Historic Markers Across Georgia

Millen Junction

Marker ID:  R19
Location: 548 Cotton Avenue, Millen, GA
County: Jenkins
Coordinates: N 32° 48.138    W 081° 56.379
  32.8023    -81.93965
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: None


Millen Junction
"¨¨its destruction was a brilliant spectacle.

—March to the Sea Heritage Trail —

Millen Junction was founded in 1835 as an inn owned by Robert Hendricks Gray. Originally named Brisonville, it is located approximately 80 miles from Savannah on the Central Railroad of Georgia. Thus the town was also called "The 80 Mile Depot" or simply "Old 79." It was renamed for McPherson B. Millen, who became the railroad's superintendent in 1848, and was officially shortened to "Millen" in 1881. The railroad's construction reached Millen in 1839, linking it to Savannah and later Macon. After a spur to Waynesboro (1851) and Augusta (1854) was added Millen became a vital rail junction during the Civil War for transporting men and materials between Savannah, Macon and Augusta.

Union Major General William T. Sherman, traveling with Major General Francis Blair, Jr. and the more than 11,000 men in his 17th Corps, camped at Buck Head Creek just west of Millen on Friday, December 2, 1864. That evening Blair's infantry began entering town General Sherman arrived before 9:00 a.m. the following day. Soldiers torched many of the town's structures. The depot, all railroad buildings and storehouses, including two used to house captured Federal officers, and even the old inn were all burned. Major George Ward Nichols, a member of Sherman's staff later wrote "The extensive depot at Millen was a wooden structure of exceedingly graceful proportions. It was ignited in three places simultaneously, and its destruction was a brilliant spectacle." As the buildings burned a war correspondent and artist, Theodore R. Davis, accurately depicted the burning of the Millen Junction depot.

Major Henry Hitchcock, another member of General Sherman's staff, described the depot as being "some 200 feet long¨.open at the sides, the roof resting on wooden arches springing longitudinally from wooden columns. On the E. side of this was a handsome little station house, apparently used for ticket and other offices¨.On the west side, apparently used for ticket and other offices¨.On the west side, facing Stationhouse, say 100 feet off was [al] large two story frame hotel, with many rooms, large dining hall, and quite a number of outbuildings." Hitchcock added later that the railroad's destruction "is a terrible blow to JD & Co." He referred to the destroyed community as the "late town of Millen."

As the old inn burned Major Hitchcock learned that a "crazy woman'' was inside. He and two other officers rushed in to save her but found she had already been led out. Hitchcock pitied her and gave her five dollars. Another incident occurred at the home of a Mr. Myers, located on a hill south of the railroad overlooking the depot. After General Sherman and his staff arrived Myers claim of Union loyalty was disproved when 100 cotton bales were discovered buried under a cabin. Both the cabin and cotton were promptly burned.

Around 1:00 p.m. on the 3rd General Sherman and the 17th
Corps began leaving town. That evening they camped in the
vicinity of Scarborough. After the war Millen's railroad facilities
were rebuilt. The brick depot dates from 1868.

[Photo captions]
Top left: Destruction of the Millen Junction Depot, December 3, 1864
(by Theodore R. Davis, Harper's Weekly)
Bottom left: George Ward Nichols (on horseback) Shortly after the war his article in Harper's Weekly immortalized the exploits of "Wild Bill" Hickok (standing)
Top right: Approximate routes of the "March to the Sea" through coastal Georgia in November & December 1864
(adopted from the Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies)
Background watermark: Destruction of Millen Junction, Georgia

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

Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails, Inc.