(Even More) Views of the Limited Destruction of Atlanta

We’ve been exploring newly acquired photos from the Georgia Historical Society’s collection this spring. They come from a series that illustrate “views of Sherman’s limited destruction of Atlanta.” Executive Director Todd Groce and Nate Pedersen, manager of the archival and reference team, have been sharing some real treasures with us that have sparked some good discussions in the comment threads. Take a look at the first two installments here and here.

They just passed along three more photos for us to share. Take a gander:

Palmer, J. A. “View from the Capitol.” Georgia Historical Society stereograph collection, GHS 1361-SG, Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, Georgia.

Palmer, J. A. “View from the Capitol.” Georgia Historical Society stereograph collection, GHS 1361-SG, Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, Georgia.

Phillips & Crew and Land, W. T. “Union Depot.” Georgia Historical Society stereograph collection, GHS 1361-SG, Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, Georgia.

Phillips & Crew and Land, W. T. “Union Depot.” Georgia Historical Society stereograph collection, GHS 1361-SG, Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, Georgia.

Wm. Kuhns & Son. “Marrietta Street.” Georgia Historical Society stereograph collection, GHS 1361-SG, Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, Georgia.

Wm. Kuhns & Son. “Marrietta Street.” Georgia Historical Society stereograph collection, GHS 1361-SG, Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, Georgia.

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6 Responses to (Even More) Views of the Limited Destruction of Atlanta

  1. carsonfoardsbcglobalnet says:

    Still making excuses after 158 years. The facts are that the City was bombed, end of story. Did you read the small print on the “View In and Around Atlanta” card, and others? “The Gate City of the South – founded in 1845 – its entire business part destroyed by fire on Sherman’s “March to the Sea” in 1864 – is now wholly rebuilt, and in its rapid regrowth is a marvel to all visitors.” There’s a bit of an anomaly between “entire business part destroyed by fire” and “limited destruction”. If someone wants to say that Confederates torched the cotton warehouses, consider that that would not have been necessary had Sherman et al stayed home. And it’s alsos on record that civilian parts of the City were hit by shellfire. It might be important to note that in 1860, Atlanta had about 10,000 residents, so anyone expecting to see a large metropolis will be disappointed, and that puts in perspective the chances of most of those buildings surviving shelling. By contrast, Charleston had 70,000 residents and significant structures, but still sustained severe deliberate damage.

    • Breck says:

      Probably shouldn’t have started a war if they didn’t want any buildings scratched.

      • Ummm, as far as I know, the North invaded the South and blockaded Southern ports, not vice versa. But, even so, the Rules of War applied then much as they do now. The Rules of War are not a recent invention.
        Tom

      • As I mentioned in a prior comment about the burning of Atlanta, Sherman evicted the remaining residents of Atlanta before he torched the place. He did not tell them why they must leave. He simply evicted them. He *did* as a matter of generosity I suppose, provide wagons to help the folks who were heading south. The folks who would evacuate north would take the train. He gave all residents 5 days to leave just a month before the onset of Winter. Mlst of those folks still in Atlanta were the ones with no place evacuate to or without funds. The people who had a place to evacuate to had already left.
        It was in response to this order to leave the city within 5 days that the formerly anti-secession mayor of Atlanta, James Calhoun protested. Sherman responded with his now semi-famous remark that war is “cruelty” and it cannot be refined. And, you all started this war, he essentially said. Then some 5,000 civilians were forced out.

        Some 3,200 to 5,000 homes were burned, for no apparent military purpose. That amounts to a war crime. After the war, Sherman insisted he designated four buildings to be burned and that no private homes were burned. But, we know the true number, more or less, because a Georgia militia colonel was tasked by Pres. Davis to conduct an inventory of the city 2 weeks after the Federals left. See “War Like a Thunderbolt,” p. 342-364.

        In any war, it violates the Rules of War to harm civilians with no apparent military purpose. That one side supposedly “started the war,” as Sherman argued to Calhoun, does not matter. If the sole criteria for observing the rules of war is moral high ground, then the rules would be meaningless. Both sides will always claim to have morality on their side.

        Sherman knew the rules. All officers received some training on the Rules of War as they were understood then. As a young Army officer in the 1980’s, I received training on the Rules of War. The rules existed long before the two Geneva Conventions. As officers, we are responsible for observing those rules in all wars. Including counter-insurgencies, guerilla wars, etc.
        Tom

  2. Peter J Orndorff says:

    When the Civil War broke out in 1861, President Lincoln wanted to provide instructions to Union officers on the particularly complicated legal issues arising from non-international armed conflicts. Among these issues were whether to treat captured Confederate soldiers as traitors subject to the death penalty or as prisoners of war (POWs) and the treatment of fugitive or freed slaves. Union commanders were reaching conflicting decisions as there was no general legal guidance. Lieber and a committee of four generals were therefore asked to draw up a manual for Union soldiers and address these questions, among others. They came up with the instructions that are now known as the “Lieber Code”. The instructions were endorsed and promulgated by Lincoln on April 24, 1863 and distributed to all Union commanders in the field. According to historical records, the Confederate government endorsed and applied some of its rules despite objecting to it and describing it as “confused, unassorted, and undiscriminating.

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