Atlanta History: The Civil War Legacy, Fact and Fiction 1861-1865
Most visitors know about the burning of Atlanta during the Civil War, thanks to Gone with the Wind. In this itinerary, explore attractions dedicated to the history of the Civil War.
Itinerary tools: A car will be needed for this itinerary, as well as a good map of the city. Maps are available for free in the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau Visitor Centers at Underground Atlanta and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and at local hotel concierges.
Day One: Atlanta and the Civil War
Start the day in Buckhead, an upscale community 15 minutes north of downtown Atlanta at the Atlanta History Center with the exhibition, "Turning Point: The American Civil War." One of the nation's largest and most comprehensive exhibitions about the Civil War, explore more than 1,400 objects such as cannons, uniforms and flags. Photos and personal stories show the impact of the war on the South's people, along with videos and touch-screen computer stations.
Travel to Grant Park and picnic among the 131 acres, where beautiful Victorian homes line the streets. Home to Zoo Atlanta and the Atlanta Cyclorama and Museum, this is the oldest surviving city park in Atlanta, donated to the city by Lemuel P. Grant in 1883.
Enjoy the Atlanta Cyclorama and Museum. The 1864 Civil War Battle of Atlanta literally revolves around visitors in this immense painting in the round, completed in 1886. The Atlanta Cyclorama has been on display in Atlanta since 1893 and is the longest running show in the United States, as well as the largest oil painting in the world.
The museum features the locomotive Texas. On April 12, 1862, the Texas chased and recaptured the locomotive General, stolen by Union raiders. Two floors of Civil War artifacts, weapons, photographs, uniforms and videos are also on display. (To find The General, visit the Kennesaw Mountain Civil War Museum on Day Two).
While the city of Atlanta doesn't have many preserved battlefields, portions of the Battle of Atlanta sites are still preserved. See beautiful mansions on what was once a bloody battlefield, as well as modern-day Atlanta landmarks. The tour should take about 45 minutes with no stops. Map of Inman Park.
- Turn right onto Cherokee Avenue from the Zoo/Cyclorama parking lot.
- Turn left onto Orleans Street.
- Turn right onto Grant Avenue.
- Turn left on St. Paul Avenue.
Drive by the Lemuel P. Grant Mansion at 327 St. Paul Avenue. It has been said that the 1857 Italianate mansion was spared by General Sherman in 1864 because Federal soldiers found a Masonic apron in a trunk in the attic, and Sherman forbade the burning of things connected with the Masons. Grant joined the Confederate Army in 1862 and as chief engineer, designed the defense fortifications for the city.
Grant donated the land for Grant Park, and was recognized as one of Atlanta's best friends by The Atlanta Journal. The mansion was also the birthplace of golf legend Bobby Jones and at one time owned by Gone with the Wind author Margaret Mitchell. Saved by the Atlanta Preservation Center in 2001.
- Return to Cherokee Avenue and turn left.
- Take Cherokee until it ends into Oakland Cemetery. You may drive on the main driveways through Oakland, or turn left on Memorial Drive and turn right on Oakland Avenue to park along the curb.
Oakland Cemetery Established in 1850, Atlanta's oldest cemetery is a fine example of Victorian statuary. The 88-acre cemetery holds the final resting place of five Confederate generals, nearly 3,000 Confederate and 16 Union soldiers and the grave of Gone with the Wind writer Margaret Mitchell. Several walking tours are available at the Visitor Center. Visitors are encouraged to use the cemetery as a community park, so feel free to stroll the acres.
- From Oakland Avenue, turn left on Memorial Drive.
- Turn left on Boulevard. Pass by Agave on the right, a Southwestern eatery (see below). This is the area called Cabbagetown, one of Atlanta's oldest industrial settlements built for employees of the South's first cotton processing mill, the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill. The mill has been converted into gated lofts and new residents include an interesting artistic scene.
- Take Boulevard to Edgewood Avenue.
- Turn right on Edgewood. This is the neighborhood of Inman Park.
Inman Park, a former Civil War battlefield
On July 22, 1864, some of the bloodiest fighting in the Battle of Atlanta took place in this now-peaceful neighborhood. After the Civil War, Inman Park became Atlanta's first planned community and one of the nation's first garden suburbs. Enjoy viewing beautiful Victorian homes including Callan Castle at the corner of Elizabeth Street and Euclid Avenue, built in 1905 by Coca-Cola magnate, Asa Candler.
- Turn left on Elizabeth Street. Travel down Elizabeth Street to North Highland Avenue.
- Turn right on North Highland.
- Turn left on Freedom Parkway, which will lead to the Carter Center. Park in the parking lot on the east end.
Historic Battlefield Markers
Discover battlefields during the Battle of Atlanta through markers placed in part by the Atlanta Preservation Center. See the markers two ways (the map is especially handy for this part):
- From the parking lot, walk across Freedom Parkway to the PATH Trail to see the first sign, north of the intersection of North Highland Avenue and Carmel Avenue. The second sign is south of the intersection of Austin Avenue and Sinclair Avenue, on the PATH Trail.
