November 17th, 1864

November 17th, 1864:

The Right Wing of Sherman’s forces continue their march south and pass through Jackson, Flovilla, Worthville, and Indian Springs.  General Howard’s forces camped for the night near Jackson and prepared to cross the Ocmulgee River on the following day at Planter’s Ferry in the area known as Seven Islands.

The Left Wing, accompanied by General Sherman, moves through Conyers, Covington, and Social Circle while also crossing the Alcovy River.  While in Covington, the Federal Troops march through the town with their flags waving and their bands playing.  They are greeted with much trepidation from the southerns, but the slaves were joyous in their arrival and began to sing, dance and pray.  They crowed around General Sherman on his horse in great celebration.  Sherman camped for the night by the Ulcofauhachee River about four miles east of Covington.  Here, Sherman met an elderly slave and engaged him in conversation.  He asked the old man to spread the word to others to not follow the army as it would hamper their movements and burden them with more mouths to feed and people to care for.  He also said that the army would hire young and strong men to work for the army along the way as pioneers and some as teamsters and cooks.  Sherman told the old man he would not be successful in his mission if he was encumbered by masses of freed slaves as he attempted to move through the country and fight the Confederates.  The old man agreed and began to spread the word.  During the March to the Sea, many freed slaves did follow the army, but not nearly as many as could have.

On this day, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, appointed General William Hardee to command all the Confederate forces in Georgia.  Confederate Cavalry General Joseph Wheeler had made his Headquarters in Griffin and on the 17th, he ordered his men to place pickets on all the roads to Macon, Columbus and Augusta.  Wheeler and his men were to harass and slowdown Sherman’s Army as much as possible.

On the morning of the 17th, the Federal Cavalry under the command of General Kilpatrick, moved from Hampton towards Griffin and Forsyth.  The threat was really a feint to distract Wheeler, but was enough of a threat to cause Wheeler to burn the bridge over the Towaliga River and start a small firefight.

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November 16th, 1864

November 16th, 1864:

With the City of Atlanta a still smoldering ruin, General Sherman and his staff, along with the 14th Corps, moved east out of the city towards Decatur.  The right wing’s rear guard moved out towards Jonesboro to catchup with the rest of their wing.  General Sherman and his staff left their headquarters at the Lyon’s house around 7:00am.  The Lyon’s house was located where the current Atlanta City Hall now sits.  As they moved east the day was bright, clear and crisp.  The roads to the east were crowded with the soldiers and wagons of the 14th Corps.  Sherman and his staff made their way to Lithonia, near the Yellow River, where they camped for the night.  Along the way, Sherman’s Soldiers, destroyed the railroad by burning the cross ties and bending the rails around trees and telegraph poles.

The right wing of the army continues to make their way south.  They pass through Jonesboro where they had fought a serious engagement in September, and then passed through Love Joy’s Station and Stockbridge.  They Stop near McDonough for the night.

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Atlanta City Hall now stands where the Lyon’s House once stood.  General Sherman had made the Lyon’s House his headquarters while in town and on the morning of the 16th, Sherman and his staff departed for Savannah.
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The historic High House in Decatur was built around 1830 and was the first two story home in Decatur.  Local legend holds that General Sherman stopped here with his staff to water their horses after leaving Atlanta with the remaining elements of the Left Wing on the morning of the 16th.
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The Right Wing of Sherman’s Army continued to move south through Jonesboro while their rear guard was leaving Atlanta.
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After moving through Jonesboro, the Right Wing moved through Love Joy’s Station and made camp near present day McDonough.

