GBA logo

Georgia Battlefields Association

Endangered Sites

Because of our relationship with Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT), a national preservation organization, Georgia Battlefields Association (GBA) is asked to nominate Georgia sites for inclusion on CWPT's annual endangered battlefield list, released every February. GBA has been successful in nominating sites for both the Ten Most Endangered list and the At Risk list each year since 2002.

On 28 February, the Civil War Preservation Trust announced its endangered site list.  GBA's nomination of the Chattahoochee River Line was accepted as one of the ten most endangered sites, and Kennesaw Mountain remains as one of ten at-risk sites.

Significance of the River Line
On 18 June 1864, the Confederate Army of Tennessee was about to withdraw from the Mud Creek-Brushy Mountain Line to the Kennesaw Mountain Line. On that date, the chief of artillery, Brigadier General Francis Shoup, approached the Army commander, General Joseph E. Johnston, about building a defense line on the north bank of the Chattahoochee River to which the Army might withdraw if the pattern of Federal flanking maneuvers continued. Shoup envisioned a line so strong that it would deter any assault and so efficient that it might be held by part of the Army while a substantial force struck any Federal bridgehead attempted above or below that section of the river. Johnston approved the proposal, and Shoup and the staff engineers conscripted slaves from the Atlanta-area plantations to construct a unique set of fortifications over the next two weeks.

From above, Shoup’s design appeared as a saw blade: At the point of each tooth was an infantry fort intended to hold 80 men. The arrowhead shape of the fort would allow its defenders to shoot to the left, right, or front. Each fort would have log walls inside and out and a fill of dirt in between. The outer wall would rise above the inner to form a firing platform for the riflemen. Depending on topography, the forts would be 14 to 20 feet high.

Connecting the forts would be an infantry trench, but rather than running directly between the forts, the trench would recede from each fort to form an angle, where an artillery redan would hold a two-gun section. Any attacking force would be channeled by fire from the forts towards the recessed angle, where artillery fire would sweep the ground.

After the 27 June 1864 Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, Federal forces threatened to outflank the Confederate left, leading Johnston to withdraw early on 3 July to a temporary line near Smyrna and late on 4 July to the unique fortifications designed by Shoup and subsequently called Johnston’s River Line. As they occupied the strange structures, many Confederates were skeptical of the design and even began modifying the line into something more conventional; but highly regarded division commander Maj Gen Patrick Cleburne judged the works to be excellent. Major General G.W. Smith remarked that the design would make Shoup famous and dubbed the forts “Shoupades.”

On the morning of 5 July 1864, Federal Major General William T. Sherman observed Johnston’s River Line and later wrote: “It was one of the strongest pieces of field fortifications I ever saw.” Sherman declined to attack the works and determined to cross the Chattahoochee River to the northeast, but he had two of his armies pin the Confederates inside the fortifications. Federal troops constructed trenches and battery positions opposing the Confederate works. The opponents engaged in daily artillery duels, with some points of the Confederate Line receiving hundreds of rounds from the Federal guns. The Federals established bridgeheads upriver on 8 and 9 July, and Johnston pulled his troops across the Chattahoochee River on the night of 9-10 July. Johnston’s withdrawal from a line he himself had claimed could be held for a month led to his dismissal from command.

Current status of the site
As late as the 1950s, a person could walk the length of the Confederate and Federal lines. Now, housing and commercial development has destroyed most of both. The earthen remains of only 9 of the original 36 Shoupades are identifiable: most are damaged, and many are threatened.

For the Confederate Line, Cobb County owns a 100 acre parcel (the largest relating to the site) containing dozens of yards of infantry trench, one Shoupade, and a 7-gun fort that anchored the left (southwestern) end of the line. The other 8 Shoupades are on privately owned parcels of 1 to 3 acres and sometimes sit in the yards of houses.

The Fort Drive area is a special section of the Confederate Line. Fort Drive got its name from its proximity to five Shoupades along its half mile length. One Shoupade was destroyed in the 1950s to improve the front yard of a house, and the associated artillery redan was flattened for a pasture. Another property owner bulldozed a Shoupade in the early 1990s because he feared its historic value would restrict his ability to use the land as he wished. Three Shoupades (one third of the total still existing) and the only surviving artillery redan remain along Fort Drive, with one Shoupade being against the fence for I-285.

The Federal line exists in at least 7 parcels: Three contain trench line and range from 3 to 20 acres. Four contain remnants of battery sites and are on parcels of 1 to 20 acres.

Rifle pits in front of both lines are numerous (at least in the dozens), and some are probably yet to be identified on the tangled and sometimes steep terrain.

In 2000, two Shoupades were intentionally bulldozed by an owner who didn’t want any impediment to development of his property.

In October 2003, a Federal artillery battery site was bulldozed for a shopping center parking lot.

