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 to Decatur where the 20th Corps, Brig. Gen. A.S. Williams, USA, took the road to Social Circle, striking the Georgia Railroad there and destroying through Madison.
On the 19th, at Madison, the 2nd Div., Brig. Gen. John W. Geary, USA (formerly Mayor of San Francisco), was detached to burn the R.R. Bridge 13 miles E of Madison. At Buckhead, after his advance "exchanged a few shots with the enemy's scouts," Geary burned the depot and large stocks of cord wood, ties and cut timbers.
At Blue Spring (Swords), he camped on Col. Lee Jordan's plantation where he "found 280 bales of cotton and 50,000 bushels of corn stored for the rebel Government." That day, about five miles of track, the R.R. bridge over the Oconee River, ferry boats on the Apalachee River, several mills, gins and presses, and about 250 more bales of cotton were destroyed.
On the 20th, Geary marched to Park's Mill, which he burned, destroyed the ferry boat there, and turned south into Putnam County to rejoin the 20th Corps south of Eatonton.