Remembering Georgia's Role in the Civil War
Battlefields, homes and sites provide historical perspective
Like many Southern states, Georgia is home to several sites that played key roles in the Civil War. They span from the northwest corner of the state to Atlanta and Savannah, where Gen. William T. Sherman’s infamous March to the Sea concluded. In fact, Georgia documents its role in the Civil War through a wealth of historic battlefields and homes, as well as informative exhibits and unforgettable sites. Immerse yourself in Georgia’s Civil War history at the following attractions.
Located in Georgia’s northwest corner in Fort Oglethorpe, Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park commemorates the last major Confederate victory of the Civil War before renewed fighting gave Union forces control. Start at the Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center to gain a full understanding of the battle, and examine the park’s extensive rifle collection. Then embark on a seven-mile, self-guided auto tour of the park, visit monuments dedicated to veterans, or explore the park on foot along several hiking trails.
A bit farther south in Kennesaw, the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History tells the tale of The Great Locomotive Chase, when several Union Civil War spies stole the locomotive General and raced their way north to Chattanooga, Tenn. The train’s conductor and two of his men pursued on foot and with multiple locomotives before recapturing their engine near Ringgold.
Along with the General itself, the museum also includes a deeper look at the men who attempted the caper and the significance of the railroad during the Civil War. Visitors can follow the chase route with stops in Adairsville, Kingston, Tunnel Hill and Ringgold.
Before you head out to follow the chase route, stop at nearby Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, where Union and Confederate forces locked horns from June 19-July 2, 1864, delaying the Union’s advance on Atlanta. Adventurous souls will find the view from the top of Kennesaw Mountain (you can see the Atlanta skyline in the distance) is worth the climb.
In downtown Atlanta, two key attractions delve deep into Georgia’s Civil War history with extensive and interactive exhibits. The Atlanta History Center is home to “Turning Point: The American Civil War,” one of the nation’s largest and most complete Civil War exhibitions. Experience the Civil War from the perspective of soldiers and civilians with audio tours, films and more than 1,500 Civil War artifacts. Also at the Center, the Atlanta Cyclorama & Civil War Museum depicts the Battle of Atlanta, which occurred on July 22, 1864, and take in the panoramic painting of the battle with a narrated story, 3D and sound effects. The Cyclorama also is home to the steam locomotive Texas, another key player in The Great Locomotive Chase.
Once the state capital, Milledgeville in central Georgia is home to the Old Governor's Mansion, which Gen. William T. Sherman took over on Nov. 23, 1864, during his historic March to the Sea. During Reconstruction, the state capital relocated to Atlanta. Take a tour of the high Greek Revival mansion to learn about the eight governors who lived and worked there, and see the breathtaking interior rotunda and balcony.
As the final destination in Sherman’s March to the Sea, Savannah is home to many Civil War sites, the Savannah History Museum in the former Central of Georgia Railway station, The Andrew Low House, where the Girl Scouts of the USA was founded, and Old Fort Jackson, which has cannon firings daily, re-enacting how the fort defended Savannah from Union attacks. Because Confederate troops retreated to South Carolina before Sherman’s arrival, the Union general spared the city from destruction. In fact, he offered up Georgia’s first city to President Abraham Lincoln as a Christmas present on Dec. 22, 1864.