The Cyclorama, Battle of Atlanta and Gone with the Wind
By Calvin E. Johnson Jr. 
August 25, 2014

This summer marks the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Atlanta.

Please share with parents, teachers, students, historians and all who cherish the Heritage of America’s past that includes those days when women kept the home fires burning while the men of Yankee Blue and Confederate Gray met with cold-hard steel on a battlefield of honor.

Fifty years have passed since the War Between the States Centennial. Today, the South joins the nation in celebrating our Sesquicentennial-150th Anniversary of the war of “1861-1865” that some call the 2nd American Revolution.

The South awaits you with Uncle Remus stories, Confederate flags waving, Southern Belles in hoop skirts and the band playing Dixie. Fried chicken, sweet potato pie, mint juleps and hush my mouth-good ole Southern Hospitality is the norm in the land of cotton where old times are not forgotten.

Atlanta, Georgia, the Gate City of the South, is surrounded with history that includes the beautiful Stone Mountain Memorial Park carving of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis, and….

Atlanta’s Grant Park where Fort Walker once stood that was named for Confederate Major General William H.T. Walker who was killed during the Battle of Atlanta.

An upturned cannon waymark in the Glenwood Triangle of Atlanta currently marks the place where Walker was killed. Its front description plate reads: “In memory of Maj. Gen. William H.T. Walker, C.S.A.” and the rear plate reads: “Born November 26, 1816; killed on this spot July 22, 1864.”

The Old South is but a time “Gone with the Wind” but the Heritage of Dixie will never die!

The Loews Grand Theater, originally DeGive’s Grand Opera House, was located at the corner of Peachtree Street and Forsyth Streets in Atlanta, Georgia. This grand movie house where “Gone with the Wind” premiered 75 years ago this December burned in 1978, but….

During the last weekend of July 2014, “Gone with the Wind” thrilled audiences yet again at the fabulous Fox Theater on Peachtree Street in Atlanta, Georgia. John Hall and Billy Bearden of the Sons of Confederate Veterans no doubt got some thumbs-up, cheers and Rebel Yells when they unfolded a Confederate flag in front of the theater to commemorate the occasion.

Gone with the Wind adapted from Margaret Mitchell’s novel is set in the Old South before, during and after the War for Southern Independence and includes realistic-horror scenes of the burning and evacuation of Atlanta.

Do you remember Rhett Butler telling Miss Scarlett O’Hara?

“Take a good look my dear. It’s an historic moment you can tell your grandchildren about – how you watched the Old South fall one night.”

The Battle of Atlanta, fought during July and August 1864, was the beginning of the end of the hopes and dreams of the Southern people but stories about Old Dixie continue to be shared.

Union General William T. Sherman began his infamous march on Atlanta in July 1864, and the Atlanta Campaign ended with the Battle of Jonesboro, about 35 miles south of Atlanta on September 1. The carnage of destruction and death continued with the march to the sea that ended with the burning of Columbia, South Carolina, that is written was a gift from Sherman to Lincoln.

The Confederate forces in Atlanta were first commanded by General Joseph E. Johnston and later by General John Bell Hood.

Atlanta Georgia’s Cyclorama,  a painting depicting the Battle of Atlanta,  is moving across town. The recent headlines read:

“The move, which will take two years to complete, will relocate The Battle of Atlanta painting, the locomotive “Texas,” and other Civil War artifacts to the Atlanta History Center. They will be restored and housed in a new facility. Construction on the annex is expected to begin summer 2015.”

The Cyclorama has been housed since 1921 in Atlanta’s Grant Park but….

The move may be best made to an historical area of Atlanta, the Atlanta History Center, which has a tradition of keeping history alive.

The amazing story about the Cyclorama would not be complete without going back forty years ago when some folks felt the Cyclorama might not make it through the 1970s much less the coming 21st Century.

Mrs. Elizabeth “Francis L.” Edmondson, a good friend, was active in Atlanta’s Cyclorama Restoration, Inc. a group that helped save the Cyclorama. An obituary gives her credit for being the Cyclorama’s Historian.

Deterioration of the painting and water damage led to the $11 million restoration of the Cyclorama in 1979-81.

The Cyclorama was narrated at one time by volunteers, some of whom were veterans or widows of veterans of the War Between the States and in the 60s and 70s by the late great Victor Jory who appeared in the movie Gone with the Wind.

The Georgia Division Sons of Confederate Veterans joins the nation in remembering the War Between the States Sesquicentennial through 2015.

Have a Dixie day!

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