Barnesville was an important railroad town on the Macon and Western Railroad. A western spur to Thomaston off the main line connected this factory town with the main line. Because of its location on a transportation line, it also was a Confederate hospital town with the following hospitals: Kingsville; Kingston, moved from Kingston; Medical College Hospital, moved from Atlanta; Flewellen Hospital, named for Surgeon Edward A. Flewellen who was medical director of the Army of Tennessee and lived at The Rock and is buried in Thomaston; and Erwin Hospital. One hundred and fifteen Confederate and two Union dead (84 unknown) reportedly from local hospitals and the Battle of Atlanta are buried in the Confederate section of Greenwood Cemetery. (Locals wrote that they could hear the boom of Sherman's cannons during the siege of Atlanta, 60 miles away.) One of the worst train wrecks of the Civil War occurred near Barnesville when a train carrying sick and wounded collided head-on with a supply train. Twenty-two were killed and many were wounded. The dead were buried in unmarked graves next to the tracks. A 15-foot marble shaft stands on a small mound in the center of the cemetery, erected in 1889, with the plain inscription "To Our Confederate Dead."
On April 19, 1865, a skirmish occurred on the edge of Barnesville when a 2,000-man detachment of Union cavalry called Wilson's Raiders attacked a small local militia unit called the Dixie Rangers. The Rangers "fought with gallantry, gradually withdrawing from the field," according to local accounts. The Union cavalry burned some storehouses before moving on to Forsyth. Federal troopers came back through Barnesville on May 5, 1865 in pursuit of Jefferson Davis.
An 1889 monument to the women of the Confederacy is located east of the courthouse in a parking island. Gordon College is named for Thomaston native and military legend C.S. Gen. John B. Gordon. The library has an autographed, framed photo of Gordon, his governor's desk, and furniture belonging to him.
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