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Redeeming the Cyclorama: Why the century-old attraction is anything but a monument to the Confederacy
Conceived in Chicago, created in Milwaukee, and premiered in Minneapolis, the Cyclorama was meant to celebrate the Union’s great triumph in capturing Atlanta and hastening the end of the Civil War. But when the painting moved South, new audiences flipped its meaning, bastardizing the spectacle into a testament to white Southern pride. For decades, it was a masterpiece of misinterpretation. Now, it has a new life at the Atlanta History Center.
“The Battle of Atlanta” sounds pretty definitive. And it’s understandable that the average person, not steeped in Civil War martial minutia, might consider this to be the dramatic and fiery destruction of the city (i.e. that famous flaming scene in Gone with the Wind.) But in fact, the battle waged in Atlanta on July 22, 1864 was just one step of the Atlanta Campaign, a months-long effort that didn’t reach its blazing conclusion until the fall.