August 18th, 1864: Several days earlier, General Hood dispatched General Wheeler and his Confederate Cavalry to the north in an effort to disrupt Sherman’s supply lines coming from Chattanooga. Sherman, who has quickly become restless during the siege, has started planning the movement of his entire army to the the south of Atlanta to destroy the Confederate supply line coming up from Macon.
Sherman has also learned that Wheeler’s Cavalry has made it to Tennessee and is therefore to far to offer any support to Hood or oppose Kilpatrick and his Cavalry. Sherman decides to delay the movement of his army around Atlanta and instead he orders Kilpatrick to move on the railroad in Jonesboro with his three Brigades and two more attached to him from Garrard’s Cavalry.
On the night of the 18th, Kilpatrick and five Brigades of Federal Cavalry, begin their move towards Jonesboro. They leave from Sandtown and head towards Fairburn. They are opposed by only one Confederate Brigade. Ross’s Texas Brigade spends the night of the 18th harassing and slowing down the Federal Cavalry. These actions slow down the Federal Cavalry considerably and delay the raids time table.
Sherman has sent Kilpatrick’s Cavalry to the south of Atlanta on a reconnaissance mission. On the morning of the 16th, Kilpatrick reaches Fairburn, where he destroys three miles of railroad track and the depot. He has been operating without any real opposition from Jackson’s Cavalry. Sherman begins to think that Kilpatrick, along with a couple Brigades of Garrad’s Cavalry, could swing far south of Atlanta and destroy the railroad without needing to move the entire army. Sherman ask Kilpatrick if he thinks it is possible, to which he replies that it would be possible to damage the tracks bad enough to be out of service and not put his command in any danger.
Dec. 10th, 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.
Dec. 12th, Kilpatrick is dispatched with his cavalry to locate an assault route to Fort McAllister. Fort McAllister protects the mouth of the Ogeechee River and must be taken in order for Sherman to begin supplying his army. After locating and route and informing Sherman, Kilpatrick rides to Midway and makes his headquarters at the Midway Church and then sends forces to Sunbury in an attempt to contact the Federal Fleet.
Dec. 13th, Federal forces overwhelm the garrison at Fort McAllister after a spirited fight the fort is captured. Sherman watched the assault from a rice mill across the river. With the Ogeechee River open, supplies begin to flow in to the army. Sherman has a 1000′ long wharf built at King’s Bridge on the Ogeechee River. This area is now a park with a boat ramp where the Hwy. 17 crosses the Ogeechee River.
Dec. 17th, General Hardee, commander of the Confederate forces in Savannah, sends a request to Confederate President Jeff Davis for reinforcements from Lee’s Army in Virgina, but receives word that Lee can not spare any troops. General Sherman, knowing he has the upper hand, sends a request for Hardee’s surrender, but it is rejected by Hardee and the siege continues.
Dec. 1st, 1864: The Right Wing, who Sherman is now traveling with, is making its way towards Millen and passes through the area of Herndon and Birdsville, west of Millen.
Dec. 2nd, 1864: Sherman and the Right Wing move into Millen. Sherman stays here for a day so that he can communicate with all parts of his army. Soldiers give reports of the deplorable conditions found at the abandoned Camp Lawton just north of town. Nearly the entire town is burned to the ground over the next day or so.
Dec. 3rd, 1864: The Left Wing passes through the area of Buckhead Church where on the 28th the Federal Cavalry under Kilpatrick clashed with Wheeler’s Confederate Cavalry. The Left Wing then marches into Millen. Parts of the Right wing have started moving out of Millen and are moving past Scarboro.
Dec. 4th, 1864: The Battle of Waynesboro On the morning of the 4th, Kilpatrick’s Cavalry supported by two Brigades of Infantry marched on Waynesboro. Their objective was to capture the town and burn all the bridges over Brier Creek. As they approached the town they encountered General Wheeler’s skirmishers and drove them in toward the main line of works. Being out numbered by the Federals who were advancing rapidly on their position and were about to over run them, the Confederates fell back to another line of prepared work in the streets of Waynesboro. As Wheeler was again about to be overrun by a larger force, he ordered his Texans and Tennesseans to charge, thus delaying the Federals long enough for Wheeler to move his forces to block the Augusta road should Kilpatrick turn that way. After quickly taking control of the town, the Federals burned the bridges over Brier Creek and set fire to the town. The towns people were able to suppress many of the fires saving a great deal of the town.
Dec. 5th, 1864: General Hardee is now well aware of the Sherman’s intent to move on Savannah and has placed his command between Sherman and Savannah. The Right and Left Wings are both moving in a south easterly direction using the main roads into Savannah. On the 5th, Sherman, traveling with the 17th Corps reaches the Ogeechee Church in what is now Oliver. He took possession of a private home for his headquarters and remained here for several days to coordinate the movements of his command. They were now within 50 miles of Savannah.
