Marietta has been readying its commemoration for two years, said City Manager Bill Bruton. He is pleased “with the cooperative spirit” in planning of events and said the connections between local organizations will last for years.
“It is building a community spirit with folks who may not have known each other before, working for the betterment of the community,” Bruton said.
The festivities began with a sprinkling of activity in the fall, but the lineup will build until each weekend in June is filled. By the end of June, the Square will be decorated and wagons with bales of hay will give the historic area an 1864 feel.
“It is a constant evolution of new events that are put in,” said Bruton about two more activities recently added to the calendar.
Months after the commemoration of the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, two conventions will be held for the first time in the South at the Marietta Hilton Hotel and Conference Center.
The Sons of Union Veterans will meet in August for the first time south of Richmond, Va., and in October, the National Civil War Medicine Conference will travel from the Northeast for the first time.
The commemoration will culminate in November in Marietta’s downtown in remembrance of when “the city was set ablaze and also the rebirth of Marietta,” Bruton said.
Mayor Steve Tumlin, who was born and raised in Marietta, said his grandfather was born in 1870. Tumlin said he remembers stories passed down about local families and farms that were destroyed in the war.
The 150th commemoration will also be a “celebration of our heritage and how we survived,” Tumlin said.
Bruton, who was born in Atlanta and has lived in Marietta for 14 years, has always had an interest in history, but part of the goal for the 150th city-sponsored commemoration is to “take advantage” of the economic opportunity.
By honoring Marietta’s role in history, the city will stand out even more as a must-see location, Bruton said, which will “pump some additional dollars into the community.”
“Heritage tourism is the fastest growing market for the tourism industry,” Bruton said.
There are two historical destinations that both Bruton and Tumlin say make Marietta unique, the Marietta National Cemetery and Marietta Confederate Cemetery, located just east and south of the Square.
“When I was a youngster, we didn’t celebrate Yankee Memorial Day,” Tumlin said about being out of school on Confederate Memorial Day and placing Confederate flags on the graves of fallen soldiers buried in Marietta.
The 150th commemoration of the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain will not be just a display for out-of-town visitors.
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park will offer three days of programs, battlefield tours and living history demonstrations at sites throughout the park from June 26 to 29.
“It makes the history live for individuals,” Bruton said. “It brings it right up to them and helps them experience it.”
For one local man, that history is alive in his veins.
David Holmes, 61, who graduated from Wheeler High School in 1970, is from Illinois. His family moved to Cobb in 1960.
Now living on Terrell Mill Road, Holmes is just a few miles from where a famous ancestor was mortally wounded during the Civil War.
Holmes is a fourth-generation descendant of Union Col. Dan McCook, who led part of the charge up Cheatham Hill toward what was known as “The Dead Angle,” where the Confederate line came to a point. Bruton describes McCook as a pivotal character in the attack.
Holmes said McCook waved his sword in the air, yelling to his soldiers to keep charging before he was struck by a Confederate bullet. The Union did not take the hill.
A two-hour truce was called to move the wounded away from brushfires sparked by the firing.
“They halted the whole battle,” Bruton said.
Having trekked around Kennesaw Mountain, Holmes said, “I just feel kind of part of it.”
Holmes was struck the hardest on top of Cheatham Hill, where he was almost brought to tears imagining the Confederates pouring down bits of metal on the Union men.
Still, Holmes said he also “felt the urgency from the South to stop these men.”
Holmes said he remembers hearing the story of McCook as a boy of 10.
“Living in the South, you can’t escape the Civil War; it is everywhere,” Holmes said. “It is a dream for someone who loves history.”
Holmes said he is fortunate to live in a place with such devotion to commemorating the past as a “healing event” to honor both the North and South.
150th Anniversary Calendar of Events:
City of Marietta Events
June 6 to 8
Gone With the Wind Weekend
Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum on the Marietta Square — 75 Years of “Gone With the Wind”
Step back in time with the sights and sounds of Atlanta during the Civil War and Reconstruction.
June 13 to 15
11th Annual Juneteenth Celebration
The weekend in downtown Marietta starts with Jazz under the Stars on Friday evening, cultural events on Saturday and a gospel-filled Sunday afternoon in Glover Park. The family activities, food, entertainment and history celebration is sponsored by the Cobb NAACP.
June 20 to 22
Sherman at the Gates Weekend
Re-enactor camp on Marietta Square.
June 20 to 22
The Civil War, A Musical Experience Weekend at The Strand Theatre
Drawing on letters, diaries, firsthand accounts and the words of Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and Walt Whitman, “The Civil War” is a thrilling, gut-wrenching and awe-inspiring dramatic theatrical concert that covers the enormous emotional landscape of the most difficult test our nation has ever endured.
Concerts on Marietta Square
Civil War period music from 6 to 8 p.m.
Bleeding Gray and Blue Walking Tour — Candlelight Evening
The 150th Anniversary of Union Occupation of Marietta with a guided tour starting at 8 p.m. by Brad Quinlin of downtown sites used as hospitals during the war.
National Battlefield Park Events
Activities include Cheatham Hill/Dead Angle Assault Real-Time Hike, “This Is War!” Children’s Historical Reenactment, Confederate Artillery Demonstration/Cannon Firing, 24-Gun Battery Ranger Program, 97th Regimental String Band performances and the Burnt Hickory Army monument dedication ceremony.
Festivities on Friday, Saturday and Sunday begin at 9 a.m. For a full list of activities, visit http://battleofkennesawmountain150.com
Opening ceremonies of the 150th Anniversary events at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park’s Visitor Center; followed by an outdoor screening of the “Kennesaw: One Last Mountain” film.
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield music program with Female Vocalist of the Year from the International Bluegrass Music Association, The Claire Lynch Band, performing with musical historian and composer Bobby Horton.
Illinois Monument Rededication — Cheatham Hill Battlefield. (Invitation only.)
Reading of the names of Kennesaw’s fallen — Visitor Center Battlefield Main Stage
Closing ceremonies of the 150th Anniversary events at Visitor Center. Keynote speaker Rebecca Burns, author/lecturer on Southern and Atlanta history. Vocal performances by Dr. Oral Moses, the Georgia Symphony Orchestra Choir and the Georgia Spiritual Ensemble.