(Whitfield County, Ga.) - The Civil War Trust today announced the successful conclusion of a national campaign to preserve 301 acres of the Rocky Face Ridge battlefield in Georgia. With this addition, the Trust has helped save 926 acres at Rocky Face Ridge, an important early battle in the four-month campaign that determined the fate of Atlanta during the American Civil War. In addition to playing a critical role in the May 1864 Battle of Rocky Face Ridge, the property also witnessed fighting during the February 1864 Battle of Dalton.
“This acquisition is one of the most important pieces of land we have ever saved in Georgia, and is one of those priceless few places where not one but two Civil War battles were fought on the same hallowed ground,” remarked Trust President James Lighthizer.
The land – which features a continuous entrenchment more than 2,000 feet long, as well as pristine earthworks – will eventually be transferred to the Whitfield County park system, and connect with a 625-acre tract already owned by the county. The transfer will create a seamless interpretive experience, giving visitors a greater understanding of both the battle and the movements of the opposing armies during the opening days of the decisive Atlanta campaign.
“This addition to the county’s open space and preserved land is a remarkable asset for the community,” said Mike Babb, chairman of the Whitfield County Commissioners. “The partners and organizations involved in this success have contributed a hugely significant historic destination and outdoor classroom to the region.”
The site was purchased for $1.38 million using a grant from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program, along with private donations by Trust members. Generous contributions and partnerships were provided by organizations including the Lyndhurst and Riverview Foundations, Dalton Utilities, Whitfield County, the Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia, and Save the Dalton Battlefields, as well as the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Georgia Piedmont Land Trust.
On May 4, 1864, Union Gen. William T. Sherman led 100,000 men into northwest Georgia with the single purpose to destroy the defending Army of Tennessee camped at Rocky Face Ridge. Instead of a head-on assault, Sherman ordered one quarter of his men to strike a railhead at Resaca, cutting the Confederate supply line, while the rest of his forces acted as a diversion. The fighting began in earnest on May 7, with Union columns pressing toward Mill Creek and Dug Gap. Hurling rocks when they ran out of ammunition, the deeply dug-in Confederates held their position, and the Federals moved to meet southern forces at nearby Resaca.
The Civil War Trust is the largest and most effective nonprofit organization devoted to the preservation of America’s hallowed battlegrounds. Although primarily focused on the protection of Civil War battlefields, the Trust also seeks to save the battlefields connected to the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 through its Campaign 1776 initiative. To date, the Trust has preserved more than 43,000 acres of battlefield land in 23 states, including 2,200 acres in Georgia.
The Civil War Preservation Trust became the Civil War Trust in January 2011; the Civil War Trust became a division of the American Battlefield Trust in May 2018. Campaign 1776 was created in 2014 as an initiative of the Civil War Trust; in May 2018 it became the Revolutionary War Trust, a division of the American Battlefield Trust.