Bill Scaife, Lake Allatoona Historian Passes

The AJC has a substantial obituary for Bill Scaife who was a historian of the Lake Allatoona area and of the Civil War. A local blogger commented after reading the obit that:

“Odds are if you’ve studied the Atlanta Campaign in any depth, you’ve used one of his maps, or at least a map derived from some of his work. (An example of one is on the Battle of Brown’s Mill web site.) I’ve only access his “The Campaign for Atlanta” in research libraries, and copies of it go for $250 or more. Many of his works were published in spiral bound format. Makes me wish some of his works were picked up and reprinted for greater distribution.”

While I never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Scaife in person, I feel as if over the years I’ve seen many of the battlefields through his eyes, by way of his maps.”

Here are some extracts from the AJC article:

“Bill Scaife’s maps of Civil War battles were drawn with such intimate detail you could use them to pinpoint how, exactly, skirmishes unfolded. He’d take USGA topographic maps, then overlay them with information and facts of what transpired.

And because of that, enthusiasts could stand on a battlefield and relive history.

“He did great maps,” said Leon McElveen of Smryna, chairman of the Kennesaw Mountain Historical Association. “You could go to the battlefield, figure out where you were and understand the battle based on the way Bill drew maps.”

Through the years, the Tifton-born Eagle Scout immersed himself in Civil War history. He taught a course on army tactics and strategies at Emory University. He gave lectures and battlefield tours to interested groups. He held offices and honorary memberships in outfits devoted to Civil War education and history.

And he was prolific with a pen.

Among his 14 books are “The Georgia Brigade,” and “Allatoona Pass: A Needless Effusion of Blood.” His specialty, however, were the Atlanta battles. One book, “The Campaign for Atlanta,” won the Civil War Round Table of Atlanta’s 1995 best book award.

“Immeasurable” is how Bruce H. Stewart Jr., president of the Civil War Round Table of Atlanta, summed up Mr. Scaife as a historian, scholar and teacher.

“He was given our ‘member of distinction award,’ which only seven members have received in the 60 years of the organization,” Mr. Stewart said. “It’s given to those who have made [outstanding] contributions over a long period of time and Bill’s contributions were so varied.”

In 1996, he and his wife, Ollie Coker Scaife, moved to the western shore of Lake Allatoona, where one of the most dramatic Civil War battles took place.

“He called it his holy ground,” his wife said. “The Battle of Allatoona Pass was fought here and the house that is across the street from our house was the hospital. He loved it here.”