Kennesaw Battlefield National Park

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Convergence has been on my mind lately, namely how a wide variety of either good or bad things, but not both, seem to converge at once.  The positive are far more frequent than the negative, such as this past weekend.  Let’s look at the elements in play:

1) Weather. We begin with an absolutely beautiful day of clear blue skies, 75o temperatures, and the crispness of autumn light.

2) Football.  I love college football.  I’m also a fair-weathered friend, and watching my Clemson Tigers fold against inferior competition drives me crazy.  Clemson played Maryland on TV, a team that we have a habit of underwhelming.  Should I invest 3.5 hours to watch the latest disappointment?

3) Spousal Imperative.  As opposed to the typical lazy Saturday, my wife suggested we actually leave the house (horrors!) and enjoy the fall weather, such as a hike.  What nerve.

4) Photography.  I have a decent camera.  Can it be used for something other than DragonCon parades?  It is, actually, fun to play with, even though like X-Box controllers, there are far too many buttons.

5) Area event.  An all day “Air Show” was being held in Marietta, featuring the Blue Angels and other acrobats of the air.  With over 100,000 people expected, it’s not a traffic situation that I would seek.  I think.  But there’s a curiosity.  I mean, they’re really fast planes that do really cool things.

6) History.  This is a subject that takes effort, either by reading or listening.  TV documentaries and historical based fiction makes history enjoyable, at times.  Textbooks or Ph.D dissertations do not.  As a topic, it might equate to dark matter – invisible yet possessing substance.  I do my best to ignore it, but it’s there and unavoidable.  Somewhat closer to home than the cosmos, I’ve driven around Kennesaw Mountain many times, but never actually been to the Civil War Battlefield.

Convergence.

Well, the title obviously gives this away, but my wife and I hiked the mile or so to the top of Kennesaw Mountain, after viewing the museum exhibits and a short documentary at its base.

Not much to look at...

June 27, 1864 was a miserable day, preceded and followed by others just like it.  Even with only artist depictions based on first hand reports, warfare startles, amazes, humbles, and disappoints.  It’s just hard to imagine what soldiers do, whether at Kennesaw, at Normandy, or the mountains of Afghanistan.  The battle was considered a victory for the Confederacy, but only because they didn’t lose directly.  Afterwards, Sherman just went around Kennesaw and thereby forced a Confederate retreat to defend Atlanta.

Regarding the factors that led us to this hike, I’ll comment in order.

1) Beautiful, beautiful weather.  I would add that any single person should take their own dog, or borrow a neighbor’s, and go for a hike at Kennesaw.  The site must be listed on a Singles’ Top 5 list for outdoor activities for the athletic and attractive. 

2) Clemson won.  DVR for the win.

3) The paths are well worn and covered with crushed rock in most areas.  Yet, there are enough steep parts, protruding roots, and outcropped rocks to qualify as a “hike” rather than a walk.  Going up the mountain (700’ rise) definitely qualifies as exercise, varying upon one’s pace.  It’s a very pleasant wooded environment, and the paths are wide enough for people to pass, as well as benches to rest as needed.

4) Kennesaw is not a (photo) target rich environment at the main entrance and while hiking the mountain.  There are two other major park areas that we did not visit which likely offer more. 

Obligatory Cannon at the Park Entrance

Life at Smog Altitude

A tree atop the mountain

5. The viewing of the air show was not as good as I had hoped.  The Air Force Base being used was approx. 1.5 miles away, and, all things considered, airplanes are hard to see at that distance.  Still, there was a crowd that gathered, much like watching fireworks in the distance.  Thank you, vapor trails. 

Air Show

 Atlanta in the background

6) There remains very little of “historic note” to observe directly at this site.  However, at the top of the mountain, after what must have been considerable industrious labor to move cannons, are original embankments where the cannon were placed, such as the below.

Embankment

As far as I could determine, the battles occurred primarily on the flat ground at the base of Kennesaw Mountain, or on a smaller hill adjacent.  So, what do cannon accomplish at this height?  Consider the primitive aiming mechanisms and lack of smart weapons.

Aim a bit more to the left!  There, that'll get 'em.

I was not the first to ask this, obviously.

Not accurate, but could be fun to shoot.

The fine print, despite the artwork, basically says they were thunderous and inflicted little damage.

6) The Civil War remains “a big deal” in the South.  There are very serious students of history and warfare who are fanatics, and there are those that, for better or worse, imagine that life was better then or attribute their difficulties in life today as a consequence of the disadvantages the Confederates had back then.  I’ve never had a particular interest in Yankees and Rebels and all that surrounds that conspicuous element of Southron culture.  Yet, some years ago, an impulsive trip to Andersonville was far more instructive and introspective than I would ever have anticipated.  It carved a small opening into the giant world of “things possibly entertaining.”

The museum exhibit detailed the major skirmishes as General William T. Sherman chased Confederate General Joe Johnston from Chattanooga, TN south to Kennesaw.  As expected, there are relics from the era on display, as well as histories of the State armies involved, the factories that produced their munitions and supplies, the similarities and bonds of soldiers on opposing sides, the political necessity of Union advancement for Lincoln, and other matters.

It’s a worthwhile visit even for those casually interested.

“The success of an army is but a reflection of the skill, leadership, courage and inspiration of the generals.”  Unattributed – monument marker atop Kennesaw Mountain.

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