This Week in The Civil War for Sunday, Aug. 31: The Fall of Atlanta.
The Confederacy's prized Southern city of Atlanta fell to Union Maj. Gen William T. Sherman and his troops 150 years ago this week in the Civil War. Sherman slashed the supply lines of rival Confederate commanders, hitting at points south of the Georgia city. Confederate attempts to drive back the Union invaders stumbled and the Confederate forces were forced to retreat from Atlanta on Sept. 1, 1864. Sherman's army began occupying the city the following day. "From Sherman's Army, GLORIOUS NEWS, Atlanta has Fallen" read one of the early headlines dated Sept. 3, 1864, informing the North, in the Cleveland (Ohio) Leader. "General Sherman is reported to have entered Atlanta at nine o'clock yesterday morning," the newspaper added. "The movement by which he entered the place must have been a very bold one." It reported Sherman's forces once heavily arrayed on the northwest side of Atlanta had relocated in large numbers to the southwest side of the city to battle the Confederates there and cut off vital supply lines needed by the rebel army. Another news dispatch dated Sept. 2, 1864, said "General Sherman's advanced Atlanta this morning at 11 o'clock. "The whole Federal force will enter today." The Evening Star of Washington, D.C., said the Confederate defenders had been driven off and the enemy was set to fleeing at night.
This Week in The Civil War for Sunday, Sept. 7: Atlanta's Capture: morale boost for the North.
The Union's capture of Atlanta, one of the most important of Southern cities, immediately buoyed President Abraham Lincoln's re-election prospects - 150 years ago in the Civil War. Lincoln would ultimately be returned to office by voters with an ample victory. A North wearied by long years of grinding warfare suddenly had major news to rejoice over - even as the Confederacy and many in the South despaired. From the fall of Atlanta until the end of the war would just be a matter of months of heavy fighting to follow. Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, days after his forces had entered the city, ordered its civilians to evacuate. Meanwhile, newspapers such as the Philadelphia Inquirer in the North reported Sherman's forces were still "in pursuit" of the fleeing Confederates. The Associated Press reported from Virginia on Sept. 9, 1864, that some Confederate forces in their defense works there had begun cheering after hearing a false rumor spread that Atlanta had been retaken." The AP report said those overly optimistic and mistaken Southern soldiers "were very jubilant for a time, indulging in loud cheering."