Nov. 23rd, 1864: The Left Wing of Sherman’s army moves into and occupies the Georgia State Capitol of Milledgeville. At one point, soldiers occupy the state house building and hold a mock session of the legislature. They have speeches and vote to repeal secession. General Sherman takes the Governor’s Mansion as his headquarters. The Governor had taken all the furnishings with him to Macon leaving the mansion empty. Sherman slept in his bedroll on the floor. The Right Wing reaches the Oconee River north east of Macon. After passing through McIntyre and Toombsboro they are delayed at Ball’s Ferry by stiff Confederate resistance.
Nov. 24th, 1864: General Kilpatrick takes his cavalry column and leaves the Right Wing and feints toward Augusta with elements of the Left Wing. General Hardee arrives at Ball’s Ferry to assess the situation. He decides that their lines must be abandoned and they withdraw during the night. They Left Wing begins to leave Milledgeville and moves through Hebron.
Nov. 25th, 1864: The Left Wing begins to move towards Sandersville and begin to meet active Confederate resistance and begin to skirmish almost constantly as they advance.
Nov. 26th, 1864: The Right Wing occupies Oconee and have taken the abandoned lines of the Confederates at Ball’s Ferry. The Left Wing enters Sandersville where they clash with cavalry as the enter town and fight a running skirmish through the town square. Elements of the Left Wing move out from Sandersville and move toward Tennille and Davisboro.
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.
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.
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. Sherman fielded and 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.
November 13th, 1864 Sherman and his staff continue on toward Atlanta. They move south from Allatoona and pass through Acworth. All but a few home in Acworth were destroyed. Major Connolly described it as “a heap or 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. Some officers were greatly disturbed by the unauthorized burning of the town. While in Marietta, Sherman reviewed General Kilpatricks 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.
August 20th, 1864: After leaving from Fairburn on the 19th, Kilpatrick moved his column towards Jonesboro. He once again met resistance from Ross’s Texas Brigade, first to his rear and then after Ross moved south below Kilpatrick and made it across the Flint River before Kilpatrick, he was then in Kilpatrick’s front. Ross’s Brigade removed the planks on the bridge over the Flint River and formed a line of battle on the high ground on the east side of the river. Kilpatrick had his artillery open open up on the Confederates and then had his Cavalry dismount and cross the bridge on its stringers. They were able to force Ross’s Brigade, which was a smaller force, back towards Jonesboro. kilpatrick reached Jonesboro around 5:00pm on the 19th and began to destroy the tracks and was able to burn the Railroad Station and some other structures. Heavy rain prevented the Federals from making fires to heat the railroad tracks for bending so they removed it from the railroad bed and tossed it to the side. On the 20th, after learning that a Confederate force of unknown strength was approaching, Kilpatrick decided to abandon his efforts in Jonesboro and move towards Love Joy’s Station. As he approached Love Joy’s Station he did not know realize the strength of the Confederate forces there. They Rebels had hidden themselves in a railroad cut and waited. When the Federal Cavalry dismounted and approached the railroad, the Confederates waited until they were within about 50 yards before making themselves known and opening fire on the Federals. The Federals were quickly repulsed soon they were attacked in the rear by Ross’s Texans. Kilpatrick had limited options. He quickly decided to fight his way out and formed his units into a tight and compact column and made a counter attack on the Confederate forces in his rear. Minty’s Brigade lead Kilpatricks column and as they approached the Rebels across an open field, they drew their sabers and charged. They were able to cut their way through and Kilpatrick’s column was able to escape and make for the Federal lines east of Atlanta. They moved north east from Love Joy’s Station toward McDonough and from there they made for the South River, which they crossed and the went to Lithonia and form there to Decatur.
August 18th, 1864: Several days earlier, General Hood dispatched General Wheeler and his Confederate Cavalry to the north in an effort to disrupt Sherman’s supply lines coming from Chattanooga. Sherman, who has quickly become restless during the siege, has started planning a movement of his entire army to the the south of Atlanta to disrupt the Confederate supply line coming up from Macon. Sherman has sen Kilpatrick’s Cavalry to the south of Atlanta on a reconnaissance mission. On the morning of the 16th, Kilpatrick reaches Fairburn, where he destroys three miles of railroad track and the depot. He has been operating without any real opposition from Jackson’s Cavalry. Sherman begins to think that Kilpatrick, along with a couple Brigades of Garrad’s Cavalry, could swing far south of Atlanta and destroy the railroad without needing to move the entire army. Sherman ask Kilpatrick if he thinks it is possible, to which he replies that it would be possible to damage the tracks bad enough to be out of service and not put his command in any danger. Sherman has also learned the Wheelers Cavalry has made it to Tennessee and is therefore to far to offer any support to Hood or oppose Kilpatrick. Sherman decides to delay is movement of his army around Atlanta and instead he orders Kilpatrick to move on the railroad in Jonesboro with his three Brigades and two more attached to him from Garrard’s Cavalry. On the night of the 18th, Kilpatrick and five Brigades of Federal Cavalry, begin their move towards Jonesboro. They leave from Sandtown and head towards Fairburn. They are opposed by only one Confederate Brigade. Ross’s Texas Brigade spends the night of the 18th harassing and slowing down the Federal Cavalry. These actions slow down the Federal Cavalry considerably and delay the raids time table.