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The last train waiting: three photographs, taken a few minutes apart, tells the story of Sherman's order evicting the inhabitants of Atlanta, September, 1864.

This series of three photographs, taken a few minutes apart, tells the story of Sherman's order evicting the inhabitants of Atlanta, September, 1864. A train of cars stands empty beside the railroad station. But in the second picture piles of household effects appear on some of the cars. This disordered embarkation takes little time; the wagon train advancing in the first picture has not yet passed the camera. By the time the shutter clicked for the third photograph, every car was heaped with household effects — bedding and pitiful packages of a dozen kinds. Unfortunate owners dangle their feet from the cars; others, white-bonnetted women in the group, cluster around their chairs and other belongings not yet shipped. The last train of refugees was ready to leave Atlanta. Sherman outlined very clearly his reasons for ordering the evacuation of the city by its inhabitants. He wrote on September 17, 1864: “I take the ground that Atlanta is a conquered place, and I propose to use it purely for our own military purposes, which are inconsistent with its habitation by the families of a brave people. I am shipping them all, and by next Wednesday the town will be a real military town, with no women boring me every order I give.”

Sherman's order evicting the inhabitants of Atlanta, September, 1864, picture 1: train of cars stands empty beside the railroad station.

Sherman's order evicting the inhabitants of Atlanta, September, 1864, picture 2: household effects appear on some of the same cars as in picture 1.

Sherman's order evicting the inhabitants of Atlanta, September, 1864, picture 3: the cars piled high with household goods — the last train of inhabitants ready to leave Atlanta.


 

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