Historic Markers Across Georgia



Jackson



Marker ID:  R5
Location: 25 3rd Street, Jackson, GA
County: Butts
Coordinates: N 33° 17.673    W 083° 57.996
  33.29455    -83.9666
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: None
 



Text:

Jackson
"A Witness to the Battles for Waynesborough".

—March to the Sea Heritage Trail —


Jackson, seat of Butts County, "was a beautiful little place and evidently occupied by the most prosperous people of that region. Those descriptive words were penned by Union Major Thomas W Osborn, Chief of Artillery of Major General Oliver O. Howard's "Right Wing in Major General William T. Sherman's army. Osborn, along with some 12,000 other Federal soldiers, marched through town on Thursday, November 17, 1864. Afterwards, Osborn's description of Jackson changed to "a sadder if not a wiser community. Little was left besides themselves and their houses."

Many of the approximately 300 residents of Jackson fled their homes before the approach of Federal soldiers. A few convalescent Confederates and local citizens made a brief defense of the town before hiding in area woods and swamps. Communities closer to Atlanta had been heavily foraged during the previous summer months while the farms and plantations near
Jackson had not been visited by either army. One arriving Federal soldier exclaimed, "Our men¨.can't carry half the hogs and potatoes they find right along the road." In addition, numerous stores and other businesses surrounded the town's square. Almost all were looted and burned. This included the courthouse, although some claimed its fire was started by departing Confederate cavalry not wanting corn and cotton stored inside to fall into enemy hands. Wiley Goodman, ordinary of Butts County, loaded the county's records into a wagon before the courthouse fire began. He crossed the Ocmulgee River and hid the records. Only one deed book was lost.


One store in Jackson was set ablaze several times but extinguished by a number of young boys after the Federal soldiers had marched on. An exception to the destruction was the old St. John's Masonic Hall, which it is said was spared by the explicit order of General Sherman. Prices Mill, a few miles south of Jackson was also left standing reportedly for use by the Federals in the event of their delay in crossing the Ocmulgee River. What remained were charred mercantile businesses, flour mills, gin houses, barns and corn cribs. Much of the area's livestock was slaughtered, while other horses, mules and more were stolen for the army's use. Most homes of Jacksons residents survived.

General Howard and both of his subordinate commanders, Major Generals Peter J. Osterhaus (15th Corps) and Francis P. Blair, Jr. (17th Corps) made their overnight headquarters at Jackson, the latter at Sylvan Grove Plantation. Separate march routes of the Right Wing through Butts County allowed for better foraging. Meanwhile, the cavalry division of Brigadier General H. Judson Kilpatrick was ordered to ride south. Howard wanted the Confederates to "think we are making for Macon, via Forsyth" in order to draw their attention away from the Right Wing's actual next objective: to reach Planter's Factory on the Ocmulgee River and move safely across at Seven Islands.

[Photo captions]
Top left: Union Major General
Oliver O. Howard
Commander, Army of the
Tennessee ("Right Wing")
Howard was seriously
wounded and lost his right
arm in the Battle of Seven
Pines, Va. on May 31, 1862.
He was awarded the Medal of
Honor was {sic} his actions that
day. A devout Christian, after
the war he directed the
Freedman's Bureau and
co-founded a college named
for him, Howard University.


Middle left: Union Major
Thomas W. Osborn
Chief of Artillery, Army of
the Tennessee ("Right Wing")
Osborn served with General
Howard in the East, including
at Chancellorsville and
Gettysburg. Transferred west
he was present at Chattanooga
through the Atlanta
Campaign, March to the Sea
and the Carolinas. He wrote a
detailed account of his service.
After the war Osborn was a
U.S. Senator from Florida.


Middle right: Union Major General
Peter J. Osterhaus
(prior to his promotion)
Commander, 15th Corps,
Army of the Tennessee
("Right Wing")
Osterhaus was born in Prussia
(part of today's Germany)
before immigrating to the
United States in 1848. He
fought in Western Theater
battles from Missouri to
Georgia. After the war he
served as U.S. Consul in
France & Germany.


Bottom right Map: The "March to the Sea" through Butts County
(Lloyds Topographical Map of Georgia, 1864)


[to view photos of this marker, see HMDB.org]

Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails, Inc.



 

 

018-A03