Historic Markers Across Georgia

Old Clinton

Marker ID:  R9
Location: 442 Pulaski Street, Gray, GA
County: Jones
Coordinates: N 32° 59.834    W 083° 33.546
  32.99723333    -83.5591
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: None


Old Clinton
"¨.with much difficulty he restrained them from burning the [entire] town."

—March to the Sea Heritage Trail —

Founded in 1808 Clinton was a commercial and educational center and the early seat of Jones County. It was planned with streets in a New England styled gridiron pattern and a central square. In 1820 Clinton was the fourth -largest town in Georgia. Samuel Griswold, coming from Connecticut, built a cotton gin factory here. Thomas B. Slade opened the Clinton Female Institute about 1833. By the 1860 this once prosperous village was in decline. The Macon and Savannah Railroad had bypassed the town so Griswold moved his growing business to the railroad. Later the county seat was moved to nearby Gray. Yet Clinton's enduring historic value has earned it a listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Federal cavalry under Major General George Stoneman passed through Clinton twice in July en route to and returning from their unsuccessful raid on Macon. After Stoneman's defeat at Sunshine Church on July 31st the Federals captured there passed through Clinton yet again on their way to prison at Macon's Camp Oglethorpe.

On Saturday, November 19, 1864, nearly 5,000 Federal cavalrymen led by Brigadier
General H. Judson Kilpatrick thundered into Clinton during their "March to the Sea." Three infantry divisions of the 15th Corps started arriving about noon the following
day, allowing Kilpatrick's Cavalry to feint toward Macon. Commanded by Major General Peter J. Osterhaus the 15th Corps was one of the two corps in Major General Oliver Otis Howard's "Right Wing," representing almost one-half of Major General William T. Sherman's army. Osterhaus's fourth division was delayed, under Brigadier General John M. Corse, in Osterhaus's words by "¨.encumbrances clogging his movements¨." because of the division's need to guard the 15th Corps wagons, pontoon bridge and cattle.

Despite Clinton's depressed economy. Some structures remained for the Federal troops to burn. Major Thomas Osborn, Howard's chief of artillery wrote, "Some of the men captured with General Stoneman were now with General Union Major General Kilpatrick and it was with Peter J. Osterhaus much difficulty he restrained them from burning the, [entire] town." The Federals destroyed most of the remaining industrial and commercial buildings. The three 15th Corps infantry divisions departed Clinton on the 21st. Osterhaus ordered one division to march toward Gordon and the other two to move toward Irwinton. As the troops departed Osterhaus became aware of a Confederate force near the town of Griswoldville. He changed his orders to meet this threat.

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

Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails, Inc.