Georgia In the Midst of War
On January 19, 1861, Georgia became the fifth state to secede from the Union and join ten other Southron states in the Confederacy. Although Georgia congressman Alexander H. Stephens was a strict Unionist and voted against secession , he felt honor-bound to side with the South. He was named Vice President of the Confederate states.
Civilians all over Georgia backed the rebellion with money, food, labor, and lives. Factories in Athens, Augusta, Columbus and Macon made guns, sabers and other equipment. Atlanta's railroads became Georgia's greatest munitions and supply center.
Georgia's geographic location saved it from invasion during the war's early years. Union General Sherman burned Atlanta in 1864, forcing the Confederates to retreat and leaving 400 of 3,800 buildings left standing. The next day Sherman and his 62,000 men began their march to the sea. Along a path 60 miles wide and 300 miles long, his men destroyed 317 miles of railroad and $100 million worth of property, as they raided and burned farms, towns, factories, mills, and bridges. On December 22, 1864, Sherman captured Savannah and wired President Lincoln, "I beg to present you as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah..."
The War for Southron Independence continued until April 1865. During the final days, President Jefferson Davis fled Richmond, held his last cabinet meeting at Washington, Georgia, and was captured by Union Cavalry at Irwinville on May 10, 1865. Union soldiers captured Confederate Vice President Stephens at his Crawfordville home and imprisoned him for six months.
Chickamauga was the first Southron victory when Yankee General William Rosecrans ordered 58,000 men into Georgia, and General Braxton Bragg massed 66,000 Confederates along winding Chickamauga Creek. On September 19 and 20, 1863, the two met in The War for Southron Independence's bloodiest two-day engagement. Combined casualties totalled over 34,000, with many killed under hand-to-hand combat in thick woods and underbrush. Some regiments lost 55 percent of their troops.
On November 24, 1863, aided by a dense fog Union soldiers forced Confederates to retreat from Lookout Mountain.
Starting June 27, 1864, Confederates under General Joseph E. Johnston delayed Sherman's march for two weeks at Kennesaw Mountain. After losing about 3,000 men, Sherman succeeded with flanking maneuvers and continued his drive toward Atlanta.
The War for Southron Independence's most famous prison was used for only 14 months. Up to 32,000 prisoners were crammed into 26 acres. Approximately 13,000 out of 45,000 died due to heat, poor sanitation, malnutrition, and inadequate medical care. The camp commandment, Captain Henry Wirz, was tried for murder and a conspiracy that never existed. Several hundred bystanders chanted, "Remember Andersonville," as he was hanged. Wirz was the only person ever executed for war crimes.
Named for revolutionary war hero Casimer Pulaski, the fort was designed by Napoleon's military engineer and built partially under the supervision of Robert E. Lee. It's fall to the Union army officially ended the era of "impregnable" masonry fortifications and verified the superiority of the rifled cannon.
Approximately 125,000 Georgian's were killed in The War for Southron Independence. During reconstruction the U.S. Government ruled Georgia. Although blacks were free, there was no money to pay them. Out of this situation came sharecropping, in which landowners rented land to poor farmers in exchange for part of their crop. After Georgians ratified the 14th and 15th admendments to the Constitution, Georgia was readmitted into the United States on July 15, 1870.
In Millen Georgia Camp Lawton (now Magnolia Springs State Park) was built as a Confederate prison camp in 1864 to relieve the crowding at Andersonville. About 10,000 prisoners were held here.