Article 89

The Men Who Burned Atlanta

On Nov. 14, 1864 the forces destined for the great march were concentrated around the doomed city.

For the Savannah Campaign, Sherman's force of 62,000 men (55,000 infantry, 5,000 cavalry, and 2,000 artillerymen manning 64 guns) was divided into two columns for the march:

The right wing was the Army of the Tennessee, commanded by Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard, consisting of two corps:

XV Corps, commanded by Maj. Gen. Peter J. Osterhaus, with the divisions of Brig. Gens. Charles R. Woods, William B. Hazen, John E. Smith, and John M. Corse.
XVII Corps, commanded by Maj. Gen. Frank Blair, Jr., with the divisions of Maj. Gen. Joseph A. Mower and Brig. Gens. Mortimer D. Leggett and Giles A. Smith.

The left wing was the Army of Georgia, commanded by Maj. Gen. Henry W. Slocum, also with two corps:

XIV Corps, commanded by Brig. Gen. Jefferson C. Davis, with the divisions of Brig. Gens. William P. Carlin, James D. Morgan, and Absalom Baird.
XX Corps, commanded by Brig. Gen. Alpheus S. Williams, with the divisions of Brig. Gens. Nathaniel J. Jackson, John W. Geary, and William T. Ward.

A cavalry division under Brig. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick operated in support of the two wings.

On Nov. 11 Sherman cut the telegraph wires that connected Atlanta with Washington, and his army became an isolated column in the heart of an enemy's country. It began its march for the sea on the morning of the 14th, when the entire city of Atlanta—excepting its courthouse, churches, and dwellings—was committed to the flames.

As the right wing left East Point on the 15th and spent the night in Stockbridge accompanied by Kilpatrick's Cavalry, the burning was primarily perpetrated by the men of the the left wing,


The buildings in the heart of the city, covering 200 acres of ground, formed a great conflagration; and, while the fire was raging, the bands played, and the soldiers chanted the stirring air and words, " John Brown's soul goes marching on!"

Page last modified on November 14, 2014