A Junction of Sherman's Right Wing
—March to the Sea Heritage Trail —
This Native American trail crossing at Georgia Highway 56 (itself a 19th century road) was a major route in colonial times. It is named the "Old Savannah Road." Starting in Savannah, it crossed the Ogeechee River, running west and south of it, then through Sandersville, ending at another trail at Rock Landing on the Oconee River, just south of Milledgeville. Much of the road is still in use.
During Union Major General William T. Sherman's March to the Sea, between November 15 to December 21, 1864, he accompanied his 17th Corps, led by Major General Francis P. Blair, Jr., from Tennille to Pooler (near Savannah). Encamping the evening of November 29 approximately ten miles west of here along the Old Savannah Road, the 17th Corps entered this intersection on the afternoon of November 30. From here it turned north to cross the Ogeechee River and camp at Burton (now Midville), Station 9 ½ on the Central of Georgia Railroad. The 17th Corps continued through Millen, following roads on the east side of the Ogeechee River to Savannah.
This region is called both "Wiregrass" and "Pine Barrens." Major Henry Hitchcock, a member of Sherman's staff describes the area in his diary, "All through this pine country there are better farms than we expected, and large stores of corn, fodder, and potatoes (sweet), but Lt. Snelling tells me that this is true only along the main roads and that off of these, there are either no farms or mere patches..."
Foraging was common throughout this area.
The other half of
Sherman's "Right Wing", the 15th Corps, led by Major General Peter J. Osterhaus and accompanied by Right Wing commander Major General Oliver O. Howard had marched east on trails to the south of the Old Savannah Road, having considerable difficulty finding their way through pine forests. Maps were useless, and few local residents either could or would provide directions. Two 15th Corps divisions, commanded by Brigadier Generals John M. Corse and Charles R. Woods, camped on November 30 just east of this intersection, after passing through that same afternoon. The next day, Corse and Woods followed the Old Savannah Road east and south, on the western side of the Ogeechee River, finally crossing near Savannah. The other two 15th Corps divisions those of Brigadier General William B Hazen and John E. Smith, camped at Summerville (now Summertown), 3 miles south of here. They then turned south from Summerville, marching through Statesboro on roads approximating Georgia Highway 192 and U.S. Highway 80, to the Savannah area.
Top left: 17th Corps Headquarters Flag
Bottom left: Major General Francis P. Blair, Jr., commander of the 17th corps.
Middle: Marching Day Map
Top right: 15th Corps Headquarters Flag
Bottom right: Major General Peter J. Osterhaus, commander of the 15th corps.