The Ebenezer Creek Incident, December 8th – 10th, 1864

Dec. 8th – Dec. 10th, the Left Wing marches toward Savannah passing through Springfield and Ebenezer.  All the while meeting more resistance.  The Right Wing begins to push elements to the East through Pooler and also faces increased resistance.

The Ebenezer Creek Incident:  On the 9th of December 1864, the Federal 14th Corps was being hounded by Confederate Cavalry.  When they reached the creek they found the bridge had been burned and the engineers were brought up to build pontoon bridges.  The 14th Corps had been followed along their march through Georgia by a growing number of freed slaves, some historians estimate that there were nearly 5,000 former slaves following the 14th Corps. The Federals had asked the freed slaves not to follow the army as they did not have the resources to support their growing numbers.  In a tactical decision, Brig. Gen. Jefferson Davis(not the Confederate President of the same name), ordered the pontoon bridge to be taken up before the refugees crossed.  He was being pressed by the Confederate Cavalry and in order to save his troops, he stranded the refugees across the rain swollen Ebenezer Creek.  As the Confederates closed in, many of the former slaves were in a panic and attempted to swim across the creek.  Few made it across and hundreds died trying to cross the swift moving water.  Many were recaptured by the Confederates as they reached the creek.  Upon reaching Savannah later in December, there was an official investigation of the incident and General Davis was not reprimanded or punished in anyway.  Some historians speculate that the move was planned as a way to rid the 14th Corps of the refugees as they were slowing their advance.  General Sherman supported Generals Davis’s decision as the right thing to do from a military standpoint.  (I was unable to photograph the location as the land was in the process of changing hands and is now set aside to become a public park sometime in the future.)

Dec. 10th, General Sherman arrives on the outskirts of Savannah’s defenses and begins to plan for siege operations.  Sherman begins to lay siege to the defenses of Savannah and artillery exchanges become a frequent occurrence.  In order to keep up a siege, Sherman know he will need supplies and must make contact with the Federal Navy just off the coast.

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Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church is located in New Ebenezer and was built in 1767.  It is the oldest Lutheran congregation in the country as well as the oldest church still standing in the state of Georgia.  The 14th Corps camped here for several days.  There is a good museum with some period structures and the oldest orphanage in the state located adjacent to the church property.
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The interior of Jerusalem Church.  The Federals ransacked the church and burned down the parsonage as well.  In 1915 the U.S. Government reimbursed the church the $225.00 for damages done by the 14th Corps.
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The cemetery at New Ebenezer was once surrounded by wooden fence that was destroyed by the Federal troops for a variety of uses. 
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Zion Church, located at the intersection of Ga. 17 and Ga. 30, was used as a headquarters on December 8th by General Sherman. 
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November 27th, 1864

Nov. 27th, 1864:

The Left Wing has reached the Ogeechee River and begins to cross at Fenn’s Bridge.  A series of sharp cavalry battles ensue in the area of Waynesboro when Sherman feints toward Augusta.  The Left Wing also provides support for Kilpatrick as he operates and clashes with Wheeler between Millen and Waynesboro.

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Ga. 88 now crosses the Ogeechee River at the site of Fenn’s Bridge.  Confederate Cavalry General Wheeler had left the bridge intact for his own operations in the area, but upon returning to destroy it, his units were met by Federal troops preventing their attempt to destroy the bridge.
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The courthouse of downtown Waynesboro.  Federals and Confederate Cavalry clashed and skirmished for several days in the area and on December 4th they fight the Battle of Waynesboro.

November 12th 1864

November 12th, 1864

General Sherman and his staff departed from Kingston on the morning of the 12th and began their journey to Atlanta.  They reached  Cartersville around noon where they sat on a porch at the telegraph operators office to rest.  Sherman received a dispatch from General Thomas in Nashville.  Sherman replied with “Dispatch received-all right”.  As Sherman ended his message the telegraph line linking him to Chattanooga and the remainder of the Federal Army, was cut.  Sherman and his forces were now cut off and on their own until they reached the coast.  Just below Cartersville they stopped to watched the last trains cross the bridge over the Etowah River, and then crossed the river and continued south.  They traveled about 20 miles for the day and camped near Allatoona.

