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.

Civil War Wednesday: Major General W.H.T. Walker

Major General W.H.T. Walker

Major General W.H.T. Walker

Hoping to place segments of his army in the rear of the Federals holding the left flank outside Atlanta, on the evening of July 21, 1864, General John Bell Hood ordered Lieutenant General William Hardee to lead his corps on a forced march toward the northeastern quadrant of the city. Hood believed this maneuver would afford Hardee’s men the opportunity to get in the rear of Major General James B. McPherson’s Army of the Tennessee. Rugged terrain accompanied the early-morning heat and delayed Hardee’s advance. Major General Joe Wheeler’s cavalry force joined the mission, and the Southern troopers rode toward Decatur.

Major General William Henry Talbot Walker’s Division, part of Hardee’s Corps, participated in this operation. Walker, a native Georgian, born 1816 in Augusta, and a graduate of West Point, received several wounds while fighting gallantly in the Seminole Wars and in the Mexican-American War. When he became commandant at West Point, a post he held for two years, 1854-56, the cadets tagged him with the nickname “Shot Pouch,” because of the amount of lead his body had collected over the years. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Walker initially led a Georgia volunteer division before receiving a brigadier general’s commission in the Confederate Army. The stress and strain during the first year of the conflict weakened Walker’s bullet-scarred body, and for one year, he rested. In February 1863, he returned to active duty, commanding the post at Savannah. He received a promotion to major general in May 1863 and traveled west to join with General Joseph E. Johnston’s force near Jackson, Mississippi.

Atlanta monument marking area of Walker’s death on July 22, 1864

Atlanta monument marking area of Walker’s death on July 22, 1864

Leading from the front on July 22, 1864, Walker commanded a body of troops consisting primarily of Georgia regiments, supplemented with a few units from South Carolina and Mississippi. The Battle of Atlanta/Bald Hill, a Federal victory, claimed the lives of two major generals; the North lost McPherson, and the South lost Walker, both men falling within a short time of each other. Hood recalled of Walker, “I am certain that those officers and men who came within the sphere of his genial presence will unite in the verdict that no truer or braver man ever fell upon the field of battle.”[1] The Charleston Mercury reported, “Gen. Walker, the brave old hero of Georgia, was killed in front of his division. There were none braver than him, and his patriotism was of the purest and highest order.” Augusta College’s Walker Cemetery serves as the final resting place for this warrior.



[1] John Bell Hood, Advance and Retreat: Personal Experiences in the United States and Confederate States Armies, (United States: Da Capo Press, 1993), 182.

shafferMichael K. Shaffer is the Assistant Director and Lecturer for Kennesaw State University’s Civil War Center , a Civil War historian, newspaper columnist, and author of ‘Washington County, Virginia in the Civil War.’ He is a member of the Society of Civil War Historians, Historians of the Civil War Western Theater, Georgia Association of Historians, and the Civil War Round Table of Atlanta. Michael also serves on the boards of the Civil War Round Table of Cobb County and the River Line Historic Area, and as a Civil War consultant for the Friends of Camp McDonald.

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Civil War Wednesday: Alfred R. Waud

Alexander Gardner photograph of Alfred Waud, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-19623

Alexander Gardner photograph of Alfred Waud, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-19623

Sketching the American Civil War brought fame to Great Britain native Alfred Rudolph Waud (pronounced Wode). In 1850, this foreign-trained artist arrived in America seeking a job as a scene painter for the burgeoning theater houses of the period. While awaiting an opportunity in this field, Waud worked as a sketch artist for several New England newspapers. In 1861, the coming of war brought unprecedented opportunities for skilled artisans such as Waud, his brother William, and the “war-artist” who accompanied Major General William T. Sherman during the Atlanta Campaign – Theodore R. Davis. Prior to the Battle of First Bull Run/Manassas, Waud received an assignment from employer New York Illustrated News to “…accompany the army through the campaign.”[1] For the balance of the war, Waud followed the Federal Army of the Potomac, witnessing all the major battles in the eastern theater. He left the Illustrated News for Harper’s Weekly near the end of 1861; at war’s end, Waud amassed 129 scenes for the News, and another 215 images for Harper’s.[2]

 

Highlighting the changes from the field to the final version, (at left) Waud’s initial sketch of Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House, Library of Congress LC-DIG-ppmsca-21320, and (at right) the printed sketch, as appearing in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, vol.4.

Waud’s initial sketch of Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House, Library of Congress LC-DIG-ppmsca-21320

During the Civil War, photographers struggled with an art form still in a static state. Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner, George Barnard, and other shutterbugs took to the battlefields across the country, but with an inability to capture objects in motion. Portraying the thrill of action during battle fell to the skillful hands of Waud and other sketch artists. Dramatic changes often occurred from what the eyewitness observer outlined on the field of battle, compared to the printed images, which appeared in newspapers across the land. After sketching a scene, Waud and others would send their work, either overland or via ship, whichever method provided the quickest delivery to the point of destination – their respective publishers. Once at the printer, typically, several engravers would each receive a segment of the sketch to carve into a wooden block. The finished blocks, assembled and mounted together, formed a foundation for a metallic plate used on the printing press. The image of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox shown above illustrates how these images could evolve from the field to press.[3]

Escaping danger on more than one occasion, as he came under Confederate fire, Waud survived the war and led a very busy life during the post-war and Reconstruction periods. He traveled to several states in the west, where he sketched frontier village scenes; he even made his way to Chicago to cover the Great Fire of 1871. Waud’s various employers during the latter stages of the nineteenth century certainly got a bang for their buck!

