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.

Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta GA

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.

History of Battle of Atlanta Sign at Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta GA

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.

Swan House at Atlanta History Center

Atlanta’s Civil War History Sites

More than a century and a half later, there are numerous reminders of Atlanta Civil War history.

Flowering Tree at Oakland Cemetery Atlanta

Discover More

Get to know Atlanta, and discover the best things to do around the city.