Civil War Wednesday: The Plight of the Mill Workers

New Manchester Mill ruins, photo courtesy of author

New Manchester Mill ruins, photo courtesy of author

Hoping to replicate the success of Roswell King, who founded the Roswell Manufacturing Company in the town bearing his name, Colonel James Rogers and former Georgia Governor Charles McDonald built another mill, this one alongside Sweetwater Creek in Campbell County (today’s Douglas County). Roswell King assisted them in the design and construction, and the new mill began operations in 1849. The mill turned out thread, cloth and yarn of fine quality under the direction of Rogers and McDonald. In 1860, Colonel Arnoldus Brumby and William Russell assumed the reasonability of daily operations, as McDonald’s health declined.[1]

Fighting and maneuvering during the Atlanta Campaign eventually brought the threat of Federal forces to the region, and the mill operators, both in Roswell and in Sweetwater, grew increasingly concerned over the safety of their operations. The owner in Roswell took drastic action when he made a Frenchman, Theophile Roché, a part owner. Perhaps they believed a foreign-born operator might claim neutrality and save the mill. When the Federal horse soldiers of Brigadier General Kenner Garrard rode into Roswell on July 6, a French flag flew above the mill. The ruse to convince the invading soldiers of the mill’s neutrality failed, and Northern flames soon blazed. When Major General William T. Sherman learned of the flag incident, he instructed Garrard, “Should you, under the impulse of anger…hang the wrench, I approve the act beforehand.” In the same dispatch, Sherman instructed Garrard to, “…arrest all people, male and female, connected with those factories, no matter what the clamor, and let them foot it, under guard, to Marietta, whence I will send them by cars to the North. The poor women will make a howl.” [2] Garrard managed to provide wagons to carry the 400 or so men, women, and children arrested for treason into Marietta.

Before turning his sights toward the New Manchester Mill, Sherman wired Major General Henry Halleck in Washington explaining how the entire region “…was devoted to manufactories,” and he vowed to “…destroy every one of them.”[3]  Sherman’s observation proved astute, as the mills in Roswell produced sheeting, tent cloth, and wool for Confederate uniforms; many soldiers went into battle wearing ‘Roswell Grey’. Sherman made good on his promise when Federal cavalry approached their next target along Sweetwater Creek. This mill also provided cloth to support the Confederacy, so on July 9, three days after the destruction in Roswell, the Federal torch ignited again, when Major Haviland Thompkins ordered the burning of the New Manchester Mill.

Thompkins placed each of the mill workers under arrest, but did not charge them with treason; only the mill employees in Roswell faced this fate. The officer gave each worker 15 minutes to gather their belongings, before ordering some 200 men, women, and children to begin their journey to Marietta. Unlike the 400 or more refugees from Roswell who rode in wagons, the workers from Sweetwater made the trip on foot. Regardless of their mode of transportation, all eventually found their way to the grounds of the Georgia Military Institute in Marietta, where they awaited northbound trains (some lingered for over three weeks), which would take them through Chattanooga, on to Nashville, and then their final destination – Louisville, Kentucky. A Federal soldier charged with guarding the refugees in waiting observed, especially of the women, “Some of them are tough and it’s a hard job to keep them straight and to keep the men away from them. General Sherman says he would rather try to guard the whole Confederate Army, and I guess he is right about that.”[4]

Reaching the rail terminus in Louisville, the men quartered in the city’s military prison, while the women and children received housing in a newly opened hospital, where members of the Louisville Refugee Commission provided care. The citizens of Louisville, ill-equipped to handle the influx of the refugees, wanted the people sent elsewhere. Sherman intervened and issued orders to “…have them sent across the Ohio River and turned loose to earn a living where they won’t do us any harm.”[5] Over time, the mill workers ferried to the opposite bank of the river, and many took residence in various Indiana locales. Several of the Sweetwater families settled down in Perry County, where some eventually found employment in the Cannelton Cotton Mill after the war. Years later, roughly half of the New Manchester refugees made their way back to Georgia, but returned to a town forever lost to history.[6]

Today, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources manages the Sweetwater Creek State Park in Douglas County. Pay this scenic area a visit, walk the grounds where the mill workers lived and worked, and recall their 1864 struggles!