Early in 2004, a section of Federal trench was filled in for a new housing development.

In January 2004, the Smyrna City Council approved rezoning for a housing development after the developer agreed to fence off and preserve a Shoupade. While the Shoupade was saved, the view will now be houses rather than woods and fields.

Also in January 2004, a developer incorporated preservation of Confederate rifle pits into a plan for new housing, though other rifle pits and trenches will be destroyed.

In June 2004, Cobb County used its remaining Greenspace Program funds to save a section of Federal trench near a creek and pipeline.

In July 2005, an area along Fort Drive containing two Shoupades and the last artillery redan was rezoned for a development that will contain over 100 detached houses and townhouses. While the Shoupades are to be saved by the developer, the view will be of the walls of houses.

Land in this area of Cobb County sells for up to $400,000 per acre.

Click on the images to view a larger copy of the photograph.

Shoupades Shoupades

Westernmost of two Shoupades affected by pending development. In a year or so, this view will show a parking lot and a dozen townhouses.

Shoupade now in the side yard of a house built in the 1950s. The single home (partly visible through trees to the left) is to be replaced by 8 houses.


Shoupade is at upper left of photo. Rezoning notices (July 2005) are at lower right. Rezoning will affect two of the three remaining Shoupades along Fort Drive. Road will be straightened through the land in left foreground, grading away site of another Shoupade.


Kennesaw Mountain is one of the top Ten Most Endangered sites and "The Hell Hole" area of Paulding County has been recategorized as an AT RISK site.

Kolb Farm Markers Hays Farm

The view northwest from Kennesaw Mountain was a sea of green as recently as twenty years ago. Now, it is a sea of rooftops.

This view of the Hays Farm west of the park was taken in early 2004, shortly before grading began for a housing development.

Wallis House Kolb Farm Markers

The Wallis House, both headquarters and hospital during the fighting around Kennesaw Mountain, was saved in 2004 by Cobb County with help from the Georgia Civil War Commission. It is barely visible behind the sign for the new houses that will abut the property on the west and north.

The Kolb Farm, site of a battle on 22 June 1864, now sits on a very busy intersection. Traffic through the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park diminishes the site's integrity


For 2004, GBA successfully nominated "The Hell Hole" area of Paulding County for the Ten Most Endangered sites list.

In late May 1864, Federal armies under Major General William T. Sherman sought to get around the strong Confederate defenses anchored on Allatoona Pass. The Union forces crossed the Etowah River west of Allatoona and plunged into the wilderness that was then Paulding County. The resulting battles at New Hope Church (25 May), Pickett's Mill (27 May), and Dallas (28 May), the miserably wet weather, the tangled terrain, and the nearly continuous shelling and sniping caused those who lived through the action to call this area "The Hell Hole."

In the last decade, Paulding County has increasingly become a suburb of Atlanta. A July 2003 report by the U.S. Census Bureau indicated Paulding County led the state in percentage of new housing constructed (7.7%) and ranked fourth in the entire nation. While Pickett's Mill State Historic Site protects 750 acres of core battlefield, trenches immediately outside the Site have been bulldozed in the last five years (see photo). Although GBA owns 4 acres and the Atlanta History Center owns 14 acres of historic ground near New Hope Church, a new shopping center and road construction continue to alter the appearance of the principal site (see photo). Near Dallas, 20 acres containing Orphan Brigade trenches were saved through intervention by developer Ken Hardy and the City and County governments, but housing and road construction has destroyed other earthworks (see photo). Near both New Hope Church and Dallas, well-preserved earthworks-including two artillery sites-are in private hands and remain vulnerable.

GBA is working with Friends of Civil War Paulding County to publicize the threat to these sites.

Picket's Mill

While the core of the Pickett's Mill battlefield is saved as a state historic site, the Confederate earthworks that ran from Pickett's Mill to New Hope Church and on to Dallas continue to suffer damage. These houses, built within the last five years, obliterated the trench line as it exited from the park.

New Hope

Major redesign of the intersection at New Hope Church occurred early in 2003, further changing the character of the site. The gray building in the distance is part of a shopping center under construction at the new intersection.

For the 2004 At Risk list, GBA nominated two sites: Brown's Mill and the River Line. For both sites, residential and commercial construction associated with Atlanta's growth is bringing renewed danger, as shown in the accompanying photos. CWPT chose Brown's Mill.

Brown's Mill was the site of a 31 July 1864 cavalry battle about three miles south of Newnan. Confederate Major General Joe Wheeler led his cavalry in perhaps its best performance, breaking up Federal Brigadier General Edward McCook's command. To save Brown's Mill, GBA is working with the Coweta County Planning Department, the Georgia Civil War Commission, the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society, the Newnan Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and David Evans, the premier historian of Federal cavalry operations during the Atlanta Campaign.

