The Civil War in Georgia, An Illustrated Travelers Guide
Kingston was another one of Georgia's important railroad towns on the Western and Atlantic during the Civil War. A spur west went to Rome. A chapter of the "Great Locomotive Chase" occurred here April 12, 1862, as did a chapter of the Atlanta Campaign in May 1864. Confederate Lt. Gen. and Georgia native William Hardee brought his army through here May 18, 1864, then turned east to Cassville to meet up with the rest of the Confederate army five miles away. Union Gen. W.T. Sherman believed the Confederate army to be gathering just south of Kingston and ordered his forces to concentrate here. His troops started arriving in Kingston on the 19th of May and discovered Sherman's error.
Sherman retired to Kingston after the action in Cassville and planned the Dallas portion of the Atlanta Campaign. He returned in October after the fall of Atlanta, chasing Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood north. When Sherman left Kingston, he burned the town. It was the site of eight Confederate hospitals and the location where the last Confederate troops were surrendered in the state. Kingston claims to be the first town in the U.S. to hold a Confederate Memorial Day (or Decoration Day) in April 1864, a tradition which continues to this day.
The stone foundation of the ruined Kingston Depot can be seen near the park. The business district was located on this side of the tracks, but Sherman burned it when he left Kingston for his "March to the Sea." Across from the park is the once-renowned but now abandoned DeSoto Hotel, on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1890, it burned in 1911. The depot was the scene of an important chapter of the "Great Locomotive Chase," when James Andrews' Union Raiders and the General were delayed here for an hour by southbound train traffic. Pursuing William Fuller abandoned the Yonah here because of the time it would take to move the southbound trains, and pursued on foot until he requisitioned the William R. Smith, under steam and ready to roll just north of the town. A monument across the street facing the park honors the site of the Wayside Home, the first Confederate hospital in Kingston established in August 1861 to treat some of the 10,000 injured and sick troops attended here.
On a hill looking down on Kingston is a Confederate cemetery with 249 unknown dead, one known, and two unknown Union soldiers. These men were wounded in the battles of Perryville, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, and the Dalton-Kingston Campaign and died in hospitals in Kingston, run by Surgeon B.W. Avent. These hospitals were moved in May 1864 when Union troops approached. They were later reopened by the Federals. The solemn obelisk in the middle of the cemetery was erected in 1874. Across from the Confederate section is a more recent memorial to Confederate vets from Kingston.
The McCravey-Johnson House was the headquarters of Confederate Brig. Gen. William T. Wofford. On May 12, 1865, he arranged the last surrender of Georgia's remaining troops, numbering approximately 4,000, to U.S. Brig Gen. Henry M. Judah. The troops surrendered in the park and were issued rations. Wofford is buried in the Cassville Confederate cemetery.
The Methodist Church, built in 1854, was the only church remaining after Gen. W.T. Sherman marched through here. It was open to all denominations and was used as a school. Pastor here was Confederate Gen. Clement A. Evans, famous Georgian general under Gen. Robert E. Lee, methodist preacher, and editor of the Confederate Military History. The large, superbly crafted bell that hangs in the church tower was a gift from John Pendleton King, a U.S. Senator, president of the Western & Atlantic Railroad, and for whom the town is named.
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