The weather has been nice, so my friend and I took a stroll through the battlefield. She lives near the park, so we took a shortcut through the woods to get to the trails, following what she told me were actual trenches left from the Civil War. She says they’ll still find old bullets and war memorabilia there from time to time. I couldn’t resist hopping down into the pit to see how it felt to be entrenched.
The 2,923-acre battlefield includes the site of some of the heaviest fighting of Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign during the Civil War. The park contains 17.3 miles of hiking trails that wind through historic earthworks, cannon emplacements, and historic markers.
Along the Cheatham Hill Loop Trail, you’ll come across the grave of the unknown soldier. It’s a simple grave surrounded by split-rail fencing and covered with rocks. The soldier was discovered when the trails were being enhanced in 1938. The soldier was reburied, fenced off, and a traditional veteran’s headstone was placed on top of the grave.
As we walked, my friend told me a story she had heard of another body found in the park. An ambitious hiker had set forth off the trail to pave his own way deep into the woods when he came upon a skeleton from the Civil War era hanging from a tree.
Further along the loop, you’ll come to Cheatham Hill. A monument to Illinois soldiers sits atop the hill where the Confederate line came to a bend at what is referred to as The Dead Angle. The battle resulted in 3000 casualties for the Union side and fewer than 1000 for the Confederate side. At the Dead Angle, Union Col. Daniel McCook’s brigade lost 307 men, most of whom were from Illinois. Survivors from the brigade bought 60 acres of land here in 1899 and donated it to the state of Illinois for a monument, which was dedicated on the 50th anniversary of the battle.
Although the battle at Kennesaw Mountain resulted in a Confederate victory, Sherman went on to capture Atlanta in the following days.
While we walked back, my friend was haunted by a mysterious popping noise. “Is your shoe popping?” she asked. When I gave her a confused look, she explained, “I keep hearing something like someone’s coming up behind us, but when I turn to look, no one’s there.”
“Maybe we’re being haunted by that hanged man or a bunch of soldiers. But yeah, it’s just my shoe.”
Tell me your hiking adventures in the comments!