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Federal activity in Carrollton and Villa Rica: the Moore's Bridge raid

The Moore's Bridge raid on July 15, 1864 brought Union Soldiers to Carroll County in force.

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Federal activity in Carrollton and Villa Rica: the Moore's Bridge raid

Carroll County, Georgia

 

FEDERAL ACTIVITY IN CARROLLTON AND VILLA RICA

 

As early as June 29th, Federal cavalry had been scouting Vlla Rica and the extreme left flank of the fight for Atlanta. On July 7th, the 8th Michigan had a sharp skirmish with Confederate scouts at Dark Corner and Federal scouts had been down toward the river to Whitesburg. Here, the William Amos Factory complex was first seen. Amos immediately began to disassemble the machinery for a train ride to Spartanburg, S. Carolina (where it was last reported as burning with that train). When Federals showed up on the 21st of July, William Amos, himself, was shot while refugeeing with the machinery (case 9281, trustees vs. Brumby and Russell, May 15, 1867).

 

During the Moore's Bridge Raid, Major Buck of the 8th Michigan was given the task of securing Stoneman's left flank. His diary states :

 

July 14, Broke camp at 10 o'clock - marched 12 miles - went on to scout Phillip's Ferry - marched from there to Moore's Bridge - and back to the ferry that night.

 

July 15th, recieved from Gen. Stoneman orders to establish a courier line thru from Moore's Bridge to Carrollton and to report to Gen. Stoneman every hour - it took me all day to get it thru paths.

 

July 16, marched 23 miles to Carrollton at night - arrived there at 3 am - stayed there all day and night.

 

In David Evan's Sherman's Horsemen, he picks up the story:

 

He left Major Buck, his reputation somewhat tarnished after the false alarm at Phillips' Ferry, and a small detachment of the 8th Michigan to keep an eye on the Rebels across the river and scout as far west as Carrollton before rejoining the rest of the command. Quitting the river about 3:00 P.M. on July 14, Buck and his men apparently marched leisurely. It was daylight the next morning before they covered the fifteen miles to Carrollton.

The townspeople had little or no warning of their approach. Some bolted for the woods. Others simply stood and gawked at the dust-covered horsemen plodding down the street.

"It was really pitiful to watch the terrified countenances of the women when our boys went into their houses to procure water or food," noted a Michigan soldier. "They seemed to think that we were ferocious wild beasts seeking whom we might devour. But a few polite gentlemanly remarks from our boys, or a few winning smiles would dispell [sic] the illusion and before they left the house, the dear chivalrous ladies would become quite sociable and acknowledge that they had been deceived by their own men in regard to our ferociousness." A spontaneous, if somewhat forced, effusion of Southern hospitality followed and soon Major Buck and his men were feasting on the best Carrollton had to offer. "I have heard a great deal about Southern beauties," added the Michigan trooper, "but have been unable to find them when compared with our own Northern girls. What they call beauty here would be considered North as very commonplace."

After eating their fill, Buck's men strolled into several stores, where they discovered "heaps of tobacco." It had been a long time between chaws for most of them, and after appropriating all the tobacco they could carry, they destroyed what was left and took whatever else struck their fancy. "The town, except those houses which were still inhabited, was completely sacked," noted Samuel Tobey, the 8th Michigan's assistant surgeon?

 

About noon, a small detachment of the 14th Illinois rode into town with orders for Major Buck to remain in Carrollton until the next morning then catch up with the rest of the command at Sweetwater Town. Their message delivered, the Illinois boys rode on, part of a larger force Stoneman had sent out that morning with instructions to sweep the roads to the southwest, confiscating all the horses and mules they could find...

 

...Major Buck's battalion of the 8th Michigan also moved east on July 16. After spending the night bivouacked in a vacant lot in the center of Carrollton that would later become the site of the Carroll County courthouse, they broke open a few boxes of tobacco they had previously overlooked and then rode out of town, taking at least one unhappy Confederate with them. Traveling leisurely on the Old Alabama Road, they halted for the night about six miles west of the bridge at Sweetwater Town. The next afternoon, they caught up with Horace Capron's brigade, which had left Mitchell's Crossroads about 1:00 P.M. with orders to picket the Chattahoochee from Nickajack Creek down to Howell's Ferry.

 

 

In the Regimental History of the 1st Mississippi Cavalry, Lt.Col. Frank Montgomery reported the Confederate response to the Moore's Bridge Raid:

We were not quiet long in our command, as will be seen from this extract from General Johnston's report. "On the 14th, a division of federal cavalry crossed the river by Moore's bridge near Newnan, but was driven back by Armstrong's brigade, sent by Brigadier General Jackson to meet it." Newnan is about forty miles southwest of Atlanta on the railroad leading to West Point, and the enemy's object was to cut this road, of the last importance to us while we could hold Atlanta. We made a forced march and succeeded in intercepting them before they reached the railroad, and though they had a division, we drove them back across the river with but little loss to us, and not much, though some, to them. We destroyed this bridge, and General Armstrong remained in the vicinity of Newnan a few days observing them, and waiting for orders. 

 

(from: The 100 Day War...unpublished)

 

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