The Civil War in Georgia, An Illustrated Travelers Guide
Although the name Cassville can be found on maps, the original town no longer exists. At the time of the Civil War, Cassville, founded in 1833, was a growing town of 1,300 in the beautiful Etowah Valley, with a courthouse, two four-year colleges, four hotels, stores, a newspaper, and many fine homes. Even when the Western & Atlantic Railroad was relocated two miles west of the town, Cassville continued to flourish, regarding itself as the educational and cultural center for all northern Georgia. In 1861, at Gov. Joe Brown's suggestion, the Georgia legislature changed the county's name to Bartow County to honor Georgia General Francis B. Bartow, who died at Manassas. Cassville was the scene of a battle and eight hospitals.
At Cassville, Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston set a trap for Sherman's Union forces called by some the "Cassville Controversy." Retreating from Resaca during the Atlanta Campaign, Confederate Gen. Johnston divided his force along two diverging roads at Adairsville and quickly concentrated them at Cassville, hoping Sherman would do the same. He hoped to attack one part of Sherman's army before reinforcements could arrive. Sherman, believing the Confederates were in Kingston, did split his army, ordering most of his army to Kingston and just his 20th and 23rd corps under Schofield and Hooker to Cassville, making this column vulnerable to attack from the flank and front. Hood was to lead the attack on the flank, and Hardee and Polk's corps were to attack from the front. But the trap never sprung. Hood did not attack. On May 19, 1864, when Union cavalry appeared at Hood's rear, he redeployed his forces, and the great opportunity was lost. In a meeting between the generals, Hood and Polk advised Johnston to retreat over the Etowah to better ground. Johnston called the position "the best that I saw occupied during the war." (In their memoirs written after the war, Hood and Johnston are in sharp disagreement over what happened at Cassville.) When Sherman realized the imminent peril of his separated column, he rushed his forces to Cassville. Killed in fighting at Cassville was Legare Hill, son of Joshua Hill, the mayor of Madison.
Cassville Confederate Cemetery, on the eastern slope of a hill shaded by old cedar trees and a huge obelisk, holds approximately 300 unknown Confederate soldiers who died in hospitals in Cassville. Headstones were added in 1899. The cemetery rests on part of the Cassville battleground. Also interred here is Cassville native Gen. William T. Wofford, a Confederate hero in the Eastern Theater who surrendered the last Georgia troops. He died in Cassville on May 22, 1884. Half a mile from the cemetery is the historic Methodist Church, which remains from Civil War times. A fourth Atlanta Campaign Pavilion, the largest of the five, is found near Cassville. The Stiles/Akin Camp # 670 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans has taken the Pavilion at Cassville on as a project. In August 1998, they rededicated a marker to replace the one that was stolen. The grass is kept mowed, trees trimmed, and litter is picked up by camp members. The State of Georgia cuts the larger rough areas about three times a year. The state has done a great job with this and this is no longer an eye-sore. As you proceed down the Cassville-White road, you will see a small WPA marker to the disappeared town of Cassville, located on the old courthouse grounds. Sherman burned this town of 1,300 on Nov. 5, 1864, after the fall of Atlanta, reportedly because he suspected it of supporting Confederate guerilla activities. The town was never rebuilt and the county seat was moved to Cartersville.
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