Georgia, the largest state east of the Mississippi River, is divided by the State’s Tourist Division into travel regions. To the left are links to pages with alphabetic listings of sites in each of those regions: Northwest Georgia Mountains, Atlanta Metro, Presidential Pathways, Georgia’s Historic Heartland, Classic South, Plantation Trace, Magnolia Midlands, and Colonial Coast. Viewed as a whole, Civil War Georgia was the site of five major campaigns, each of them near a major highway today: the Campaign for Chickamauga/Chattanooga (US Highway 27 near Fort Oglethorpe), Sherman’s Atlanta campaign (I-75 from Chattanooga to Atlanta), the battles for Atlanta (I-285 and Interstates 20, 75, and 85), Sherman’s March to the Sea (along and between I-20 towards Augusta and I-16 South towards savannah), and Wilson’s Raid (along US Highway 80 between Columbus and Macon). Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ hopes of continuing the war in the west came to an end in Georgia, as well, with his capture at Irwinville (near I-75 north of Tifton).
Although some locations were more directly involved in the war than others, Civil War history pervades the state – from national sites like Andersonville and Fort Pulaski to small museums, single homes, and markers to commemorate events and people. Although Georgia is closely identified with Margaret Mitchell’s famous and well-loved Gone With the Wind and the plantation lifestyle depicted there, the Civl War attractions listed on this site include battle sites and prison camps, national and state parks, forts and cemeteries, museums and monuments, as well as historic houses and plantations. At these sites you may see historical markers; historic locomoties and gunboats; educational slide shows, films, and videotapes; exhibits of uniforms, guns and projectiles, books, documents and photographs; entrenchment remains; living history demonstrations and battle reenactments; and even woodland trails and picnic areas.
You could begin your tour of Georgia’s Civil War attractions at the northwestern tip of the state at Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park or follow General Sherman’s path through the state all the way to the coast in one marathon trip. Or you might prefer to savor and experience the Civil War resources in one travel region at a time over a period of several months. While you’re touring and visiting, however, don’t forget to enjoy Georgia’s natural scenic beauty at the same time. Although directions are given for the more obscure or hard-to-find locations, you should have a good Georgia map on hand, for reference. When touring Georgia, please respect private property owners’ rights.
Georgia During the Civil War
Georgia’s geographic position in the heart of the Confederacy made the state almost immune from invasion during the early years of the Civil War, except for its coast line. For two years the war was concentrated in Virginia, Tennessee and the Mississippi Valley before Union forces began their invasion of Georgia. But Georgians fought in almost every battle and, by the end of the war, supplied approximately 112,000 soldiers to the Confederate cause. Former slaves, many native Georgians, served in the Forty-fourth United States Colored Infantry garrisoned at Tome in the summer of 1864. Of civil officers of the Confederacy and members of the military staff of President Jefferson Davis, the following were from Georgia: Vice President Alexander H. Stephens; First Secretary of State Robert Toombs; Assistant Secretary of the Treasure Phillip Clayton; Assistant Secretary of War John Archibald Campbell; Quartermaster-General of the Confederate States Alexander Robert Lawton; Commissary-General Isaac Munroe St. John; Assistant Secretary of State William M. Browne; naval agent to England James D. Bulloch, and the first woman administrator of what was then the world’s largest military hospital, Phoebe Yates Levy Pember. You will find the homes of some of them listed on this web site.
One of Georgia’s best known Civil War stories, The Great Locomotive Chase, occurred in early 1862, when James J. Andrews and his Raiders seized The General and three box cars at Big Shanty (now Kennesaw) and headed north toward Union lines. Their mission was to destroy the railroad and cut of reinforcements from Atlanta to Chattanooga. The Texas, manned by Georgians, entered the chase about 34 miles north of Big Shanty and ran 51 miles in reverse in pursuit of the other locomotive. When The General was abandoned by the Raiders, The Texas towed the damaged engine back to Ringgold. The Texas continued to serve the Confederacy throughout the Civl War. The Union soldiers were the first to be awarded the nation’s highest military honor, the congressional Medal of Honor.
From the early months of the war, the coast of Georgia saw much activity, with the Union Navy blockading the coastline in an attempt to prevent blockade runners from supplying the Confederacy. In the early months of 1862, Union forces laid siege to Fort Pulaski, and on April 10, the 400 defenders of the fort surrendered. Unable to invade Savannah, Union forces continued to raid the sea island and coastal plantations in the vicinity. In 1863, they made three naval attacks against Fort McAllister, but were defeated each time. The Union did capture and destroy the coastal town of Darien. Darien was occupied by the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Colored Infantry in some of the first action of African-American troops in the war.
Union forces invaded Georgia in September 1863 and fought the Battle of Chickamauga. Two days of hard fighting between the Confederate forces of General Braxton Bragg and the Federal Army of General William S. Rosecrans ended with Rosecrans retreating to Chattanooga. Chickamauga, an Indian word for “River of Death,” was among the ten bloodiest battles of the war. The cost to the Confederacy for the victory was one from which they never recovered.
The next spring, General William T. Sherman invaded Georgia, and his 100,000 men repeatedly outmaneuvered General Joseph E. Johnston’s 70,000 troops. The war came to the heart of Georgia with engagements at Rocky Face Ridge, Resaca, New Hope Church, Pickett’s Mill, Cassville, and Kennesaw Mountain. After being outflanked at numerous positions including his Chattahoochee River Line, Johnston was replaced by General John B. Hood.
During the Civil War, Atlanta was a strategic supply and communications center for the confederacy. With no troop reinforcements available, Atlanta’s fortifications were hurriedly strengthened by thousands of impressed slaves. Twelve miles of heavy fortifications surrounded the city from which General Hood launched attacks on the Union forces during three major battles in July 1864. At the conclusions of these battles and after a forty-day siege, General Hood was forced to retreat from Atlanta to avoid entrapment by Union flanking movements. After the Battle of Jonesboro, August 31-September 1, Hood rested his men near Palmetto. On September 2, the mayor of Atlanta formally surrendered Atlanta to the Union army. In early October, hood turned north, hoping to cut Sherman’s supply lines and lure him away from Atlanta. Sherman then detached part of his army to follow Hood northward. The Battle of Allatoona Pass, October 5, 1864, was fought as part of this maneuver. By the middle of November, Hood was well on his way to Tennessee. After Hood’s departure, Sherman ordered the evacuation of the city and set much of what was left on fire, destroying all but a few hundred of Atlanta’s 4,500 houses and commercial buildings. Atlanta was in flames as Sherman departed southward November 15, 1864, on his March to the Sea. After many skirmishes with Confederate cavalry and poorly organized bands of militia during his March to the Sea, he arrived in Savannah on December 22, having first captured Ft. McAllister on December 13.
The end of the war came with a series of surrenders. In April, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Virginia. Two weeks later, on April 26, General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered at Durham Station, North Carolina. President Jefferson Davis hoped to continue the War from the Trans-Mississippi region. He was pursued across Georgia and was captured near Irwinville in southern Georgia on May 10, 1865.