28 March 2006 by Published in: Battlefield preservation 4 comments

Loyal reader Russ Bonds passed this tidbit along. Thanks to Russ for bringing it to my attention.

I found this to be one of the most appalling, inconceivable things I’ve seen in a long time.

Present is worst of times for historical markers
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 03/27/06
All that’s left of the historic marker at the site where Atlanta surrendered to Union Gen. William T. Sherman’s army is a broken post that bows toward the ground.

The actual marker was knocked off the post by a truck last summer, and the state doesn’t have $300 to fix it.

“The problem is we don’t have a marker shop to repair or replace it,” said Linda Moye, who oversees monuments and signs at the state Department of Natural Resources. “We had a budget cut a few years ago so we don’t have a marker shop, and there’s no money in the budget for repairs.”

Moye said that up to 50 historic markers across the state are missing or have been taken down for maintenance. Several were in the repair shop when the money ran out and are still there. The state files insurance claims when it knows the driver or vehicle that damages a marker, but most times the signs are victims of hit-and-run accidents. Just in Fulton County, 10 markers are down, and the reasons for their demise vary, Moye said.

Some historic markers could disappear and few people would care. The Surrender of Atlanta sign isn’t one of them.

“This marked the site of a vital part of our history,” said Sen. George Hooks (D-Americus), one of the Legislature’s leading historians. “It marked the place that was the turning point of the War Between the States.”

Jim Bruns, president of the Atlanta History Center, noted the irony in the marker coming down just as the history center is acquiring 50 Special Field Orders that Sherman penned during the Battle of Atlanta, plus two written by his aides. The orders show Sherman’s determination in his campaign to capture and destroy one of the Confederacy’s largest cities. The lack of a marker will make it challenging to find the site of Atlanta’s surrender.

“But the real shame is that as we’re trying to develop collections and promote Civil War interpretation and tourism throughout Georgia, our battlefields are spread all over the state and these historic markers are an integral part of what we’re trying to promote,” Bruns said.

“Sherman’s March to the Sea was a progression, and trying to follow it without signs would be like going to the Pacific Northwest and trying to follow Lewis and Clark without any signs,” Bruns said. “You wouldn’t be able to appreciate the significance of where they were and what they were trying to do.”

The Surrender of Atlanta marker was erected in 1982 by the state Department of Natural Resources. It stood at the intersection of Marietta Street and Northside Drive, a few blocks west of the Georgia Aquarium. The sign presented a snapshot of the events of Sept. 2, 1864.

“General Hood … and the Georgia Militia abandoned the city, Sept. 1, as a result of Hardees’s defeat at Jonesboro August 31, and marched S. to Lovejoy’s Station. Federal forces at Chattahoochee River Crossings since Aug. 25, suspecting the evacuation of the city on hearing loud explosions, sent forward a reconnaissance to investigate.

“At this point it met Mayor James M. Calhoun with a committee, who tendered the surrender of the city, asking protection for citizens and property. Col. John Coburn [and] vice Maj. Gen. H.W. Slocum … received the surrender.”

Sherman’s field orders make it clear that he never intended to camp in Atlanta or garrison the city, Bruns said. So Sherman ordered the city destroyed. The field orders are to go on display by September at the Atlanta History Center, although Bruns is seeking $60,000 for the final payment.

A MARTA bus reportedly hit a sign in Fulton County that marked the Montgomery-DeFoor House site, which was a 1,000-acre farm owned sequentially by two men who ran ferries across the Chattahoochee River. Two roads were named for them. The state can’t file an insurance claim because no one got the number of the bus, Moye said.

Someone stole and tried to sell to a recycling company a marker of the Battle of Ezra Church, Right of 15 Corps, Moye said. It marked a failed assault by Confederate forces west of downtown Atlanta.

The fate of the Surrender of Atlanta marker is unclear. It’s now in a private storeroom because state parks workers are too busy to retrieve it and Moye said she’s too small to hoist the 70-pound sign into her car. Hooks, the senator, said he’ll make a few inquiries.

Bruns, of Atlanta History Center, reached for his wallet.

“If the state needs $300 to put it back up, I’ll pay,” Bruns said.

The fall of Atlanta is often considered to be THE decisive moment that guaranteed the re-election of Abraham Lincoln in the fall of 1864. Obviously, the site where that occurred is a critical spot, obviously well worthy of interpretation and being marked. The marker itself obviously already exists. So, we’re talking about a lousy $300 to replace the pole.

Is the State of Georgia REALLY that poor?

Scridb filter


  1. Dave Smith
    Tue 28th Mar 2006 at 1:13 pm

    Of course they’re not that poor. They simply choose to be.


  2. Lee White
    Tue 28th Mar 2006 at 11:18 pm

    Its the sorry leadership that Georgia has had for the last two governors. The State Park service is a mess as well. A number of the State markers are either damaged or gone, and nothing is being done about it. The State bought about 600 acres of the Resaca battlefield and it still isnt open to visitation. Georgia has money, I pay enough taxes to it.

  3. Wed 29th Mar 2006 at 12:30 pm

    This is an outrage Eric. And not that difficult to remedy. Here in Fredericksburg they stay on top of this very well. I live just up the road from the Jackson Shrine and Stonewall’s ambulance route literally runs adjacent to my son’s high school (Massaponax High School) parking lot. The Civil War Trails tours run all throughout the area and there are an abundance of road-side NPS monument signs. There are 3 markers at the entrance to the school and one of them was knocked over (I believe one acknowledging a Federal Raid that took place just up from the Po River.) Within a day (or two) they had a crew out there repairing and remounting the sign. It was great to see that someone had the initiative to report it, and for the Parks Service to repair it in such an expedient manner. How can we fight to acquire and protect our hallowed grounds – if we can’t even take care of the ones we have?

  4. Barry Summers
    Wed 29th Mar 2006 at 12:40 pm

    They got the money not the want to. Every state has its pri-are-a-tees. This an’t one of GA’s. Sad but that is the way it is.

    To me, this would be one of those places where a state oked foundation would be something to look at. Send a email out to Lee, me and any one else that we need $300 bucks to fix x marker. I say no, Lee sends $50 and so forth. Foundation name is Concerned Against Smashing History and make you checks out to C.A.S.H


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