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Waud’s postwar sketch of Lost Mountain, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-17625

Hoping to capitalize on the various battles fought within Georgia, and boost travel on the Western & Atlantic Railroad (W&A), Joseph M. Brown, son of wartime Governor Joseph E. Brown, who served as traffic manager for the W&A, hired Waud in 1887. His mission for the artist – visit all the major battle sites in Georgia and sketch the terrain. Waud set about his journey, and along the way he interviewed many veterans to gain first-hand knowledge of how the fighting played out at sites of the Atlanta Campaign. His wonderful illustrations appeared in what today one would call a travel guide. In 1890, Brown titled the work The Mountain Campaigns in Georgia; Or, War Scenes on the W. & A. Pleased with the success of this venture, Brown asked Waud to remain in the south, travel to other battlefields outside the state, and sketch various scenes for a multi-volume work Brown planned to publish. Waud consented. During one of these sketching trips, he fell ill; after making his way back to Marietta, Waud received medical care in Brown’s home until April 6, 1891, when a husband, and father of four breathed his last at age 62. Despite initial desires among family members to have his body returned to his home in South Orange New Jersey, for burial, he received internment in Marietta’s St. James Episcopal Cemetery.

Waud’s gravesite in Marietta, Georgia, at the St. James Episcopal Cemetery, photo courtesy of author.

Waud’s gravesite in Marietta, Georgia, at the St. James Episcopal Cemetery, photo courtesy of author.

The Civil War’s most noted sketch artist left a legacy in the form of almost 2,300 images, housed today at the Library of Congress, which has digitized many of them for online viewing.[4] Follow this link to the Library of Congress, and enjoy the work of a very gifted artist!



[1] Frederic E. Ray, Alfred R. Waud, Civil War Artist (New York: Viking Press, 1974), 14.

[2] Ibid., 52.

[3] Ibid., 28.

[4] Terry L. Jones, Historical Dictionary of the Civil War (Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2002), 2:1535.

shafferMichael K. Shaffer is the Assistant Director and Lecturer for Kennesaw State University’s Civil War Center , a Civil War historian, newspaper columnist, and author of ‘Washington County, Virginia in the Civil War.’ He is a member of the Society of Civil War Historians, Historians of the Civil War Western Theater, Georgia Association of Historians, and the Civil War Round Table of Atlanta. Michael also serves on the boards of the Civil War Round Table of Cobb County and the River Line Historic Area, and as a Civil War consultant for the Friends of Camp McDonald.

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A “Gone With the Wind” Weekend

“Frankly, my dear…” Who doesn’t know the ending to this infamous phrase? It was time for this Georgia girl to unite with fans of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to discover the history and legacy behind one of the world’s most beloved books with the variety of hands-on experiences along the state’s first and only designated Gone With the Wind Trail.

Road to Tara Museum

The first stop brought me back in time through the sights and sounds of the Civil War and Reconstruction, narrated by Scarlett O’Hara and her dashing romancer, Rhett Butler, at Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum: Scarlett on the Square, a mainstay since April 2003. On display is an extensive collection of memorabilia sure to delight and intrigue any “Gone With the Wind” fan, from novice to aficionado.

Margaret Mitchell House

The Margaret Mitchell House, Atlanta, Georgia

Next on the agenda: touring the Margaret Mitchell House (a small apartment Margaret called “the dump”) in Midtown Atlanta, where I traced the footsteps of the talented author and delved deeper into the birthplace of “Gone With the Wind.” Also at “the dump,” I watched a “Gone With the Wind” movie exhibition and display showcasing the life and times of one of Atlanta’s most famous authors.

After the Mitchell House, the trail directed me to The Atlanta-Fulton Public Library. With one of the most extensive collections of Margaret Mitchell’s photographs, books and personal items, the Central Library’s Special Collection Department is a must-see destination for all lovers of literature and Margaret Mitchell. The collection includes Mitchell’s personal books used for her research, more than 400 personal photographs, motion picture stills of the film, her 1937 Pulitzer Prize, her Remington typewriter and more.

Next, I headed to Mitchell’s final resting place, Oakland Cemetery. Historic Oakland, a Victorian garden cemetery, is also a magnificent sculpture garden, botanical garden, flourishing wildlife habitat, public park and picturesque setting for quiet reflection. Amidst the beauty of a blue-skied Atlanta autumn day, I visit the gravesites of “Gone With the Wind” author Margaret Mitchell and roam thoughtfully among thousands of other Atlanta notables and pioneers.

