In 1898, 34 years after Sherman’s army burned Atlanta to the ground, a Union veteran visited the city. The veteran addressed the Georgia legislature, praising the valor of the Confederate dead and offering federal aid in the care of their graves. Georgia rose up to welcome him and with Georgia the whole South. It was a magnificent gesture by President William McKinley, who had been a teenager at Sharpsburg. The scene has been recreated by biographer Margaret Leech in her book, In the Days of McKinley:
"He sprang to his feet when the band played 'Dixie' and waved his hat above his head. He reviewed the marching ranks of gray-clad troops....His voice was fervent as he said that the old disagreements had faded into history and the nation would remain indivisible forever. Gen. Joe Wheeler often stood beside the president, swelling the ovation by his immense popularity."
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