- Or, park on Austin Avenue to see the second sign, south of the intersection of Austin Avenue and Sinclair Avenue, on the PATH Trail. Follow the PATH trail up the hill toward the Carter Center to see the other sign north of the intersection of North Highland Avenue and Carmel Avenue. Pause at the Carter Center, where the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum is also located. On July 22, 1864, General Sherman used Augustus Hurt's home on Copenhill (where the Carter Center is now located) as his headquarters. It is said that Sherman sat on this hill and watched the city burn.
Insider's Tip: The corner of Boulevard and Freedom Parkway provides one of the greatest views of the downtown skyline.
What is the PATH Trail, anyway?
The PATH Trail is a metro wide trail system. Several walking and jogging trails connect parts of the city and more are being constructed. The particular portion referred to above is the Stone Mountain Trail, which is an 18-mile trail connecting Georgia Tech to Stone Mountain Park. To date, more than 12 miles have been completed so far.
- Six Feet Under: Dine on burgers, shrimp tacos and salads while over looking Historic Oakland Cemetery.
- For delicious southwestern cuisine, visit Agave in Cabbagetown. There were a few Civil War battles fought in New Mexico, so you can stay within your theme.
Day Two: Around Atlanta
Stone Mountain Park
Emblazoned on the world's largest exposed piece of granite, Stone Mountain, are the faces of Confederate heroes Robert E. Lee, "Stonewall" Jackson and Jefferson Davis. Also in the park is the antebellum plantation, comprised of original buildings built between 1790 and 1845, which represent an authentic, pre-Civil War Georgia plantation.
Mary Mac's Tea Room is an Atlanta tradition with Southern favorites like fried chicken, salmon croquettes and barbeque fit for a Twelve Oaks party.
Insider Tip: First-timers receive a bowl of complimentary pot likker and cornbread, so be sure to let your server know.
The town of Historic Jonesboro saw bitter Civil War battles, including the 1864 Battle of Jonesboro, which ultimately resulted in the fall of Atlanta. Fictional book scenes were set in Jonesboro and Clayton County. Jonesboro is about 30 minutes south of Atlanta.
You will see:
- Road To Tara Museum & Gift Shop: Original props, costume reproductions, plate and doll collections and a photo gallery offer a glimpse into the book and movie.
- Patrick R. Cleburne Confederate Memorial Cemetery: The final resting place of Confederate soldiers who fell during the Battle of Jonesboro.
- Stately Oaks Historic Home: Built in 1839, this Greek Revival plantation stands among authentic outbuildings.
- Gone With The Wind - The Tour offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the true stories behind Gone With The Wind.
For more information, please contact the Clayton County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
PittyPat's Porch, established in 1967, this downtown restaurant is decorated with unique memorabilia from the film, including original photographs, letters and sketches from the movie and book. Hostesses in hoop skirts serve mint juleps to customers leisurely rocking on the porch, overlooking the main dining room. The menu reflects the cooking styles of many Southern cities, from Charleston to Baton Rouge.
Day Three: Historic Towns Outside Atlanta
Visit one of the outlying areas that have historic Civil War connections. The cities of Marietta and Roswell are about 40-45 minutes north from downtown Atlanta and about 30 minutes apart from each other.
Although there's enough to do for most of the day in both cities, both can be visited in a very busy day.
Historic Marietta started as a retreat for wealthy coastal planters, and some of their historic homes still remain from the Civil War era. Now, Marietta boasts a charming square surrounded by unique shops and renovated homes, attracting visitors year round.
- Continue your Gone with the Wind journey at the Marietta Gone with the Wind Museum , featuring the original honeymoon gown worn by Vivien Leigh in the movie, Margaret Mitchell's personal volumes of the novel, and a display dedicated to the African-American cast.
- Marietta National Cemetery, where more than 10,000 Union soldiers are buried.
- The Confederate Cemetery, the largest confederate cemetery in Georgia.
- Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, where The Confederate Army soundly defeated the Union Army on June 27, 1864 in The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. The General locomotive is located here. (see the Atlanta Cyclorama on Day 1)
To plan a visit, please contact the Marietta Welcome Center & Visitor Bureau.
In the 1800s, Roswell was a village centered around the area mills which supplied clothing to Confederate soldiers. Battles erupted in this area during the war on Sherman's march to Atlanta. Now, antebellum homes have been restored and transformed into special events facilities, galleries line the area of Canton Street, and quaint restaurants add up to an enjoyable afternoon.
- Bulloch Hall, an example of pre-Civil War Greek revival architecture. Built in 1840, this was the childhood home of Mittie Bulloch, the mother of President Theodore Roosevelt.
- Smith Plantation Home, an 1845 antebellum home with still-working outbuildings including a cookhouse, carriage house, springhouse, barn and slave cabin.
- Stop by the Roswell Visitors Center at 617 Atlanta Street for more information. A self-guided walking tour of the area is available.
To visit historic Roswell, contact the Roswell Convention & Visitors Bureau.
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