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When Union troops captured Atlanta in September 1864 and Mayor James M. Calhoun asked for Federal leniency in dealing with the conquered city, Sherman's response was blunt. "You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will," he told Calhoun. "War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it."
This message was followed by Sherman's orders to burn Atlanta's war-related industries -- he always denied ordering the entire city's destruction -- and expel its inhabitants. It was the latter move which Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood said, "transcends, in studious and ingenious cruelty, all acts ever brought to my attention in the dark history of war."
Harsh words, but Hood shouldn't have been surprised. Sherman had already done the same, two months earlier, in a little place called Roswell.
What to See
The Roswell Mills were rebuilt after the Civil War, and operated in one form or another until 1975. Fires and time have taken their toll, but ruins of the original mill site, including walls built by slave stonemasons, can be seen from several vantage points in Vickery Creek Park. The park is off Sloan Street, near Roswell Square. A staircase walkway with several landings leads you down to the site.
Across from the park entrance is Founders Cemetery, where a time-weathered obelisk marks the grave of Roswell King (1765-1844).
Also on Sloan Street are "The Old Bricks" antebellum apartments -- among the first apartments built in America, circa 1840 -- used by mill workers. The apartments served as a Union hospital in 1864.
Nearby is a monument recently dedicated to the Roswell mill women. Its base is topped by a shattered column, "symbolic of lives torn apart under tragic circumstances."
For more information, contact the Historic Roswell Visitors Center at 770-640-3253, or check their website at www.cvb.roswell.ga.us.
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