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This Day in Georgia History

September 02, 1864

Atlanta Evacuated, Ammo Trains Destroyed, Mayor Surrendered

With the arrival of the first minutes of September 2, all Confederate troops had been pulled out of Atlanta - that is, all but a few cavalry with a special mission. Gen. Hood had no intention of leaving the Union Army anything of military value, so the few Confederate left behind began destroying everything they could not carry. Those Atlanta residents who still remained were awakened by terrible explosions as the seven locomotives and 81 loaded cars that made up Hood’s ammunition train was blown up in a scene of Atlanta burning immortalized many years later in the movie Gone With the Wind. The demolition continued for five hours. By dawn, their work was done, and the small contingent rode out of town to join Hood’s forces retreating to Lovejoy’s Station. On the morning of September 2, Atlanta was silent. Residents and city officials had expected the Union Army to ride in to capture its prize. Seeing no one, mayor James Calhoun and a small delegation rode out with a white flag to surrender Atlanta. They met a contingent of the 20th Corps and Calhoun was instructed to submit in writing his desire to surrender. Calhoun’s two-sentence letter, directed to Brig.-Gen. William Ward stated: “Sir: The fortune of war has placed Atlanta in your hands. As mayor of the city I ask protection of non-combatants and private property.” By early afternoon, Union troops were streaming into Atlanta. The Second Massachusetts Regiment was the first unit to reach downtown. They occupied Atlanta’s city hall and raised the U.S. flag. Atlanta was now in federal hands.