The project is part of an effort to raise awareness about Civil War battlefields across the country, focusing particularly on those that lack the fame of places such as Gettysburg.
The 150th anniversary of the war has led to renewed interest in preserving the battlefields and protecting them from development, said Mary Koik, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based Civil War Trust.
In Atlanta, virtually all of the ground where the Battle of Atlanta was fought has been covered up by office buildings, commuter train stations and freeways.
Granville Automatic partnered with the trust to produce a collection of songs about Civil War history across the nation. In “Copenhill,” the song about the Atlanta battle, lyrics recall how the city was burned by Union Gen. William T. Sherman’s federal army: “Burn, burn, burn till the flames hit the sky ...”
Sherman looked down on the fighting from a hill — Copenhill — that’s now part of the Carter Center, which houses former President Jimmy Carter’s library and museum, said Bill Drummond, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
The music video was filmed in the Edgewood shopping center in east Atlanta. The stores were built on land that was a central part of the battle, and the area is depicted in Atlanta’s Cyclorama painting depicting a giant panoramic view of the fighting, Drummond said. He has used modern-day mapping technology to learn more about where the fighting took place.
In Virginia, the Civil War Trust this month began one of its largest fundraising efforts to acquire and protect a key part of the Brandy Station Battlefield in Virginia, where 20,000 soldiers and their horses clashed. The group already has protected more than 1,800 acres at Brandy Station and opened an interpretive trail of the battlefield, and they’re now trying to raise $3.6 million to preserve 56 acres of Fleetwood Hill.
“This unpretentious little ridge has seen more military activity than any other piece of ground in American history,” historian Clark Hall said in helping to announce the fundraising effort.
Similar efforts to acquire and protect land are underway at Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg and three battlefields near Richmond in Virginia, as well as Vicksburg in Mississippi.
In a Nashville, Tenn., suburb, a pizza restaurant has covered the ground where some of the most vicious fighting in the war took place during the Battle of Franklin. Some historians consider it the last major battle of the Civil War. Soldiers fought with shovels, bayonets, sabers and pistols in a garden during the bloody battle in the town that’s now home to many of country music’s biggest stars.
The Civil War Trust and a local group, Franklin’s Charge, raised more than $3.2 million to purchase seven acres of the former battlefield. Their plan is to clear the structures and open a park there by November of 2014, the sesquicentennial of the Battle of Franklin.
“At Franklin, it’s a story of literally reclaiming the battlefield from development that happened decades ago,” Koik said.
Unless these Civil War sites are acquired and protected from development, many of them will be paved over to make way for new highways, homes and businesses, Koik said.
“People assume that all of these battlefields that are historically significant are protected already, and that just isn’t the case,” she said.
“Our grandparents could not imagine the mini-malls and the housing subdivisions that we have today.”