"Statewide, the sesquicentennial will be commemorated over a four-year period because the Civil War lasted for four years," said Mina Harper, public relations chairman for the EVHS. "2011 started the commemoration of the sesquicentennial [and] each of those years has a theme that is followed statewide. [For] 2012, the theme is the Great Locomotive Chase. Of course, the heart of the chase was in Bartow County, and for that reason, we are putting a lot of effort into those dates."
Like other communities on the Great Locomotive Chase's route, Kingston and Adairsville are planning several events this week to observe its 150th anniversary.
A part of Bartow County's "Heart of the Chase" programs -- a term that was coined by EVHS member Joe Head -- the offerings highlight Bartow's role in the chase in which civilian spy James Andrews and his Union accomplices tried to disrupt a key supply line of the Confederacy on April 12, 1862. After stealing the General locomotive at Kennesaw, they planned to destroy the Western & Atlantic Railroad's tracks and telegraph lines en route to Chattanooga, Tenn. Their plan was spoiled, however, when a southbound freight train pulled by the Texas locomotive decided to help pursue the General, traveling in reverse from south of Adairsville to catch Andrews north of Ringgold.
While activities, ranging from W&A Railroad Depot tours to Civil War-era music, will span three days -- April 12 to 14 -- in Adairsville, Kingston will highlight the contributions of the town's former railroad depot agent Uriah Stephens on April 12.
With various Civil War-related events and anniversaries scheduled throughout the coming years, the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau is helping area organizations coordinate and promote their offerings to the public. As the deputy director for the CVB, Regina Wheeler expects Bartow's rich Civil War history to draw an increase of heritage tourists from Georgia and across the nation.
"The CVB's purpose is to market and promote attractions and various happenings [and] events that are occurring here to the visiting public," Wheeler said. "The sesquicentennial of the Civil War is a big reason to get people moving. We're seeing a resurgence throughout multiple states, people going and touring battlefields. With all of the technology available to the public these days to track their genealogy, they may be looking for an ancestor, finding where they fought, things like that.
"So there's a lot of reasons that the Civil War remains a key point for people traveling and we're certainly looking to capitalize on that. The CVB's role specifically is to kind of coordinate and bring together the various events that are happening throughout our community and then to promote them to the public. So we're doing that through advertising, through the creation of a brochure, just basically being a clearinghouse of information, if you will."
To help promote Civil War-related events, the CVB's website, www.notatlanta.org, will continually update local happenings, such as Red Top Mountain State Park's Springtime at the Homestead Civil War Encampment and guided tours of Allatoona Pass Battlefield April 21 and 22, Civil War Comes Alive! on April 28 and a bus tour tracing the Great Locomotive Chase in Bartow June 9. There also are three events honoring Confederate Memorial Day: Stiles-Akin Camp No. 670 Sons of Confederate Veterans' service at Cassville Confederate Cemetery April 14 at 9 a.m.; Gen. P.M.B. Young Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy Chapter No. 2373's observance at the Stiles Auditorium April 21 at 11 a.m.; and the 148th Annual Kingston Confederate Memorial Day Observance at Kingston Baptist Church April 22 at 2:30 p.m.
Bartow's Civil War-related attractions also currently are highlighted on www.gacivilwar.org. Launched by the Georgia Department of Economic Development's Tourism Division, the online tourism campaign features a wide array of items, like an interactive map with landmarks and other significant sites, and a timeline of events from 1861 to 1865.
Through 2015, other Bartow anniversaries will be observed, such as the burning of Cassville and the Battle of Allatoona Pass, both in 2014. Referred to by Wheeler as an event that warrants recognition, the Battle of Allatoona Pass occurred on Oct. 5, 1864. Nearly a month after the fall of Atlanta, the Confederate Army tried to destroy the Union's supply line, the W&A 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 more than four ago, Red Top Mountain State Park continues to lean on the guidance of EVHS 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 trails have been revamped and about 25 interpretive signs along the paths have been replaced with sturdier markers and more detailed messages.
The EVHS also is continuing its efforts to honor those who fought in the Battle of Allatoona Pass. With only three states having yet to receive monuments, the society is trying to have the remaining ones installed by 2014.
"There will be attractions that are ever present that will have new interest created because of the sesquicentennial activities throughout the South. ... It doesn't all take place in April," Wheeler said. "While April 12 is the anniversary of the [Great] Locomotive Chase, you will see activities carried out throughout the year and, of course, in coming years. ... Collectively as a community, we will continue meeting and preparing to make the most out of this 150th commemoration."