 

November 15th, 1864

November 15th, 1864:

The March to the Sea began this morning.  The right wing and Kilpatirck’s cavalry move southeast along the railroad towards Jonesboro.  Slocum’s 20th Corps, part of the left wing, moved east toward Decatur and Stone Mountain.  Sherman, along with the remainder of the left wing and the rear guard of the right wing, stayed in Atlanta.  Sherman supervised the last details of loading the wagon trains and the final destruction of Atlanta.  In the late afternoon of the 15th the orders were given and the torch was put to Atlanta.  An enormous fire soon erupted and began to consume the city.  Artillery shells and other explosives had been placed in some structures and as the fire raged, they began to explode, sending debris and shell fragments through the air in all directions.  Some soldiers remarked that they could not sleep because the light from the fire was too bright.  Sherman remarked to a staffer that he thought the fire could possibly be seen as far away as Griffin, nearly 40 miles away.

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The railroad at Rough and Ready.  The Right Wing of Sherman’s Army moved south along the railroad towards Jonesboro.
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After giving the order to put the torch to Atlanta, the Left Wing of Sherman’s Army moves towards Decatur.

November 14th, 1864

November 14th, 1864

General Sherman and his staff moved south from Marietta, towards Atlanta.  Along the way the roads were nearly impassable due to the numbers of soldiers marching south to the city.  The railroad had been completely destroyed.  They pulled up the rails and then made fires with the cross ties.  The rails were placed onto of the fires and the rails were heated red hot and then bent or twisted into an unusable shape.  Sherman and his staff crossed the Chattahoochee River on a wagon bridge near the railroad bridge that had been destroyed earlier in the day.  When General Sherman reached Atlanta, he established his headquarters at the Lyons House.

By the end of the day, nearly all of Sherman’s army was in or on the outskirts of Atlanta.  They had been organized into two different wings.  The Left Wing and the Right Wing.  The Right Wing was commanded by Major General O.O. Howard and was composed of the 15th Corps, commanded by Major General P.J. Osterhaus, and the 17th Corps, commanded by Major General F. P. Blair.  The left wing was under the command of Major General H. W. Slocum and was composed of the 14th Corps, commanded by Major General Jefferson C. Davis (not to be confused with Confederate President Jefferson Davis) and the 20th Corps under the command of Brigadier General A. S. Williams.  Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick was in command of a Cavalry Division that was to operate as a separate unit operating independently and in support of the two wings.

Having sent all the sick and injured, as well as nearly all the non combatants, back north, Sherman fielded an army that consisted of 55,329 infantry, 5,063 Cavalry, 1,812 Artillery.  A total of 62,204 soldiers.  They carried all they needed with them and were to forage off the surrounding country side.  This is such an impressive number of men and material to move in coordination with each other, on foot, horseback and by wagon.  Many accounts exist of how well fed everyone was during most of the march due to the region being fairly untouched by the war until now.  Some accounts report that by the end of the march in December, that their livestock was in better condition than when they started out from Atlanta.

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Sherman and his party moved south from Marietta along what is now South Atlanta Road which changes names to Marietta Blvd. on the south side of the Chattahoochee River.  Upon reaching the river, they crossed on a wagon bridge that was next to the destroyed railroad bridge.

November 13th, 1864

November 13th, 1864

Sherman and his staff continue on toward Atlanta.  They move south from Allatoona and passed through Acworth.  All but a few homes in Acworth were destroyed.  Major Connolly described it as “a heap of ruins”.  Many officers were unable to or perhaps unwilling to stop the destructive and plundering nature of the soldiers under their command.  As Sherman and his staff approached Marietta, they passed through some of the earthworks that had been abandoned during the summer.  As they traveled they were able to see large, black columns of smoke coming form Marietta.  General Kilpatrick and his cavalry were in the town.  Guards had been posted to prevent Arson and looting, but were not able to do so and some officers were greatly disturbed by the unauthorized burning of the town.  While in Marietta, Sherman reviewed General Kilpatrick’s command.  He rode past and reviewed 5000 cavalry and at the end he took up a position to watch as they all road past cheering their General.  The business district of the town around the square had been burned and destroyed.

