City Cafe

On This Date in 1864: A Desperate Letter from Atlanta

View of civilians preparing to evacuate Atlanta, Georgia, by rail from the first Union Depot during the Civil War.
View of civilians preparing to evacuate Atlanta, Georgia, by rail from the first Union Depot during the Civil War.
Credit Atlanta History Photograph Collection / Atlanta History Center

In this installment of our series “Voices of 1864,” we have excerpts from a letter written 150 years ago by a 28-year-old Atlanta woman caught in Atlanta during the Union shelling of the city.

Julia Davidson penned this letter to her husband in the Confederate Army on August 4th, 1864, 16 days into the shelling by General William T. Sherman’s forces. She was one of the few thousand citizens who had not already fled.

Broadcast version of story that aired August 4, 2014

  Shelling would continue until the Confederate army was forced from the city, September 1st. Days later, almost all noncombatants would be ordered to leave, and Davidson and her family fled to South Carolina. Eventually, her husband did re-join them.

This excerpt was read by Ann Marie Gideon. The series is produced by WABE’s Kate Sweeney. Special thanks to the Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center, which provided historical content.

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