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  • Did Jonesboro Change the Civil War?

    Located about 20 miles south of Atlanta, Jonesboro was situated on the Macon & Western railroad, the last link of the supply route into Atlanta. Reenactor Peter Bonner describes the Battle of Jonesboro and had the outcome been different, the course of history may have been changed. Douglas Cubbison, a Union reenactor discusses the toll that bacteria and disease took on all soldiers throughout the war.

    Support Materials

    Discuss

    1. During the Atlanta campaign, Sherman's army captured Kennesaw Mountain. Why do you think Sherman wanted this mountain?

    2. What was the primary focus of Sherman's military maneuvers in Atlanta? What characteristic of the city was the most focused on destroying? Why?

    3. Aside from Atlanta's strategic importance as a factory town and railroad hub, why else was the fall of Atlanta so crucial to the Union?

    Expansion

    1. Class discussion: What if the Battle of Jonesboro had been won by the Confederates? Looking at maps of the area surrounding Atlanta, speculate what alternate plans General Sherman would have made in that instance.

    Vocabulary

    fortification: items constructed to aid in defending holdings
    stipulation: a condition in a contract
    circuitous: winding, irresolute; can be applied to an actual route or a style of conversation
    breastwork: a type of fortification, but temporary in nature
    parapet: an earthen wall that protects soldiers from enemy fire
    howitzer: a type of cannon used for firing projectiles at high altitudes; used in shelling
    shrapnel: pieces of exploded ammunition
    charnel house: a storage area for corpses

    For Teachers

    Discussion Guide

    1. During the Atlanta campaign, Sherman's army captured Kennesaw Mountain. Why do you think Sherman wanted this mountain?
    Students who have actually visited the mountain will have an advantage in having enjoyed the excellent view of Atlanta from its peak; a view that helped Sherman survey the military movements along the landscapes. Although our resources don't contain references to this, Sherman fired artillery shells into the city from this vantage point.

    2. What was the primary focus of Sherman's military maneuvers in Atlanta? What characteristic of the city was the most focused on destroying? Why?
    Sherman's primary objective was to destroy Atlanta's railroad lines. These were Atlanta's lifeline; their destruction would mark a decisive end to the city's usefulness as an industrial center which supplied the South with access to materials like food, weapons, and other supplies. 

    3. Aside from Atlanta's strategic importance as a factory town and railroad hub, why else was the fall of Atlanta so crucial to the Union?
    Since 1864 was an election year and Union armies in the eastern theater had been stalled, the fall of Atlanta to Sherman was a boost to Abraham Lincoln's campaign for reelection. 

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