A Civil War monument at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park was recently burned and vandalized. Now park rangers and a team of arson investigators are trying to find those responsible.
Officials at the national park say someone broke onto the grounds overnight Thursday and tried to set the Illinois Monument ablaze. It is the park’s largest monument and one of the first erected on the grounds.
Vandals also carved a lewd image into the stone memorial, which sits atop Cheatham Hill on the south end of the park. They also burned several miniature American flags that visitors place throughout the park.
“Anytime you hurt a national park, you’re hurting everybody in America. So we’re trying to hold people accountable,” said Patrick Gammon, park superintendent.
The nearly 3,000-acre national park at 900 Kennesaw Mountain Drive is preserved as a Civil War battleground. It tells the story of the Atlanta Campaign, a series of pivotal battles in the summer of 1864 when Union General William T. Sherman pushed back Confederate forces throughout northwest Georgia, eventually forcing them to surrender Atlanta.
The Illinois Monument is the site of one of the bloodiest battles during the campaign and it’s dedicated to Union soldiers who lost their lives.
A group of former Union Army soldiers from Illinois helped get the monument erected in 1914.
Gammon said it was not yet clear what accelerant was used to burn the 107-year-old pillar.
A park ranger and group of volunteers found the damage the morning of July 9.
The grave marking of an unknown soldier and a tombstone for a Union soldier were also vandalized. Park rangers spent the weekend cleaning up the vandalism. Gammon said he doesn’t expect the repairs to cost the park any money.
“It’s really sad to see something like this happen because we have to remember our past, remember those who fought for our country,” Gammon said. “We don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past so anything that we have here is to represent that story. We want people to come here and learn about the history.”
Anyone with information about the incident is urged to call or text the National Park Service tip line at 888-653-0009 or fill out an online form at go.nps.gov/SubmitATip. Tipsters can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 911.
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