Unit Introduction: In Part 13 we will briefly examine a few of the atrocities and war crimes that General Sherman committed against the people of Georgia. Sherman's famous march to the sea will live in infamy as one of the greats acts of in-human depravity in his quest for "total war" against the innocents. The untold suffering could take volumes to report. Presented here just a few of the criminal acts.
Unit Objective: To develop an awareness of the war crimes, the scope of destruction and of terror that Sherman's troops perpetrated on the non-combatant citizens of Georgia.
A. The New Manchester and Roswell, Georgia Mills and the Roswell Women
In July of 1864, Major General William Tecumseh Sherman's troops approached Atlanta which would set the stage for a total war against the people of Georgia, commonly called his "March To The Sea." From Atlanta to Savannah, Sherman left a trail of utter destruction behind. He and his bummers stripped the land clean of all resources. What they could not use themselves, they destroyed so that nothing was left for the civilian pop
ulation in the way of sustaining life.
"On July 2nd, regiments of Union cavalry and infantry arrived at New Manchester, Georgia with the mission to cause destruction to the factories and mills in the area. Former Governor Charles J. McDonald and business partner James Rogers built the mill known as the Sweetwater Manufacturing Company. The mill went into operation on December 21, 1849, and their products rapidly became known throughout the south.
In addition to the textile operations, there was a flour and gristmill to the south and a water powered saw mill one mile north. In 1861 the Company contracted with the Confederate Government to produce material for Confederate uniforms. The mill/factory combination was five stories tall, bigger than any building in Atlanta at that time. By 1864 most of the men were fighting in the Confederate Army. The 60 to 70 employees at the mill consisted mostly of women and their children. A small contingent of Militia known as the “Sweetwater Guards”, were stationed at the mill.
On July 5, 1864, Federal General Kenner Garrard's cavalry reached Roswell and finding it undefended, occupied the city. The cotton factory was working up to the time of its destruction, some 400 women being employed. Despite its tiny size, the town had become the center of a thriving textile industry during the war.
The cotton mill was cranking out up to 191,000 yards of cloth per month and the woolen mill up to 30,000 yards of "Roswell Gray" uniforms. Each of the mills employed hundreds of women, some of them black.
The Yankee troops were under orders from General Sherman to arrest everyone in the towns, as they are connected to the factory production, and destroy the resources that sustain the mills and the people.
Refinements of Confederate militia posted as outlooks spotted the sizeable approaching troops commanded by Colonel Adams and Major Tompkins. Artillery following the Union forces took aim on the mill located on the Sweetwater Creek. The site was terrorizing to the workers, mostly women who posed no threat to the Union soldiers. Henry Lovern and A.C. "Cicero" Tippens who were operating the mill were soon arrested by the Army officers. Guards ordered to escort all the workers home and to put the town on marshal law. In effect they arrested every citizen in the community, and thus closing the mill. Adams and Tompkins told the townspeople that their operation was to protect them from being in harms way when the fighting commenced. They informed the citizens that as soon as wagons could be obtained, they would be transported to a safer location miles to the west.
With the the town under control. the Union troops searched the entire town, taking some property and destroying other property out if spite. Soldiers also broke into a safe attempting to locate valuables. Union patrols were sent to other areas such as Ferguson's Merchant Mill and Alexander's Mill. Tompkins took a sizeable part of his cavalry and moved on to Roswell to confront the operators of the mills there.
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