ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic Sites of Griswoldville, Georgia
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic Sites of Griswoldville, Georgia
The town of Griswoldville was an important
industrial center for the Confederacy. It was left in
smoking ruins during Sherman's March to the Sea.
A historical marker tells the
story of Griswoldville, one of
the first "company towns" built
Battle of Griswoldville
The only major infantry battle
of the March to the Sea was
fought at Griswoldville on
November 22, 1864.
Site of Griswoldville
The town was founded by
Samuel Griswold in the
1840s and owed its existence
to the Central of Georgia
Griswoldville, Georgia - Industry and War in the Old South
A Target of the March to the Sea
A line of historical markers tell
the story of Griswoldville, the
fighting there, Griswold's
pistol factory and Sherman's
March to the Sea.
Griswoldville is a name that echoes down
through years of Georgia history. It was on
the open fields here that the men and boys of
the Georgia Militia made seven charges into
the gun's of Sherman's troops, suffering
horrific casualties and forever stamping the
name Griswoldville into the annals of
Located about ten miles or so east of Macon,
Griswoldville was named for Samuel
Griswold. At the time of the Civil War, the
community was an important industrial
complex that manufactured everything from
cotton gins to soap.
Moving down to Georgia from Connecticut in
1820, Samuel Griswold built the first known
iron foundry in the state at nearby Clinton.
With Eli Whitney's famed invention then
propelling a dramatic change in the face of
the South, Griswold also set up a factory that
made cotton gins.
Griswold thrived in Clinton until the 1840s,
when the Central of Georgia Railroad (often
called the Georgia Central) was completed
between the nearby city of Macon and the
coastal port of Savannah. A spur ran north to
Milledgeville, then home to the state capitol,
and on to Eatonton in Putnam County. By the
time Georgia seceded in 1861, Macon had
been linked to Atlanta by the Macon and
Western Railroad, which linked Middle
Georgia to the Georgia Railroad and the rest
of the South.
A shrewd businessman, Samuel Griswold
realized the value of rail transport to his
operations and acquired 4,000 acres along
the Central of Georgia at a point about two
miles south of his original base at Clinton
and ten miles east of Macon.
Called Griswoldville in his honor, the village
was one of the first real "factory towns" in the
South. In addition to his three-story, 24-room
mansion, Griswold built a church, cottages
for slaves and employed workers, an
expanded factory for his cotton gin operation,
saw mill, grist mill and other factories that
made everything from bricks and furniture to
candles and soap.
When Georgia seceded from the Union and
soon joined the other cotton states in forming
the Confederate States of America in 1861,
attention was quickly focused on developing
the industrial might necessary to support the
Southern nation. Griswoldville became an
important link in the South's chain of military
With the Union blockade tightening along the
coast and no real demand for new cotton
gins, the Griswold Cotton Gin Company was
retooled to manufacture a Southern version
of Samuel Colt's famed .44-caliber Navy
Revolver. Such an action would lead to court
battles today, but Griswold and the Southern
government were not particularly worried
about Yankee lawsuits.
Between 1862 and 1864, the factory at
Griswoldville produced more than 3,500
six-shooters of the Colt Navy design. Made
using frames of brass instead of iron (to
stretch the South's limited supply of iron), the
Griswold & Gunnison revolvers were popular
in both the Confederate army and navy.
Reproductions can be seen today at virtually
any Southern battle reenactment.
Griswoldville's location on the Central of
Georgia and its role in supplying weapons,
soap and other necessities to Confederate
soldiers made it a target for the Union army.
Although Stoneman's Raid did not inflict
significant damage on the town during the
summer of 1864, November of that year
brought devastation in the form of Sherman's
March to the Sea. As the massive right wing
of General William Tecumseh Sherman's
army pushed southeast from Atlanta into the
heartland of Georgia, the cavalry forces of
General Judson Kilpatrick were sent ahead
to screen the movements of the main body
and do as much damage as possible.
On the morning of November 20, 1864, three
companies from the 9th Michigan Cavalry
took Griswoldville after a brief skirmish with
outnumbered Confederate defenders. The
pistol factory and other structures went up in
flames. More damage was done the next day
when Kilpatrick's main force fell back on
Griswoldville after the Battle of Walnut Creek
Fighting escalated throughout the day of the
21st in and around Griswoldville. Southern
General Joseph "Fighting Joe" Wheeler had
followed Kilpatrick's men out from Macon and
his probes and attacks increased throughout
the day. Although it paled in comparison to
the Battle of Griswoldville the next day, just
one of the November 21st encounters cost
the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry alone 5 killed,
21 wounded and 42 missing.
Wheeler attacked again in greater force on
the morning of November 22, 1864, but
withdrew to begin his march back around to
oppose the head of Sherman's army after
finding the Kilpatrick had been reinforced by
The Battle of Griswoldville, the largest infantry
action of the March to the Sea, took place that
afternoon when thousands of men from the
Georgia militia, state line forces and workers'
battalions from Augusta and Athens attacked
entrenched Union forces on the outskirts of
town. More than 500 men were killed and
wounded when the old men and young boys
of Georgia tried seven times to break through
the Union lines in one of the most valiant yet
tragic Confederate attacks of the war.
Griwswoldville, of course, did not survive the
Civil War with its pre-war prosperity, but it
remains an identifiable community today.
The factories and other buildings of Samuel
Griswold's "company town" no longer exist,
but a series of historical markers tell the
story of the community. The Griswoldville
Battlefield Historic State Park preserves the
scene of the heavy fighting on November 22,
To reach Griswoldville from Macon, take U.S.
Highway 80 East past the entrance to
Ocmulgee National Monument and then take
the left fork onto Georgia Highway 57. Travel
3.5 miles and then just after crossing the
Twiggs County line, turn left on Ridge Road..
Follow it for a little under 1.5 miles until you
reach the railroad. Griswoldville stood here
and as you cross the tracks, you will see the
historical markers just ahead to your right.
To reach the Griswoldville Battlefield, cross
back over the tracks and take an immediate
left on Old Griswoldville Road. Follow this for
for about 1.5 miles and turn left on Baker
Road. The park is just ahead on your left.
Scene of Heavy Fighting
Although the actual Battle of
Griswoldville too place two
miles away, fighting took
place in the town itself on
November 20-22, 1864.
The state park is located just
outside the community on
|Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.