John B. Hood Evacuates Atlanta

On September 1, 1864, Confederate General John B. Hood evacuated Atlanta, leaving the city, a crucial supply center for the Confederacy, in Union hands.

Union General William T. Sherman's victory helped ensure President Lincoln's reelection two months later. With 98,000 men under his command from the Chattanooga area, Sherman prepared to move toward Atlanta on May 4, 1864. By July 6, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston, who was defending the city with half as many men, had retreated, heading south of the Chattahoochee River to Peachtree Creek. General Hood relieved Johnston and attacked Sherman on July 20, but was forced to retreat with a large number of casualties. By August 31, Sherman had crossed Hood's supply line, forcing him to evacuate the city the following day. In response, Hood moved toward Nashville where he later met defeat at the hands of General George H. Thomas.

On November 16, Sherman began his famous march from Atlanta to the sea, leaving devastation in his wake. Although many Southerners vilified Sherman for the destruction wrought upon their homeland, others saw him as a liberator. E. W. Evans was nine when Sherman's troops passed by the plantation where he was born. As was the custom of the day, interviewer Geneva Tonsill transcribed his words in dialect. Evans remembered Sherman as the herald of his family's freedom.

John Bell Hood (June 1 or June 29, 1831 – August 30, 1879) was a Confederate general during the American Civil War. Hood had a reputation for bravery and aggressiveness that sometimes bordered on recklessness. Arguably one of the best brigade and division commanders in the Confederate States Army, Hood became increasingly ineffective as he was promoted to lead larger, independent commands late in the war, and his career was marred by his decisive defeats leading an army in the Atlanta Campaign and the Franklin-Nashville Campaign.

So Atlanta is ours, and fairly won. ”

— Telegram from Major General William T. Sherman to Major General H. W. Halleck, September 3, 1864.