The Hardman Family Cemetery is one of the oldest landmarks in DeKalb County and among the last vestiges of its early settlement. Both white settlers and enslaved African Americans were buried here. Nearby ran the Shallowford Indian Trail, a trade route from the Cherokee Nation across the Chattahoochee River to Decatur and Stone Mountain. The trail was widened into a stagecoach route called Shallowford Road (now Clairmont Road).
Naman Hardman gave the land for the cemetery and on the high ground next to it the Primitive Baptist Church of Christ at Hardman's was chartered in 1825. In July 1864 the latter served as a barracks and military field hospital staffed by Dr. Edward Shippen of Union Major General John M. Schofield's 23rd Corps. Shippen also used the nearby James Oliver Powell house. The sketch shown here, drawn by war correspondent T. R. Davis, shows a pew from the meeting house in use by Federal soldiers and a table from the Powell house being used for surgery. After the war the congregation moved south to Decatur.
The Powell's house stood about 400 yards from Hardman Cemetery and 1/2 mile north of a strategic junction. Atlanta Road (now North Decatur Road) led west across nor Peavine Creek and up the ridge to Williams Mill Road (now Briarcliff Road) and on to Atlanta. Shallowford Road led south to Decatur and the Georgia
Railroad. Following a skirmish with Confederate cavalry for control of the junction, Schofield's troops occupied the surrounding area.
Traveling with the Federal 23rd Corps, Major General William T. Sherman established his headquarters at the J. O. Powell house on Tuesday, July 19, 1864, one day before the Battle of Peach Tree Creek and its use for field surgery. From there Sherman issued Special Field Orders Number 39, which read in part: "Each army commander will accept battle on anything like fair terms...If fired on from the forts or buildings of Atlanta no consideration must be paid to the fact that they are occupied by families, but the place must be cannonaded without the formality of a demand."
A log cabin at the road junction, the property of Dr. Chapmon Powell, was the home of one of Dr. Powell's daughters and her husband, Washington Jackson Houston. During the skirmish, Mrs. Houston hid in the cabin's cellar with her five children while Minié balls thudded into logs overhead. Her husband was in Atlanta but he had advised her that in case of peril she should display his Masonic apron on their front porch hoping she would not then be harmed. Following the skirmish, she attended to nine wounded Federal soldiers placed on the porch. One soldier died and at his brother's request was buried beneath an apple tree in the yard until after the war.