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Kimberly Starks
July 4, 2005

America's History and Heritage - Confederate Fortifications - threatened by developers in Cobb County We commend the Marietta Daily Journal for the article below. If you live in Cobb County your County Commissioners need to hear from you.

SMYRNA - A development planned for a 25-acre site near Smyrna has become a lightening rod for a variety of opponents, ranging from Civil War preservationists to those rallying against density in the area.

Activist Roberta Cook is trying to protect unique Civil War fortifications, called "Shoupades," located on the land off Oakdale Road that historians say are the last of their kind in the world.

Oakdale Neighborhood Association Inc. President Mary Rose Barnes said the planned development also raises environmental and density concerns and said part of the development would be built in a flood zone.

Walton Communities LLC wants to rezone the site to build townhouse-style condominiums and single-family houses. The developer has requested to build 103 homes on the site where one house currently sits. Overall density would be about five homes an acre, an increase of 59 homes per lot.

The Cobb County Planning Commission will hear Walton Communities' request for rezoning when it meets at 9 a.m. Thursday in the Cobb Commissioners' boardroom at 100 Cherokee St. in Marietta.

However, Ms. Cooks said Civil War fighting positions situated along what historians call Johnston's River Lines near the Chattahoochee River in her Oakdale community are the only remaining contiguous line of Shoupades in existence. The fortifications were built for Confederate Gen. Joseph Johnston's army in July 1864 during the weeks following the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain.

Planned development on Fort Drive where the Shoupades are located could obliterate them, Ms. Cook said.

"Shoupades are like time capsules," she said. "They are a gift from the past."

Local historians and Civil War buffs agree the Shoupades are threatened by developers since nothing currently exists to protect them.

Found only in Cobb, the Civil War fortifications were built on high terrain and were constructed of logs and earth extending 16 feet. The two-story Shoupades were shaped like arrowheads.

The fortifications were named for Col. Francis Shoup, chief engineer for the Confederate Army.

A company of about 80 men would occupy each Shoupade to fire at the enemy and reload rifles. Next to the Shoupades were artillery "redans," or small earthen forts for a cannon. With the fortification in place, the infantry could shoot across the approaches to the artillery redans, and vice versa.

In the Atlanta Campaign, Federal troops during their march toward Atlanta were delayed at the Chattahoochee River, which is the last natural barrier into Atlanta. There, Confederate troops waited in the Shoupades. Federal troops hesitated to attack because of the defensive position's strength.

The Shoupades, built by slaves, were considered to be the most sophisticated and advanced military installation during the Civil War. The concept was not used again until between World War I and World War II, when France built concrete fortifications of a similar design to protect against German invasion.

Originally, 36 Shoupades could be found along the north bank of the Chattahoochee River. By 2001, about 12 remained.

Today, only nine are left and each is located in an isolated area, said Bill Scaife, author of the books "The Chattahoochee River Line and American Maginot" and "The Campaign for Atlanta."

"This is the one place left in the entire world where we can see a Shoupade and an artillery redan and see how those two elements worked together," Scaife said. "That makes it extremely critical."

Development in Cobb is a testament to the county's desirable location within metro Atlanta, said Charlie Crawford, president of the Georgia Battlefields Association.

"Cobb has always been a bedroom community for many years," Crawford said. "Cobb now is an increasingly desirable location."

But as Atlanta grows farther north toward Chattanooga, and growth from Chattanooga moves south, Crawford said historic sites the Civil War's Atlanta Campaign are being "eaten up."

For Ms. Barnes and her Oakdale Neighborhood Association, another threat is the density planned at the site.

"It's not a plan that goes in the right direction for the environment," Ms. Barnes said.

Noise and ongoing construction worries residents as well, she said.

"Redevelopment is extremely hard on the neighborhood when you're having condos being stuck next to you," Ms. Barnes said.

David Knight, a partner at Walton Communities, was on vacation Friday and could not be reached for comment on the development.

Georgia Civil War Commission Project Coordinator Barry Brown said he would like to see the developer create at least a 200-foot buffer around the Shoupades.

"The more buffer zone you have, the better a person can interpret the military line," he said.

On the other hand, Cobb County Historic Preservation Committee Chairman John Nash said he would prefer that the property as a whole be saved.

Ms. Cook says she is relying on the Cobb Board of Commissioners to make key decisions that could affect the course of history.

"How do we treat these gifts?" she asked.

Kimberly Starks
Marietta Daily Journal Staff Writer


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