03-22-21 Up in Smoke

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Major General
Judge Adv. Genl.
Thread Medic
Answered the Call for Reinforcements
Aug 16, 2015
What percentage of Georgia’s historical records went up in flames when Sherman burned Atlanta?

credit: @Peace Society
Zero to little.
It depends what is meant by "Georgia's historical records". State records were kept at Milledgeville, the State's capital. Other records- birth, property, etc- were kept at county courthouses. The courthouse in Fulton County, where Atlanta was located, escaped damage: no records were lost. Atlanta's City Hall was also spared. Private homes undoubtedly held family treasures, many of which may be considered "historical records". As anywhere from 37% to 92% of the city was destroyed, including about 3400 residences and all institutions of learning except the Atlanta Medical College, there were undoubtedly irreplaceable record losses.
Source: Walter G. Cooper, The Official History of Fulton County, (Atlanta, GA: Walter W. Brown, 1934), pp. 182-185.
Source: Wallace P. Reed, History of Atlanta, Georgia: With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches.... (Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co., 1889), pp. 206-208.
Source: Paul K. Graham, "The Search for Fulton County's Stolen Records". Georgia Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 45, No. 3 (Fall 2009), pp. 217-221.


First Lady of CivilWarTalk
Super Moderator
Apr 1, 1999
Wild and Wonderful WV
zero percent.
Source: “When General William Tecumseh Sherman and his Union army approached Atlanta to destroy it in 1864 our secretary of state hastily piled the state’s official documents into a two-horse covered wagon, hired a teamster, and told him to haul the load northward until he found a place away from military action. More than ten years later, the governor of Georgia received a letter from a man in Maryland stating that he had recently bought a farm and found a wagonload of papers, apparently relating to Georgia, under the shed of a barn. The records were returned to Atlanta, remarkably intact.”
An Hour Before Daylight: Memories of a Rural Boyhood
Jimmy Carter
Touchstone, New York 2001
p. 231

Edit - I'm a bit surprised that President Carter didn't mention the fact that Atlanta was not the capital of Georgia in 1864, though it had become the capital by the time the papers were returned ten years later. But whether the state records were hauled northward from Atlanta or from Milledgeville, it remains true that zero percent of them were consumed in the fire at Atlanta.

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