From August 27th to September 2nd, The Southeastern Underground Radio Fellowship would like to extend a warm welcome to all and intends to spread good cheer and celebration over the last time General Sherman came to town, looking for a light. It isn’t every day that you get to celebrate something that happened 150 years ago; or at least, anything of much consequence.
Sherman could have taken the city much sooner after the Battle of Bald Hill on July 22, instead of it finally falling Sept. 2nd, 1864. However, he had lost McPherson, for whom a nearby fort was later named, during that battle and this particular loss is incalculable; while many believe McPherson to have been overly cautious, he was tactically brilliant and well regarded by his men. Instead, the Confederate forces, under the leadership of Hood, maintained their position and held Atlanta. After laying in a siege, Sherman had the city shelled from sun-up to sunset. Many people built and lived within bunkers they would construct out of whatever they could get their hands on in their basements or backyards. It isn't clear how many people were killed by what today would no doubt be considered a war crime, but we do know one free black, Solomon Luckie, was (and yes, dear reader, that's why Luckie street is spelled that way). He was a rather famous barber of the time and well liked by the Atlanta community.
In the end, however, it was simply a matter of time before Sherman could outflank Hood and secure more railway track away from the Confederates, thus severing their supply line and forcing a retreat. While Hood repelled many attacks, he would not be so fortunate at the end when the Union forces finally captured Macon. Burning railcar loads full of munitions in order that the enemy not have them, Hood abandoned the city he had been brought in to save. It was this particular act that eventually gave rise to the scene of the city afire in the novel and subsequent movie, Gone With the Wind. The claimed fact that the city had been completely burned to the ground is a myth, but it was made real by a movie that was made some seventy five years later. Scholars today are still uncertain about what proportion of Atlanta was destroyed during the battles in and around, during the siege and subsequent Union occupation and then abandonment. I do know this- we'd prefer not to have Sherman back anytime soon. He stiffed us on the security deposit- it certainly didn't cover the damage he did.
After winning the war and preserving the Union, there remained quite a bit of civil unrest. Antagonism raises the blood of aggrieved people which, in turn, can manufacture hatred in the heart of many men. Lincoln would not survive his second term as President of this Union, our Great States, United once more. The nation, who had had the right man at the right time, became rudderless. Such despondency provoked Walt Whitman to pen one of his very famous poems over losing who was, without question, an icon not just of America, but of an age. Here is a copy of that poem; perhaps you'll recognize its first line?
O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
- But O heart! heart! heart!
- O the bleeding drops of red,
- Where on the deck my Captain lies,
- Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! My Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
- Here captain! dear father!
- This arm beneath your head;
- It is some dream that on the deck,
- You've fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
- Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
- But I, with mournful tread,
- Walk the deck my captain lies,
- Fallen cold and dead.
A large part of rebuilding remained to be done after the close of the Civil War, and out of those ashes rose Atlanta, now the de facto capital of The New South. The city logo has two dates: it’s chartering in 1847 and its rebirth in 1865. Fittingly, the mythical Phoenix is the city symbol.
We’ll be on the bands mostly during the 30th and 31st of August, but we are going to endeavor to be active on all other days as is possible. We’ll be sending out a complimentary QSL card, because in the grand tradition of Southern gentility, we ought to make certain that we do our duty and send out a “final courtesy” to all we work. Please look for us on the bands!