Kennesaw Mountain preps for battle sesquicentennial
by Rachel Gray
May 28, 2014 04:00 AM | 5826 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park Chief Ranger Anthony Winegar, Superintendent Nancy Walther and Park Historian Willie Johnson descend the stairway of the Illinois Monument, where Southern forces helped fend off the Illinois 49th Infantry during the Civil War Battle on the mountain. <br> Staff/Abigail Quigley
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park Chief Ranger Anthony Winegar, Superintendent Nancy Walther and Park Historian Willie Johnson descend the stairway of the Illinois Monument, where Southern forces helped fend off the Illinois 49th Infantry during the Civil War Battle on the mountain.
Staff/Abigail Quigley
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MARIETTA — Stories of men who sacrificed their lives on either side of the Civil War, as well as tales depicting the daily struggles of local women and children during the era, will be shared for three days at Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park.

More than 200 activities are scheduled from June 26 to 29 for the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, including artillery demonstrations, Confederate and Union solider encampments, live music and programs by noted authors.

The schedule includes George Wunderlich, executive director of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Md., who will give multiple talks about the medicine administered on the battlefield and how those practices are the foundation of health today.

There will also be a Civil War fashion show led by park volunteers and historic clothing experts Janine and Phillip Whiteman. They will show clothing people in different social levels would have worn in the 1860s.

Anthony Winegar, chief ranger at the park, said the many activities — including hands-on demonstrations of wood crafting, cloth dyeing and building a Civil War-era home — will give an accurate representation of the people’s lives from soldiers to slaves to children.

Winegar said the park staff is focused on conveying individual stories “because that is what most people will ultimately connect with.”

There will be many musical performances from a regiment band portraying the Georgia Volunteer Infantry, a string band, bluegrass performers, youth choirs and many more acts giving renditions of Civil War-era music.

For the past year, all the Civil War events throughout other national parks have contributed to a theme of “From Civil War to Civil Rights,” including spiritual ensembles that will be sung at the closing ceremony at Kennesaw Mountain on June 29.

“Music sort of transcends all ages, races and genders,” Winegar said about attracting a wide range of guests, many of whom may not be war history buffs. “Between the singing, the cannons, the children and the campfire, you will get a 360 degree experience, seeing life 150 years ago from all around.”

Shuttling visitors

Nancy Walther, who became the superintendent at Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park more than two years ago, said she expects the commemoration in June to host 50,000 to 60,000 visitors throughout the weekend.

“We anticipate Saturday being a very, very busy day from the time we open the lots at 10 a.m. until we close,” she said.

Paved lots near the visitor’s center will be for handicap guests and an activity field south of the visitor’s center will used for parking.

There will also be several satellite parking lots set up at Marietta High School, Mount Paran Christian School and on the corner of North Cobb Parkway and Bells Ferry Road to provide a total of 4,000 spots, Walther said.

Hosting the event required funding from the National Park Service, as well as local sponsorships and donations.

Walther said $274,000 came from the National Park Service from fees charged to guests at other national parks. Those funds will be used for staging areas, tents, portable restrooms, sound systems and buses.

“Transportation is a big cost for us,” she said.

Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park is renting 10 Marietta school buses, 10 Kennesaw State University buses and three trolleys.

Walther said the national contribution did not pay for guest speakers, performers or food supplies for staff and volunteers, many of whom will comprise the 275 people staying at solider or civilian encampments in the park the entire weekend.

The weekend event will require 54 extra staff members coming from other parks in the Smoky Mountains, Chattahoochee, Chickamauga and the park system’s regional office, along with the local park’s 14 full-time and six seasonal positions.

Knowing there would be a gap in the funds needed, the Kennesaw Mountain Trail Club, a volunteer organization that maintains the trails of Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield National Park, started reaching out to local contacts a year ago.

Anne Strand, secretary of the Kennesaw Mountain Trail Club, said the group has received sponsorships from Cobb EMC, the WellStar Health System and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, to name a few.

With those sponsorships and individual donations from area residents, Strand said the group has raised close to $90,000.

“We still hope to hit the $100,000 mark,” she said.

Walther said whatever money is raised will “have to be enough,” and credits the additional efforts by the Kennesaw Mountain Trail Club to making the commemoration a “premier event.”

Starting the events June 27 will be the “Dead Angle Real Time Hike,” where hikers can walk the same path the Union troops took to approach Cheatham Hill exactly 150 years to the moment the battle began.

There are many infantry demonstrations scheduled so visitors can see and hear a company-sized unit’s marching techniques, as well as loading and firing Civil War muskets. Rangers will explain the methods of communicating to give commands across the battlefield.

Cannons will also be fired from historic locations, including a 24-gun battery. The site will give a first-hand view of the offensive and defensive roles the artillery played in the fierce fighting on Cheatham Hill.

Willie Johnson, who will retire in July after 40 years of service with the park, said there were four batteries each with six guns, or cannons weighing around 1,000 pounds each, stationed at the ridges.

“This will be the first time since 1864 guns will have been fired from the park,” Johnson said.

Johnson said most tourist areas at Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park have focused on Confederate points of interest, but this spot is more of a tribute to Union soldiers.

“This is where they felt they really put it on the line,” Johnson said about the attack that resulted in heavy causalities against insurmountable odds. “This is where they were asked to pay the price. And they did.”

