District 5 U.S. Rep. Leonidas F. Livingston introduced House Resolution 946 Dec. 5, 1899 to establish the Atlanta National Military Park, which would have encompassed the area of the Battle of Peachtree Creek from Peachtree Road near present-day Piedmont Hospital almost to the Chattahoochee River to the west with a slightly northern slant
The Battle of Peachtree Creek was the first of the Atlanta Campaign. While it may appear a spur-of-the-moment clash, it had been carefully planned by Gen. Joseph Johnson, who was relieved of his command for constantly retreating three days before the important Confederate offensive.
Johnson was a capable military thinker and had long chosen Peachtree Creek for an attack on the advancing Union troops. At Peachtree Creek, Johnson found a topography that could hide the fortifications with valleys and ridges.
It has been put forward that Johnson’s numerous retreats actually drew the Union army to this particular location. With the recently installed Gen. John Hood in charge, the Confederate troops launched a poorly executed attack at Peachtree Creek on July 20, 1864.
The battle raged from Howell Mill to Brookwood Hills along present-day Collier Road over two hours. Atlanta would fall Sept. 2 and the Battle of Peachtree Creek is largely viewed as the beginning of the end for the Confederacy. A book published by the Atlanta Business Men’s League laid out the argument for the park as “a memorial to the historic events and heroic deeds of the Atlanta campaign.”
The U.S. Army preserved some of the battlefields shortly after the Civil War, according to Charlie Crawford of the Georgia Battlefields Association. This was followed by formal legislation to establish national military parks in the 1890s with great success including Chickamauga in North Georgia, Shiloh in Tennessee and Vicksburg in Mississippi.
At the time, the Atlanta Business Men’s League estimated the cost for the 1.5-square mile park in Buckhead averaged $122 an acre, making the acquisition price roughly $155,000. The bill requested an appropriation of $300,000 for the Atlanta National Military Park. Some in the Georgia delegation, however, preferred Kennesaw Mountain, a battle the Confederates won, Crawford said, which ultimately came to pass.
I would argue a vast majority of the commuters and residents in Buckhead are unaware of the fact that they are regularly traversing a battlefield as they commute up and down Peachtree Road, making their way through Collier Hills, Springlake, Haynes Manor and Brookwood Hills. There are historic markers and monuments, but they are difficult to read at 35 mph.
A national military park would have gone a long way toward changing that, but Buckhead and even Atlanta would not have been the same.
Thornton Kennedy is a fifth-generation Buckhead resident. He can be reached at email@example.com.