I’m Masud Olufani for the Atlanta History Center.
It is mid-September, 1864.
Union troops march into Atlanta – and Sherman expels the city’s residents.
Cornelia Venable laments,
“We were ordered out – and the citizens had to go find homes wherever they could.”
They are permitted to carry a limited amount of propert, even enslaved servants, but only if they are willing to go.
In all nearly 2,000 residents leave, carrying 9,000 boxes of clothes, personal possessions, and household belongings.
Yet a vast amount of personal property is simply abandoned.
During a ten-day truce, Union wagons transfer residents and property to Atlanta’s railroad depot.
They are loaded onto boxcars, the beginning of a journey that will take them to points South.
Some wind up in the homes of relatives throughout Georgia and the South.
Many others have nowhere to go.
William Forsyth’s family hopes to remain in Atlanta, but is finally forced to leave – moved North on boxcars to Nashville, Tennessee.
There, they live in a damp factory basement, suffer from dysentery, and lose a daughter to disease.
Later, they recall they were “homeless, penniless, and half-starved.”
I’m Masud Olufani and this is week twenty-two.