[1] Mary Deborah Petite, The Women Will Howl: The Union Army Capture of Roswell and New Manchester, Georgia, and the Forced Relocation of Mill Workers (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2008), passim. A great source for those wanting to learn more about the arrest of the workers in both Roswell and Sweetwater.

[2] U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, reprint 1899 ed. Series I 38, pt. 5 (Harrisburg, PA: National Historical Society, 1971), 76.

[3] Ibid., 73.

[4] Theodore F. Upson, With Sherman to the Sea; The Civil War Letters, Diaries & Reminiscences of Theodore F. Upson, ed. Oscar O. Winther (1958; repr., Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1977), 119.

[5] U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 92.

[6] Petite, The Women Will Howl: The Union Army Capture of Roswell and New Manchester, Georgia, and the Forced Relocation of Mill Workers, passim.

shafferMichael K. Shaffer is a Civil War historian, author, newspaper columnist, and lecturer. He can be contacted at: www.civilwarhistorian.net.

The Grand Columbus Whitewater Paddle

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On August 9th, the Georgia Conservancy and partners Uptown Columbus and Whitewater Express are putting a GRAND on the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Georgia. To commemorate last year’s opening of the world’s largest stretch of urban whitewater and to celebrate the Chattahoochee’s reemergence in Columbus, join 1,000 adventurers on the river for a day of whitewater rafting.

What you’ll see during The Grand Columbus Whitewater Paddle would have been impossible just two years ago. Whitewater rafting in downtown Columbus?!

For more than one hundred years, the Eagle and Phenix, and City Mills dams impeded the southerly flow of the Chattahoochee and brought its once mighty rush to a snail’s pace as it passed through Columbus. Though hidden for decades, the rocky floor that rested beneath the calm waters was well known to those who understood the history of the city.

Whitewater Express PhotoThe treacherous shoals of the fall line, the geologic formation that divides Georgia’s piedmont and coastal plain regions, was the northernmost point of travel for vessels traveling the Chattahoochee and the perfect location for hydro-powered industry and inland markets. It made economic sense that river towns like Columbus, Macon and Augusta laid their foundations at the fall line. As the industrial age ignited across America, dams were built and mills were constructed along the river. At the heart of the Chattahoochee,where once there was a natural wonder, a thriving city rose.

In 2013, the dams came down. The power that they had produced was no longer needed to fuel the city’s economy. However, the economic potential of the long-submerged rocky shoals remained, and forward-thinking civic leaders knew that with an undammed river, the power of the fall line could again be harnessed.

It is now the outdoor adventurer, not the industrialist, who seeks the world-class, free-flowing rapids of the Chattahoochee – rapids that, for so long, lay silenced. With the opening of the Columbus whitewater course on the Chattahoochee in 2013 – the longest stretch of urban whitewater in the world – Columbus is again looking to its river to fuel the future.

Leading the action on the water for The Grand will be the experienced rafting guides and support team from Whitewater Express, the official outfitter for the Columbus whitewater.

Seven different rafting time slots will be offered at a deep discount for participants throughout the day from the first run at 10 a.m. to the last high water run at 5 p.m.

2014.Grand.Poster.Final.smallIn addition to the day’s events on the river, there will be plenty to do on land. Some of the available time slots also give guests the option to go on a guided Riverwalk bike tour for a small additional fee, and many of the groups involved in the event will have areas set up for fun and games.

Registration, while already deeply discounted, includes an invitation to an after-paddle party hosted at the Whitewater Express Outpost in Uptown Columbus and features live music from Sailing to Denver, local Columbus food trucks, an outdoor splash and play fountain, games, prizes, and activities hosted by the Atlanta Hawks Flight Team. Uptown Columbus will be shutting down the street for the after-paddle party between Whitewater Express and Woodruff Park at 1000 Bay Street.

All rafting guests and sponsors will receive a “drink ticket” for a free SweetWater beer (and a beer wristband) or a soft drink. The after-paddle party gets kicked-off at 5:30 p.m. and wraps up at 8:30 p.m. and includes a brief speaking engagement from Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson.

