The last soldier was bulldozed up almost 20 years ago — part of a skull, a few teeth, a piece of rib, two infantryman’s buttons and a piece of gray cloth — and buried with full military honors in Marietta’s famous Confederate Cemetery among more than 3,000 other Rebel graves.
Now, the scruffy graveyard just south of Marietta Square is about to turn up dirt again, this time for a multiyear, $1 million sprucing up and expansion that city leaders hope will make it a major tourist stop on Georgia’s long Civil War trail.
Within weeks, bulldozers will scrape up earth in Brown Park, next to the cemetery, so paving can
begin on dozens of new parking spaces, said Betty Hunter, a longtime former Marietta city councilwoman who’s heading the project. Fourteen flag poles will stand near a new fence — one for each state of the Old Confederacy, plus Kentucky, Missouri and Maryland.
Plans also call for the erection of a Wall of Heroes engraved with the names or initials of 856 Confederates known to be buried in unmarked graves among the thousands of unknowns. A paper list outlived wooden markers that rotted over time to be replaced by marble stones. “It’s going to be a wonderful thing for our city,” said Marietta Mayor Bill Dunaway. “It’s going to bring in a lot of tourists because so much fighting was done all around here.”
The effort, in the planning stages for years, is a joint project of the city and two nonprofit groups, Friends of Brown Park and the Marietta Confederate Cemetery Foundation, both headed by Hunter. She talked the Legislature into appropriating $75,000 for the project earlier this year. The organizations, which get some money from the city, too, have about $300,000. “And we need a lot more,” she said. That’s why a “wall of donors” is also planned for the names of contributors.
The Marietta City Council recently gave its blessing to the master plan, which includes connecting city-owned Brown Park, the Marietta City Cemetery and the state-owned Confederate Cemetery with one continuous fence. Cracked walkways will be replaced or repaired, said Hunter, 68, who has a deal with a California sculptor for six life-sized statues at $35,000 each, which will be placed strategically along an educational trail.