Chamblee54

The Burning Of Atlanta

Posted in Georgia History, History, Library of Congress, War by chamblee54 on November 14, 2017

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Around this time 152 years ago, Atlanta was on fire. General Sherman was preparing for his March to the sea, and wanted to destroy anything of value in the city. The fire is reported as being on 11-15 of November, depending on what source you use.

The November fire was the second great fire in Atlanta that year. On September 2, the city was conquered by the Union Army. The fleeing Confederates blew up a munitions depot, and set a large part of the city on fire. This is the fire Scarlet O’Hara flees in “Gone With The Wind”.

After a series of bloody battles, the city was shelled by Yankee forces for forty days. There were many civilian casualties. General Sherman was tired of the war, angry at Atlanta, and ready for action. This is despite the fact that many in Atlanta were opposed to secession.

Click here to hear a lecture by Marc Wortman at the Atlanta History Center. Mr Wortman is the author of “The Bonfire: The Siege and Burning of Atlanta”. The hour of talk is fascinating. This is a repost. The pictures are from The Library of Congress

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About this time every year, there is a post about the burning of Atlanta. One of the sources is a lecture by Marc Wortman. If you have an hour to spare, this talk is worth your time. One of the stories told is the tale of Mr. Luckie.

“According to folklore, two stories abound as to how Luckie Street was named. The first is that its moniker came from one of Atlanta’s oldest families, and the other, probably closer to the truth, regales the life of Solomon “Sam” Luckie. Luckie, as it turns out, wasn’t so lucky after all. When General William Tecumseh Sherman first came marching through Atlanta in 1864, Luckie, a free Black man who made his living as a barber, was leaning against a gas lamp post in downtown talking to a group of businessmen. A burst from a cannon shell wounded him; he survived, but later died from his injuries. Folklore suggests that he may have been one of the first casualties of the assault on Atlanta during Sherman’s March to the Sea, and Luckie Street, an extension of the city’s famed Sweet Auburn Avenue, was later named in his memory.”

Marc Wortman wrote a book, The Bonfire: The Siege and Burning of Atlanta. The one star review, and comments to that review, are unusually detailed. Here is a selection.

“…People forget – or were never taught in school – that most Confederate soldiers descended from Revolutionary War patriots or were up-country poor sons of farmers. Many Confederate soldiers were relatively recent new arrivals to the U.S., semi-literate dirt poor immigrants from Ireland and Scotland who’d never had the chance to own even an acre of their own land in Europe. In the mix were well-educated, elite merchant business owning French Huguenot refugees of the Catholic Bourbon genocide of Protestants. These immigrants had nowhere else to go, 9 times out of 10 never owned a slave, and fought for the CSA to keep what little they’d hardscrabble carved out over a decade of arrival into the U.S.”

The War Between The States continues to be a source of controversy. After the Charleston church killings, many comments were made about the Confederate battle flag. (If you can’t talk about gun control or mental health, you talk about a symbol.) This led to discussions about the war itself. There were ritual denunciations of slavery, which was assumed to be the sole cause of the conflict. The fact that the vast majority of white southerners did not own slaves was dismissed.

The notion of autonomous states in a federal union was novel when the United States Constitution was written. The debate over federalism versus states rights continues to this day. States that want to legalize marijuana may be the next battleground. (Few are expecting secession over bong rights.) Many in the CSA saw the Union as being a conquering army, and fought to defend their homes. While slavery was certainly a factor in the creation of the CSA, it was not the only Casus belli. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.

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