Battle of Tunnel Hill reenactment scheduled for this weekend canceled

·2 min read

Sep. 8—For the third year in a row, the Battle of Tunnel Hill reenactment has been canceled. It had been scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

"We decided we need to cancel the battle again this year because all of that rain Sunday and Monday flooded the field we use for parking," said Robert Ault, treasurer of the Tunnel Hill Historical Foundation, which sponsors the event, on Thursday. "It's still standing in water, so there's no way we can park the hundreds of cars there that we would need to."

The National Weather Service is predicting more rain Friday through Sunday.

"We hope to reschedule the reenactment this spring," said Ault. "But we've made no decision on a date yet because we have to work around other events."

Ault said the living history day for students from local schools will go ahead Friday because that does not involve the parking field. That event is not open to the public.

The Tunnel Hill Heritage Center and Museum, the historic railroad tunnel and the Clisby Austin House will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Guided tours of the three are $12 per person. Self-guided tours are $10. There is no need to make an advance reservation.

The reenactment was canceled in 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Civil War Battle of Tunnel Hill was fought when Union Gen. William T. Sherman's troops attacked troops led by Confederate Gen. Patrick Cleburne. Unlike some other Civil War reenactments, the Tunnel Hill reenactment takes place on the actual site where the battle took place.

The reenactment has usually drawn around 300 to 400 reenactors from around the Southeast and often other parts of the country.

The reenactment takes place across from the Tunnel Hill Heritage Center and Museum, which is at 215 Clisby Austin Road, and the historic Western & Atlantic Railroad tunnel next to the Clisby Austin House.

Built in 1848, the house was a hospital during the Battle of Chickamauga.

Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood recuperated at the house after his leg was amputated, and the leg was buried nearby. The house was later a headquarters for Sherman, who did the initial planning for the Atlanta Campaign and what became the March to the Sea there.

The Western & Atlantic Railroad tunnel was completed in 1850. Workers tunneled 1,447 feet through the mountain using hand drills and black powder.

In 1862, a group of Union spies stole a train near present-day Kennesaw intending to drive it north, destroying tracks, bridges and the tunnel as they went.

But the train's conductor spotted them and gave chase, first on foot, then on a handcart and finally on a succession of locomotives in what was later dubbed the Great Locomotive Chase.

The raiders were able to do only minimal damage before abandoning the locomotive just north of Ringgold, and many were captured.