Thursday, April 10, 2008

From Pine Mountain to Eternity. . .

Atlanta Campaign continued: after a vigorous hike at Pickett's Mill, we boarded the bus again and headed more or less due east on the Due West Road, a wartime route, making our way to the death site of Bishop Polk on Pine Mountain. There, Stealing the General author Russell Bonds, who wrote a nice piece on Leonidas Polk, posted here (originally published in the May 2006 issue of Civil War Times magazine), gave a concise summary of the fateful day, June 10, 1864, when generals Johnston, Hardee, and Polk made themselves conspicuous on Pine Mountain, in full view of Yankee artillerists. Bonds explains in his essay, "Pine Mountain is hardly a mountain at all. Rising no more than 300 feet above the surrounding countryside, the unimpressive little ridgewhich is heavily wooded today but had been cleared of timber in the summer of 1864is referred to in official reports and diaries as Pine Knob, Pine Hill, Pine Mount or Pine Top."

Call it what you will, it was the end of the trail for the fighting clergyman when a Hoosier battery lobbed some shells in his direction.

A Confederate veteran placed a monument to Polk in the near vicinity of the place where that Federal artillery round nearly split the Bishop's mortal coil in twain. Today this weathered yet substantial memorial sits on (or is surrounded by) private property, accessible from the road by a short path. I appreciate that the homeowners in this neighborhood are devoted to preserving the site. One neighbor from across the street, Melvin Dishong, came over to introduce himself, and to pass along his card offering "Pine Mountain Civil War History Tours" for no charge. Nice to see some property owners trying to promote the historical significance of their holdings, rather than bulldozing it to dissuade pesky tourists.

From Pine Mountain, it's only a handful of miles to the highest peaks in the area, Kennesaw and Little Kennesaw Mountains. According to the NPS, "Kennesaw is derived from the Cherokee Indian 'Gah-nee-sah' meaning cemetery or burial ground." Leave it to my Pale Face brethren to ram that meaning home with volume and efficiency.

Next blog entry: Kennesaw Mountain, and the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History.

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