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Week 19

(August 25 - August 31)

Sherman’s five-week attempt to fire Atlanta into submission isn’t working. With the Confederate army controlling the Macon Railroad, the siege is a stalemate. In the North, President Lincoln fears losing re-election if he is beaten, the war not won. On August 26, Atlanta residents awaken to a deafening silence. Union lines are empty: Sherman is gone, but no one knows what his next move will be.


Episode Transcript

I’m Masud Olufani for the Atlanta History Center.
For five weeks, Sherman attempts to blast Atlanta into submission.

Confederate Captain Thomas J. Key writes:
“Not brave enough or strong enough to drive Hood from Atlanta, Sherman is trying to burn the city.”
But it’s not working.

The Confederate army maintains its hold on the Macon railroad – the supply line leading south.
The siege of Atlanta is a stalemate.

In the North, President Abraham Lincoln struggles for reelection. His opponent, General George McClellan, campaigns for peace.
McClellan’s supporters see the stalemate at Atlanta as proof the war cannot be won.
Northern morale has never been lower.

Lincoln remarks: “I’m going to be beaten … and unless some great change takes place, badly beaten.”

Then, in Atlanta on the morning of August 26th, war-weary residents wake to a strange sound ….. Silence.

Condederate troops cautiously approach Union siege lines.
They are empty.
Sherman appears to have given up and retreated.
One reporter considers all the rumors:
“It is a plan of assault.
It is a preparation for retreat.
It is a flank.
It is a pause.
It means everything.
It means nothing.”

But no one knows where Sherman is or what his next move will be.

I’m Masud Olufani and this is week nineteen.

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