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[283] Court-house is a fair specimen of the American public building. It has one green block, all to itself, and a handsome cupola. The streets are not regularly laid out, shooting out occasionally at acute angles, and only the leading ones are paved. The others are firm and hard, but I fancy, from the texture of the soil, that mud must be abundant in the rainy season. Save the three or four blocks in the centre of the city, the houses are straggling, with spacious yards and gardens; not straggling enough to render the distances magnificent, but yet not unpretending.

Altogether, Atlanta has an exceedingly brisk and “citified” air. Its business has been large, as one can tell by studying the sign-boards, than which, perhaps, no better method exists of gauging the spirit and enterprise of a town. The stores are well fitted up, and several of the larger ones look distinguished, even in their emptiness. The hotels, three or four in number, are spacious, but decidedly the worse for wear. With the exception of the Trout House, they are nearly empty; and the latter is by no means in thorough running order.

The ruins of several large buildings, by fire, are observable on the principal streets. Some of them are of ancient date, and but one, citizens say, resulted from our firing. The extensive car-shops have not been destroyed, but their machinery was sent, two months ago, to Macon and other points. None of the buildings in the city were fired at the evacuation.

As a point of recuperation to the army sick and wounded, of repair of material, and as a depot of supplies, Atlanta will be of inestimable value in the future military operations in the South.

Hardly a house in Atlanta has escaped damage from the shells which, for over a month, have been hurled at it. I have known a single battery to throw nine hundred shells into the city, between dark and daylight. This was largely in excess of the average; but the shelling has been very heavy throughout. The majority of the roofs in the city are torn, and the walls scarred. About half a dozen fires resulted from the firing. In the room where I slept last evening, the wall was garnished with a ragged orifice, made by a fragment of shell, and in the adjoining apartment was a chair, partially demolished by the same irate messenger. My hostess tells me that she didn't mind the shell a bit; but as she forgot, as she admitted, a moment after, that she had of late cooked breakfast in the cellar, we must perforce take the first assertion cum grano salis. The damage to life and limb was confined to women and children — if we may believe report.

The railroads from the east enter the city through a deep cut, which is bridged over at the junction of streets. In the sides of this cut numerous caves are excavated, which bear marks of constant use. Some of them have traverses to protect the entrance, for, in the words of the cockney: “You cawn't most always tell in this blarsted country” in which direction the savage explodent purposes to fly. One must look, however, for the ravages of the shells, as the damage done by them is insignificant. They certainly made the town uncomfortable, but not sufficiently so to induce even partial evacuation by the inhabitants. Our makers of ammunition seem to improve, as report has it that nearly every one of our shells exploded.

The fortifications of Atlanta run just on the verge of the city, excluding in one or two places what might be termed the extreme suburbs. The parapets are heavy, and strengthened at frequent commanding points by regularly-bastioned forts, the ditches of which are from eight to ten feet deep. In front of the parapet are successive lines of abatis and chevaux de frise, from three to seven in number. The works on the west run down to East Point, and are built not over fifty yards from the railroad they are designed to cover. Two of the forts on this side are models, and splendidly finished. Near East Point new works were in course of erection. The enemy had evidently been working on them two or three days before the evacuation, showing that Sherman was expected to strike there. It is enough to say that the entire chain of defences to Atlanta is impregnable to any assault less deliberately prearranged than that which carried Sebastopol. The carnage of a determined assault must have been awful, and the result by no means certain.

I noticed on entering the city, some females walking leisurely homeward with armfuls of boxes, containing, doubtless, what might be ungallantly termed plunder. A citizen, on opening his store this morning, discovered eight empty barrels which had, the previous night, contained salt. Many of our soldiers, wandering along the streets, are certainly a little inquisitive as to the debris of deserted stores, but I don't believe our men are much given to pilfering the chloride of sodium, of which, under the most unfavorable circumstances they get more than they want, in various guises. One shopkeeper says the confounded women have taken his salt, and his acquaintance with the fair sex of Atlanta not being of recent growth, his opinion is entitled to weight.

The Twentieth corps and its commanders deserve the highest praise for quiet, orderly, and soldierlike conduct since the occupation. The Second Massachusetts has been detailed for provost duty in the city, and its Colonel, Cogswell, is the Provost-Marshal. I observed a lot of soldiers this morning, endeavoring to force an entrance into a store for tobacco, which is the only instance of misbehavior that came under my observation.

I have diligently inquired, since entering Atlanta, in quarters likely to be well informed, as to the past and present strength of the rebel army opposing Sherman. Johnston had at Dalton, last spring, just before Polk's reinforeement of thirty thousand, fifty-eight thousand of all arms. During the campaign, this aggregate. seventy-eight thousand, has been reduced nearly

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W. T. Sherman (2)
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