Teachers

The Atlanta Campaign of 1864: The Camera at War

Today it is hard to imagine two massive armies maneuvering and clashing in the area that is now Atlanta: one army attempting to force its will upon the future metropolis and the other doing everything in its power to resist that will. Under the command of General William T. Sherman, a large Federal force moved out of Chattanooga, Tennessee towards the Georgia capital. The smaller Confederate army led by General Joseph E. Johnston and later John B. Hood had the job of stopping this Federal onslaught. From May 7 until September 2, when Sherman’s troops moved into Atlanta, these armies collided and parried throughout Northwest Georgia. For the most part, the Confederates dug in while the Federals either attacked head-on or flanked around the battlements forcing the besieged force to withdraw, regroup, and dig in. At times, the reverse occurred.

The impact of the fall of Atlanta was instrumental in the eventual victory for the Federal forces. It boosted morale in the North and insured the reelection of President Abraham Lincoln which meant that the war would continue to the South’s capitulation. Until then, with no major Confederate Army left to contest Sherman and his men, he would order them to move east, towards Savannah, and from there, north into the Carolinas. Unopposed, Sherman’s Army brought the war to the heart of the South and to its civilian population, making both Georgia and South Carolina "howl."

Many of the photographs below are the work of George Barnard. Once an employee of Matthew Brady Studios, Barnard worked for the Topographical Branch of the Army Engineers after December 1863. Assigned to Sherman’s Army, he captured many of the images of the Atlanta Campaign on early photographic equipment. The remaining photographs are attributed to the Matthew Brady Studios but were likely not taken by Brady but one of his employees. Notice the detail in the images: rifle stacks, railroad trestles, entrenchments, the ravages of war.

Documents

Image 1: Georgia, Allatoona from the Etawah, ca. 1862 - ca. 1865
National Archives Identifier 533397 / Local Identifier 165-SC-24
Item from Record Group 165: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, 1860 - 1952

Image 2: Georgia, Allatoona Pass, ca. 1862 - ca. 1865
National Archives Identifier 533401 / Local Identifier 165-SC-28
Item from Record Group 165: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, 1860 - 1952

Image 3: Resaca, Ga. Allatoona Pass, 1864, ca. 1860 - ca. 1865
National Archives Identifier 528852 / Local Identifier 111-B-4734
Item from Record Group 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1860 - 1982

Image 4: Georgia, Allatoona Pass, looking North, ca. 1862 - ca. 1865
National Archives Identifier 533402 / Local Identifier 165-SC-29
Item from Record Group 165: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, 1860 - 1952

Image 5: Railroad yards. Possibly at Atlanta, ca. 1860 - ca. 1865
National Archives Identifier 529282 / Local Identifier 111-B-5177
Item from Record Group 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1860 - 1982

Image 6: Georgia, Atlanta, Confederate works in front of, ca. 1862 - ca. 1865
National Archives Identifier 533412 / Local Identifier 165-SC-39
Item from Record Group 165: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, 1860 - 1952

Image 7: Georgia, Atlanta, Confederate Works Southeast, ca. 1862 - ca. 1865
National Archives Identifier 533414 / Local Identifier 165-SC-41
Item from Record Group 165: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, 1860 - 1952

Image 8: Fortifications in front of Atlanta, Ga., 1864, ca. 1860 - ca. 1865
National Archives Identifier 528857 / Local Identifier 111-B-4739
Item from Record Group 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1860 1982

Image 9: Atlanta fortifications, ca. 1860 - ca. 1865
National Archives Identifier 528870 / Local Identifier 111-B-4753
Item from Record Group 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1860 - 1982

Image 10: Fortifications in front of Atlanta, Ga., 1864, ca. 1860 - ca. 1865
National Archives Identifier 524952 / Local Identifier 111-B-542
Item from Record Group 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1860 - 1982

Image 11: Fortifications in front of Atlanta, Ga., 1864, ca. 1860 - ca. 1865
National Archives Identifier 524951 / Local Identifier 111-B-541
Item from Record Group 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1860 - 1982

Image 12: Fortifications in front of Atlanta, Ga., 1864, ca. 1860 - ca. 1865
National Archives Identifier 524958 / Local Identifier 111-B-548
Item from Record Group 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1860 - 1982

Image 13: R.R. two miles southwest of Atlanta. Federal Fort #7, ca. 1860 - ca. 1865
National Archives Identifier 524944 / Local Identifier 111-B-534
Item from Record Group 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1860 1982

Image 14: Destruction of General Hood's Ordnance Train, ca. 1862 - ca. 1865
National Archives Identifier 533417 / Local Identifier 165-SC-44
Item from Record Group 165: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, 1860 - 1952

Image 15: Engine "Hero" destroyed by Confederates in evacuating Atlanta, Ga. Engine used by Mitchell's men in attempt to burn R.R. bridges. They were caught upon it and hanged in Atlanta., ca. 1860 - ca. 1865
National Archives Identifier 530395 / Local Identifier 111-B-6328
Item from Record Group 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1860 - 1982

Image 16: Ruins of Atlanta, Ga., 1864, ca. 1860 - ca. 1865
National Archives Identifier 528865 / Local Identifier 111-B-4748
Item from Record Group 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1860 - 1982

Suggested Activities:

These images might make a good, but simple research project. Have students access descriptions of the Atlanta Campaign either on-line or with a print source and then have them place the images in the chronological sequence they represent. For example, which images represent battles in the early part of the campaign or which images took part at the end of the campaign?

There are more online images taken during the Atlanta Campaign available from the National Archives

Civil War Atlanta
Civil War Allatoona
Civil War Resaca
Civil War Peach Tree
Civil War New Hope Church

An online copy of Civil War photographer George Barnard's 1866 publication Barnard's Photographic Views of the Sherman Campaign, can be found online at the Digital Library of Georgia http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/hargrett/barnard/.

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