24 January 2011

Griswoldville: Site of a Bloody Battle (Military Monday)

Site of Griswoldville and the battle.  Nothing is left but the
reason Samuel Griswold came to the area -- the railroad.
The town of Griswoldville is located approximately 10 miles east of Macon, Georgia, off of Highway 57 in Jones County. It was named for Samuel Griswold who moved his iron foundries and cotton gin to this location from Clinton (near Gray, Jones County) to be on the railroad.

The following is from the historical markers at the site of (the Battle of) Griswoldville:

"...A disastrous battle was fought here in 1864 when a force of old men and youths under General Phillips, Captain Robert H. Barron, and Lieutenant Henry Greaves, sent from Macon by General Howell Cobb in an attempt to force the Federals from the city, fought a bloody diversionary action against Kilpatrick's Union Cavalry which then proceeded to Irwinton. Griswold's factories and property were destroyed because he had made arms and ammunition for the Confederacy."

"On 22 November 1864, the Right Wing (15th and 17th Corps) of General Sherman's army marched southeast from the vicinity of Gray toward Gordon and Irwinton on its destructive March to the Sea. To protect the right against Wheeler's Cavalry, Brigadier General C. C. Walcutt's brigade of Woods' division, 15th corps, with two guns of Arndt's Michigan Battery, was sent toward Macon. Near Griswoldville, Walcutt found Murray's brigade of Kilpatrick's cavalry division engaged with Wheeler. Together, they drove Wheeler through Griswoldville, after which Walcutt withdrew and took up a strong position on the Duncan Farm, south of the railroad and about 1 and 1/2 miles east of town. He entrenched hastily on a slight elevation behind a small stream (Little Sandy Creek), his flanks protected by swamps and open fields in his front. The guns were placed on the road near the center of his line. About 2:30PM, he was attacked by the 1st Division, Georgia Militia, Brigadier General P. J. Phillips with 4 guns. Advancing in three lines across the open fields, the Georgians made seven determined assaults; they silenced Arndt's guns but could not break the Union line. About 3:30PM, Walcutt was wounded and Colonel R. F. Catterson, 97th Indiana Infantry, assumed command. At dusk, Phillips was forced to retire, but Catterson made no attempt to pursue him. Wounded: 523 Confederates, 92 Union Soldiers."

Griswold's Confederate Pistol Factory:

In 1862, to meet the pressing need of the Confederate States Army for revolvers of the Colt pattern, the Griswold Cotton Gin Company's plant, on this site, was converted to a pistol factory. In March, the production of cotton gin machinery was discontinued and the task of retooling was begun. In July, Griswold and Grier produced their first revolving pistols.

On 5 August, the Macon Telegraph announced that the "Colt's Navy Repeater" made at the machine shop of Messers, Griswold, at Griswoldville, had passed the inspections of the Confederate Superintendent of Armories in Macon, and that a contract had been let for as many as could be produced. The peak output became 5 finished revolvers per day; the total produced was about 3,500.

The Griswold and Grier revolver is known to collectors as the "brass-frame Confederate Colt." It is the most common of all Confederate manufactured revolvers. It is a six-shot, .36 caliber weapon, with a 7 and 1/2 inch barrel and rifled six grooves right. It cost about $50.00 to manufacture.

On 20 November 1864, during General Sherman's destructive March to the Sea, the Griswold and Grier factory was burned by the 3rd Cavalry Division, Brigadier General J. L. Kilpatrick, USA, together with a valuable soap and candle factory, a train of cars loaded with locomotive parts, and other local facilities."

From Joe Brown's Pets: The Georgia Militia, 1861-1865 by William Scaife:
When the Confederate artillery finally fell silent...The fight was over; the remaining disheartened Southern troops fell slowly back toward Griswoldville.

When the Federal skirmishers advanced onto the abandoned field before their works, they found a sickening and pathetic scene. On the slopes, in the thickets surrounding the stream, and in the fields beyond, they clearly saw their recent antagonists for the first time. At close range they finally realized that they had been fighting, for the most part, only old men and young boys. Lieutenant Charles W. Wills of the 103rd Illinois Regiment, who thought it "awful the way we slaughtered those men," described what he saw on the killing ground: "Old grey-haired and weakly-looking men and little boys, not over 15 years old, lay dead or writhing in pain...I hope we will never have to shoot at such men again. They knew nothing at all about fighting, and I think their officers knew as little, or else, certainly knew nothing about our being there."
From Civil War Macon by Richard W. Iobst:
The Daily Telegraph and Confederate's correspondent commented upon the gallantry of the militia at Griswoldville, saying they "behaved with distinguished gallantry, advancing upon the enemy's breastworks in perfect order and no straggling. They charged through an open field within fifty yards of the Yankee works and maintained their ground until ordered to withdraw."

As the fighting receded to the east Macon gradually returned to normal. By 24 November the Southern Express Company had resumed business...Refugees who had fled the city earlier were returning, and the community was considered safe...

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