Man walking – Mr. B’s Civil War march

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt July 22, 2014
Chris Billingsley. Source:

Chris Billingsley. Source:

This story has been updated.

Today marks the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Atlanta, crucial turning point in the United States Civil War.

There were several events held in Kirkwood over the weekend to commemorate the event. Retired Decatur High social studies teacher Chris Billingsley plans his own ceremony today to pay homage to Decatur’s role in that historic battle.

Here’s a letter he wrote to city officials dealing his plans:

Good Morning Ms. Katie Abel and Ms. Linda Harris,

This is a reminder per our phone calls last week (voice mails) that I will re-create the Confederate march from the Fork in the Road in East Atlanta to downtown Decatur TODAY from 10:30 to 1:00 pm. As far as I know, I’m the only one participating in this. As previously stated and confirmed by Ms. Harris (voice message) I will walk on the sidewalk the entire time.

My route will follow the old Fayetteville Road to Second Avenue and Alston Drive, turn left on Third Avenue, past the home of Robert Alston and continue through the East Lake Cemetery to Hosea Williams. I’ll turn right on Hosea to Fifth Avenue, take Fayetteville Road to where it dead ends into East Lake Drive and follow Oakview to South McDonough and Green Street (the “Yankee Trap” on Dr. Rauber’s map of the Battle of Decatur).

From there proceed north to Decatur High School where I’ll pick up a bouquet of flowers. I’ll end on the square placing white roses on the Confederate Memorial and the Battle of Decatur memorial. I plan on returning later in the afternoon (5 pm) to place a small flower arrangement near the flag pole to honor the memory of Col. John Sprague, winner of the Medal of Honor for his defense of the supply wagons and the flag, and the rest of the Union troops. I will return early Wednesday morning to remove all flowers. Nothing else is planned, no other public demonstrations of remembrance or speeches.

Please let me know if any of this is in violation of city ordinances or if you have any other concerns. I will not do anything to bring dishonor on the memory of those who fought in the Battle of Decatur or modern day sensibilities.

Thank you.

Chris Billingsley

He’s also sending us photos today. Here’s one he sent in this morning. He writes, “Col. Prather led the Confederate charge at the courthouse at the Battle of Decatur.”


If you decide to tag along with Mr. B, send us your photos. Email them to and we’ll add them to this story.

More photos from Mr. B:


“Joe near Sugar Creek. I asked him how the recycling business was going. ‘Very Fine. Im blessed. You with the battle people?’ Very nice gentleman.”


“Sugar Creek: The cavalry continued to Decatur while General Walker followed the creek to Terry Mill Pond where he was killed by a sniper.”


“Near the DeKalb mosque. A former Decatur family, The Sha-kirs , helped establish this mosque back in the Eighties. Fine family!”


“Near Drew Charter: How long will it take for a huge rivalry to develop between Decatur and Drew in basketball, soccer and LaCrosse? Not long I bet! What a beautiful building and concept.”


“Robert Alston Home, ‘Meadow Nook.’ Just guessing but this home was located on the Old Fayetteville Road and was seen by passing troops in 1864. Robert Alston was killed in a duel over the convict lease system and is buried a few yards from his killer.”


“East View cemetery road.”


“I don’t know much about this cemetery but it’s a real beauty. I hope someone recognizes soldiers on Veterans Day and Memorial Day. Time to reflect about soldiers who are lost during combat.”


“Old Kirkwood! I met Joyce and Landis Cameron, Murphy Class of 57.”


“The promised land.”



“At Mac McGee, Decatur, GA. Shot of Jameson and a Guinness after a long day…For the Irish boys, who fought and died in the Battle of Decatur 150 years ago TODAY. God Bless the City of Decatur, the Great State of Georgia and the United States of America.”



About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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  • Chris Billingsley

    Thanks Dan. “Old Man Walking!
    I’ll send updates.

    • Eb Daniels

      Please do let us know when you are at the Square, I would love to be present for the ceremony at the memorial obelisk.

  • Joe Davich

    I passed him today as I was heading to Java Monkey for a meeting! I wish I would have stopped to chat with him, now!

  • Chris Billingsley

    Thanks Dan. For those of us who believe that our past is the best compass for the future, I thank you for your coverage of the Battle of Atlanta and more importantly, the Battle of Decatur. I sent a picture of the flower wreath honoring Col. John Wilson Sprague, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his leadership and bravery during the Battle of Decatur, to several cities he was associated with during his lifetime. Their enthusiastic responses reaffirms my belief in Faulkner’s quote, “The past is never dead. Heck-fire, it ain’t even past!”

  • Chris Billingsley

    Thanks again Dan for promoting this. I want to add that while walking from East Atlanta to Downtown Decatur, at no time did I experience any ill will from a pedestrian or a passing vehicle. In fact, many people waved from a front porch, said “How You Doin’!” as they walked by and some even struck up a conversation about the flag, the date, and why I was out and about in a coat and tie on such a humid day! While walking, I remembered back to 1964 when as a child, how excited everyone in Decatur seemed to be. Was this the event that sparked my love of local history? I can’t say but I’m willing to bet that those living in Decatur on July 22, 1964 did not forget the meaning and importance of that day. If my actions yesterday result in someone researching the Battle of Decatur or more importantly, a young boy or girl seeing me and later asking their parents, “Was there a battle in Decatur?” then what I did was worth it.
    In a heated discussion on Decatur Metro, someone posted that tax dollars should not be used to commemorate Confederate celebrations. As far as I know, no City of Decatur (or Atlanta) funds were used to promote the anniversary. For me, and for hundreds of other who spent personal funds for the occasion, it was worth it. In my opinion, the real danger here is not the spending of tax dollars but the complete lack of support for any recognition of the day. Except for you Dan, and a few locals who expressed support, it was as if the community wanted to forget the whole thing. Has Decatur changed so dramatically in the last twenty years as to ignore a historical event that stirred thousands to celebrate just fifty years ago? Will Decatur ignore the bicentennial of our founding in 2023 simply because some of the founders owned slaves or others approved of driving away native Americans? I hope not. 2023 should be a glorious celebration, not of diversity or inclusiveness, or grievances but of individual liberty and the American drive to succeed in a hostile world. The Decatur experience, part of the American experiment, is still the best hope for the entire world.

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