A walking tour that snaked through southern Buckhead near Atlanta Memorial Park showcased the remaining signs of the Civil War that was fought there over 150 years ago.
The March 11 walking tour began just outside of Buckhead at The Defoor Centre, a likely antebellum home, and continued along the war’s “Outer Defenssive Line,” including visits to Old Mt. Zion Church, the Embry Plantation, Howell’s Mill, the Peachtree Creek ravine, Tanyard Creek Park, the Bitsy Grant Tennis Center and Loring’s Hill, ending at Tanyard Creek Park.
“When you ride in the car you don’t get the feeling of what it’s like to be a soldier,” said Hoke Kimball, a local amatuer historian and relative of a Confederate general, as a he led a walking tour showcasing sites of the battle.
Troops fought around all those sites and Tanyard Creek, an offshoot of Peachtree Creek. The Northside BeltLine Trail now runs along that creek.
“It should really be called the Battle of Tanyard Creek, not the Battle of Peachtree Creek,” said Kimball.
The event was part of the Atlanta Preservation Center’s annual “Phoenix Flies” event, a month-long festival that includes 200 events that highlight cultural and historical sites throughout Atlanta. All events are free, open to the public and include guided walking tours, lectures and open houses.
The festival started March 3 and will wrap up March 25. Events in Buckhead that are still available include tours of the Philip Schutze designed Goodrum House, the Governor’s Mansion and Northside Drive Baptist Church. The Buckhead Heritage Society will lead a tour of Harmony Grove Cemetery, which the group restored.
All the spots in the remaining Battle of Peachtree Creek walking tours have been claimed, but a wait list is available. For more information, visit preserveatlanta.com.
The battle showcased in the walking tour took place on July 20, 1864, two days before the Battle of Atlanta.
The tour was limited to around 10 people, and they included mostly Atlanta Preservation Center members and avid Phoenix Flies attenders.
One resident who attended the tour, Gordon Draves, said his great-great-grandfather was killed in nearby battle a few days before the Battle of Peachtree Creek and he wanted to learn more about that history.
It was the first battle led by Gen. John Bell Hood, who had recently replaced Gen. Joseph Johnston. Confederate President Jefferson Davis thought Johnston was not aggressive enough, Kimball said. The change happened shortly before the battle and caused the troops to lose their morale, he said.
The Confederate forces planned to attack the Union Army as it crossed the Peachtree Creek, but were too late. Instead, it was the Confederates who were attacked while crossing Tanyard Creek, Kimball said.
“It turns out the South got discombobulated because they had to come through the creek bed,” Kimball said.
Northern forces had the high ground in what once was country land and rolling hills, but is now surrounded by homes. The troops shot down at the Confederate soldiers as they crossed Tanyard Creek, he said.
“They were the smart ones. They stopped at higher ground,” Kimball said.
The loss of morale, a time delay and sudden change of plans led to the Confederate force’s defeat, Kimball said.
The tour stopped at an obelisk outside Northside Park Baptist Church on Howell Mill Road erected in memory of Sgt. William R. Moore, who died three days before the battle in skirmish, Kimball said. The church was known as Old Mt. Zion Church during the days of the war.
Many soldiers were buried in unmarked graves around the site of the battle, and Moore’s was later located by his family.
“They were supposed to take advantage of the terrain. They ended up being punished,” Kimball said.
The tour also stopped at a display showing mill stones used in Moore’s Mill, a Civil War era mill along Peachtree Creek that was the site of its own battle the day before the Battle of Peachtree Creek. The mill stones are now displayed near Tanyard Creek Park at the intersection Collier Road and Redland Road.