Civil War History
Atlanta’s Civil War history
Atlanta’s Civil War history will never be forgotten. Hollywood immortalized it in “Gone With the Wind,” the classic 1939 film based on Margaret Mitchell’s world-famous novel of the same name. Against a backdrop of flames, Rhett Butler took leave of Scarlett O’Hara as the city of Atlanta burned down around them and they reflected on the American Civil War. The reality of Atlanta Civil War history was equally dramatic, though not nearly as romantic.
At the start of the Civil War in 1861, Atlanta was a city vital to Southern commerce and transportation. But its importance as a major railroad hub and center for manufacturing ultimately proved lethal to the Confederate stronghold. In September 1864, General William T. Sherman and his Union forces captured the city, a victory that helped secure President Abraham Lincoln’s bid for re-election the following November.
The victorious Union general ordered the burning of Atlanta and launched his March to the Sea, which left a 300-mile trail of destruction all the way to Savannah, Ga. Afterwards, the once-prosperous Atlanta lay in ruins, eventually rebuilding itself as a center for civil rights and cementing its stature as a vibrant economic powerhouse.
Atlanta’s Civil War History Sites
More than a century and a half later, there are numerous reminders of Atlanta Civil War history.
- The Atlanta History Center, located in Atlanta’s Buckhead district, features one of the finest Civil War exhibits in the country.
- The Atlanta Cyclorama, located at the Atlanta History Center, features a panoramic depiction of the 1864 Civil War Battle of Atlanta and the world’s largest oil painting.
- Another stop on any American Civil War history itinerary is Oakland Cemetery, the final resting place for nearly 3,000 Confederate soldiers, 16 Union soldiers and “Gone With the Wind” author Margaret Mitchell.
- Other Atlanta Civil War history sites include Civil War cemeteries in nearby Marietta, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park and the antebellum homes of Roswell, Ga.
- And a larger-than-life granite carving at Stone Mountain acknowledges three of the Confederacy’s leaders: Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee.
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