Atlanta. According to the National Park Service, Kennesaw Mountain is the nation's most visited Civil War site.
"Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park is a great destination for both history enthusiasts and nature lovers, and this addition to the park offers something for every visitor," said Curt Soper, Georgia state director for The Trust for Public Land. "It was particularly important to protect Nodine's Hill in the Civil War's sesquicentennial years and permanently preserve the site of fierce fighting in the Atlanta Campaign."
Added Nancy Walther, the park's superintendent, "As we approach the Civil War 150th commemoration of the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, this is the opportune time to reaffirm our national commitment to the protection of these hallowed grounds and create a lasting legacy, one that will be enjoyed for generations to come."
After victories in 1863 at Vicksburg and Chattanooga, Sherman marched his Union forces south to Atlanta in May 1864. Johnston's forces defended Atlanta, in part by using the ridges of land northwest of the city to slow Sherman. By June 19, Johnston had retreated to a strong defensive position at Kennesaw Mountain near Marietta, 20 miles from the center of Atlanta. Kennesaw Mountain was the last major battle before Sherman's forces reached the outskirts of the city.
Known as Hays Farm, the property is also adjacent to a 58-acre, 40-home subdivision built after an unsuccessful conservation attempt in 2005.
Funding for the $1.76 million addition to the national park came from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. LWCF is generated from offshore oil and gas receipts, rather than from taxpayer dollars. U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss and U.S. Representative Phil Gingrey supported this conservation effort.
The National Park Trust is supporting and assisting in acquiring inholdings in National Parks across the country and provided financial support to The Trust for Public Land to protect this property. Additionally, National Park Trust and The Trust for Public Land were joined by the National Park Conservation Association, Civil War Trust, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation in advocating for the preservation of Hays Farm at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.
"The National Park Trust is very pleased to work with The Trust for Public Land on this important preservation effort," stated Jonathan Cohen, NPT board member. "In addition, as part of our commitment to engage local students with the importance of park preservation, NPT created an education module that aligns the science and history of the Kennesaw Battlefield with state standards. NPT also will bring nearly three hundred 5th-grade students from Hollydale Elementary and Fair Oaks Elementary to the park in November for a day of outdoor education."