Front Matter The Beginning of the U.S Franklin's Return Troubles After the War The Constitution The First President Washington's Troubles A Wonderful Invention Death of Washington The U.S. Buys Land War With African Pirates Death of Somers The First Steamboat The Gerrymander The War of 1812 "Don't Give Up the Ship" The Star-Spangled Banner Clinton's "Big Ditch" More Land Bought Jackson Stories Jackson's Presidency New Inventions Whitman's Ride The Mormons The First Telegraph The Mexican War The Slavery Quarrel Daniel Webster's Youth Webster's Speeches Early Times in California Discovery of El Dorado Rush to California The Underground Railroad The First World's Fair John Brown's Raid Lincoln's Youth The First Shot The Call to Arms The President's Decision Admiral Farragut The Monitor and Merrimac The Penninsular Campaign Barbara Frietchie Lincoln's Vow The Battle of Gettysburg The Taking of Vicksburg Riots, Raids, and Battles The Burning of Atlanta The March to the Sea Sheridan's Ride The Doings of the Fleet Lee's Surrender Decoration Day Lincoln Stories Lincoln's Rebukes A President's Son A Noble Southerner Hard Times in the South The Atlantic Cable Best Way to Settle Quarrels Our One Hundredth Birthday Gold for Greenbacks A Clever Engineer Death of Garfield The Celebration at Yorktown The Great Statue A Terrible Flood Lynch Law The Great White City The Explosion of the Maine The Battle of Manila Hobson's Brave Deed Surrender of Santiago The Hawaiian Islands The Annexation of Hawaii The Philippine War Assassination of McKinley The Panama Canal Roosevelt's Administration Two Presidents German Views The World War Since the World War

Story of the Great Republic - Helene Guerber

The Burning of Atlanta

Sherman's raid prevented the Confederates from again attacking Chattanooga, where the Union troops spent a quiet winter. When the spring of 1864 came on, Grant was made commander in chief of the whole army, with the rank of lieutenant general, a rank which had been given only to Washington and Scott before him. Grant had been so fortunate in all his efforts that every one felt great confidence in him, and while Lincoln said that at last he had a man  at the head of the army, the rest of the people, referring to his initials, playfully spoke of him as "Uniformly Successful "Grant, "United States "Grant, "Unconditional Surrender "Grant, and "Uncle Sam's "Grant.

As soon as Grant received this appointment, he met Sherman, and they two together formed a clever plan to carry on the war. As there were now only two large Confederate armies, it was agreed that Grant should face Lee, near Richmond, while Sherman should beat Johnston, and then push on across Georgia to the sea, destroying all supplies on his way, so that the South should have to cease making war. It was further agreed that they should set out to do this on the same day.

Grant now went to join the forces in the East, and led them across the Rapidan into the Wilderness, to begin his famous "hammering campaign." It was in May that his army started, and, sitting on a log by the roadside, Grant wrote the telegram which ordered Sherman to commence fighting.

As soon as Sherman received this dispatch, he set out, with about one hundred thousand men, to meet Johnston, with about one half that number, at Dalton. But Johnston placed his forces in the mountains and woods in good positions, and always retreated in time to avoid a disastrous defeat. Sherman, therefore, had to fight bloody battles at Dalton, Resaca, Dallas, Lost Mountain, and Kenesaw Mountain, while driving Johnston back to Atlanta.

Telegram to Sherman


This sort of fighting—which was the wisest thing Johnston could do—made President Davis so angry that, hoping to settle matters by one big victory, he took the command away from Johnston and gave it to Hood. The latter was very energetic; but although three more battles were fought, and each army lost thousands of men in this campaign, Sherman went on, and soon entered Atlanta. Then he telegraphed to Washington the news: "Atlanta is ours, and fairly won."

Marching thus into the Confederate country, Sherman found the railroads destroyed by the Confederates, who hoped thus to prevent his advance and to cut off his supplies. But he had a force of men who rapidly rebuilt the roads, and trains quickly followed his troops to bring them food and ammunition. The engineers who laid tracks and built bridges were so skilled, and their men worked so fast, that they really did wonders.

The Confederates were amazed to see how promptly the damage they had done was repaired. Once, when some one suggested blowing up a tunnel so as to check Sherman's trains, a man cried out: "No use, boys; Old Sherman carries duplicate tunnels with him, and will replace them as fast as you can blow them up; better save your powder!"

Hoping to prevent Sherman's doing any harm to Atlanta, or going farther south, Hood suddenly set out for Tennessee, thinking the Union army would follow to stop him. This, however, was just what Sherman wanted, and as soon as he was quite sure that Hood had gone, he sent word to Thomas at Nashville to look out for himself. Thomas, he knew, was calm and very deliberate. After keeping Hood waiting for about two weeks, General Thomas suddenly came out of the city, and in a hard two days' fight completely defeated him. In this battle the Confederates fought so bravely that when it was all over they had no army left wherewith to pursue Sherman.

Sherman, in the meantime, had gone steadily on, and had burned the rich stores and fine mills and factories of Atlanta. The churches and dwelling houses were not harmed, for Sherman's object was only to destroy the shops and factories which supplied the Southern army with arms, food, garments, or anything else.