The role Marietta residents and historic buildings played in caring for soldiers, both alive and dead, 150 years ago during the Civil War will be highlighted during two guided tours this weekend.
In the fall of 1863, soldiers wounded in the Battle of Chickamauga, near Chattanooga, Tenn., in the northwest corner of Georgia, were sent down the railroad to Marietta.
Hour-long tours Saturday, led by Civil War historian, author and ancestral researcher Brad Quinlin, will give details on where Confederate hospitals were started and how the locations were later used by Union forces.
The tour will introduce a new exhibit, “Bleeding Grey and Blue: Marietta Hospitals during the Civil War” at the Marietta Museum of History at 1 Depot St., a block off the Square. The exhibit will run through August 2014.
Amy Reed, Curator of Exhibits and Education with the Marietta Museum of History, said the exhibit will have a hospital scene similar to how converted hotel rooms at the Kennesaw House would have been used, including original and replicated medical instruments.
The Kennesaw House was built in 1845 and was a hotel when the Confederate Army took over the first floor in September. 1863 for a makeshift hospital, Reed said about the building which now houses the Marietta Museum of History.
Reed said before soldiers from the battlefield started pouring into Marietta, local residents were distanced from the Civil War, reading about battles in newspapers and sending young men off to the fronts.
“Then all of a sudden, all of these wounded soldiers by the thousands are being sent down the railroad,” Reed said. “All of a sudden, they have wounded, dying men taking over the city.”
Reed said Saturday’s tour will also include stops at St. James’ Episcopal Church, Marietta First Baptist Church and First Presbyterian Church, all off of Church Street and a few blocks from the Square.
Each church was cleared to make space for Confederate Army soldiers, but were not used until the Union Army approached Marietta a year later, filling the pews with wounded Yankees, Reed said.
Local women fight for proper burials
On a hilltop south of downtown, where Powder Springs Street and Atlanta Street meet at the 120 Loop, the Marietta Confederate Cemetery is a gravesite for more than 3,000 Civil War soldiers, many of whom have never been identified.
One monument in the cemetery reads, “3,000 who fell from every Southern State, who fell on Georgia soil, for Georgia rights and Georgia homes.”
On Sunday, three new statues will be unveiled to honor the women who helped to establish the cemetery in 1863 as a final resting place for soldiers who had been left on battlefields, barely covered in dirt, according to the director of Keep Marietta Beautiful, Joan Ellars.
The group of statues depicts Jane Glover, who was the widow of Marietta’s first mayor, John Glover, and donated the last 2 acres for the cemetery, and Mary Green, who asked the Georgia General Assembly in Feb. 1869 to fund bringing deceased soldiers from the Battle of Chickamauga down to Marietta, Ellars said.
The third statue is a tribute to all the women who were part of the effort to bury the fallen soldiers, Ellars said. They were about the only able-bodied people in town, and they were already taking care of the men in hospitals and sending supplies to the troops on the field.
“If it weren’t for the women around here, we wouldn’t have a cemetery,” Ellars said. “They were the ones left to do that and it was a hard task.”
Confederate soldiers need continuing support
After 150 years, the Marietta Confederate Cemetery continues to need support from community members, prompting a living-history tour of the cemetery to raise money on Sunday.
Reed said volunteers from Keep Marietta Beautiful and the Marietta Confederate Cemetery Foundation hope to raise at least $300 in ticket sales for guided tours featuring reenactors dressed in period costumes depicting people buried at the site.
“We would love to have some large contributions,” said Betty Hunter, President of the Marietta Confederate Cemetery foundation, who was one of the founding members of the group in 1994.
Hunter said the three female statues, which are made of bronze and each weighing about 160 pounds, cost $150,000. The original works of art were designed by T.J. Dixon & James Nelson Sculptors based near San Diego.
Hunter said she hopes the next project will be to commission the creation of statues of Confederate soldiers. However, she adds that it is hard to budget when the foundation has no idea how much it will receive in contributions each year.
Hunter said the foundation does not have a continual fund for maintenance of the cemetery and money is needed for sod and a sprinkler system.
The foundation, in partnership with the Tennessee-based Sons of Confederate Veterans, recently used $10,000 to improve the large archway at the cemetery.
The preserving and sharing of Marietta’s role in the Civil War is a love of Hunter’s that started as a way to help others document their genealogy.
“This is part of our Southern heritage. I had ancestors that fought on both sides,” Hunter said.