 

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Much of Acworth was destroyed by the time Sherman made his way through and as the last trains passed through the tracks were rendered useless.
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The Marietta Square saw a great deal of action during the civil war.  As Sherman’s troops were preparing to leave, some of them began burning the town.  Only a few period buildings remain.
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Marietta has grown into a large suburb of Atlanta and is known for hosting special events on the town square.
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Suburbanites not soldiers now fill the streets as they shop at the Saturday morning Farmers Market.
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The Marietta Museum of History in the historic Kennesaw House, is one of the few surviving period structures in the downtown business district.  At one time it functioned as a hotel and several of Andrew’s Raiders stayed here before stealing a train.  During the later part of the war, it functioned as a hospital for soldiers of both sides.

November 10th, 1864

November 10th, 1864

General Sherman sent word via telegraph to General Corse, who was in command of the garrison at Rome.  Corse, who had distinguished himself in early October at the Battle of Allatoona Pass, was to begin destroying anything in Rome that had or could have military value to the Confederates.  The most important items of military value were the Noble Foundry and the Rail Road.  The Foundry was destroyed with explosive charges and the remainder of the majority of the city was put to the torch.  While many buildings were not designated as being of military value, some were set on fire by over zealous soldiers and others burned because of their proximity to military targets.  By morning there were very few buildings still standing.  The ones that survived were isolated from the main part of town that burned.  The Federals destroyed two train depots and a warehouse as well as a livery stable still containing horses.  As Corse and his men moved south to rendezvous with the remainder of Sherman’s Army, they began to destroy the railroad.

In Atlanta, Sherman’s Chief Engineer, Capt. Orlando Poe, was busy at work destroying anything of military value and was focusing much attention on the railroad and its related facilities.  Poe had built a battering ram with an iron bar that was just over 21 feet long and suspended from a ten foot tall wooden suspension system.  This was used to destroy the round house and depot.  Some buildings were also rigged with explosives to be set off upon their departure.  In five days, as the Federals leave Atlanta, it will be nothing more that a smoldering ruin.

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Downtown Rome, Georgia.  Noble Foundry, which produced arms, including cannons, once stood on the site of what is now Southeaster Mills.  Here at First St. and Broad St.  In this image the Broad Street bridge crosses the Etowah River and the factory to the right is former location of Noble Foundry.  Taken from the top of the hill at Myrtle Hill Cemetery near the Confederate Monument.
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The First Presbyterian Church of Rome is one of the few remaining period structures from the Civil War in Rome.  It was used by the Federal occupation forces as a warehouse for food and supplies.  Federal troops also poured molasses down the organ pipes and removed the pews to build horse stalls.
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Remains of some earthworks at Fort Norton, which sits upon Civic Center Hill in Rome and is part of a city park with walking trails.  This fort was one of three forts used to protect Rome and manufacturing facilities from the Federals. 
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Remnants of earthworks at Fort Norton, Rome Ga.
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The railroad the lead from Rome through Kingston to Cartersville.  General Corse used this railroad to reinforce Allatoona Pass in October of 1864.  As the order was given to abandon Rome, the Federals destroyed most of the city and as they marched east to link up with other Federal forces to move towards Atlanta, they destroyed as much of the railroad as possible.

 

Mid October 1864

After the Battle of Allatoona Pass, Hood continued to move his army to the north and west of Atlanta.  He threatened the Federal supply line in several locations, but did not do any real lasting damage.  He was pursed for a short while by Sherman and his army, but as the Confederates moved farther west into Alabama, Sherman held his position along the railroad and upon receiving orders to proceed with his plan to March to the Sea, he began making preparations.  He established a headquarters in Kingston and directed all the activities in preparation for the March.  He ordered all the non essential personnel and equipment in Atlanta to be sent back to Chattanooga and had rations and ammunition stockpiled in Atlanta for their departure in early November.

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During the Federal Occupation of Atlanta, many of the Federal troops had constructed improved living quarters in anticipation of staying the winter.  They scavenged the many destroyed structures around Atlanta for the materials to construct their small shacks.
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More improved living quarters near the Atlanta City Hall and Fulton County Court House.  The Federal units assigned as the Provost Guard made their quarters here, where the current Georgia State Capitol now sits.