March to the Sea Heritage Trail   | Civil War Trails | Civil War Sites in Georgia

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March to the Sea Heritage Trail


Interpretive Marker Sites   

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After Union Major General William T. Sherman captured Atlanta on September 2, 1864, he briefly pursued General John B. Hood’s Confederate army through northwest Georgia.  Sherman then turned his army south toward Georgia’s largest city...Savannah.  His now legendary “March to the Sea” ripped the heart out of the Confederacy, demoralized civilians, destroyed railroads, and denied Confederate authorities considerable food and other badly needed supplies.

Sherman’s army totaled 62,000 of his best soldiers, including 5,000 cavalry and 65 pieces of artillery.   He estimated to reach Savannah would require six weeks, yet Sherman ordered only enough food for 20 days, to be carried by 2,500 wagons.  Sherman’s plan was a dangerous gamble, because his army was cut off from any communication or chance for re-supply.  So his troops foraged “liberally,” living mostly off the food they took from civilians.  The worst foragers were labeled “bummers,” often stealing or destroying property indiscriminately.

Leaving Atlanta on November 15 and 16, 1864, the army split into two “wings” of between 28,000 and 29,000 each, with cavalry guarding their flanks.  Marching along generally parallel routes, the two wings were often separated by between 20 and 40 miles.  Separation avoided congestion, thus the army advanced quickly, and was allowed a larger area from which to forage.  Separation also resulted in a broader swath of devastation across the center of Georgia, measuring up to 60 miles wide, and 300 miles long.  Thousands of slaves followed, which the army discouraged, knowing they could neither feed them nor guarantee their safety.

Sherman’s two wings confused the Confederates.  Major General Oliver O. Howard’s “Right Wing” advanced south to threaten Macon.  Meanwhile, Major General Henry W. Slocum’s “Left Wing” feigned toward Augusta.  Confederates split their paltry forces between the two cities, but Sherman ignored both.  He concentrated much of his army around Milledgeville, Georgia’s capital city, then swept on toward Millen and Savannah, besieging the latter on December 10.  After ten days the 10,000-man Confederate garrison, under Lieutenant General William J. Hardee, evacuated the vital seaport.  Sherman wired President Abraham Lincoln afterwards saying, “I beg to present to you the City of Savannah” as a Christmas present.

Cavalry clashed frequently along the edges of Sherman’s march routes, and two sizable infantry battles occurred.  On November 22, 1864, Georgia militia, untrained boys and old men, were slaughtered attacking Federal lines at Griswoldville near Macon.  And on December 13, Sherman’s veterans overran Fort McAllister along the Ogeechee River, enabling the U.S. Navy to re-supply his army.

Sherman accomplished all his goals for his March to the Sea in only five weeks, inflicting one billion dollars worth of damages.  “I can make Georgia howl,” Sherman had sworn, and he did.

March to the Sea

..the story


The Right Wing

 

  

R1. Little Cotton Indian Creek




R2. McDonough City Square




R3. Locust Grove




R4. Sylvan Grove Plantation




R5. Butts County Courthouse




R6. Ocmulgee River




R7. Hillsboro




R8. Battle of Sunshine Church




R9. Old Clinton


Old Clinton - Clinton became a manufacturing center and was once Georgia’s fourth largest town.  After the railroad bypassed Clinton it evolved into a peaceful village with many antebellum homes.  In July and November 1864 a total of about 22,000 Federal troops were in the area.

GPS: 32.9968, -83.5593




NEW - Macon Defensive Fortifications 


Macon Defensive Fortifications As Federal armies penetrated further into Georgia, Macon hastily constructed an impressive ring of defensive fortifications.  General Sherman largely by-passed the city in 1864, but General Wilson did not in 1865.

GPS: 32.8517, -83.6364 



R10. Macon City Hall 


Macon City Hall Built in 1837, City Hall was used as a Civil War hospital, then as Georgia's temporary capitol building during and after the March to the Sea.  It was also a Confederate surrender site on April 20, 1865.

GPS: 32.8363, -83.6323





R11. Town of Griswoldville




R12. Gordon Depot




R13. Union Church




R14. Ball's Ferry




NEW - Ball's Ferry/East Bank




NEW - Wrightsville




R15. New Hope Methodist Church




NEW - Tarver's Mill




R16. Speir's Turnout (Bartow)




R17. Old Savannah Road




R18. Pine Barren Crossroads 


Pine Barren and Wiregrass, the Federal 17th Corps turned north here to cross the Ogeechee River.  Two 15th Corps divisions followed from the south, turning east on the Savannah Road.  In all, some 20,000 men passed through this crossroads.

