During the event this weekend, people will be able to "tour the historic hillside and railroad cut through the pass and you'll be able to learn why the pass was so important during the war," said Steve Hadley, Resource Manager II for Red Top Mountain State Park, which operates the Allatoona Pass Battlefield in Cartersville. "You're going to walk the trails and follow the old Tennessee Road. And you can explore the star fort and earthworks and be able to hear and smell the cannon and muskets firing and be able to hear historic interpreters tell about the important battle spots."
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 a wide range of activities, including an interpretation of the battle, infantry and artillery demonstrations, battle re-enactments, a flag corps presentation and 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.
"The two things that I find [most] interesting are this battle took place after the fall of Atlanta, and it was the Federals who were dug in up on top and they were being attacked by the Confederates. So by this time the Federals had control of the railroad," Hadley said.
Since taking over the site's operations about three 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 this weekend to provide guests additional information.
"I think the uniqueness is you still have a lot of the amenities that were there in 1864. [They] still exist today," EVHS Director Guy Parmenter said, referring to the site's forts, pass, ridges and trenches. "If you were to take out the roads and the cars and knock the trees down, it would look very similar to the way it did at the time of the battle. And most battlefields are not that way.
"[Typically] troops are on the move and then they dig in overnight and the trenches you have are pretty much hastily made and there are really no forts and such. So it's unique to have all that in a compact area in one spot for people to see just about every aspect of what Confederate/Union life would have been in a particular point."
Being apart of initially tending to the overgrown site and now having the opportunity to see the battlefield in its current state is a rewarding experience for EVHS members, Parmenter said.
"It's come a long ways," he said. "We took it over in '93. It was basically grown up wilderness. There was no parking and such as you see now. There were no signs. It was just an overgrown wilderness down there and then we took it using our manpower and labor. There really wasn't a lot of us.
"We went to work with chain saws and everything else we could use to clean off the trails. We got a little help from the [U.S. Army Corps of Engineers] and Bartow County as far as the parking lot was concerned. The Corps helped provide the lumber for the walkways and bridges and steps. It was just kind of a labor of love."
Admission to the observance will be free. Complimentary shuttles will transport the public to Allatoona Pass from the Allatoona Landing Marina parking lot, 24 Allatoona Landing Road in Cartersville. For more information about the event, call Red Top at 770-975-0055.