For those who wish to enjoy the evening without having paddled the river, tickets for the after-paddle party will be available to the general public for $5.

GC Logo JPEG MedTo continue its celebration of Columbus, the Georgia Conservancy is honoring civic leadership from the city with its Distinguished Conservationist award at ecoBenefete, the Conservancy’s annual gala, on September 26th for their vision of a city that embraces its natural amenities.

 

To register for The Grand Columbus Whitewater Paddle, please visit: www.georgiaconservancy.org/thegrand

Presenting sponsors for The Grand Columbus Whitewater Paddle are PricewaterhouseCoopers and TSYS.

Brian Foster kayakBrian Foster is Communications Director for the Georgia Conservancy. Founded in 1967, the Georgia Conservancy is a statewide, environmental nonprofit whose mission is to protect Georgia’s land and water through its programmatic work in sustainable growth planning; advocacy and outreach; coastal initiatives; outdoor stewardship and exploration; and public and private land conservation.

Chronicles of a State Park Journey: Part 2

Spring in Ga State Parks

My family and I are on a mission to visit every state park in Georgia, one a month, until we have explored the ins-and-outs of each one. Each quarter over 2014, we’ll share with you a sample from our diaries on this journey. May you be encouraged to explore the hundreds of thousands of acres that make Georgia beautiful.

April 28 – George L. Smith State Park in Twin City, Georgia

Richard B Russell

I’m sitting on the screened-in porch, listening to the rain fall; we’re hoping for a break in the clouds in order to canoe on the lake. In the meantime, I watch the kids play in the expansive backyard of our cottage, running through the puddles.  Earlier this morning we hiked around Parrish Mill and Pond.  The mill, originally built in 1880, is a grist mill and saw mill, as well as a covered bridge and dam.  Wait! I think the rain has stopped!

The boys and I returned from a canoe excursion on the pond, elated.  It was their first time canoeing, and my oldest has declared it a new love.  Cypress and tupelo trees towered from the black water, and Spanish moss hung low. Blue heron and white ibis flew low along the edge of the water. Long periods passed without a word from either boy; we were awe-struck.

April 29 -  After a restful night sleep, we piled in the truck for a 20-minute ride to Magnolia Springs State Park.  The natural spring flows with 7-9 million gallons of water each day, and I was determined to see this natural wonder.  The alligators and turtles – hundreds of turtles – captured the boys’ attention.

After ogling the wildlife on the boardwalk, we explored near the visitor center.  I was astonished to learn that Camp Lawton was on this site. It served as a prison during the Civil War, and the artifacts and stockade wall were only recently unearthed. We learned about the new limited edition Civil War Jr Ranger Badge, on which the boys are now diligently working.

May 2 – Unicoi State Park in Helen, Georgia

 

UnicoiOur original plans were to stay in the Lodge at Unicoi State Park, but once the boys caught a glimpse of the “barrel” cabins they begged for a change of plans.  Luckily, one had just become available. It was a little older than other cottages we have stayed in (the Unicoi GM told me that renovations are coming soon,) but it was fun!

We could see the lake from our porch, and it called to us.  Just as the sun was setting we opted for a hike around the lake; the trailhead was just a few yards from our door.  Solar lights along the trail marked our way. We crossed a creek and a playground as we wound by the campground, but we kept walking to the dock, beckoned by the throaty call of a bullfrog.

May 3 – We slept-in this morning and had coffee on the porch; the boys wondered aloud about the bullfrog we scouted last night.  After breakfast, we took a short ride to Anna Ruby Falls.  It isn’t in Unicoi State Park – it’s run by the US Forestry Service – but it is just on the border of the park.  The wildflowers were in full bloom, dotting the walk with bright colors against the lush green forest.  The boys confidently walked the short hike to the falls, and it was worth every step.

June 17 Black Rock Mountain State Park in Mountain City, Georgia

Black Rock Mountain

The clouds were rolling in as we settled into our cottage; we talked about the “cotton balls” hanging in the mountains while we sat on the back porch. After unpacking our bags and answering a multitude of questions about the “awesome” stone fireplace that stood as the cottage centerpiece, we decided to hit the trail.

