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 east through Decatur, the 20th Corps, Brig. Gen. A. S. Williams, USA, taking the road to Social Circle (7 miles NW) to strike the Georgia Railroad there and destroy it through Madison. On the night of the 17th, the 20th Corps camped NW of Social Circle near the Ulcofauhachee (Alcovy) River.
On the 18th, the railroad was destroyed from Social Circle to Madison (16 miles). Here at Rutledge, the depot, water tank, warehouses and other RR facilities were destroyed by the 28th Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry, those at Social Circle having been destroyed in July by Garrard's cavalry [US]. That night, the 20th Corps camped with its leading division (Geary's) two miles west of Madison, on the railroad, from which point it marched next day to destroy the bridges over the Oconee River. Between Atlanta and Milledgeville, the movements 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 of Georgia Railway