Civil War historian Bill Scaife, 82, of Lake Allatoona, known for maps

Tifton native excelled at mapping battlefields; taught course on Army tactics at Emory

Bill Scaife’s maps of Civil War battles were drawn with such intimate detail you could use them to pinpoint how, exactly, skirmishes unfolded. He’d take USGA topographic maps, then overlay them with information and facts of what transpired.

And because of that, enthusiasts could stand on a battlefield and relive history.

“He did great maps,” said Leon McElveen of Smryna, chairman of the Kennesaw Mountain Historical Association. “You could go to the battlefield, figure out where you were and understand the battle based on the way Bill drew maps.”

Through the years, the Tifton-born Eagle Scout immersed himself in Civil War history. He taught a course on army tactics and strategies at Emory University. He gave lectures and battlefield tours to interested groups. He held offices and honorary memberships in outfits devoted to Civil War education and history.

And he was prolific with a pen.

Among his 14 books are “The Georgia Brigade,” and “Allatoona Pass: A Needless Effusion of Blood.” His specialty, however, were the Atlanta battles. One book, “The Campaign for Atlanta,” won the Civil War Round Table of Atlanta’s 1995 best book award.

“Immeasurable” is how Bruce H. Stewart Jr., president of the Civil War Round Table of Atlanta, summed up Mr. Scaife as a historian, scholar and teacher.

“He was given our ‘member of distinction award,’ which only seven members have received in the 60 years of the organization,” Mr. Stewart said. “It’s given to those who have made [outstanding] contributions over a long period of time and Bill’s contributions were so varied.”

William R. “Bill” Scaife, 82, of Lake Allatoona, died Monday from complications of heart and kidney failure at Heartland Hospice in Cartersville. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Sunrise chapel at Arlington Memorial Park in Sandy Springs. Cremation of the South in Marietta is in charge of arrangements.

Mr. Scaife did not major in history. He was a 1954 Georgia Tech graduate who earned degrees in architecture and engineering. He worked in the fields at different firms and as a consultant before retiring in 1983.

Mr. Scaife had always been a history buff but the World War II veteran’s passion really caught fire when he researched his grandfather, Dr. William R. Scaife, who had been a Civil War surgeon.

Through the years, he served as chairman of the Kennesaw Mountain Historical Association and president of the Civil War Round Table of Atlanta. Honorary memberships included, among others: the Etowah Valley Historical Society; the William J. Hardee Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans; and the Friends of Civil War Paulding County, Inc. He was a life-time member of the Atlanta Civil War Round Table.

In 1996, he and his wife, Ollie Coker Scaife, moved to the western shore of Lake Allatoona, where one of the most dramatic Civil War battles took place.

“He called it his holy ground,” his wife said. “The Battle of Allatoona Pass was fought here and the house that is across the street from our house was the hospital. He loved it here.”

Additional survivors include two daughters, Rita Slagle of Powder Springs and Sue Simmons of Ruston, La.; two stepchildren, Robin Lee Inman of Charleston, S.C. and David Ollie Lee, of Columbia, S.C.; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.