Ada-Hi is a half-mile trail, but we worked diligently on this hike because of the steep slope.  Dense thickets of rhododendron and mossy-covered rocks were our reward as we marched to the falls at the end of the trail. It reminded me of Smithgall Woods State Park.  We were lucky enough to visit the falls the day after a rainstorm, so the water was flowing generously.

June 18 – Early this morning we drove less than a half-hour to Tallulah Gorge State Park. The boys have a few more years before they can hike the gorge floor or the suspension bridge, but we enjoyed the North and South Rim Trails. A series of falls along the gorge floor grabbed our attention, as well as the towers used by Karl Wallenda when he walked across the gorge via tightrope.

Back at Black Rock Mountain we relaxed by taking a walk around Black Rock Lake, then visiting Foxfire Museum.  Foxfire isn’t part of the Park’s system, but it is on property adjacent to the park. Our favorite part was ringing the bell at the Chapel. It was a truly unique way to teach the boys about Appalachian life.

You can click through here to read about our winter Georgia State Parks journey.

lesliLesli Peterson is Georgia’s Destination Expert for Trekaroo and founder of 365 Atlanta Family. She is a homeschooling mom to 2 young boys and bonus mom to two teenagers. From her home base of Atlanta, Lesli spends her time life-learning with the kids one road-trip at a time, and sharing her experiences along the way. 

Fan Photo Friday

Submit your Georgia photos for the chance to be featured:

Fishing Pier on St. Simons Island, Georgia. Photo by Scott Moore. Submitted via Facebook.

Fishing Pier on St. Simons Island, Georgia. Photo by Scott Moore. Submitted via Facebook.

Browns Bridge over Lake Lanier in north Georgia. Photo by Sussman Imaging. Submitted via Flickr.

Browns Bridge over Lake Lanier in north Georgia. Photo by Sussman Imaging. Submitted via Flickr.

Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawsonville, Georgia. Photo by @karenlisa. Submitted via Instagram.

Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawsonville, Georgia. Photo by @karenlisa. Submitted via Instagram.

 

 

Day Trip to Callaway Gardens

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Pine Mountain and Callaway Gardens were recommended to me by a coworker and I’d like to pass on the recommendations.

The Tourism Office in Pine Mountain was super helpful in recommending what to see in Pine Mountain, at Callaway Gardens and the food options in town.

Covering thousands of acres, the Gardens offer something for everyone. Attractions include the Birds of Prey show (with multiple birds flying just overhead), Day Butterfly Center and Mr. Cason’s Vegetable Garden (recognizable to PBS viewers).

callaway (1)While it would take days to cover all the land by foot, there is ample parking throughout the park as you hop from attraction to attraction.

The Discovery Center is a great starting point for your trip. The Ida Cason Memorial Chapel is a work of art and not to be missed. There are many trails which offer the opportunity to observe the gorgeous gardens. Depending on the season, each experience is bound to be different.

In addition, Callaway Gardens offers scenic drives, gorgeous views and golf. If you are looking to fish, bike or zip line, Callaway has you covered.

10 MastersWaterSki 094Don’t miss the beach at Callaway! The Masters Waterski and Wakeboard Tournament is held every year on Memorial Day Weekend. Pack some chairs and a picnic and you’re set for hours. When the tournament isn’t happening, I’m told there are lots of opportunities to get into the water.

We chose The Bakery and Café at Rose Cottage for dinner. Great choice! Starters and mains were delicious. For a starter, I highly recommend the Darden’s Smithfield ham, thin sliced with olive oil and shaved Manchego cheese!

lorisusslebonanniLori Sussle Bonanni spent her career in New York City and relocated to Atlanta in December 2013. Lori loves immersing herself in local culture and going off the beaten path. She is excited to explore all that Atlanta and Georgia have to offer. Lori earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a Specialization in Advertising and Public Relations from Rowan University. Say hi to Lori @smplythreecents on Twitter or visit her blog, simplythreecents.com.