Georgia and the Civil War
Georgia History 101
April 12, 1861
(Confederates fire on Fort Sumter) is generally considered the start
of the American Civil War although there were previous conflicts.
On January 3, 1861 Georgia Militia under
orders from Governor Joseph E. "Joe" Brown boarded the steamship Ida
and sailed down the Savannah River to Cockspur Island, where they
landed and took Fort Pulaski
from an ordinance sergeant and a civilian.
became an early target for the Union naval forces operating off
the coast of the Confederacy. They landed a force under the command
of Quincy Adams Gillmore on Tybee Island in December, 1861. After
surrounding the fort they commenced firing with rifled cannon at
8:15am, April 10, 1862.
Thirty hours later the garrison surrendered. Fort
McAllister, an earthen fort built to protect Savannah from an
amphibious assault from the south, would be the repeated target
of naval bombardment between 1862 and 1864.
The day after the fall of Fort Pulaski,
April 12, 1862, Civil War spies (soldiers
out of uniform behind enemy lines) under the command of civilian
James Andrews stole a locomotive in Big Shanty (now Kennesaw), Georgia.
The Great Locomotive
Chase ended almost 90 miles later, two miles north of Ringgold.
A minor part blew out on the grand old lady of the Western and Atlantic
The following year General William
Rosecrans, while preparing for the Tullahoma Campaign (May-June,
1863), launched a raid under the command
of Col. Abel Straight against the city of Rome (History
of Rome) in northwest Georgia. Thanks to the alert response
of Nathan B. Forrest
and citizens of the Confederacy, the raid failed.
The northwest corner of Georgia came under Yankee
control in September, 1863. For six weeks Rosecrans waited in Stevenson,
Alabama to be resupplied. In September he split his men into three
groups: Crittenden in the north, McCook in the center and Thomas
to the south. McCook and Thomas had to travel through mountain passes
to reach their objective:The Western and Atlantic Railroad.
Under an oak tree in LaFayette, Georgia, Braxton
Bragg planned an attack against the widespread Union Army at
Lee and Gordon Mill on Chickamauga Creek. Rosecrans, realizing he
was overextended began a complex movement north. The Confederate
attack at Chickamauga
that began on September 19, 1863
was the bloodiest two days of American history. Bragg held the battlefield,
so he technically won the battle of Chickamauga in spite of higher
casualties than Rosecrans, but still he handed the Army of the Cumberland
the worst defeat suffered by any Union Corps during the war.
Rosecrans was besieged in Chattanooga
by Rebels atop Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge and along the
Tennessee River. Shortly after the arrival of Ulysses S. Grant the
Yankees began to raise the siege, take Lookout Mountain (Nov.
24, 1863) and defeat Bragg's army on
Missionary Ridge (Nov. 26, 1863).
Patrick Cleburne fought a decisive rear guard action although outnumbered
four to 1, saving the Confederate Army.
In May, 1864 General William
Tecumseh Sherman began The
Atlanta Campaign, a brilliant series of battles and maneuvers
that Civil War author Shelby Foote called "the Red Clay Minuet."
Sherman, who is considered by many to be the "Father of Modern Warfare,"
defeated Joseph Eggleston Johnston and John
Bell Hood in a series of battles between Ringgold and Jonesborough,
including Atlanta. On September 2,
1864 the Atlanta Campaign ended when Sherman
wired Washington "Atlanta is ours, and fairly won..."
John Bell Hood's defeated Confederate Army sat on
the Macon Road until late September, 1864. He moved north to Allatoona
Pass where he fought the first battle of the Nashville Campaign,
the last great Confederate offensive of the Civil War. Over the
weeks Hood appeared and disappeared in various places throughout
Northwest Georgia. Sherman quickly tired of chasing Hood and turned
his attention to Georgia's heartland.
Two days after Lincoln's reelection in 1864, Sherman
began his "March to the Sea" by destroying the city of Rome (History
of Rome, Georgia) and tearing up track between Dalton (History
of Dalton, Georgia) and Allatoona Pass. A series of messages
sent from the Cartersville Depot were the last communication the
Union Army would have with the North for 6 weeks. On December
13, 1864, Sherman took Fort
McAllister and met the fleet in Wassaw Sound. The March to the
Sea was complete. He then turned north, taking Savannah, Charleston,
marching to the Roanoke River in Virginia.
Surrounded, Lee surrendered the Army of Northern
Virginia. Joe Johnston surrendered on April 26, 1865 and slowly
the Confederacy fell. Near Irwindale, Georgia, Federal troops captured
Confederate President Jeff
Davis on May 10, 1865. On
May 12, 1865 General William Wofford
surrendered his men in Kingston,
Georgia. The Civil War was over.
Reconstitution in Georgia
Our Georgia History: History 101 index
Georgia's Indian Heritage
The Age of Exploration in Georgia
The America Revolution in Georgia
Georgia and the Civil War
Georgia's Gilded Age
A State Divided
Depression and War