Diary of Orrin Brown, Sandersville, Georgia
We boiled a chicken & some Poark and went to bed and slept till 5 Oclock AM had orders to march at 6. Wheelers Rebbel Cavalry has been skirmising with our front all the fournoon. We lost 3 killed, we drove them back through the town of Sandersville and went into camp about a mile N. E. of town we did not move again today, I think the rebs intended to scare us back but gave it up as a bad job for we marched right along all the time they were fighting. It has been a very warm day.
Union troops burned the Washington County courthouse, railroad depot and a few other buildings, but no residences. Major Henry Hitchcock, Judge Advocate on Sherman’s staff, also wrote this day from Sandersville:
Left camp by 6 1/2 AM–Wheeler’s cavalry in our front, undertook to skirmish. Slocum’s 1st Brigade advanced skirmishers and before long we heard their firing.
General and staff rode forward — road narrow for some distance and through pine woods and across low ground through which ran through creek. Road full of troops, wagons, camp followers, had to go slow. Rode with General and Slocum in ploughed field on right. Road full of advancing troops, in column by the flank. Ahead a quarter mile off at first one brigade deployed and advancing rapidly in line of battle. Ahead of them our skirmishers pressing forward at double quick with loud cheers to and into and through the town, pursuing Wheeler’s men, and constant firing by skirmishers. It was not a battle, only skirmish firing, but that pretty rapid and constant for twenty or thirty minutes. We followed them into town, rebs not attempting to make stand. After driving them out of town our men halted there and at same moment entered it by N. road. As we entered town passed Church with “Grecian Front” and from a distance. cross road, saw a dead rebel lying on the portico. Learned after entering town that rebs fired from street corners, from behind houses, and from second story parapet front of brick Court House, which made quite a good fortification. All our loss I could learn was one killed, eleven wounded.”
The cavalry skirmishing referred to took place in the cemetery and in the short half-block between it and the Courthouse square.
Six months later, in May 1865, Confederate President Jefferson Davis crossed through Washington County on his final flight from Union forces.