Atlanta in The American Civil War - Early War Years

Early War Years

In the years before the Civil War, Atlanta was a relatively small city, ranking 99th in the United States in size with a population of 9,554 according to the 1860 United States (U.S.) Census. However, it was the 12th-largest city in what became the Confederate States of America.

The city was a vital transportation and logistics center, with several major railroads in the area, including the Western & Atlantic Railroad, which connected the city with Chattanooga, Tennessee, 138 miles to the north. A series of roads radiated out from the city in all directions, connecting Atlanta with neighboring towns and states.

Thought to be relatively safe from Union forces early in the war, Atlanta rapidly became a concentration point for the Confederate quartermasters and logistics experts; warehouses were filled with food, forage, supplies, ammunition, clothing and other materiel critical to the Confederate armies operating in the Western Theater.


The Atlanta Rolling Mill, established before the war, was significantly expanded and provided a major source for armor plating for Confederate Navy ironclads, including the CSS Virginia. It also refurbished railroad tracks. A large number of machine shops, foundries and other industrial concerns were soon established in Atlanta. The population swelled to nearly 22,000 as workers arrived for these new factories and warehouses.

A number of newspapers flourished in Atlanta during the Civil War. Among the more prominent ones were the Atlanta Southern Confederacy and the Daily Intelligencer, which was moved to Macon during the Union occupation in 1864. It was the only Atlanta paper to survive the war and resume publication after the hostilities.

Read more about this topic:  Atlanta In The American Civil War

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