Much of our knowledge of Civil War Atlanta comes from the work of the official photographer of the Army of the Mississippi, George Barnard. Assigned to document military camps, fortifications and rail lines, Barnard followed General William Sherman and his troops on their infamous March to the Sea. In the process of completing his assigned military tasks, Barnard was also able to capture stunning images left in the wake of Sherman’s advance. Images that include the only view of 1860s Atlanta that we have.
It is because of Barnard’s images that we have some idea of what our city was like in the weeks and months surrounding Sherman’s assault. One can read volumes about Atlanta’s impressive Civil War fortifications but one look at George Barnard’s pictures tells the story in ways that words never could. And that is reason enough, to make the photography of George Barnard, and one photograph in particular, the subject of this week’s Stories of Atlanta.