I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Atlanta area. While I was there, I spent a good deal of time seeing some of the sights on which the Atlanta Campaign of 1864 was played out. In particular, I was interested in seeing where the Battle of Peachtree Creek was fought on July 20, 1864, as I had an ancestor who perished the next day from a mortal wound received during the heat of the battle.
I expected that much of this area would now be part of the City of Atlanta, which of course I found to be correct. But I was thrilled to find out that during the Civil War Centennial in 1964 the City of Atlanta created Tanyard Creek Park to commemorate the battle. My visit to Tanyard Creek Park was the grand finale of an extremely worthwhile and enjoyable stay in the beautiful state of Georgia.
While at Tanyard Creek Park I took some pictures of the bronze tablets and the markers which told the story of the battle, and the landscape. On my stroll around the park I was fortunate to meet a woman from the Friends of Tanyard Creek Park, who was also there with a camera. We began to talk, and as we walked my eyes met the beautiful green meadow. As I was admiring its beauty in the bright, late-September sun, my heart sank as she told me that a bicycle path was planned to run right down the middle of where all of the beautiful green grass is now. I thought about how beautiful this park is, and how fitting a tribute it is to the men who lost their lives in the struggle for it–and then of the reality of how a bike path running through it would ruin those two things and render it just another piece of city real estate.
I am from Pennsylvania and live close enough to Gettysburg to be able to visit it any time I want to. It is a national shrine. I am of the opinion that any piece of ground that our men fought and died on is sacred ground. To me, the ground that was contested at the Battle of Peachtree Creek is more important than even Gettysburg, because an ancestor of mine gave his life in the struggle for it.
The Piedmont Hospital, the Bitsy Grant Tennis Center, and the many houses that are on the site of the battlefield are all good things for the city of Atlanta. But I hope that the city will also have a mind to preserve this park just as it is today, in all of its beauty.
When the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Peachtree Creek arrives in 2014, it would be nice to see a city, grateful to the sacrifices of the sons who defended it so long ago, dedicate the park anew, with the meadow just as green and beautiful as it is today. I will be looking on with admiration when that time comes.