Atlanta History Center acquires Gen. Sherman’s field orders

The Associated Press – ATLANTA

The Atlanta History Center has obtained Civil War field orders handwritten by Union General William T. Sherman.

The history center got the field orders in a deal that was clinched with the offer of a bundle of Confederate currency that was donated to the center.

Of the documents, 50 are field orders written by Sherman and two are orders written by his aides. They join another 12 orders the Atlanta History Center already had.

"Sherman surrendered," said history center president Jim Bruns, who likes the idea of Sherman’s orders returning to the city the general ordered burned down.

The orders are so valuable because they "show Sherman’s intentions, the deliberateness of his movements," Bruns said. "They make it clear that he wasn’t going to camp here, and he wasn’t going to garrison the city. So he had to destroy the city."

The documents will go on display by next September, Bruns said.

The deal for the 52 field orders was aided by the contribution of a stash of about 3,000 Confederate States of America notes that were discovered decades ago by developer Dick Myrick. Myrick, who kept the notes in a briefcase for 33 years, decided last summer to donate them to the cause of acquiring Sherman’s orders.

"It really was the Confederate currency that got it started," said Seth Kaller, the historic documents dealer who had Sherman’s orders. "Dick’s contribution was one of the first that was significant enough for us to know the Atlanta History Center was going to be able to acquire Sherman’s orders."

Kaller, based in White Plains, N.Y., said he bought the orders from a collector about a year ago and wanted them to go to Atlanta. Other offers came in, but Kaller held them off last summer to give the Atlanta History Center more time to raise money to acquire the orders.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Bruns said it represents several hundred thousand dollars.

Kaller said Atlanta is a fitting new home for the orders "because of how much Sherman is still hated down there."

Bruns also said the orders belong in Atlanta.

"I think Atlanta will enjoy seeing these papers," he said. "They certainly don’t belong in another city."

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press

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