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     Tunnel under new hope cchurch

     Added: 08-27-14 by Cliff Davids

     Location: Location: Georgia

 
 
 



Some time ago I found myself visiting Dallas, Georgia, providing assistance to the the Sons of the Confederacy while they refreshed the flags on their ancestors’ graves. They were quite a group of guys, and our journey took us into the most remote corners of Paulding County. At the close of the day we ended up in the parking lot of the New Hope Church, site of the famous Civil War battle of the same name. We had finished our task and called it a job well done, so we decided to celebrate with a cold coke and handshakes all around. As we stood there, they pointed out the old stone memorial and flag across the street–a worn testament to the ruins of the original church.
 
For no reason, I took out my old Polaroid and snapped two quick shots of the defensive entrenchments behind the memorial. They were among the last of the remaining earthworks from the bloody Battle of New Hope Church, fought hard and won by the South on May 25-26, 1864. I downed the coke and then glanced at both instant pictures, noticing that a stiff breeze had lifted up their venerated Confederate Stars and Bars in the second photograph–but I didn’t remember any type of breeze blowing. It had been a hot cauldron of a day, sticky and steamy with no wind at all. I looked at the second photograph more closely, and what I saw blew me away. It was the image of a Rebel soldier wearing an old uniform, standing eyes front and at ease just behind the monument, watching me closely.
 
I was speechless. I looked carefully at both photos taken just seconds apart–but it was unmistakable. The soldier wasn’t present in the first one, and in the second one he was staring right back at me. The stories about New Hope were legion—that ghosts haunted this rural community which had been the site of both the bloody Civil War battle and a horrific jetliner crash 1n 1977–and here was the ghostly proof, documented for all to see.
 
I walked over and showed the photos to the two remaining Sons. They glanced at each other, and then excused themselves and stepped into the woods to talk privately. They had a heated discussion, and upon their return they grudgingly agreed to reveal the truth about what I had just seen—as long as I promised never to divulge their names or the precise location. They said the memorial would soon be removed anyway–it was drawing too much unwanted attention to an area that they most assuredly wanted to keep private.
 
They explained that I had captured the image of a ghost soldier posted on guard duty–a still vigilant casualty of the Battle of New Hope Church. They told me that hidden away among the remains of those hastily dug entrenchments was the entrance to an underground tunnel, a closely kept secret among the descendants of those who fought there. The tunnel runs under the ruins of the original church and then beyond to the old graveyard, located just across the main commercial intersection. It passes directly under the area that the Union troops referred to as the “Hell Hole,” where in May of 1864 they engaged in a hellacious battle during an unholy thunderstorm while the minie balls and grapeshot tore them to pieces.
 
The Sons stated that the tunnel had been discovered and used by the Cherokee during the Indian wars until they were forced to leave in 1838 on the Trail of Tears. After that, the tunnel was abandoned for over two decades. It was rediscovered in the early days of the Civil War and then strategically employed by the well-entrenched Confederate forces during their resounding victory at New Hope. They bragged that it was the reason the Confederate soldiers had been able to appear like ghosts during the onslaught–and then seemingly disappear again back into the smoke and mist. It surely allowed Hood’s well-served artillery to inflict heavy casualties on Hooker’s corp of battle hardened troops.
 
My friends admitted that they had never seen the tunnel–had never even been invited down for a look. But both men had witnessed the sentry standing silent guard from their earliest days, just as their fathers and grandfathers had before them. They also say he is the last remaining defender of a secret storeroom directly underneath the present New Hope Church–a hidden room stuffed with a king’s ransom of gold and silver–zealously protected by that forgotten soldier for almost 150 years. The old timers predict that the fortune will be returned to its rightful heirs when the time is ripe–but until then the ghost sentry will continue his lonely vigil, and remain steadfast and strong at his forsaken post.
 
You can find the photos at the following link: http://ashevilleoralhistoryproject.com/2013/05/01/new-hope-tunnel/

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