I’m Masud Olufani for the Atlanta History Center.
It is mid-November, 1864.
Sherman and his army have left Atlanta on the March to the Sea.
Soldiers unfit for the march were sent North. ... along with hundreds of former slaves headed to freedom.
Before leaving the city, the Union army methodically destroys railroads, factories, and Atlanta’s business district.
While some buildings are pulled down with ropes – others are knocked down with battering rams… including the vast train depot.
Tracks themselves are heated and twisted into “Sherman’s neckties.”
On the night of November fifteenth, Sherman’s engineers set fire to the rubble and to the remaining commercial buildings - anything that might be of service to the confederacy.
Though Sherman ordered that churches and houses be spared, many soldiers ignore the order.
Sherman and his officers make no attempt to stop them.
In all, forty percent of atlanta is destroyed – primarily the downtown business district.
The union army marches out as clouds of dense black smoke rise from Atlanta.
An Ohio Captain writes: “Heaven and earth … agree in decreeing a terrible punishment to those perfidious wretches who concocted this … terrible war.”
I’m Masud Olufani and this is week thirty-one.