By William Harris Bragg
(April 2010 Civil War News)
Illustrated, maps, notes, bibliography, index, 2009 reprint. Mercer University Press, 1400 Coleman Ave., Macon, GA 31207, $30 plus shipping.
In 1815 Samuel Griswold moved with his family from his native Connecticut to Jones County in Central Georgia. He prospered in the following decades manufacturing and selling several types of small machines, including a “cotton gin” — a device to separate the plants fibers from the bolls, dust, dead insects and small sticks that often clung to them.
In the 1840s Griswold established a town on the Central Railroad of Georgia 10 miles east of Macon. There he built a sawmill, and there he was soon operating other businesses as well. He modestly named the place Griswoldville. By 1860 he was worth more than $250,000 (real money in those days).
During the Civil War the town’s manufacturing establishments produced weapons for the Confederacy — pikes at first, and then the much more practical pistols.
The summer of 1864 brought raiding Union cavalry into the area (from the Yankee army at Atlanta). Those raids were turned back, but on Nov. 20 part of Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s army on its “March to the Sea” reached Griswoldville and destroyed much of the town.
Two days later, about one and a half miles east of the town, a party of Georgia militia attacked a brigade of Yankees commanded by Brig. Gen. Charles C. Walcutt. The militiamen fought bravely, but they were defeated with heavy casualties.
The battle was the only serious action during the march. The town revived briefly after the war but no longer exists.
William Harris Bragg tells the story of Griswold’s many and varied industrial enterprises, something of the war in East-Central Georgia and the events of the battle.
The book should prove of interest to those studying the Confederacy’s industrial effort as well as to readers interested in the March to the Sea.
Reviewer: Richard M. McMurry
Richard M. McMurry is working on a study of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s role in the war.