November 22, 1864:
The 20th Corps, part of the Sherman’s Left Wing, reached Milledgeville. They marched into town past unoccupied Confederate earthworks and were completely unopposed. Mayor R.B. DeGraffenreid surrendered the town and asked for protection from looting and destruction. Two regiments camped on the state house grounds and acted as the provost. They also raised the first U.S. Flag over the state house since the start of the war.
The Right Wing fought what is thought to be the largest battle of The March to the Sea at the Battle of Griswoldville. On the morning of the 22nd, General Hardee dispatched three brigades of Georgia Militia from Macon to August to help defend the city. Hardee was hoping that the Federal column had already passed and that the militia would be moving behind them and have a clear path to August. Weather and choked roads, along with delaying actions by Wheelers cavalry, had caused the Right Wing to slow down. The Militia were under orders to retreat if the encountered any resistance.
General P.J. Phillips was in command of the Militia, after they marched north east from Macon they met up with the 4th Brigade that had marched out the night before. They told Gen. Phillips about the skirmishing between Wheeler and the Federals. Phillips also learned that his detachment outnumbered the Federals and decided to disobey his orders and attempt to overrun the Federal position. They were to attack across open fields that were nearly 700 yards in distance and try to reach a deep ravine about 100 yards from the Federal lines. The Federals were caught off guard by the attack as it came unexpectedly, but they quickly regrouped and formed up for a fight.
The Militia, made up of old men and young boys, made a concerted, if not confused, effort to attack the Federal position. Many of the Militia had never seen combat, some fired on their own men by mistake, some even attacked in the wrong direction. The battle hardened veterans of the Federal army opened up with a withering fire from their position and the bodies of the dead and dying Militia were littering the field. Yet they still advanced, time and time again under the constant fire of the Federals. The Militia reached within 50 yards of the Federal line before they finally retreated. The Militia lost 51 men killed and 472 wounded. The Federals lost 13 men and only had 79 wounded.
November 22, 1864: