On July 20, 1864, Gen. William T. Sherman’s Union soldiers won a hard-fought battle at Peachtree Creek, taking control of present-day Buckhead and continuing their determined march toward Atlanta. Rebel Gen. John Bell Hood’s forces proved formidable in subsequent engagements, including the Battle of Atlanta on July 22 (the battle depicted at the Atlanta Cyclorama at Grant Park). Sherman decided to cut the rail lines into Atlanta, cutting off supplies and forcing the Confederates to abandon the city. At the end of the month Hood continued to hold the Union forces at bay, but the Confederacy had suffered heavy losses.
Before the war, Sherman’s mapmaker, George N. Barnard, developed an interest in the new medium of photography and was hired to document the war. In Atlanta, Barnard photographed Confederate forts, rail yards and street views. In this photo, Barnard captured one of Hood’s ordnance trains being destroyed. His prints “illustrate a landscape of trees shorn by gunfire and cities of empty streets and ruined buildings, an eerie and mute testament to the brutal power of war,” according to the New Georgia Encyclopedia. (www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/)
The Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript currently has a number of Barnard’s prints on display as part of its annual exhibit on the Civil War. The Hargrett has more than 500 collections documenting the Civil War experience in Georgia and available for research at the UGA Special Collections Libraries.