 GPS: 32.7842, -82.2445




R19. Millen Depot/Station




R20. Ogeechee Church (Oliver)




R21. Guyton General Hospital 




R22. Elevated Tent Camps




R23. Savannah & Ogeechee Canal




R24. Nicholsonboro




R25. Ways Station




R26. Cherry Hill Plantation

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Left Wing

  

 

L1. Stone Mountain Cemetery




L2. Conyers Station


Conyers Station - The current depot succeeded one burned by Union Brigadier General Kenner Garrard’s cavalry on July 22, 1864.  Then on November 17, 1864, the Federal 14th Corps was accompanied by Major General William T. Sherman as it marched through Conyers destroying rails.

GPS: 33.6664, -84.0179



L3. Old Church




L4. Covington's Square




L5. Hightower Trail (Philadelphia Church)


Hightower Trail (Philadelphia Church) - Philadelphia Church was a reference point on Civil War military maps along this famous Native American trading route.  Approximately 14,000 men of the Federal 20th Corps marched past this landmark along the Hightower Trail on November 17, 1864.

GPS: 33.7322, -83.9735




L6. Centreville (Jersey)




L7. Social Circle


Social Circle - The Federal 20th Corps marched through Social Circle along the Hightower Trail on November 18, 1864, destroying railroad tracks. The town’s depot and warehouses had been burned on July 23, 1864, during Union Brigadier General Kenner Garrard’s cavalry raid.

GPS: 33.6565, -83.7195





L8. Shady Dale




L9. Rutledge Station




L10. Madison Station




L11. Blue Springs (Swords)




L12. Denham Tannery




L13. Putnam County Court House




L14. Old Governor's Mansion


Old Governor’s Mansion Completed in 1839, the mansion was occupied by eight governors, including Joseph E. Brown, until the state capital was moved to Atlanta in 1868.  It served as headquarters for General Sherman on November 23 & 24, 1864, and is now an impressive museum.

GPS: 33.0796, -83.2317




L15. Penitentiary Square




L16. State House Square


State House Square - Georgia’s capitol grounds from 1807 to 1868, and now home to Georgia Military College, were damaged from the explosion of the State Magazine in November 1864.  The impressive gothic styled former Capitol building has been restored and now houses a museum.

GPS: 33.0801, -83.2248





NEW - Sandersville Old City Cemetery




L17. Washington County Courthouse


Washington County Courthouse - As the Federal Left Wing entered Sandersville on November 26, 1864, they were fired on from inside the courthouse by some of Confederate Major General Joseph Wheeler’s dismounted cavalrymen.  The following day General Sherman ordered the courthouse burned.  It was replaced after the war by the current building.

GPS: 32.9834, -82.8114



L18. The Brown House


The Brown House - Purchased in 1851 by the William Gainer Brown family, this house was used by General Sherman as his headquarters on the night of November 26-27, 1864.  The house has been restored and is now operated as a museum by the Washington County Historical Society.

GPS: 32.9886, -82.8098





L19. Tennille Station




L20. Ogeechee Crossing




L21. The Sacking of Louisville




NEW - Sparta




NEW - Jewell's Mill




NEW - Ogeechee Shoals




NEW - Cavalry Actions



L22. Augusta Arsenal


The Augusta Arsenal, 1861 Now the campus of Augusta State University, its administration buildings are the original United States Arsenal structures, founded on this site in 1826.  Seized by Georgia militia in January 1861, it became a major Confederate manufacturing center until the war's end.

GPS: 33.4766, -82.0249



L23. Confederate Powder Works


Confederate Powder Works Chimney, Augusta This 153 foot tall chimney remains from the largest facility ever built by the Confederacy.  Colonel George Washington Rains oversaw construction of multiple brick buildings, then production of some 3 million pounds of quality gun powder.

GPS: 33.4870, -81.9924



 L24. Ivanhoe Plantation




L25. The Roberts House




L26. Big Buckhead Church




L27. Jacksonboro




L28. Ebenezer Creek




L29. Savannah River Plantations




L30. Central of Georgia Railroad Complex




L31. Fort Jackson

Site numbers are as indicated in the

March to the Sea Heritage Trail brochure

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