“They came burning Atlanta to day…”

a couple of months ago

After capturing Atlanta in September 1864 during the Civil War, Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman,  ordered the destruction of all railroads, factories, and commercial buildings of possible use to the Confederacy. Though houses and churches were not targeted, some were looted and burned nonetheless. Here’s one of the many stories.

Ten-year-old Carrie Berry and her family lived in Atlanta, Georgia when Sherman arrived and started burning his way to the Georgia coast.

Here are some of Carrie’s diary entries:

Sunday (13 Nov 1864):

“The federal soldiers have been coming to day and burning houses and I have ben looking at them come in nearly all day.”

Monday:

“They came burning Atlanta to day. We all dread it because they say that they will burn the last house before they stop.”

Tuesday:

“This has been a dreadful day. Things have ben burning all around us. We dread to night because we do not know what moment they will set our house on fire.”

Wednesday:

“Oh what a night we had. They came burning the store house and about night it looked like the whole town was on fire.  We all set up all night.  If we had not set up our house would have ben burnt up for the fire was very near and the soldiers were going around setting houses on fire where they were not watched. They behaved very badly.”

The Union troops left the next day, and while her house was “torn up so bad,” it was still standing. On the 22nd of November she wrote:

“It is just a week today since the federals were burning. Papa and Mama say that they feel very poor. We have not got anything but our little house.  It is still very cold.”  

Four days later:

“I ironed this morning and in the afternoon I picked up nails and when I came home Papa and Grandpa were here. The Yankees payed Grandpa a visit and took every thing he had…”

On January 2nd she was back in school.  She reports

“…studying arithmetic, spelling, reading and geography. We are all trying to see which will learn the most.”

This was a glimpse of the Civil War, as seen from the eyes of an innocent and brave 10 year old girl living in the South.

Sherman’s army destroying rail infrastructure in Atlanta, 1864

 

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