In May of 1864, three Union Armies under the leadership of General William T. Sherman began moving south from Chattanooga, TN, to capture Atlanta. His advance to Atlanta was delayed two weeks by fierce fighting at Kennesaw Mountain, culminating with a major battle on June 27. On July 3, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston retreated south from Kennesaw to pre-constructed trenches on the Chattahoochee River, known as the River Line. Sherman’s troops came into Marietta on July 3. He briefly established his headquarters at the Kennesaw House Hotel, before leaving to pursue Johnston to the River Line.
Sherman knew that a direct assault on these Confederate defenses would be too costly in human lives, so he sent 4,000 mounted men twelve miles up river to out-flank the Confederate army. This flanking column was under the command of Union General Kenner Garrard. His mission was to capture the covered bridge at Roswell, therefore gaining a crossing point to threaten the Confederate position down stream.
Union Troops arrived in Roswell from Marietta on July 5th.
July 6, the Union army destroyed the Roswell Manufacturing Company. The sheeting from the Roswell Cotton Mill was taken to Marietta to be used in the field hospitals that were being set up under Union control.
July 10th the Roswell mill workers were sent by wagon to Marietta. There they were placed at the Georgia Military Academy. On the 15th of July, they were marched to the train station and sent by train to the north.
William King, brother of Barrington King of the Roswell Manufacturing Company, lived in Marietta. William visited the mill workers to get news of Roswell and his family. From July 13 – 17, A Union army crossed at Roswell.
Roswell was occupied by approximately 31,000 troops during July of 1864. On July 22, the Union army engaged with the Confederate army in the Battle of Atlanta.
The fighting at the Shallow ford on July 9, 1864 involved the Spencer repeating rifle by Union forces. This was the first time in U.S. history a rifle was used successfully under water during armed conflict.
A special thanks to Michael Hitt for the above historical information!
60,000 Union troops occupied Marietta until November 12, when they left on the March to the Sea. The evening of November 12, the Square was set on fire – probably by troops from General Kilpatrick’s Calvary. At that time the railroad was destroyed and the telegraph lines were cut, leaving Marietta with no communication to the outside world. Major James Connolly noted in his journal that the business section had been burned, but that the beautiful private residences were still standing. “The acrid smoke of hundreds of burning buildings ascended into the chill winter air.”