Friday, August 6, 2010

Just a Hop, Skip Away to See Georgia's Newest Civil War Battlefield

Editor's Note:  Yes, we know.  There are no new Civil War Battlefields in Georgia or anywhere else in the United States as the Civil War did end some 145 years ago.  What we do have, though, is a new National Park Service Designation for a battlefield in neighboring Henry County.

The Nash Farm Battlefield has long been known to have played a pivotal part in Sherman's efforts to change his strategy in the Atlanta campaign.  The history of the Nash Farm Battlefield has been well documented.  To learn more about the events at Nash's Farm and the surrounding battles before the fall of Jonesboro in Clayton Co, we invite you to read more at:

Below is the information released by the Henry County Commissioners on the recent designation by the National Park Service for the Nash Farm Battlefield.  Congrats on a job well done!

National Park Service Designates Nash Farm Battlefield as Core Battlefield Site

The National Park Service (NPS) has designated Nash Farm Battlefield as one of 384 core battlefields in the Civil War.  This is the highest validation a battlefield can receive, and the designation was given upon the completion of the comprehensive Update to the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report on the Nation’s Civil War Battlefields published in June 2010.

In the report, the American Battlefield Preservation Program (ABPP) completely redrew the 1993 boundaries for the Battle of Lovejoy’s Station to provide a more accurate and complete picture of the Federal approach from the northeast toward Lovejoy’s Station, and the Confederate response along the Macon and Western Railroad.  Based on recent archaeological studies by both the LAMAR Institute and the Georgia DOT/Southeastern Archaeological Services team, the core battlefield area was expanded to the east to include fighting at Nash Farm and the rearguard action at Walnut Creek, both in Henry County.*

Dr. David Evans, renowned historian and author of “Sherman’s Horsemen”, called the battle at Nash Farm on August 20, 1864, during which more than 4,500 Union soldiers drew their sabers and violently broke through Confederate lines, “the most desperate, most dramatic cavalry charge of America’s Civil War,” adding that “the stirring events that culminated on this hotly contested field helped shape the course of history.  The fight at Nash Farm convinced Union General William T. Sherman his cavalry could not or would not work hard enough to disable a railroad properly.”

According to Evans, General Sherman then set his entire army in motion in a last-ditch effort to cut the two railroads that fed and supplied the Confederate army defending Atlanta.  Sherman’s shift in strategy, and a two day battle at Jonesboro, ultimately forced the city to surrender.

“It is no exaggeration to say the fight at Nash Farm changed the way the Atlanta Campaign was fought, and that pivotal struggle helped decide the outcome of a war that redefined America’s destiny,” explained Evans in a written statement.  “Hurrah for Henry County for preserving this historic and hallowed piece of ground!”

The National Park Service conducted its study of Nash Farm Battlefield for this update in March 2008.  NPS officials with the American Battlefield Protection Program visited the site, and met with multiple historical organizations, archaeologists, historians, and others to compile and corroborate the information about what took place there.  As a result of the study, the core battlefield map was expanded to incorporate both the Nash Farm and Walnut Creek battlefields.  Because 204 acres of the core battlefield area has now been preserved by Henry County, the Battle of Lovejoy’s Station was given a Tier 2 designation as one of eight important battlefields in Georgia that are in “relatively good condition” and “present some of the best possibilities for Civil War landscape preservation in Georgia.”   The Nash Farm Battlefield is the only segment of the fractured 1,179.98 acre Lovejoy Station core battlefield area that is preserved.  Additionally, a 75-acre segment across Jonesboro Road from the Nash Farm Battlefield site has been designated  by the National Park Service as one of the top 15 most endangered battlefield sites in the United States.

As part of the study, Ed Bearss, Official Historian of the National Park Service, Andy Phrydas with the National Archives Military Records, Heather Mustone, Georgia DOT Archaeologist, Jim Lightizer with the Civil War Preservation Trust, Steve Longcrier with the Civil War Heritage Trails, John Culpepper with the Georgia Civil War Commission, and many other prominent officials visited Nash Farm and praised the battlefield’s preservation.

“You’ve got a treasure here,” confirmed John Culpepper with the Georgia Civil War Commission.  “Decisions were made and events occurred that shaped the United States as we are today, right here in your own back yard.  With all the battlefields we’re losing today due to development, you’ve done a great job preserving this.  It puts you on the radar screen for the world.”  Created by the Georgia General Assembly in 1993, the Georgia Civil War Commission exists to “coordinate planning, preservation, and promotion of structures, buildings, sites and battlefields associated  with this significant period of our common heritage.”*

As a result of this designation, Nash Farm Battlefield is one of the 27 battlefields in Georgia now eligible for a listing in the National Register of Historic Places.  Such a listing would make the park and battlefield eligible for grant funding to assist with preservation efforts.  The next step is to submit an application, which is already in progress.

For more information about Nash Farm battlefield and the battles and activity that took place there, please visit

*Update to the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report on the Nation’s Civil War Battlefields:  State of Georgia; U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Service American Battlefield Protection Program; June 2010.


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