Middle Georgia marks 150th anniversary of Sherman’s March to the Sea

History will come alive in Middle Georgia this weekend as sites associated with the Civil War remember Union Army Gen. William Sherman’s March to the Sea 150 years ago.

This weekend, the Fort Hawkins Commission will recount a day in November 1864 when Georgia militia saved the city of Macon from Sherman’s torch.

It was Nov. 21, 1864, when part of Union Gen. Judson Kilpatrick’s Right Wing crossed Walnut Creek, near the Ocmulgee National Monument, and captured one of the militia’s cannons.

“Almost as soon as (Union soldiers) captured that cannon, four Napoleon cannons from the same high hilltop at Fort Hawkins made them (retreat),” said Marty Willett, Fort Hawkins Commission press officer and project coordinator. “For the second time, Macon is spared the torch. ... Macon was one of Sherman’s failures.”

The Georgia militia encampment will be represented by Widow Makers Mess, a group of individuals dedicated to portraying Civil War soldiers. Willett said the reenactments will become an annual event at Fort Hawkins.

“A living history experience really allows a lot of the minutiae, the personal detail in history, that’s normally not part of history,” Willett said. “Saturday and Sunday folks can visit a Confederate camp of the Georgia militia. They can talk to the soldiers, they can watch the soldiers fire their muskets. We’re going to have artillery demonstrations and make big booms.”

Willett said visitors of The Night After Griswoldville event Saturday evening will have to pass through Confederate lines before entering Fort Hawkins to enjoy a cup of mulled cider with Georgia militia.

Meanwhile in Milledgeville, a day after Fort Hawkins saved Macon from Kilpatrick, Sherman invaded the Old Governor’s Mansion on Nov. 22, 1864. Most locals had already evacuated before 30,000 soldiers came to town.

“We know that Sherman established headquarters in (the) family dining room where he met with his corps commanders and finalized a plan for the capture of Savannah,” said Matt Davis, Old Governor’s Mansion director.

Sherman and his troops only occupied the mansion for 48 hours before pushing on to the sea.

This weekend, the Old Governor’s Mansion will re-enact Sherman’s capture with the flag-raising above the mansion and offer tours of the building.

“It’s an important anniversary to have this time of reflection to look back, discuss and think about the greater meaning of these activities,” Davis said. “It also gives a chance for people to openly discuss (it) and come to new levels of understanding. ... To observe and remember this very critical period of history is very important.”