confederacy Civil War Heritage Trail

Civil War Heritage Trail

The Heartland of the Confederacy includes two driving trails, each with a distinctive theme. The Leaders Trail begins in Gainesville, continues through Jefferson to Athens and then to Washington and Crawfordville and shows the homes, artifacts, and atmosphere associated with General James Longstreet, Robert E. Lee’s second in command at the Battle of Gettysburg; Generals and brothers T.R.R. Cobb and Howell Cobb of Athens; Vice President Alexander H. Stephens and Secretary of State Robert A. Toombs of the Confederate government. Other sites display the stories of Crawford W. Long, a physician credited with the discovery of ether anesthesia in 1842, and Benjamin H. Hill and Henry W. Grady, who became voices for the “New South” following the Civil War and Reconstruction.

The second Trail in the Heartland winds around Madison, Rutledge, and Athens and stretches toward Winder, tracing the path of Stoneman’s Raid in August 1864. These raiders were sent out by General Sherman to destroy the Armory located in Athens. They caused much destruction, but a home guard composed of males too young, old or feeble to serve in the Army prevented the raiders from entering Athens. Eventually, 300 of the raiders were captured by 85 Confederate cavalrymen and held briefly at the University of Georgia before being sent to Andersonville Prison.

This unique trail system is very fortunate to have four professionally staffed welcome centers to assist visitors during their exploration of the Heartland of the Confederacy. One can begin the Heartland tours anywhere along the trail, but it is wise to take advantage of the wealth of travel information that the cities of Athens, Gainesville, Madison and Washington can offer. Maps, brochures, and accommodations information is all at one’s fingertips at the welcome centers. Each city and county is unique in charm, attractions, and sightseeing adventures.

Confederacy Civil War Trails

While traveling the Heartland of the Confederacy Civil War Trails, visitors will experience one of Georgia’s richest cultural regions teeming with a unique blend of southern heritage and modern creative energy. Planned stops along the trail should include the vibrant college town of Athens, home to the State Botanical Garden and Georgia Museum of Art, and the artist’s communities of Oconee County. Further south are Madison, “the town Sherman refused to burn,” and Eatonton, home of Joel Chandler Harris and Alice Walker. Don’t miss touring Georgia’s Antebellum capital of Milledgeville, and Macon, which boasts more acreage listed on the National Historic registry than any other Georgia city. Be sure to check out the Gainesville Civil War Tour. Recreational activities abound along the way, from the adventure of the north Georgia mountains to the state’s best golf courses at Lake Oconee. Lodging choices range from numerous historic beds and breakfasts to upscale hotels.

Downtown Athens and the University of Georgia

Arrive in Athens Georgia. Home to the nation’s first state-chartered university. Walk through the historic downtown district and see the world’s only double-barreled cannon. Step through the 1858 University of Georgia Arch, which was used on Georgia Confederate soldier’s uniforms and belt buckles. Wander through the Old North Campus of the University of Georgia where you’ll see the grounds that served as headquarters for Federal troops after the War and make a stop at the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, which houses one of the nation’s best collections of rare Confederate documents, including the Howell Cobb collection and the Constitution of the Confederate States of America.

Take time to relax in a restaurant or pub downtown and be sure to visit The Athens Welcome Center, housed in the oldest surviving residence in Athens, for walking tour brochures of the campus, downtown, and three historic neighborhoods in Athens, along with maps and other Athens and Georgia travel information.

After a long day of walking, learning, and sightseeing, find your way to the Grand Oaks Manor Bed and Breakfast, which is housed on 34 pristine acres only 5 miles from the heart of downtown Athens. The Manor was originally built in 1820 as The Gum Springs Inn serving farmers transporting goods on the 1805 Federal Road. It later served as a stagecoach stop, as is still evidenced by the large, flat stones set at the head of the verandah. Natural springs and remnants of that road exist today directly in front of the inn. Complimentary sherry is the final intimate touch before a good night’s rest for your next day of Civil War traversing. A full and healthy breakfast is elegantly served on fine china and cut glass crystal that features fresh fruit, bread, yogurt, and gourmet hot entrees such as caramel apple French toast and egg-cheese casserole.

Around Athens

Now that you have seen downtown and the Old North Campus, it is time to see the rest of Athens and the Civil War sites around the town. Begin with the 1850 Ware-Lyndon House Museum where you will see artifacts, documents, and furniture from the Civil War period in Athens. Then drive down Prince Avenue to Hill Street where the T.R.R. Cobb House stands in all its pink glory. The Federal-style house was converted to the Greek Revival style in 1852 and was home to Thomas R.R. Cobb who was the principal author of the Confederate Constitution. Originally the House sat on Prince Avenue closer to town, but was moved to the Stone Mountain History Village in the 1980s, but returned to Athens in 2004. Next, drive down Prince Avenue a spell to the grand, recently renovated 1840 Taylor-Grady House, which was home to Robert Taylor, Georgia state troop General, and Captain W.S. Grady, whose son Henry, became a leading voice in reunifying the nation after the War with speeches on the “New South.”

After leaving the Taylor-Grady House, drive down Milledge Avenue, which is home to a number of antebellum homes, and stop in Five Points for lunch at one of the many restaurants or coffee shops. With a full stomach and a new burst of energy, drive down Milledge Avenue to East Campus Road. Oconee Hill Cemetery will be on your right, just past Sanford Stadium. The Cemetery was designed by James Camak in 1855 and is the final resting place for four Confederate Civil War Generals. Classic City Tours offers a historic tour of Athens at 2:00 from the Athens Welcome Center, which will give you even more history of the area. After the tour takes time to drive by Cook and Brother Armory on East Broad Street, which manufactured Enfield-style rifles and carbines for the Confederate Army.

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