ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Oak City Cemetery in Bainbridge, GA
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Oak City Cemetery in Bainbridge, GA
Oak City Cemetery
A Confederate flag hangs over a veteran's grave at
Oak City Cemetery in Bainbridge, Georgia. Veterans
of American wars have been buried here since 1852
Oak City Cemetery
Bainbridge's historic burial
ground has been in use since
before the War Between the
States.
Oak City Cemetery - Bainbridge, Georgia
History in Stone under the Oaks
Copyright 2012 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Update: July 6, 2012
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Statuary in the Pines
The cemetery is home to
some exceptionally beautiful
statuary, as well as to simple
markers that have faded with
time.
Founder of Bainbridge
Daniel Odom Neel was the
man who secured the land
and did the original surveys
for the City of Bainbridge.
Civil War Factory Owner
S.D. Tonge, whose grave is
seen here, operated a large
textile factory at Bainbridge
during the Civil War.
Oak City Cemetery in Bainbridge is one of the
largest cemeteries in Southwest Georgia. It
has served as the city's public burial grounds
since 1852.

Shaded by beautiful live oaks and other
trees, the large cemetery is where many of
the early settlers, community leaders,
business people and residents of the city
were buried. There are numerous graves of
Confederate soldiers, as well as of veterans
who have served America in every war since
the city was founded.

Before it was designated for use as a
cemetery, the land at Oak City was part of the
Lower Creek Indian village of Pucknawhitla.
This town was also known as "Burges's
Town," because it was where 18th century
trader James Burges (also spelled Burgess)
established his trading post. Burges died in
1799 and likely is buried somewhere on or
near the cemetery grounds.

Among the other area pioneers buried here
is Daniel Odom Neel, who arrived at what is
now Bainbridge in 1822.

Neel is the man credited for recognizing the
potential of the bluff top where the little First
Seminole War blockhouse of
Fort Hughes
stood as a place for the development of an
important city. He investigated and found that
the property had been drawn in the Georgia
land lottery by William Harper who had
settled instead in Jackson County, Florida.

With the creation of Decatur County by the
Georgia Legislature in 1823 causing a need
for a permanent county seat, Neel traveled
through the woods and across the
Chattahoochee River to Jackson County
where he purchased 250 acres on the bluff
from Harper for $20. Coming back, he carved
off 50 acres of the parcel, surveyed it for
development and sold it to the Decatur
County Inferior Court (of which he was clerk)
for $100. The difference in price covered his
costs in securing and surveying the land.

The City of Bainbridge began its growth on
that original 50 acres and soon became the
most important river port on the Flint River. As
Neel's marker notes, he was the first Clerk of
Courts for Decatur County.

The community's commitment to the
Confederate cause is quickly made evident
by a short walk through Oak City Cemetery.
Small Confederate flags flutter in the breeze
and numerous headstones mark the final
resting places of Southern soldiers.

Among these Captain Charles G. Campbell,
who commanded the last Confederate
coastal fort east of the Mississippi to lower
its flag.

The original captain of the Decatur Guards, a
volunteer unit that marched off to war in the
summer of 1861, Campbell led his men
through some of the fiercest battles of the
war including the Seven Days, Second
Manassas, Antietam (Sharpsburg) and
Fredericksburg. With him as their leader, the
Decatur Guards became Company D, 17th
Georgia Infantry, part of the regiment of
Georgia's famed Colonel Henry "The Rock"
Benning.

Disabled after the severe fighting at
Fredericksburg, Campbell was forced to
resign his commission on January 12, 1863
and return home. He could not, however,
remain at peace while his state and country
were at war.
Historic Sites in Southwest Georgia
Just months after returning home, Charles G.
Campbell organized what became known as
Campbell's Independent Company, Georgia
Siege Artillery. He was commissioned as the
new company's captain and led his men
south to Florida to man the heavy artillery at
Fort Ward. Located at St. Marks, this fort was
the primary coastal defense for Florida's
capital city of
Tallahassee.

Campbell did not lower his flag until May 10,
1865, when Tallahassee surrendered at the
close of the war. He was the last commander
of a Confederate coastal fort east of the
Mississippi to give up the fight.

Another noteworthy figure of the Civil War in
the Bainbridge area was S.D. Tonge. An early
industrialist, he was the owner of the Tonge
Factory which provided uniform cloth, yarn
and bedding to the Confederate army. During
the Atlanta Campaign, he sent the hospitals
in Macon enough ginned cotton to make
1,800 beds for wounded soldiers. Mr. Tonge
is buried at Oak City Cemetery.

Another Confederate veteran buried in the
cemetery is Benjamin Russell, who also
served as a U.S. Congressman. Too young
at age 16 to enlist in 1861, he signed on as
the drummer boy of the First Georgia Infantry.
When that regiment was disbanded after its
term of service, Russell reenlisted as a
soldier in the 8th Florida Infantry. He rose to
the rank of lieutenant.

Other noted burials in the cemetery include
those of U.S. Rep. Maston O'Neal, hospital
co-founder Dr. J.D. Chason, Gov. Marvin
Griffin, steamboat line owner John W.
Callahan and famous actress Miriam
Hopkins.

Among the interesting landmarks of the
cemetery, in fact, is a building said to have
been used during the Civil War as a powder
house for storing gunpowder. Most cities of
that era had such facilities for use in storing
the ammunition of their local militia units.

Oak City Cemetery has several entrances
along Cemetery Street in Bainbridge,
Georgia. It is open to the public during
daylight hours.