"It's something we do every year," said Steve Hadley, Resource Manager II for Red Top Mountain State Park, which operates the Allatoona Pass Battlefield. "We remember and honor those who fought and died there, but also with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War coming up we're trying to get people to remember even more the 150th anniversary.
"One thing that's unique about [this battle] was the Federals had already captured Atlanta and this was their rail line at that time. So the Federals were actually occupying all the earthworks at the top of Allatoona Pass, defending what eventually had become their railroad, their supply line to Atlanta. So the Confederates were the attacking force trying to break up the railroad that was now being used by the Federals to supply the troops in Atlanta. And it was one of the highest percentages of casualties. I think it was about a 32 percent casualty, which was killed, wounded or missing."
To be held on Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the commemoration will offer an interpretation of the battle, infantry and artillery demonstrations, Civil War re-enactors, a signal flag demonstration and self-guided battlefield tours.
On Oct. 5, 1864, 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.
Since taking over the site's operations about four 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 observance, EVHS members have assisted in the planning of the event and they will be present to provide guests additional information.
"The terrain [is remarkable] as far as you still have two earthen forts that were there at the time of the battle [and], of course, the cut in the pass of the old Western [and] Atlantic Railroad ... You [also] basically have, which is on private property of course, a house that was there at the time of the battle, the Clayton-Mooney House," said Guy Parmenter, a member of the EVHS' board of directors who serves on Red Top's advisory committee for Allatoona Pass. "It [also] just has a lot of original trench forts and so forth. So it's just a compact battlefield.
"I always told everybody, you have battlefields where two armies come together on a certain day, but then you have this one, which was a Union defensive position that was created over several months between the time that the South withdrew out of the Bartow County area and proceeded toward Atlanta. ... There's always been a lot of arguments whether had the South succeeded in taking Allatoona Pass, had they succeeded in destroying the pass, would [Union Gen. William] Sherman had gone on to Savannah or would he have returned north."
There will be no admission to the observance, to be held on Old Allatoona Road in Emerson, Hadley said. For more information about the event, call Red Top at 770-975-0055.