ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Unknown Hero of Allatoona Pass, Georgia
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Unknown Hero of Allatoona Pass, Georgia
Unknown Hero of Allatoona Pass
The grave has long been a spot of pilgrimage for
Southerners. Maintained by the railroad, it contains
the remains of a soldier killed in battle.
Unknown Hero of Allatoona
The grave is located a short
distance from the Allatoona
Pass Battlefield in Bartow
County, Georgia.
A Railroad's Tribute
The soldier originally fell near
the west entrance to the Deep
Cut at Allatoona Pass. The
grave was moved in the 20th
Stone for a Southern Hero
The original stone has faded
over time, but the words
"Unknown Hero" can still be
The Unknown Hero of Allatoona Pass - Bartow County, Georgia
Grave of a Confederate Hero
Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
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Grave of the Unknown Hero
The Unknown Hero of
Allatoona Pass may actually
be Andrew Jackson Houston
of the 35th Mississippi
The Unknown Hero of Allatoona Pass rests
in a grave by the railroad tracks just a short
distance from the Allatoona Pass Battlefield
near Cartersville, Georgia.

Long a spot of pilgrimage for Southerners,
the grave contains the remains of a soldier
who fell during the Battle of Allatoona Pass
on October 5, 1864. A member of the division
of General Samuel G. French, he was killed
as the Confederates tried to storm the ridge
at Allatoona to take the Union forts there.

The attack failed, costing French's Division
897 of its 3,276 men. The division's casualty
rate of more than 30% at Allatoona Pass was
extremely high, a clear indication of the
severity of the fighting there.
Please click
here to learn more about the battle.

When the battle ended, it was reported by a
Union soldier that the road "ran with blood,"
an apparent reference to the Old Alabama
Road up which some of the Confederates
attacked during the fighting. Killed and
wounded men were scattered throughout the
area. It took the Union soldiers nearly three
weeks to find and bury all of the dead.

There are two slightly different stories about
what became of the man now identified as
the Unknown Hero of Allatoona Pass.

The first was detailed in a letter from J.P.
Abernathy of Texas that appeared in the
December 7, 1949, issue of the Cartersville
Weekly Tribune-News. He was a six year old
resident of Bartow County at the time the
Unknown Hero was buried.

According to Abernathy's account, the man
arrived at Allatoona aboard a train on the
Western & Atlantic (W&A) Railroad a few days
after the Battle of Allatoona. His name and
origin were unknown as the coffin bore only a
note listing its destination as Allatoona.

Abernathy went on to state that five of his
female cousins pried open the coffin in an
effort to learn more about the man inside.
The unfortunate soldier was wearing a gray
uniform and a black hat was also in the coffin
with him.

Not knowing what else to do, the women
went to Abernathy's nearby house to retrieve
tools for use in digging a grave. According to
his account, they carried the body through the
pass and buried it at the west end of the
Deep Cut (a 175 foot deep pass cut so trains
could make it through the ridge). The grave,
he said, was only about one foot from the
end of the cross ties on the south side of the

In about 1880, according to the Abernathy
letter, a party of surveyors discovered the
grave and purchased a stone to place at its

A somewhat different story was told by
Robert White, the railroad stationmaster at
Cartersville, and Colonel Thomas Spencer, a
local historian, to writer Joe Head. Their story
was related by Head in an article submitted
to the Etowah Valley Historical Society in
Please click here to read the article.

According to this version, there are actually
two graves of unknown Confederates at
Allatoona Pass. The first was the one
described in the Abernathy account. Head
related that this grave remains unmarked
and has often been disturbed by relic
hunters. The elderly gentlemen told basically
the same story as Abernathy.

The second grave was of a soldier killed in
the Battle of Allatoona. He was buried near
where he fell, by the tracks at the north end of
the Deep Cut. According to the former station
master and historian, this was the grave that
railroad employees noticed and took under
their care.
In 1950, the grave was relocated to its current
location near the tracks at the south end of
the cut. It was surrounded with an iron fence
and a railroad sign was erected noting that
the man resting there is an "unknown hero."

The Unknown Hero of Allatoona Pass may
not be unknown after all. Local historicans
have uncovered some evidence that he is
Private Andrew Jackson Houston of the 35th
Mississippi Infantry.

According to his service record, Houston first
enlisted in the Confederate service at
Enterprise, Mississippi, on October 18, 1861.
He served for a little more than a month in
Company F, 5th Mississippi Infantry before
being discharged at Pensacola Bay, probably
due to his age as he was only 16. The next
year he enlisted again, this time in Company
I, 35th Mississippi Infantry.

Houston's second enlistment took place at
Louisville, Mississippi, where he signed up
on April 15, 1862 for three years "or the war."
He spent much of 1863 sick and in military
hospitals and as late as June 22, 1864, he
was in the military hospital at the "Blind
School" in Macon, Georgia.

He was back with his company on August 31,
1864, but disappears from the record after
that date. His regiment definitely fought at the
Battle of Allatoona Pass, where it reported
losses of 12 killed, 52 wounded and 83
missing. Houston was not among those
listed as killed, but definitely could have been
one of the wounded or missing.

It will take far more research to determine if
Houston could really be the Unknown Hero,
so for now he remains simply an unknown
soldier of the Confederacy.

To reach the grave of the Unknown Hero of
Allatoona Pass from I-75, take Exit #283
(Emerson-Allatoona Rd.) and follow it east
for 1.5 miles. The parking area for Allatoona
Pass Battlefield will be on your left. Continue
past the battlefield on the same road, which
at this point is called Old Allatoona Road.
Cross the railroad tracks and take the
immediate right on Oak Hollow Road. The
grave is immediately on your right.

Please click here to learn more about the
Battle of Allatoona Pass.
"An Unknown Hero"
The stone at the head of the
grave reads simply "An
Unknown Hero."