On Nov. 19, 1854, Maj. A. L. Hartridge, CSA, arrived from Savannah with 186 men and 2 guns [CS] to defend the railroad bridge against raiding parties from Gen. Sherman's army [US], then on its destructive March to the Sea. Next day, he was joined by Maj. Gen. H. C. Wayne, Adj. Gen. of Georgia, with the Corps of Cadets, G. M. I., a detachment of Factory and Penitentiary Guards, Roberts' Guards (paroled convicts) and three small military units (infantry, cavalry and artillery), all under Maj. F. W. Capers, Supt., Georgia Military Institute. Total 450 men and 4 guns. Increments from Wheeler's cavalry increased Wayne's force to about 1200 men and 6 guns.
On the 23rd, Wayne learned that Union cavalry had reached Ball's Ferry (8 miles S) and that Gen. Sherman had occupied Milledgeville. To protect his flanks, he burned the bridges over Buffalo Creek, above Oconee, and sent Hartridge with 2 companies of cavalry, 80 infantry and 2 guns to Ball's Ferry.
On the 25th, Sherman's Left Wing had crossed the Oconee at Milledgeville and his right was forcing a passage at Ball's Ferry. Although he had held the bridge for three days against frontal assaults, Wayne's flanks were now threatened; so he recalled the force at Ball's Ferry and, early on the 26th, evacuated Oconee (No. 14, CRR) and withdrew to Tennille (No. 13, (CRR).