Saturday, June 6, 2009

Sherman's March through Georgia

Crow Moxley's "Crow's Nest" is almost exactly where Sherman's troops used a pontoon bridge to cross the Ogeechee River. The historic map and story are displayed at the intersection of GA 56 and the Old Savannah Road. Read on:

The Native American trail crossing at Georgia ighway 56 (itself a 19th century road) was a major route in colonial times. It is named the "Old Savannah Road." Starting in Savannah, it crossed the Ogeechee River, running west and south of it, then through Sandersville, ending at another trail at Rock Landing on the Oconee River, just south of Milledgeville. Much of the road is still in use.

During Union Major General William T. Sherman's March to the Sea, between November 15 to December 21, 1864, he accompanied his 17th Corps,led by Major General Francis P.Blair, Jr.,, from Tennille to Pooler (near Savannah).. Encamping the evening of November 29 approximately ten miles west of here along the Old Savannah Road, the 17th Corps entered this intersection on the afternoon of November 30.From here it turned north to cross the Ogeechee River and camp at Burton (now Midville), Station 9 1/2 on the Central of Georgia Railroad. The 17th Corps continued through Millen, following roads on the east side of the Ogeechee River to Savannah.

This region is called both "Wiregrass" and Pine Barrens." Major Henry Hitchcock, a member of Sherman's staff,describes the area in his diary, "All through this pine country there are better farms than we expected, and large stores of corn, fodder, and potatoes (sweet), but Lt.Snelling tells me that this is true only along the main roads and that off of these, there are either no farms or mere patches..." Foraging was common throughout this area.

The other half of Sherman's "Right Wing", the 15th Corps,led by Major General Peter J.Osterhaus and accompanied by Right Wing commander Major General Oliver O. Howard,had marched east on trails to the south of the Old Savannah Road, having considerable difficulty finding their way through pine forests. Maps were useless, and few local residents either could or would provide directions. Two 15th Corps divisions,commanded by Brigadier Generals John M. Corse and Charles R. Woods, camped on November 30 just east of this intersection, after passing through the same afternoon. The next day, Corse and Woods followed the Old Savannah Road east and south on the western side of the Ogeechee River,finally crossing near Savannah.The other two 15th Corps divisions, those of Brigadier General William B. Hazen andJohn E. Smith, camped at Summerville (now Summertown), 3 miles south of here. They then turned south from Summerville, marching through Statesboro on roads approximating Georgia Highway 192 and U. S. Highway 80, to the Savannah area.



Sarah Maynen said...

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Scott Thompson said...

Fascinating piece. Glad we didn't get the Central of Georgia Railroad here in the 1840s, otherwise we would have been right in the path of 60,000 Yankees.