Academic journal article The Historian

What the Yankees Did to Us: Sherman's Bombardment and Wrecking of Atlanta

Academic journal article The Historian

What the Yankees Did to Us: Sherman's Bombardment and Wrecking of Atlanta

Article excerpt

What the Yankees Did to Us: Sherman's Bombardment and Wrecking of Atlanta. By Stephen Davis. (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2012. Pp. 527. $35.00.)

This study makes its interpretation clear from its title. The author is focused on the summer and fall of the 1864 siege, bombardment, occupation, and finally burning of Atlanta. His carefully researched and vividly detailed account is written largely, though not entirely, from the perspective of Atlanta's white citizens, and their suffering, anger, and resentment dominates the narrative. This is truly a narrative history, one that puts the reader in the heart of the city, rather than taking a more distant perspective.

The five-week bombardment of Atlanta, culminating in the Union occupation of the city on September 2, 1864, resulted in more civilian casualties than the shelling of either Petersburg or Charleston. The bombardment itself, Stephen Davis argues, has often been overlooked, but it did, in fact, deeply shape the wartime and postwar experiences of Atlantans. Although one might expect What the Yankees Did to Us to draw heavily on letters and diaries, its real strength is in its use of contemporary newspapers, especially from the pre-occupation period. As Davis points out, the long siege of Atlanta is often glossed over in favor of the more dramatic fires and twisted rails of November, 1864.

Once Sherman and his army had entered the city, Davis turns to the more familiar story of the occupation and Sherman's expulsion of civilians. …

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