Congress to vote on Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park expansion

U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Wednesday on Rep. Barry Loudermilk’s resolution that would expand the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park by eight acres and add a historic, two-bedroom farmhouse that once served as Union General Oliver O. Howard’s headquarters.

Loudermilk, R-Cassville, will give a speech prior to the vote, spokeswoman Shawna Mercer said.

The resolution authorizes the Department of the Interior to acquire land by donation or exchange from willing sellers only, and prohibits the department from acquiring the land through condemnation. The Wallis House is currently owned by Cobb County.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson has introduced a similar bill in the Senate, and spokeswoman Amanda Maddox said “we will work on getting it passed by the Senate once the companion measure clears the House.”

Isakson’s bill says most of the park protects Confederate positions and strategy, but the Wallis House is “one of the few original structures remaining from the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain associated with Union positions and strategy; and the Wallis House is strategically located next to a Union signal station at Harriston Hill.”

Park Superintendent Nancy Walther was not immediately available for comment Tuesday, but a post of the park’s Facebook page says acquisition and restoration costs for the historic structures could run as high as $1 million. Loudermilk has previously said those cost estimates may have held back past efforts, and suggested the costs might actually be much lower.

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park officially became part of the national park system in 1935. Before that, it was acquired and protected by Civil War veterans and the War Department.

It currently protects Kennesaw Mountain and Kolb’s Farm, which are battle sites along the route of Union General Sherman’s 1864 campaign to take Atlanta.