My final stop on the trail landed me in Jonesboro, the official home of “Gone With the Wind” just 15 miles south of Atlanta, at the Road to Tara Museum, where visitors can relive Rhett and Scarlett’s sweeping romance by enjoying original movie props and wardrobe items, a foreign edition library, original manuscripts, costume reproductions, an extensive photo gallery, and a collectible plate and doll collection. The antebellum years and the Civil War make their presence felt through such exhibits as an authentic “Sherman’s necktie” (a section of rail twisted into a loop so as to be useless to a railroad company) and an original Fairbank Scale, used to weigh cargo, specifically cotton.

And because “tomorrow is another day,” the journey into “Gone With the Wind” and the Civil War can continue by exploring the trail’s “Rhett Also Recommends” stops, including the Atlanta History CenterAtlanta CycloramaKennesaw Mountain National Battlefield and Stately Oaks Plantation.

katieMom-on-the-go and Laurie Rowe Communications PR pro Katie Reeder graduated at the top of her class from the Calhoun Honors College at Clemson University with a degree in Communication Studies. Katie resides in Cumming, Georgia – between the beautiful mountains of North Georgia and the lights and action of nearby Atlanta.

Civil War Wednesday: Western & Atlantic Railroad

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W&A Map, Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division, G3924.D2S5 1864 .W4

During the 1864 Atlanta Campaign, a series of maneuvers, skirmishes, and battles occurred along the line of the Western & Atlantic Railroad throughout northwestern Georgia. The W&A, the only direct-rail connecting Atlanta and Chattanooga, served as the lifeline for both armies, and each also utilized the rail to carry the wounded to various hospital locations. Major General William T. Sherman, fond of calculating logistical needs, determined each locomotive could “…haul a payload of 160,000 pounds…[and] he strove to reach 120 cars per day.”[1] General Joseph E. Johnston, the commander of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, supplied his force with box cars of provisions from Atlanta. Absent the railroad, the 1864 military action in Georgia, had such occurred, would most assuredly have taken on a much different profile.

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Stephen H. Long, Colorado Historical Society.

Approving construction of what many called at the time the “state line,” the Georgia legislature gave final consent to construction of a railroad running from the Chattahoochee River to the Tennessee line in December 1836. Two years later, former western explorer Stephen H. Long, operating from his Marietta headquarters, oversaw the beginning of the building of the railroad. Economic depression halted construction of the W&A in late 1841; almost one year passed before dirt began moving again. In early 1843, workers completed a stretch from Marthasville (present day Atlanta) to Marietta. Overcoming the challenge of Chetoogeta Mountain outside Dalton, workers finished a tunnel through the hillside (Tunnel Hill) on May 9, 1850, and for the first time, passengers could traverse, unimpeded, the 138-mile trip from Chattanooga to Atlanta.[2]

Advancing deeper into Georgia, Sherman exercised great caution in protecting his line of supply, and indicated in a post-war account, “I doubt whether the history of war can furnish more examples of skill and bravery than attended the defense of the railroad from Nashville to Atlanta during the year 1864.”[3] Johnston, after President Jefferson Davis relived him of command in favor of General John Bell Hood, expressed the importance of the W&A, and how this vital rail line had factored into his strategic plan, which circumstances prevented him from fulfilling. The Virginian suggested he “…hoped to be able to break, or to procure the breaking of, the railroad by which the invading army was supplied, and thus compel it to assail ours on our own terms, or to a retreat easily converted into a rout.”[4]

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Alfred Waud sketch of the water tanks along the W&A in Big Shanty, LC-DIG-ppmsca-20204

During the coming months, as we commemorate many sesquicentennial events throughout northwest Georgia, recall the importance of the Western and Atlantic Rail Road, realize the various battles occurred in specific locations because of this line, and remember, as did Sherman, without the W&A,“…the Atlanta campaign was an impossibility….”[5]



[1] Lee Kennett, Sherman: A Soldier’s Life (New York: HarperCollins, 2001), 239.

[2] About North Georgia, Building the Western and Atlantic Railroad, http://www.aboutnorthgeorgia.com/ang/Building_the_Western_and_Atlantic_Railroad (accessed April 18, 2014).

[3] William Tecumseh Sherman, Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman (New York: Penguin Books, 2000), 518.

[4] Joseph E. Johnston, Narrative of Military Operations during the Civil War, A Da Capo paperback (1874; repr., New York, N.Y.: Da Capo Press, 1990), 358.

[5] William Tecumseh Sherman, Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman, 751.

shafferMichael K. Shaffer is the Assistant Director and Lecturer for Kennesaw State University’s Civil War Center , a Civil War historian, newspaper columnist, and author of ‘Washington County, Virginia in the Civil War.’ He is a member of the Society of Civil War Historians, Historians of the Civil War Western Theater, Georgia Association of Historians, and the Civil War Round Table of Atlanta. Michael also serves on the boards of the Civil War Round Table of Cobb County and the River Line Historic Area, and Center Combined Logo-page-001as a Civil War consultant for the Friends of Camp McDonald.