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In Their Own Words

September 02, 1864

Union Troops Entering Atlanta Witnessed

In Atlanta, merchant Samuel P. Richards finally witnessed what he never thought would see - Union troops in Atlanta - as recorded in his diary:

“About noon today the Yankees came in sure enough. A party of five or six came riding by our house. A committee of our citizens went out early and met Gen. Slocum and got his word that private property should be respected, upon which the city was surrendered to them and in they came. The Stars and Stripes were soon floating aloft over the city. The private houses were not molested by the soldiers, and I was therefore very much surprised when I went downtown to see armsful and baskets full of books and wall-paper going up the street in a continuous stream from our store. When I reached the store, the scene would have required the pencil of [artist William] Hogarth to portray. Yankees, men, women, children and niggers were crowded into the store, each one scrambling to get something to carry away, regardless, apparently, whether it was anything they needed, and still more heedless of the fact that they were stealing! Such a state of utter confusion and disorder as presented itself to my eyes then, I little dreamed of two hours before when I left it all quiet and, as I thought, safe. The soldiers in their mad hunt for tobacco had probably broken open the door, and the rabble had then ‘pitched in,’ thinking it a ‘free fight.’ At first I was so dismayed that I almost resolved to let them finish it, but finally I got them out and stood guard until after dark when I left it to its chances until morning, as I was very sleepy… .”

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