George N. BarnardAmerican (Coventry, Connecticut, 1819 - 1902, Cedarville, New York)
Destruction of Hood's Ordnance Train and Ruins of Rolling Mill, Atlanta, Georgia, from Photographic Views of Sherman's Campaign
During the Civil War, George Barnard was named official photographer for General Sherman's command. He accompanied the general and his troops through the South on the infamous March to the Sea campaign. As Sherman entered Atlanta in September 1864, the Confederate Army, under General John B. Hood, abandoned the city. Before they left, however, they set fire to 81 railroad cars bearing munitions so they would not fall into the hands of the enemy.
Like many of the photographs Barnard published after the war in The Sherman Campaign (1866), this image documents the apocalyptic aftermath rather than the event itself. A ghostly figure walks amid the rubble, where the train's wheels, the only thing that survived the conflagration, are lined up like giant barbells. Barnard used another negative to add an incongruously spectacular cloudscape above the desolate wreckage, heightening the otherworldly appearance of the scene.