Marching ENE from Macon
, Brigadier General Pleasant J. Philips advanced on the Union line of march that had passed north of the city. This was the "Right Wing" of General William Tecumseh Sherman
's army on the March to the Sea
. Philips orders were to advance to Augusta, Georgia
to protect the armory, however, when he ran into the advancing bluecoats he decided to attack. About 2:30 his irregulars, most old men and young boys, move out into an open field and began a frontal assault on the hastily organized Union position. Backed by Spencer Rifles, the men under the command of Charles C. Walcutt had no problem turning back the Rebels.
The original historic marker read:
This town is named for Samuel Griswold, who moved his iron foundries and cotton gin factories here from Clinton to be on the railroad. A disasterous unrecorded battle was fought here in 1864 when a force of old men and youths under Gen. Phillips, Capt. Robert H. Barron and Lt. Henry Greaves, sent from Macon by Gen. Howell Cobb in an attempt to force the Federals from the city, fought a bloody diversionary action against Kilpatricks Union Calvalry which then proceeded to Irwinton. Griswold factories and property were destroyed because he had made arms and ammunition for the Confederacy. [in the city of Griswold]
A new historic marker on the site of the battle reads:
On Nov. 15, 1864, [Union] Maj. Gen. W.T. Sherman left Atlanta on his devastating "march to the Sea." His force divided into two wings and feinted toward Macon and Augusta while on their way to the capital at Milledgeville. [Confed.] General William J. Hardee opposed Sherman with cavalry under Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler and state troops and militia. Hardee realized the move toward Macon was a feint and ordered [Confed.] General Gustavus W. Smith with his Georgia Militia, the Athens and Augusta Defense Battalions and two regiments of the Georgia State Line to protect Augusta and its valuable industries and arsenal. Most of these troops under [Confed.] Brig. Gen. Pleasant J. Philips caught up with the right flank of Sherman's right wing under the command of [Union] Brig. Gen. Charles Walcutt. For some never adequately explained reason, Philips order his Confederates to attack the veteran Union troops who were lightly fortified along this ridge. The Confederates passed through the still smoldering Griswoldville, set afire by [Union] cavalry the day before, and saw the first real results of the devastation being wrought upon their homeland. The Confederates, mostly old men and boys, attacked with great courage and vigor, but failed to change any part of Sherman's plan in the only pitched infantry battle on the March to Sea.