Sherman Captures Atlanta
“Atlanta is ours, and fairly won”: the immortal words of General William T. Sherman when he captured Atlanta on this date in 1864. Sherman had taken the Deep South’s major manufacturing center and railroad hub, a huge loss for the Confederacy.
Unwilling to attack Atlanta’s strong defenses, U.S. forces swept west and south around the city. At Jonesboro they cut the last railroad supplying Atlanta, forcing General John Bell Hood’s Confederates to abandon the city. Atlantans who remained were rudely awakened that morning by the apocalyptic explosions of Hood’s ammunition train being blown up by Confederates—a scene immortalized 75 years later in “Gone with the Wind.” Atlanta Mayor James Calhoun surrendered the city to Sherman in a formal note, saying, “The fortune of war has placed Atlanta in your hands.” The 2nd Massachusetts Regiment reached downtown first and raised the American flag over City Hall.
President Abraham Lincoln’s re–election in November, and final Confederate defeat seven months later were both virtually assured after Atlanta’s fall on September 2, 1864, Today in Georgia History.