A new trail was recently added to the area, which Johnson said the park had wanted for decades.

At 8:30 p.m. June 28, honored guests, descendants of soldiers and spectators will rededicate the Illinois Monument that sits on the Cheatham Hill Battlefield.

The recently restored marble and bronze monument was first erected 100 years ago to honor the lives lost as heavy artillery rained down on Union soldiers trying to advice up Cheatham Hill. The location of the monument is as far as they were able to reach, Johnson said.

During the ceremony, 3,400 lit candles will line the grassy field in remembrance of those who died in the battles at Kennesaw Mountain.

Highlighted 150th Anniversary Calendar of Events

Thursday, June 26, 2014

7:30 p.m.

Opening Ceremonies of 150th Anniversary Events at Visitor Center; open to the public

8:45 p.m.

“Kennesaw: One Last Mountain” film (outdoors)


Friday, June 27, 2014

9:00 a.m.

Cheatham Hill/Dead Angle Assault Real-Time Hike

9:30 a.m.

Visitor Center Battlefield “This Is War!” – Children’s Historical Reenactment Activity (one hour duration)

10:00 a.m.

Mountain Top Confederate Artillery Demonstration/Cannon Firing and 24-Gun Battery Ranger Program

10:30 a.m.

Visitor Center Battlefield Civil War Medicine Program – George Wunderlich

11:00 a.m.

97th Regimental String Band – Visitor Center Battlefield Main Stage (45 minute duration)

11:30 a.m. Cheatham Hill Confederate Artillery Demonstration/Cannon Firing

12:00 p.m.

Visitor Center Auditorim Author Lecture/Book Signing – Brad Quinlin (45 minute duration)

12:30 p.m.

Visitor Center Children’s Storytelling Program – Cathy Kaemmerlen

1:00 p.m.

Mountain Top Confederate Artillery Demonstration/Cannon Firing

1:30 p.m.

Visitor Center Auditorium Author Lecture – Earl J. Hess (45 minute duration)

2:00 p.m.

24-Gun Battery Union Infantry Demonstration/Musket Firing

2:30 p.m.

Visitor Center Battlefield Children’s Common Soldier Life Program

3:00 p.m.

Reenactment Activity (one hour duration)

7:30 p.m.

Female Vocalist of the Year from the International Bluegrass Music Association The Claire Lynch Band performing – Visitor Center Battlefield Main Stage. Musical historian and composer Bobby Horton is to open.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

9:00 a.m.

Book Signing – Dr. Brian Wills (45 minute duration)

9:30 a.m.

Reenactment Activity (one hour duration)

10:00 a.m.

Book Signing – Dr. Stephen Davis (45 minute duration)

10:30 a.m.

24-Gun Battery Union Infantry Demonstration/Musket Firing

11:00 a.m.

97th Regimental String Band – Visitor Center Battlefield Main Stage (45 minute duration)

11:30 a.m. Cheatham Hill Confederate Infantry Demonstration/Musket Firing

12:00 p.m.

Book Signing – Robert M. McMurry (45 minute duration)

12:30 p.m.

Visitor Center Children’s Storytelling Program – Cathy Kaemmerlen

1:00 p.m.

Civil War Fashion Show – Visitor Center Battlefield Main Stage (one hour duration)

1:30 p.m.

Visitor Center Battlefield Civil War Medicine Program – George Wunderlich

2:00 p.m.

Mountain Top Confederate Artillery Demonstration/Cannon Firing

2:30 p.m.

Visitor Center Battlefield Children’s Common Soldier Life Program

3:00 p.m.

Visitor Center Battlefield “This Is War!” – Children’s Historical Reenactment Activity (one hour duration)

3:30 p.m.

Visitor Center Auditorium Authors’ Round Table Panel Discussion (one hour duration)

8:30 p.m.

Illinois Monument Rededication – Cheatham Hill Battlefield - Parking for this event is at Marietta High School


Sunday, June 29, 2014

9:00 a.m. Cheatham Hill Ranger Program

9:30 a.m.

Visitor Center Battlefield “This Is War!” – Children’s Historical Reenactment Activity (one hour duration)

10:00 a.m.

Book Signing – Dr. Wendy Venet (45 minute duration)

10:30 a.m.

Visitor Center Battlefield Civil War Medicine Program – George Wunderlich

11:00 a.m.

Visitor Center Battlefield Children’s Common Soldier Life Program

11:30 a.m.

Cheatham Hill Confederate Artillery Demonstration/Cannon Firing

12:00 p.m.

Visitor Center Auditorium Author Lecture/Book Signing – Robert Jones (45 minute duration)

12:30 p.m.

Visitor Center Children’s Storytelling Program – Cathy Kaemmerlen

1:00 p.m.

Mountain Top Confederate Artillery Demonstration/Cannon Firing

1:30 p.m.

24-Gun Battery Union Infantry Demonstration/Musket Firing

2:00 p.m.

Word of Faith Gospel Youth Choir performance – Visitor Center Battlefield Main Stage

(45 minute duration)

5:00 p.m.

Closing Ceremonies of 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

Many of the events are repeated throughout the weekend. For a full list of events visit http://battleofkennesawmountain150.com/

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