The River Line earthworks in southeastern Cobb County were constructed in June and early July 1864. The Confederate works contained unique fortifications called Shoupades, after their designer, Brigadier General Francis Shoup, the Army of Tennessee's Chief of Artillery. The Federal earthworks opposite the Confederate line were occupied for a week until Federal crossings of the Chattahoochee River farther north caused a Confederate withdrawal. To save these earthworks, GBA is working with the River Line Historic Area, the Georgia Civil War Commission, and Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.

On the web page relating to GBA newsletters, see the August 2003 edition for more information about Brown's Mill and the May 2003 edition for more on the River Line.

While some earthworks remain on private property, the burgeoning development of Dallas as a suburb of Atlanta continues to alter the view. Here, a new post office (to the right) and bank (to the left) sit on the ground charged over by the Kentucky Orphan Brigade during fierce fighting on 28 May 1864.

A single, small monument, erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy early last century, is the only indication that a wild cavalry fight took place near Brown's Mill on 31 July 1864. The related Georgia Historical Commission marker is on the grounds of the Coweta County courthouse in Newnan, three miles north of the actual site.

In the woods behind a housing development are the remnants of the artillery position for the 10th Ohio battery. Several similar sites mark the Federal works that opposed Johnston's River Line. All are threatened by the continuing development of Cobb County. Currently, construction on a grocery store is about to destroy or at least impinge (depending on negotiations with the developer) the emplacements for the 15th Ohio battery.


For 2003, GBA successfully nominated Rocky Face Ridge (South) for the Ten Most Endangered list and The Hell Hole for the At Risk list.

Rocky Face Ridge comprised part of the Confederate line in the first four months of 1864, when General Joseph E. Johnston reorganized and reenergized the Army of Tennessee after the devastating defeat at Missionary Ridge the previous November. When Federal Major General William T. Sherman commenced his campaign into Georgia on 7 May 1864, the bulk of his forces confronted the Confederates on Rocky Face Ridge. While hoping that Major General James B. McPherson's flanking movement through Snake Creek Gap would render a general assault unnecessary, Sherman still ordered attacks against Rocky Face on 8 and 9 May 1864.

People and civic organizations in Northwest Georgia have an admirable record of preserving historic sites. In late 2001, 625 acres of Rocky Face Ridge were saved. Participating in this effort were Whitfield County, City of Dalton, Dalton/Whitfield Chamber of Commerce, Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia, Turner Foundation, Gilder Foundation, Conservation Fund, and National Park Service. See Georgia Battlefields newsletters for November 2001 and January and June 2002.

Mill Creek Gap divides Rocky Face Ridge today as it did in 1864, though I-75 and U.S. 41 now run through the gap. The 625 acres of Rocky Face Ridge saved in 2001 are on the north side of Mill Creek Gap. Confederate trenches on the south side of Mill Creek Gap are owned privately except for Whitfield-Murray Historical Society's "pocket park" at Dug Gap, about four miles south. Local preservationists advise that developers are considering Rocky Face Ridge for luxury homes that would have great views both east and west.

The Hell Hole sites (New Hope Church, Pickett's Mill, and Dallas) in Paulding County were on the At Risk list in 2003 and the Ten Most Endangered list in 2004. See the 2004 entry above for more about The Hell Hole.


For 2002, GBA successfully nominated a Southwest Atlanta site near Utoy Creek for CWPT's Ten Most Endangered list.

In summer 2001, the Georgia Civil War Commission discovered that a developer bought three adjoining parcels of land in southwest Atlanta and intended to build luxury housing on the site. Relic hunters advised that they had been mining the site for years and that it contained trenches from the Civil War.

When historians and preservationists visited the site, they found dozens of yards of discernible earthworks. These were readily related to contemporary maps, which indicated the trenches were built in early August 1864 by the XIV Corps of the Federal Army of the Cumberland. While no fighting occurred on the site, it did contain the corps headquarters for almost two weeks, and it represents the best if not only example of Federal earthworks in the Atlanta area.

The Georgia Civil War Commission began organizing efforts to purchase the site, which benefited from its status as a watershed for Utoy Creek. This made the parcel eligible for city, state, and national funds earmarked for environmental purposes.

People living near the site voiced their support for preserving the parcel as open space. This convinced the relevant city council members to get involved, and the City of Atlanta eventually allocated over $1.5 million from the Georgia Greenspace Program, the Greenway Acquisition Project, and the Quality of Life Improvements Bond. The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation also contributed $1 million. Cascade Partners, the owners and potential developers, also deserve credit for accepting the appraised value of $2.65 million as a fair price.

On 4 December 2002, the City of Atlanta purchased the property. It is now saved from development, though the city is unlikely to be able to spend any money for the site's upkeep.