“It’s kind of one of those little-known gems that’s close by but not many people know about it,” said Marcus Toft, interpretive ranger for Red Top Mountain State Park. “We hope people ... will be exposed to this site, find out it’s there, because it’s an important piece of our history and it’s local history. It’s just a resource that doesn’t get used very much. It’s a beautiful site. It’s very well preserved. There’s interpretive markers throughout, so you can do a self-guided tour.
“And, it’s a unique piece of our history, too. Not only was the Battle of Allatoona Pass fought there following the fall of Atlanta, but also that pass played into the Great Locomotive Chase. So there’s a lot of really cool historical significance that people just for the most part seem to be unaware of. So we’re hoping to get the word out that, ‘Hey, we have this great site, come check it out.’”
To be held Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the 149th annual commemoration will feature a living history display with Civil War re-enactors, musket and cannon firing demonstrations and self-guided battlefield tours.
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, where men were either killed, missing or wounded. Six Confederate and five Union states participated in the battle, including Missouri, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, Louisiana, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio.
“When the federals took over that position, they saw the need to fortify that position just like they had at railroad bridges across the rivers and creeks all the way back to Chattanooga,” Etowah Valley Historical Society member Guy Parmenter said. “This particular location, they took the time and brought in a federal engineer to build trenchworks, fortifications. Basically, if you go to the pass today, you still see the forts as they were before. You still see most of the trenchworks. Some have naturally filled in over time because of leaves and debris and fallen trees and erosion. But there’s still hundreds of yards of trenchworks there and there’s still two forts that remain.
“... Basically the landscape is virtually the same as it was in 1864. It is rare [because] most battlefields are when two armies come together overnight. There’s not much planning involved. All of a sudden, there’s a battle the next day, so they dig in the night before and they create some trenchworks. ... The only other places you would see something like [the Allatoona Pass Battlefield] would be fortifications around Washington, D.C., in defense of Confederate attacks or the defenses over certain bridges that were in federal control.”
Since taking over the site’s operations about six 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 Battle of Allatoona Pass Remembered, EVHS members have assisted in the planning of the event and they will be present to provide patrons additional information.
There will be no admission to the observance and guests are encouraged to take a shuttle to the event from Allatoona Landing, 24 Allatoona Landing Road, Cartersville. For more information, call Red Top at 770-975-0055.