Historic Markers Across Georgia


Marker ID:  L6
Location: 125 Main Street, Jersey, GA
County: Walton
Coordinates: N 33° 43.029    W 083° 47.9823
  33.71715    -83.799705
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: None


Federal Encampments

—March to the Sea Heritage Trail —

In 1864, Centreville (now Jersey) was a small farming village located on Hightower Trail, a former Indian trading route. The village included several small stores and farm related businesses including a blacksmith shop and cotton gin. However, most local men of fighting age were far from home in distant Confederate armies.

The Federal 20th Corps, composed of three infantry divisions commanded by Brigadier General Alpheus S. Williams, spent the night of November 17-18, 1864, in large camps around Centreville. They were part of the "Left Wing" of Major General William T. Sherman's army on its way from Atlanta to the sea.

The Second Division of the 20th Corps, commanded by Brigadier General John W. Geary, arrived in Centreville first. But they marched past this location and spent the night on the Dalley Plantation approximately three miles to the southeast. Next to arrive was the Third Division, by Brigadier General William T. Ward, and finally the First Division, commanded by Brigadier General Nathaniel J. Jackson. These two divisions found Centreville to be a pleasant rest stop.

Close to 10,000 soldiers, with their wagons, horses and artillery plus hundreds of following slaves established their evening camps throughout this community. They were pleased to rest in an area with little danger an sufficient water. Centreville's deep water wells, including one in the center of the village, provided welcome relief for soldiers who averaged marching fifteen miles a day. When on the march, each brief rest and water break was of "great benefit to the soldier" wrote a Federal staff officer. "He gains a breathing-spell, has a chance to wipe the perspiration from his brow and the dust out of his eyes, or he pulls off his shoes and stockings to cool his swollen, heated feet."

While camped at Centreville Federal parties scoured the surrounding countryside for food and animals. The residents of Centreville were careful to hide their valuables from the foraging troops. Local lore, however, tells that many chickens and other livestock fell prey to Federal "bummers." But many horses and mules had already been taken when on the previous July 23rd Second Lieutenant William L. Birney and the 17th Indiana Mounted Infantry Regiment rode through Centreville on their way to Social Circle. They were part of Union Brigadier General Kenner Garrard's cavalry raid in support of General Sherman's effort to isolate and capture Atlanta.

On the morning of Friday, November 18th, the three divisions of the 20th Corps left their campsites in and around Centreville to march southeast toward Social Circle.

Erected Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails, Inc.

A photo of this marker can be found on HMDB.org