Civil War

The Civil War in Milledgeville

In 1803, an act of the Georgia legislature called for the location and survey of a town to be called Milledgeville, in honor of the current governor, John Milledge.  The land immediately west of the Oconee River had just been opened up by the Treaty of Fort Wilkinson, (1802), in which the Creek leaders, hard pressed by debts to white traders, agreed to yet another cession of their land. The restless white population of Georgia was pressing west and south in search of new farmland, and the town of Milledgeville was carved out of the Oconee wilderness to help accommodate their needs. A strong local tradition described the arrival of the legislative commissioners charged with locating the site.  After a tiring journey they found a large oak in a lush carpeted grove of hickory and oak.  Their leader, John Clarke, sampled the water of a gushing nearby spring (later called Jarrett Springs), mixed it with some whiskey, thrust his cane into the ground and announced "This is it!"  The area was surveyed and a town plat of 500 squares was divided into 84 four-acre squares.

In 1807, fifteen troop-escorted wagons left Louisville, the former capital, carrying the treasury and public records of the state.

Milledgeville's status as the political and social center of Georgia was epitomized in the coming years by two events. The first was the visit to the capital in 1825 of the Revolutionary War hero, the Marquis de Lafayette. The receptions, barbeque, formal dinner and grand ball for this veteran apostle of liberty seemed to mark Milledgeville's coming of age.  The second event was the construction (1837-1839) of the Governor's Mansion, which one architectural historian has called "...the most important residence in America, bringing the Palladian villa format into the Greek Revival period."

On January 19, 1861, Georgia Convention delegates passed the Ordinance of Secession and the "republic of Georgia" joined the Confederate States of America, to the accompaniment of wild celebrations, bonfires, and illuminations on the Statehouse Square.  Three years later, on a bitterly cold November day, General William T. Sherman and 30,000 Federal troops marched in Milledgeville. When they left, a few days later, the Statehouse had been ransacked, the state arsenal and powder magazine destroyed, the Penitentiary, the Central Depot, and Oconee ridge burned and the surrounding country side devastated.  Three years later, during Reconstruction rule, the capital was moved to Atlanta, Georgia - a city emerging as the symbol of the New South, where Milledgeville symbolized the Old South.

Explore Milledgeville's historic past.  Plan a visit to the Old Capitol Building or the Old Governor's Mansion.  Both give you a look into a past life. Also check out Milledgeville's Museum District for a complete listing of museums and district attractions.    

Additional Information:

The Civil War in Georgia

Lockery Arboretum & Rose Hill

10 Facts About the Old Governor's...
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Museum District
Walk beneath the shadows of the towering oaks though wrought iron gates that lead to magnificently preserved mansions, haunted historic sites and fascinating museums. more...
Georgia's Antebellum Trail
Milledgeville lies along this 100 mile trek through seven historic communities that escaped Sherman’s burning march through Georgia. more...
Historic Trolley Tour
Climb aboard the trolley tour for the best views of our charming southern town and guided tours of rotating historic stops. more...
Flannery O'Connor
American author Flannery O'Connor was born in Savannah, Georgia, on March 25, 1925. She later moved to Milledgeville, Georgia where she graduated from Georgia State... more...
Carl Vinson
Carl Vinson's service in the House of Representatives exceeds that of anyone elected to the Congress of the United States since it first convened in 1798. Learn more... more...
Historic District
Milledgeville's historic district encompasses several cultures and boasts of more than 20 architectural landmarks, with more than a dozen identified as historical sites.
Step on Guides
Step on guides are available through the Convention & Visitors Bureau. Your guide will take you back in time and share the history and trivia of the Old Capitol. You will... more...