On Nov. 15, 1864, after destroying Atlanta and cutting his communications with the North, Maj. Gen. W.T. Sherman, USA, began his destructive campaign for Savannah - the March to the Sea. He divided his army (US) into two wings. The Right Wing marched south from Atlanta, to feint at Macon but to cross the Ocmulgee River above the city and concentrate at Gordon.
The Left Wing (14th and 20th Corps), Maj. Gen H.W. Slocum, USA, marched through Decatur, the 20th Corps continuing east to Social Circle and Madison. The 14th Corps, Maj. Gen. J.C. Davis, USA, accompanied by General Sherman and his staff, marched from Atlanta the next morning towards Covington and Milledgeville.That night (16th), the 14th Corps camped along this road with its advance at Lithonia (3.5 miles E) and its rear guard west of Snapfinger Creek) 1.5 miles W.). General Sherman's headquarters were established here at Latimer's Crossroads (Belmont). Next morning, the 14th Corps marched toward Covington and halted for the night at Yellow River. Enroute, the tracks, depots, water tanks and other facilities of the Georgia Railroad were destroyed between Lithonia and the river, approximately 14 miles.
Between Atlanta and Milledgeville, the movement of the Left Wing were almost unopposed, the few Confederate troops available being employed against the Right Wing to protect Macon, a principal arsenal center, and the Central Georgia Railway.