Apparitions at Allatoona—Cartersville, Georgia

Allatoona Pass Battlefield
Old Allatoona Road
Cartersville, Georgia

Despite Atlanta’s sprawl and the construction of the nearby I-75 corridor, Allatoona Pass Battlefield remains as one of the most pristine battlefields in the country. Located about a mile and a half from bustling I-75, the battlefield seems remote and almost lost in time. The village of Allatoona that existed in 1864 is mostly gone, replaced instead by the Lake Allatoona reservoir and a few buildings of more recent vintage. Even the railroad has abandoned the area, having been rerouted with the building of the reservoir.

Allatoona Pass by George Bernard, 1864. The house on the far left is still standing.
The same house from the photograph above, 2011. Photo by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.
The railroad cut, 2011. Photo by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

At the time of the Civil War, the Western & Atlantic Railroad provided the vital link between Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tennessee which found itself very close to Union territory following the Confederate defeat at Shiloh. This somewhat mountainous region provided one of the first obstacles as the railroad made its way north. Just north of the tiny village of Allatoona slave labor was used to dig a cut through the Allatoona Mountains allowing trains to move easily towards Chattanooga. The village at the south end of the cut mostly consisted of a depot, some warehouses and an odd assortment of houses and shops. After the pass was captured by Federal forces in June of 1864, Sherman ordered that the pass be heavily fortified and three star-shaped earthen forts were constructed to stand guard.

The railroad cut looking south, 2012. Photo by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.
Panoramic view of one of the star forts built to guard the cut with the author standing by. Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

In a last-ditch attempt by the Confederates to capture and destroy Sherman’s supply line to federally held Atlanta, they attacked these forts on October 5th. Under the command of Major General Samuel G. French, the Point Coupee Artillery from Louisiana poured shells onto the well-entrenched units from Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota under the command of Brigadier General John M. Corse. After two hours, French sent an order for Corse to surrender, which was refused.

Grave of the Unknown Soldier, who may be one of the spirits haunting this battlefield. Photo 2012, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Legends at this site date to not long after the war when a Confederate soldier (believed to be the spirit of an unknown soldier buried next to the tracks) was seen. More recently, the sounds of battle, cries of the wounded, spectral soldiers and an overpowering sense of dread have been reported here.


  • Battle of Allatoona. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 15 April 2011.
  • Lake Allatoona. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 8 April 2011.
  • Scaife, William R. Allatoona Pass Battlefield: The Official Website. 2000.
  • Underwood, Corinna. Haunted History: Atlanta and North Georgia. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2008.

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