Memorial Drive: Site of the Confederate Obelisk, Lion of Atlanta statue, and a two-story house, no longer standing, that Confederate General John Bell Hood used as an observation post on the afternoon of July 22, 1864.
What to See: Oakland Cemetery provides a tangible link to Atlanta and the Civil War, both as the historic site where Confederate commander General John Bell Hood established an observation post during the Battle of Atlanta and as the most prominent public space in the city that residents and visitors use to commemorate the war dead and the Confederate "Lost Cause."
A 65-foot-tall Egyptian-revival obelisk, the cemetery's tallest structure, provides an orienting landmark for the Confederate section. The obelisk was unveiled on Confederate Memorial Day, April 26, 1874, the ninth anniversary of General Joseph E. Johnston's surrender to Federal Major General William T. Sherman near Durham, North Carolina. For decades the obelisk served as the backdrop for Atlanta's annual Confederate Memorial Day ceremonies.
Southeast of the obelisk is a large rectangular section of the cemetery, where row upon row of evenly spaced military headstones mark the graves of nearly 4,000 Confederate soldiers. The last row of the Confederate section "C" contains the remains of 16 Federal soldiers who were captured and died in Confederate hospitals.
The Lion of Atlanta is another notable Confederate monument. It is located northeast of the obelisk, in the center of the section where 3,000 unknown Confederate dead are buried. The six-foot-high statue of a mortally wounded lion, dedicated on Confederate Memorial day in 1894, symbolizes the death struggle of an armed force in defeat, overwhelmed by its opponent but honored for bravery.
Northwest of the obelisk stands the white, two-story Bell Tower—Oakland's visitor center—and the cemetery's highest ground. Due north of the Bell Tower and in sight of the MARTA tracks is a Georgia Historical Commission marker indicating the site of a two-story house, which was located just beyond the original cemetery boundaries in 1864.
At this spot, Hood and his staff observed troop movements and perhaps action during the battle. Hood's mobility was limited due to war injuries sustained in 1863. His vantage point just outside the cemetery was more distant than Sherman's from the climactic late-afternoon fighting, leaving him less directly involved in frontline combat action.