The Federal troops in the outpost there had been protecting and garrisoning locations throughout North Georgia, were ordered to march toward Atlanta as quickly as possible and to destroy the railroad and make the country “untenable” for the enemy.  Bridges, mills, homes, barns, and other buildings were burned and food as well as livestock were taken.  What they could not carry, they destroyed.

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The train depot of Cartersville was mostly destroyed during the Atlanta Campaign of the summer.  General Sherman stopped near here on his way to Atlanta from Kingston to send his final telegraph before the lines were cut.
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The original railroad bridge crossed the Etowah River here and it is where General Sherman watched the last trains cross the river before the bridge was destroyed.
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Original pillars of the railroad bridge across the Etowah River.

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.

 

November 9th, 1864

November 9th, 1864

After playing cat and mouse with General Hood in North Georgia during October, General Sherman stopped the chase and established his headquarters in Kingston Ga.  From here, he was in a position to lash out at Hood if he reentered North Georgia, and he could also direct and finalize the logistical components of his March to the Sea.

Sherman had ordered the removal of all civilians in Atlanta and had also directed that all military personnel not going on the March to the Sea, should return to Chattanooga and other parts north.  Civilians not wanting to travel north, were transported to Rough and Ready where they were transferred through to the Confederate lines.  Sherman also ordered all the excess equipment and unnecessary war material to be sent back to the Federal lines in the north and that anything that could be of any possible military value to the Confederates was to be rendered useless and destroyed.  Once the last train had left Atlanta, the railroad was to be destroyed as well as the telegraph lines.  This would completely cut off General Sherman from any support until he reached the coast and could be resupplied by the Federal Navy.

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The Kingston Museum houses artifacts from the early years of the town and from the Civil War.
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Downtown Kingston is mostly empty now, with only a few businesses operating and many buildings boarded up.
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Looking west along the railroad tracks through Kingston towards Rome, Ga.  These tracks were an important supply route and were also the route General Corse took as he went to reinforce the fort at Allatooan Pass.
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The Kingston Methodist Church is the only Church in Kingston to have survived the burning of the town in November of 1864.  After the Federal Army had left for their March to the Sea, the Church was open to all denominations as a house of worship, which fostered a great sense of community within the towns people.

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.

Atlanta Has Fallen

Sept. 2nd, 1864:

With the Confederate army gone and ensuing occupation of the Federal Army, Mayor Calhoun and a group of prominent citizens rode out of the city under a white flag of truce.  Prior to leaving they debated as to whether or not they should arm themselves, the decide wisely to go unarmed.  They ride out the Mason-Turner Ferry Road, now called Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway, where they pass through the defensive perimeter and go by the Ponder house.  They encounter a mounted patrol of Federals whom they engage in conversation.  Calhoun informs the Colonel that he would like to surrender the city to General Sherman, the Colonel states that Sherman is at Jonesboro and has Calhoun write a note to his commanding officer General Ward, surrendering the city.  Calhoun wrote the note and the Colonel and two other officers sign it affirming its validity.  The note reads as follows:

Brigadier General Ward,

Comdg. Third Division, Twentieth Corps

Sir:  The fortune of war has placed Atlanta in your hands.  As mayor of the city I ask protection to non-combatants and private property.

 

James M. Calhoun,

Mayor of Atlanta

By noon Federal units have reached City Hall and hoisted their colors over the city.  Around 2:00pm, General Slocum enters the city and establishes his headquarters at the Trout House.  He sends a telegram to the Secretary of War in Washington.  The first line is “General Sherman has taken Atlanta”.

Demoralized, Hood’s troops continue their march to Love Joy’s Station to link up with Hardee.  The loss of Atlanta is a crushing blow to the Confederacy.  For Lincoln, it is a great political achievement that helps secure his spot for another term as President.

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Marietta St. at North Side Drive.  The site where Mayor Calhoun formally surrendered the City of Atlanta to Federal force essentially ending General Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign.
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The Georgia State Capital now sits where Atlanta’s war time city hall once sat.  By noon on the second of September 1864, Federal Forces raised the US flag above city hall.  Later as the occupation of Atlanta began in earnest, the City Hall was used as a headquarters for the Provost and the Provost guard camped on the grounds.