A few weeks after Farragut's dramatic victory, disaster struck the Con-
Burned-out buildings can be seen following Union general William T. Sherman's capture of Atlanta. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress.)
federacy again as Atlanta fell into Union hands. Throughout the month of August, Sherman's siege of the city had made life very difficult for the citizens and troops huddled behind its fortifications. But Atlanta resisted Sherman's forces until the end of the month, when Yankee troops seized control of the last of the railway lines providing supplies to Atlanta. Hood launched a desperate offensive to regain control of the rail line, only to receive a sound thrashing at the Battle of Jonesboro.
Sherman's capture of the last rail line connecting Atlanta to the rest of the Confederacy signaled the end of that city's resistance to the Yankee invaders. Hood hastily evacuated his army from the city on September 1, and the Union Army marched down its streets a day later. Within hours of his arrival in Atlanta, Sherman issued a series of harsh orders designed to evict all of the city's citizens and transform it into a Union stronghold. "If the people [of Atlanta] raise a howl against my barbarity and cruelty," wrote Sherman, "I will answer that war is war, and not popularity-seeking. If they want peace, they and their relatives must stop the war."
Atlanta mayor James Calhoun tried to convince Sherman to change his mind, but the Union general did not budge. "War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it," he told Calhoun. "You might as well appeal against the thunderstorm as against these terrible hardships of war. They are inevitable [unavoidable], and the only way the people of Atlanta can hope once more to live in peace and quiet at home, is to stop the war, which can only be done by admitting that it began in error and is perpetuated in pride."
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