from house to house until the defenseless city was almost entirely reduced to ashes.
No efforts were made to prevent the spread of the conflagration, and scarcely any structure was designedly spared.
Only about 450 buildings escaped this ruthless burning, among them many churches, which in those days generally stood apart from other buildings.
The thoroughness of the destruction can be realized, when we consider that by the census of 1860 Atlanta
had a population of 10,000, which in 1864 had increased to 14,000.
More than 4,000 houses, including dwellings, shops, stores, mills and depots were burned, about eleven-twelfths of the city.
Capt. Daniel Oakey
, of the Second Massachusetts volunteers, says: ‘Sixty thousand of us witnessed the destruction of Atlanta
, while our post band and that of the Thirty-third Massachusetts played martial airs and operatic selections.’
himself noted the rising columns of smoke as he rode away from the city.
Considering that he had been in possession of the city since the 3d of September, he had had ample time to utterly destroy everything in it that could be of advantage to an enemy, without the wanton and inexcusable method to which he resorted.
It was no more necessary from a military point of view to destroy mercantile establishments than private dwellings or churches.
The destruction of Atlanta
can never be excused.
The name of the Federal
commander will always be associated with this barbarous act.
On November 5th the Federal
right wing and cavalry started toward Jonesboro
to make a feint at Macon
, but crossed the Ocmulgee river
, and reached Gordon
in seven days. Slocum
with one corps moved out eastward via Decatur
, with orders to burn the Oconee bridge
, east of Madison
, after which to turn south and reach Milledgeville
in seven days. Sherman
himself left Atlanta
on the 16th with Jeff C. Davis
' corps, and moved via Lithonia
, directly on Milledgeville
His object was to interpose