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Like Chicago from Mrs. O Leary s cow, or San Francisco from the earthquake of 1906, Atlanta has earned distinction as one of the most burned cities in American history. During the Civil War, Atlanta was wrecked, but not by burning alone. Longtime Atlantan Stephen Davis tells the story of what the Yankees did to his city. General William T. Sherman s Union forces had invested the city by late July 1864. Northern artillerymen, on Sherman s direct orders, began shelling the interior of Atlanta on 20 July, knowing that civilians still lived there and continued despite their knowledge that women and children were being killed and wounded. Countless buildings were damaged by Northern missiles and the fires they caused. Davis provides the most extensive account of the Federal shelling of Atlanta, relying on contemporary newspaper accounts more than any previous scholar. The Yankees took Atlanta in early September by cutting its last railroad, which caused Confederate forces to evacuate and allowed Sherman s troops to march in the next day. The Federal army s two and a half-month occupation of the city is rarely covered in books on the Atlanta campaign. Davis makes a point that Sherman s wrecking continued during the occupation when Northern soldiers stripped houses and tore other structures down for wood to build their shanties and huts. Before setting out on his march to the sea, Sherman directed his engineers to demolish the city s railroad complex and what remained of its industrial plant. He cautioned them not to use fire until the day before the army was to set out on its march. Yet fires began the night of 11 November deliberate arson committed against orders by Northern soldiers. Davis details the burning of Atlanta, and studies those accounts that attempt to estimate the extent of destruction in the city.
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Stephen Davis of Atlanta earned a PhD in American Studies, an MA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a BA from Emory University. His hobby since the fourth grade has been the Civil War, on which he has written more than one hundred articles. For over twenty years, he served as book review editor for Blue & Gray Magazine. His book, Atlanta Will Fall: Sherman, Joe Johnston and the Yankee Heavy Battalions, was published in 2001.Review:
The burning of Atlanta has taken on such mythical proportions that it long ago became separated from historical fact. In What the Yankees Did to Us, Davis has reexamined original sources and discovered new ones to retell the story but this time with feet planted firmly in reality. The result is the best and most accurate work on this topic to date. If you think you already knew about this famous chapter in Civil War history, think again. --Gordon L. Jones, Ph.D., Senior Military Historian and Curator, Atlanta History Center
Author Steve Davis does not think much of Gen. William T. Sherman. And if you know anything about Davis or his prior publications, that news won't surprise you. What might raise your eyebrows is the depth and breadth of WHAT THE YANKEES DID TO US, his micro-history of the damage the Union armies under Sherman's command inflicted upon Atlanta during the latter months of 1864. The general canvas of this sad tale is well known to Civil War students, but the finer brush strokes, the level of damage, cruel deaths, months of intentional destruction for little military gain, are less recognized...Many writers have written about this story before Davis picked up his pen, but his is by far the most well-researched, thorough, and detailed account ever written about the "wrecking" of Atlanta. Even though Davis is a fierce and self-proclaimed partisan, his work is much less so because of the sheer volume of meticulous documentation. The scholarly nature of this work is breathtaking, and thus it is not always as easy to read as some other books about more general Civil War topics. But Davis did not write the book for someone with a passing interest in the conflict. Like an attorney, Davis is setting the record straight before the bar of history. Hundreds of eyewitness accounts, as recorded in letters, diaries and newspapers provide the foundation for this study. Both sides, including civilians caught up in the nightmare of armies fighting on their doorstep, are well represented...Complete with dozens of maps, photos and illustrations, as well as outstanding notes, a complete bibliography, and a bibliographic review of resources, Davis's book is a real contribution to the war's literature. Both sides participated in atrocities, but for the first time the sheer breadth and depth of Atlanta's destruction is set forth between two covers. Sherman was right: war is hell. And according to Davis, the general played Satan for several months in the Deep South. Not everyone will agree, but such is the nature of writing history. This volume is highly recommended. --Theodore Savas, Civil War News
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Book Description Mercer University Press, 2012. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # MB00POF0S44
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