By the time of the Civil War, the population of Atlanta more than doubled. In 1860, it had a population of less than 10,000, and grew to almost 22,000 as the Civil War progressed. But times were hard for the city. Businesses had difficulty keeping items in stock, the Confederacy enacted stringent draft measures, the Union had strong blockades around coastal cities, and crops were lean. Rapid inflation of the Confederate dollar also devastated the city of Atlanta. The price of a barrel of floor rose from $6.25 to $110 between March 1861 and November 1863. Thieves would raid mercantile houses and and steal from the houses of wealthy citizens. Many merchants were accused of speculating on the prices and profiting from price inflation.
Despite the grim economy, industry in Atlanta started to grow. Optimists saw a great future in Atlanta’s industry. Items from furniture stuffing to axle grease to leather goods were being produced locally, instead of being imported from Union factories. Many local businessmen channeled their energies into the growth of the new industries, some of them even closing their businesses to start new factories and other industrial ventures.
The coming Civil War brought conflict amongst the Kindred as well as the Kine. The Southern Lords grew in their power, accumulating more land and become stricter. Kindred that traveled into their territory sometimes did not return. In addition, the rising Abolitionist movement concerned the Southern Lords. They saw it as an attempt by the Camarilla in the North to wrest away their lands and their Herds. And the Camarilla in the North have been hearing stories of blood gods in the South, a twisted mix of Vodou with the vampiric need to feed. Other stories were heard about haunted plantations. The Camarilla saw this as a dangerous breach of the Masquerade.
A ghoul was sent south to investigate. He returned in a coffin in small, equally sized pieces. Those that saw the remains were stricken with daymares. Sorcery was suspected, perhaps even consorting with the spirits of the Dead or darker arts. Forceful retribution was seen as the only possible approach. When the Civil War broke out, it became the perfect cover for the Camarilla. They sent the Nosferatu justicar Alain and several Archons and a number of Dominated Northern soldiers southward to the confront the Southern Lords. Several of the Southern Lords fled to the nearby cities, including Atlanta. The Camarilla began to make its move towards targets in the South.
With war breaking out, many of the Southern Lords fled to Atlanta or other cities for protection from the Union Army that they would not find alone on their plantation. Others went in to hiding deep in their lands, hoping to wait out the war. As Atlanta grew, the large influx of Kine strained the police, making it easier for the Kindred to operate in the city. The police force numbered only about twenty, although they could call upon the Confederate soldiers stationed outside the city for assistance. Most police were focused on the business center of the city, where the wealthier citizens was located. This made the citizens on the outskirts easier targets for feeding for the Southern Lords. The Southern Lords began fighting amongst themselves, attempting to take control of Atlanta. Any Kindred already in the city when the Southern Lords came met their Final Death.
Unfortunately for the city of Atlanta, it was a target for both the Camarilla and the United States. It’s industrial and population growth made it a tempting target to the Union forces. Union guns began bombarding Atlanta in August of 1864, hitting both military targets as well as private homes and businesses. Justicar Alain and his forces spread through the city, finding, staking, and killing any Southern Lord they found. J Benison Hodge, a Malkavian archon, was exemplary in his hunt for the Southern Lords.
On September 1, 1864, General Hood’s army began evacuating the city. Most of the Southern Lords had met their Final Death, and the Camarilla pulled their forces out of the city as well. Confederate cavalry stayed behind to dismantle as much military hardware as they could. The next day, Mayor James M. Calhoun surrendered the city to the General Sherman’s Union army. Although one of Sherman’s aides promised that the private property of Atlanta citizens would not be damaged, this was not the case. Fires spread out of control, including one set by the Confederate when they ignited eighty railroad cars full of ammunition. Several Union soldiers also torched and pillaged residences against orders.
According to official reports, four to five thousand buildings were reduced to rubble. All machine shops, railroad depots, and factories were destroyed.