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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

November 27, 1864

March to the Sea in Sandersville

The March to the Sea continued on this day, from just north of Sandersville, Union General William T. Sherman and the 20th Corps marched into town, where he ordered the courthouse burned (because Confederates had used it to fire on Union troops). After this, they marched four miles to Tennille Station, where they camped for the night.

Henry Hitchcock, military secretary to General Sherman, wrote in his diary of leaving the courthouse in ruins, passing through some good farmland, debating with some Southern women, and the rumor (false it turned out) that native Georgian General James Longstreet was in Georgia to oppose the March to the Sea.

“Twelfth day, Headquarters in a field, Tennille Station, Georgia Central R. Rd. - Ride from Sandersville here through pine forests over sandy road … At this place found R.R. depot, store-houses, etc., in smoking ruins … this is the land for sweet potatoes – from Covington to Milledgeville. Good story of soldier who ‘don’t touch any but red ones now,’ and scornfully rejects white ones. Accidentally got to talking with brunette lady of the house today about the war, etc. I pity these women sincerely, but curse the miserable ‘State pride’ which blinds them. I believe there is no such contemptible provincialism in this world as these people have. It does me good to quote A.H. Stephens’ Union speeches to them – and it hits hard – the harder because most politely done, with surprise and regret at his abandonment of principles so admirably and truthfully declared … . General in fine spirits, and well he may be. He desires nothing better than for Longstreet (Confederate General James Longstreet, rumored, inaccurately, to be at Augusta) to come and fight him. All our commanders constantly report our troops in the very best of spirits and condition, ‘spoiling for a fight.’ Our little skirmish yesterday at Sandersville showed it … Meanwhile we are all the time destroying the Georgia Central Railroad – tearing up and burning the ties and sleepers and bending and twisting the rails. At Oconee Bridge, twelve miles from here, over two miles of trestle work through swamps on both sides of the river have been burned, as well as the bridge, a long and important one.” Source: M.A. DeWolfe Howe (ed.), Marching with Sherman: Passages from the Letters and Campaign Diaries of Henry Hitchcock, Major and assistant Adjutant General of Volunteers, November 1864-May 1865 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995), pp. 99-105.