During the Sesquicentennial of General William T. Sherman’s burning of Atlanta the Georgia Historical Society placed a marker on the Carter Center grounds implying that federal soldiers did not destroy residential dwellings during the evacuation of Atlanta.
The claim is false. The extent of the estimated damage varies widely, but there is little doubt that Sherman’s soldiers destroyed a great many homes.
One low-end estimate is the assertion by Captain Orlando Poe who was placed in charge of what was supposed to be a limited demolition. He estimated 37% of the city was destroyed. However, there is good reason to doubt the accuracy of his claim since he wrote an engineering superior in Washington before he executed his orders that by the time the letter arrived, “Atlanta will have ceased to exist.”
An Indiana soldier’s diary simply records, “We utterly destroyed Atlanta.” Continue reading