Confederates Reunion in Grant Park
by Lorna Gentry
As Atlanta's first public park in the late 19th century, Grant Park was the site of most civic events. Civil War veterans of the 35th Georgia gegiment chose th epark to hold their reunion on September 24, 1886. Some of the men hadn't seen one another since the war ended 21 years earlier.
On that warm September morning, approximately 100 35th regiment veterans assembled in downtown Atlanta at the office of E.M. Roberts & Co. on North Broad Street. The troops marched together down Broad to Marietta Street and south to Pryor Street, where they boarded streetcars bound for Grant Park. In the pavilion, which was located at the Georgia Avenue park entrance, the veterans picnicked and listened to speeches.
Among those speaking were a handful of federal troop veterans from Dayton, Ohio, who spoke of unity and brotherhood among all war veterans. Said one former Yankee soldier to a cheering crowd, "This visit is a deal pleasanter than the one I made here 22 years ago," reported The Atlanta Constitution in an article dated September 25, 1886. "It is warm today, but gentlemen, let me tell you when I met the Georgia and Mississippi boys in gray out hear on Peachtree Street it was uncomfortably warm."
More than 1,000 men of the 35th regiment died in the war. Also known as the Thomas Brigade, the 35th regiment was organized in Atlanta on November 1, 1861, under the direction of Col. Edward L. Thomas, a plantation owner from Clarke County.
Col. Thomas did not attend the reunion in Grant Park because he was out of state working for President Grover Cleveland, who appointed him to serve in the Land Bureau. Thomas later served in the Indian Bureau, and died in 1898 in Oklahoma's Indian Territory in South McAlister.