Thursday, April 03, 2008
I had planned to knock out a quick travelogue of each day of my recent sojourn in Georgia, which would have required some fairly quick summaries at the end of some very long days. Instead, I've decided to take a little more time to recount the various events, and to give due coverage to the highlights.
When I left off, we had enjoyed a presentation by Gordon Jones at the Atlanta History Center on Thursday afternoon—one week ago—and a talk by Steven Woodworth Thursday night. Come 7:45 a.m. Friday our bus, with 40 hearty souls, departed the hotel for the 90-minute ride to Resaca. It killed me to trim Rocky Face Ridge and Dalton off the itinerary, but even as it was, I probably bit off more than we could chew in a day (indeed, I ran them ragged that day, not returning to the hotel until close to 10:00 p.m.).
On the drive up, one of our Dalton/Resaca locals regaled me with a spectacular tale of his classmate, Marla Maples, one-time Homecoming Queen (not to mention, former Miss Resaca Beach, 1983—you'll have to Google that one yourself) returning for her 10-year high school reunion by landing in a helicopter at the 50-yard-line. Probably the same way you returned for your 10-year reunion.
Once in Resaca, which has no beach, we hooked up with Ken Padgett, president of the Friends of Resaca, which group has begun to pull off an admirable feat, qualifying for green space funds to save some relatively pristine Confederate defensive works overlooking the crossings of the Oostanaula River. See some views of Fort Wayne here, and a master plan for what will be a county park here.
To grizzled veterans of Civil War Forum tours, the hospitality of the Friends of Resaca was unprecedented, even by southern standards. Out in the woods, in the middle of nowhere, they had set up some tables with coffee, bottled water, and an endless array of donuts to treat our group to mid-morning refreshments. That was a first.
The Friends are going to need a lot more cash than they were able to secure through green space monies. Readers of this blog are encouraged to lend a hand, or at the very least, purchase a modest membership (email email@example.com for details). They have also done up a nice driving tour of the Resaca Battlefield (all private sites at this time). You'll need their driving tour brochure, or local assistance, to find what you're looking for. While you're at it, look at this richly substantive site on the Resaca Battlefield.
After leaving Fort Wayne, we made a stop in the vicinity of a future state park devoted to Resaca (preservation is alive and well in this small town), and to the eastern end of Snake Creek Gap. My only regret is that we did not have time to drive up the gap a few miles to view the terrain. Instead, we hurried over to the north end of the battlefield, and later did a drive-by of what is reportedly the oldest Confederate cemetery, seen here.
When computer-literate Civil War Buffs come to town, you'd best alert the media. Check out this article in the Calhoun Times. Pictured in the article are Ken Padgett of the Friends of Resaca, Rudy Perini of New York, and Greg Biggs of the Clarksville, TN Civil War Round Table, who also served as one of our guides that day.
One experiences clarification, and often revelation, when finally visiting the topography previously imagined only in books and in two dimensional maps. Resaca was a deathtrap for Joe Johnston's army. Even putting aside the controversy over which army Sherman should have sent through Snake Creek Gap, and McPherson's seemingly over-cautious advance, one wonders how the entire Army of Tennessee got across the Oostanaula with Sherman's guns in range of the bridge.
After the cemetery drive-by, it was already after 10:00 a.m.—time to hurry south with Johnston's and Sherman's armies into the Hell Hole.
[photo at top: Oostanaula River at Resaca. Fort Wayne is in the trees in the center of the image]