Peachtree Creek
Visiting the battlefield

From the Editors of
Roadside Georgia

From the junction of I-75 and I-85, where they join to form Atlanta's "Downtown Connector," the battle of Peachtree Creek spread due north encompassed within the arms of the "Y". The northern end of the battlefield is defined by Peachtree Creek, hence the name of the engagement. On July 20, 1864, 2 1/2 months into the Atlanta Campaign, General William Tecumseh Sherman [US] was introduced to the aggressive tactics of General John B. Hood [CS], the new commander of the Army of Tennessee (more).

Hood's attack was a disaster of poor planning and coordination. Rebel losses quickly mounted. After about five hours of fighting the Confederate Army was forced to withdraw with nothing to show (for more on the battle see Peachtree Creek).

At the center of the battle, less than a mile from the busy interstates, Tanyard Branch Park is located in a quiet middle-class neighborhood surrounding busy Collier Road. To the south of this road the Confederate Army spread out across the rolling hills characteristic of the Georgia Piedmont. North of the road General George Thomas and his Army of the Cumberland, who had just finished crossing Peachtree Creek, spread out in a defensive position on a high ridge.

Modern development has destroyed all of the battlefields in the Atlanta area. In fact, in the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report to Congress in 1993, Peachtree Creek, Atlanta, Ezra Church and Jonesboro battlefields are under the status "Too late to save," in spite of the fact that they are ranked as either decisive or major battles.

The Cherokee
Echota is the Cherokee word for town. About 80 miles north of Atlanta on I-75 is the Cherokee capital of New Echota, now a Georgia State Park
To visit the Peachtree Creek battlefield take I-75 to exit 252A, U.S. 41 and head north (right if you were on North I-75, left if you were on South I-75). Turn right .1 mile north of I-75 on Echota Drive. This quiet neighborhood was one of the places where Confederate troops formed during the morning of July 20, 1864 for the attack that would take place later that day. Turn left on Walthall Road at the end of Echota Drive. Major General Edward C. Walthall was a Confederate commander whose troops fought to the west of the road.

Walthall Drive follows Tanyard Branch, a tributary of Peachtree Creek that flows through the valley on the right-hand side of the road. Between here and the northern end of the park three brigades of Rebels crossed the wide creek. Travel for .3 miles, the street (and the park) ends at Collier Road, a major east-west throughfare in north Atlanta that remains a two-lane highway. Speeding motorists are a dangerous problem in this area. Now considered a close-in location, during the Civil War this area was a rural center, well outside the city limits. Three area mills, including Collier's, made this a target of the advancing Union Army.

Turn right on Collier Road and proceed to Tanyard Branch Park less than .1 mile on the right. There are several large markers that commemerate the action that occured not only in the area of Tanyard Branch, but also along the entire line of battle. As you face the markers looking south, you are looking towards the point where Confederate troops crossed the stream to engage Union forces from "Fighting Joe" Hooker's XX Corps and O. O. Howard's XIV Corps less than a 1000 feet behind you. Most Rebel troops had crossed the stream and were marching north on the other side of Tanyard Branch (to your left as you face the commemorative markers).

Take a few minutes to explore the park. Walk down the steps and to your right, crossing the small stream near the culvert that runs under the street. This area is frequently muddy, but the last time we visited someone had put down a couple of sheets of plywood. A well-worn path takes you along the west bank of Tanyard Branch past a bridge to a playground for the kids. Return to the bridge and cross to a large field on your right, where people walk dogs and bring their kids to play.

Across Collier Road Tanyard Branch enters Atlanta Memorial Park. This extensive urban (read heavily-used) park includes the Bobby Jones Golf Course and the Bitsy Grant Tennis Center along with trails for walking and running. The course was designed by the Atlanta-born golfer Bobby Jones, who won the Grand Slam in 1930, left competitive golf at the age of 28, cofounded The Masters and was prominently featured in the Will Smith movie "The Legend of Bagger Vance." Bryan "Bitsy" Grant was a local tennis player who gained national fame, winning the U. S. Clay Court Championship 11 times in 25 years. Both the Tennis Center and Golf Course were built on the remains of a sewage treatment facility in the 1930's.

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