Grant Park: Sole remnant of the Confederate's heavy earthwork fortifications, rifle pits, and entrenchments that formed a defensive ring over 10 miles in length around Atlanta in 1864.
What to See: Your scenic vantage point at the Fort Walker parapet and the formidable earthen remnants indicate why this bastion was a key point in the Confederate defensive works in front of Atlanta. The well-constructed fort and sweeping sight line enabled a small force to control the surrounding territory and deter an enemy assault.
At the time of the Battle of Atlanta, the city was completely encircled by over 10 miles of earthwork defenses comprised of forts fitted for artillery batteries and lengthy entrenchments, ready for use by Confederate infantry. Rifle pits in front of forts provided protected space for troops to stand and fire through narrow openings. The grounds beyond forts and rifle pits were cleared of trees and brush for 1,000 yards, leaving open lines of fire for the defenders' artillery and rifles. Some forts also were protected by abatis, felled trees with sharpened branches facing toward the enemy, and chaveux-de-frise, rows of criss-crossed, sharpened logs.
Atlanta's fortifications were completed for the most part by April 1864. Lemuel P. Grant, after whom Grant Park is named, supervised their construction. Extensions of the city's defensive perimeter in the spring and summer of 1864 increased its length. Among the add-ons was Fort Walker, originally constructed as a separate four-gun parapet and subsequently incorporated into the main defensive line. The fort was named for Confederate Major General William H. T. Walker, after he was killed in the Battle of Atlanta.
Trained as a civil engineer, Grant had no military experience prior to his Confederate commission. His lack of familiarity with fortifications and field artillery had consequences. The distance between the fortified line and the city's center was less than the maximum range of Federal field artillery. Beginning on July 20, 1864, the advancing Union forces cannonaded Atlanta without breaching or even testing the fortifications. After the battle, the Yankee bombardment of the city intensified. Their subsequent maneuvers and battlefield successes forced the Confederates to surrender the city on September 2, 1864.