1864: When War Came to Atlanta

This summer marks the 150th anniversary of the siege and battles for Atlanta. The AJC and Atlanta History Center created this map to show the areas hard hit by war in 1864, including the five main battles that decided the outcome.

It’s a common misconception that Atlanta’s destruction resulted from Sherman’s burning in November. In fact, the devastation took place in various phases throughout the year.

It started when Confederate military planners stripped and leveled buildings and homes on the city’s outskirts to build the extensive fortifications that Sherman found impenetrable. During the summer siege, Union artillery fire hit many of the city’s major structures, setting many afire. Miles of trenches dug by both sides scarred fields and roads. When the Confederates made their retreat, they blew up their ammunition train, damaging scores of homes, and burned the massive Atlanta Machine Works factory. Looters and arsonists from both armies also took a toll, and Union occupiers ripped apart more homes and buildings to build new forts and shelters.

The final blow came in November, when Sherman ordered the destruction and burning of all facilities with potential military value, including ripping up rail lines and destroying Atlanta’s transportation infrastructure.

Though the exact number of destroyed buildings will never be known, approximately 40 percent of the city lay in ruins when Sherman departed on his legendary March to the Sea.

Use the filter function below to edit which categories you want to display. For example, on BUILDINGS you can choose all structures, or only churches, prominent homes, hotels, etc. The locations of Downtown buildings come from research conducted by Ken Denney.

For a complete interactive experience on 1864 Atlanta, please visit War In Our Backyards, available exclusively at MyAJC.com/150Atlanta.