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In Their Own Words

September 01, 1864

Evacuation of Atlanta Described

Atlanta merchant Samuel P. Richards recorded in his diary of the beginning of the evacuation of Atlanta following news of the Confederate loss in the Battle of Jonesboro:

“This was a day of terror and a sight of dread. About noon came the tidings of a severe fight on the Macon R.R. [Battle of Jonesboro] and that our forces were worsted and the city was to be evacuated at once. Then began a scramble among the inhabitants thereof to get away - others to procure supplies of food for their families. If there had been any doubt of the fact that Atlanta was about to be given up it would have been removed when we saw the depots of Government grain and food thrown open, and the contents distributed among the citizens free gratis, by the sackful and the cartload. The R.R. cars and engines were all run up to one place in order to be fired just as the army left. Five locomotives and 85 cars, Cousin Bill told me, were to be burned… . I went to the Macon depot with Mr. West and secured there sacks of meal. As we went down the Ammunition Train was fired, and for half an hour or more an incessant discharge was kept up that jarred the ground and broke the glass in the windows around. It was terrific to listen to and know the object… .”

Source: Franklin M. Garrett, Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of Its People and Events (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1954), Vol. I, pp. 636-637.