Civil War Reconstructed

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KENNESAW, Ga.—When Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman arrived here in June 1864, he wrote to his superiors, "The whole country is one vast fort."

Gen. Sherman and his 100,000 men encountered 65,000 Confederates dug in along 12 miles of earthworks at Kennesaw Mountain. After fierce fighting, the rebels retreated to nearby Atlanta. Several more battles ensued before Union forces took the city, dealing a crippling blow to the South.

The detritus of war—bullets, uniforms, cannon shot, swords and, of course, corpses—was strewn across the region in the aftermath. Trenches, both intricate defenses built over weeks by engineers and shallow pits frantically dug by infantry under fire, snaked for miles.

Today, metro Atlanta—a land of expressways, subdivisions and shopping malls—has grown to about 5.7 million people, from about 10,000 in the 1860s. So it's easy to assume that evidence of the famous clash of armies has been obliterated except for that preserved in museums, parks and monuments....

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