If you see smoke rising from the Pickett's Mill Battlefield, this week, it's not from a re-enactment or a ghost battle at the reportedly-haunted site. Instead, it's from a prescribed burn intended to improve the natural habitat.
The Dallas, GA, park's website warns of a prescribed burn scheduled for Thursday, April 21.
Prescribed burns on public lands are coordinated by the Georgia Department of Natural Resource Wildlife Resource Division, along with The Nature Conservancy and the Georgia Forestry Commission. Georgia State Parks, other public lands and private landowners all participate in prescribed burns.
According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, such prescribed burns "restore biodiversity and improve habitat for a number of species."
"We burn to reduce fuel loads and keep the forest healthy. Burning promotes a variety of native plants and animals, cycles nutrients back into the soil, helps eradicate some exotic species, and improves the aesthetics of a forest," a Georgia Department of Natural Resources document explains.
Pickett's Mill Battlefield State Historical area is comprised of forests, fields and well preserved earthworks that once witnessed fierce combat between the Union forces of General William T. Sherman and Confederates led by General Joe Johnston. The battle is considered by historians as a Confederate victory, the last major battle won as Sherman's forces continued their quest for Atlanta and the eventual "March to the Sea."
Opened in 1992, Pickett's Mill is one of Georgia's newer state parks and historical sites. It houses a small museum, which is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Trails through the battleground site are open daily. The park and battlefield includes several miles of protected remnants of extensive earthwork defenses used in the battle.
More About Pickett's Mill
Pickett’s Mill often is referred to as the forgotten battle as Sherman didn’t include any account of the loss in his official reports to Washington, nor did he include any mention of it in his published memoirs. No significant news of the battle was included in Northern newspapers, which tended to cover the largest battles, battles for large cities, or — by this point in the war — glorious Union victories. Word of the Confederate victory was but a whisper in the South, lost among the mounting defeats, declining morale and near panic of Atlanta’s impending doom.
The park now is mostly wooded in secondary forest, with just under four miles of hiking trails that generally follow Civil War-era roads and the major battle lines. The well-marked Red, White and Blue trails each trace a significant part of the battle, and join together where the main fight occurred.
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