Friday, June 4, 2021

Booknotes: The Complete Pickett's Mill Battlefield Trail Guide

New Arrival:
The Complete Pickett's Mill Battlefield Trail Guide by Brad Butkovich (Historic Imagination, 2021).

Of course, every Atlanta Campaign study covers the May 27, 1864 Battle of Pickett's Mill to some degree or another, but the finest standalone treatment is Brad Butkovich's The Battle of Pickett's Mill: Along the Dead Line, which was published by The History Press back in 2013. His newest work, The Complete Pickett's Mill Battlefield Trail Guide, should serve as a very useful companion to that narrative history account.

I haven't visited the park yet, but the preservation effort there sounds impressive. From the description: "Today’s Pickett’s Mill Battlefield State Historic Site is a 765 acre oasis of green forest in suburban Atlanta. The battlefield is in near pristine form, with no monuments and little signage, ensuring that it looks as close to its 1864 condition as possible. In addition to history supporters, the park is enjoyed by hikers as well as flora and fauna enthusiasts."

Butkovich's guide takes advantage of an established network of trail loops. More from the description: The guide "provides visitors and students with an in-depth explanation of the 1864 battle by walking the trail system. Building upon the park’s own interpretive literature, this Trail Guide expands both the number of way points for visitors and offers more details of the battle through first-person participant accounts and extensive modern research."

The volume is introduced with a brief summary of the battle's history that also contains an excellent set of seven color maps depicting in great detail the battlefield terrain and the positions of the regiments and batteries of both sides. The guide itself is based on the park's four trail loops (Blue, Red, White, and Orange). Butkovich incorporates the numbered official trail stations from those loops into the guide and generously supplements them with his own "Extra" stations that represent other "areas where historically significant or interesting events occurred" (pg. 14).

Each station has its own page in the guide and is labeled with GPS coordinates. The attached text, around 2-3 paragraphs in length, establishes view orientation and incorporates firsthand accounts into a description of the action that occurred there. A modern color photograph of the viewshed is also included for every station. An order of battle completes the volume.

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