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Bill aims to expand boundary of Kennesaw Mountain, include Union site

A bill working its way through Congress would stretch the boundaries of one of Cobb County’s most historic parks.

Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, re-introduced the bill Jan. 13 to include more historic structures from the Civil War into Kennnesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park by expanding the boundary eight acres.

The bill, House Resolution 558, would authorize the National Park Service to acquire the property through donation or exchange.

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The AJC previously reported that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated implementation would cost $2 million through 2021 in development and operation of the new property.

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“Sites such as Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park allow us to look back in time to get a glimpse of the events that shaped our nation. It is extremely important that we understand our history; otherwise, we will be destined to repeat the mistakes of our past,” Loudermilk said in a statement.

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park

Most of the park naturally centers around places of importance to the Confederate side of the battle that occurred there during General Sherman’s 1864 campaign to take Atlanta. 

The proposed sites, the Wallis House and Harriston Hill, would be added under the bill and would be some of the only Union sites in the park.

“Our nation has long recognized the importance of preserving historic sites, especially those battlefields where Americans fought and died for freedom,” Loudermilk said.

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The house was built by Josiah Wallis in 1853 who lived there with his family until Confederates occupied and used it as a hospital. 

From there, it became the headquarters for Union General William Tecumseh Sherman during the Battle of Kolb’s Farm and then for Union General Oliver Otis Howard during the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain.

A lesser-known Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park memorial near the park's visitors center and commemorates Georgia's Confederate soldiers. The carving on its front says, "We sleep here in obedience to law / When duty called, we came / When country called we died." (Pete Corson/AJC)

Nearby is 5½-acre Harriston Hill that was used by Howard as a signaling position and lookout point.

As for the history of the bill itself, it was first introduced by Loudermilk’s predecessor Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta, in 2010. It passed the House but died in the Senate.

He tried again in 2012 and 2014.

Loudermilk’s previous attempt was held up in the Senate in December by partisanship, according to his office.

"Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., placed a blanket hold on all unanimous consent bills over an unrelated issue, and we ran out of time before members left town,” said Shawna Mercer, Loudermilk’s spokeswoman.

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She said they don’t know of any House or Senate member who objects to the parks bill.

Last year, the bill has unanimously passed the House Natural Resources Committee, the full House, and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

It will be discussed on the House floor Monday, Mercer said.

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