Macon was an important quartermaster center for the Confederacy, distributing supplies, ordnances and munitions to armies in the field. Located on the Macon and Western Rail Road and the Ocmulgee River, its industries manufactured cannon, weapons and ammunition here, along with other goods needed by the Confederacy. Train tracks went north to Atlanta, southwest to Columbus, and east to Savannah from here. Macon was also the site of Camp Oglethorpe, an officers prison which held 1,400 Union men originally kept at Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia. This prison camp occupied three acres and was closed when Federal cavalry threatened it in July 1864. Because of the fighting in the Atlanta area, Macon became an important hospital and refugee center, swelling in population when Atlanta fell to Sherman. When C.S. Gen. Joe Johnston was relieved of command of the Army of Tennessee, he went to Macon. The state government relocated to Macon when Milledgeville fell to Sherman's army in November of 1864. Macon twice repelled Yankee cavalry attacks in 1864 first Stoneman on July 30, then Kilpatrick on Nov. 20 only to surrender to Wilson's Raiders on April 20, 1865. Macon today boasts five historic districts, with many historically significant structures, some which are open to tour. South of Macon in Fort Valley were the Buckner and Gamble hospitals as well as several temporary ones. A historical marker in the city cemetery, Oaklawn Cemetery (Hwy. 49 south of town), marks the site where more than 20 unknown Confederate soldiers are buried.
Rose Hill, designed by Macon City Councilman Simri Rose in 1839, remains an outstanding example of 19th century picturesque landscape design, and is one of the oldest surviving public cemetery/parks in the U.S. Many rare and exotic specimens were planted here with native species, including oriental cypress, balm of Gilead, Norway and silver firs, hemlock, arbor vitae, cedar, juniper, wild olive, broom, furze and thorn grown alongside poplar, oak, beech and sycamore. Confederate Square is the final resting place of approximately 600 Confederate and Union soldiers, some from the Battle of Griswoldville, others reinterred from various plots around hospitals located in Macon. Three Confederate generals are buried in Rose Hill: Philip Cook, Alfred Colquitt, and Edward Dorr Tracy. Tracy, a Macon native and lawyer, was killed leading his 1,500 men into battle at Port Gibson, Mississippi on May 1, 1863. Cook fought in the Eastern Theater and was wounded at Chancellorsville and Petersburg. He was captured in a hospital in Richmond on April 3, 1865. After the war, Cook was appointed Secretary of State for Georgia by Gov. John B. Gordon, and he served in this capacity until his death in Atlanta on May 21, 1894. Cook County is named for him. Colquitt was the son of a Georgia senator and secessionist. He graduated from Princeton College and settled in Monroe, Georgia, as a lawyer, planter and states' rights politician. He was a staff officer during the Mexican War. Colquitt led the Confederate army's 6th Georgia in the Peninsular Campaign, was promoted to brigadier general in September 1862, and led Colquitt's brigade at Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, Spotsylvania and Petersburg. He and his command surrendered at Greensboro N.C. on April 26, 1865. His greatest victory was at Olustee, in February 1864, where he stopped the Union incursion into Florida. He served as Georgia's governor from 1876-82 and U.S. senator from 1882-94, when he died. In adjacent Riverside Cemetery are the remains of a Confederate battery. Rose Hill was the scene of the first Confederate Memorial Day celebration in Macon, on April 26, 1866.
Built in 1836 for a railroad financier and banker, this Greek Revival plantation mansion was later owned by Col. Joseph Bond, one of the South's wealthiest cotton planters, who in 1857 made the world record setting cotton sale of 2,200 bales for $100,000. Bond was the state's largest cotton grower and most successful planter, but he was killed at age 44 by a former overseer fired for mistreating a Bond slave. Bond is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, his plot marked by a large monument carved in Italy from Carrara marble. During his occupation of Macon in 1865, Union Gen. James Wilson resided here, and Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his family were entertained here in 1887, when Davis' daughter Winnie was given a 16th birthday ball. Today the home is owned by Mercer University and is only open to tour during the Christmas season and during the Cherry Blossom Festival in March.
The Hay House is one of the finest antebellum homes in America, and a must see if you visit Macon. Open to tours, this unique, elegant Italian Renaissance Revival Villa mansion contains 18,000 square feet on four levels in 24 rooms, crowned by a three-story cupola. When it was finished in 1859 after five years of hard labor, it was declared "The Palace of the South." A sophisticated water system allowed the house's three indoor bathrooms to have hot and cold running water. Gas lighting illuminated the interior, and an ingenious ventilation system kept the house cool in the summer, while a central heating system, along with 19 fireplaces, warmed the house in the winter. The house also had an elevator and intercom system. Furnished with many treasures of fine art, furnishings, and antiques, the house features some of the finest decorations of the day with stained glass windows, exquisite plasterwork, gold leafing, grained woodwork and some of the country's finest examples of marbleized and trompe l`oeil finishes. The builder of the house, William Butler Johnston, was a successful banker. He is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery.
In 1862, the Confederate Treasury established a major depository at Macon, and Johnston was the receiver of Confederate deposits. Macon became the most important depository in the South, second only to Richmond. Legend states that a hidden room in a staircase in the house stored the Confederate gold. When Stoneman fired on Macon, he aimed at the prominent cupola on the Hay House. The shot instead hit the Holt House, now known as the Cannonball House. The Hay House is open to tours and has a bookstore and gift shop.
Built in 1836, the current Macon City Hall first served as a bank, then a fireproof cotton warehouse, the capitol of Georgia, a Confederate Hospital, and then City Hall. It was the temporary capitol of Georgia from Nov. 18, 1864 until March 11, 1865, when the last session of the Confederate general assembly of Georgia was held. The capitol came to Macon when Sherman's army threatened Milledgeville on his "March to the Sea." A picket on guard in the portico of the capitol was shot when Gen. James Wilson entered the city on April 20, 1865. Considered to have the tallest soldier on a county confederate memorial in the state, the 37- foot tall monument was dedicated on October 29, 1879. The soldier alone stands ten and a half feet tall, and is placed on a stepped Stone Mountain granite base. More than 35,000 citizens turned out to hear Gov. Alfred H. Colquitt, the hero of Olustee, introduce the speaker, Col. Thomas Hardeman, a Macon citizen and notable orator. Confederate veterans reportedly cried at Hardeman's moving speech. A sealed copper box in the cornerstone of the monument contains a letter from Jefferson Davis and Confederate, U.S. and foreign currency. The beautiful women's monument erected in 1911 has the inscription "Erected to the memory of the women of the south by their husbands, fathers, sons and daughters." It displays women nursing the sick and spinning thread for the Confederacy. A bas relief on one side shows a peaceful, bucolic farm, the other side shows the farm in flames. This was the second memorial to the women of the Confederacy in the state, with the first erected in Rome.
Great American Poet Sidney Lanier, author of "The Marshes of Glynn" and "Song of the Chattahoochee," was born in this Victorian cottage in 1842. Lanier was a private in the Confederate Army, was captured while commanding a blockade runner, and was imprisoned in Point Lookout, Maryland. There he contracted tuberculosis, which eventually killed the brilliant linguist, musician, mathematician and lawyer, at the age of 39. Lake Lanier is named in his honor. The cottage, the headquarters of the Middle Georgia Historical Society, is open to tour and has a bookstore and gift shop.
Built in 1853 by Judge Asa Holt, this beautiful antebellum house is considered an outstanding example of Greek Revival architecture of the Old South. It became known as the Cannonball House after it was struck by a cannon ball fired by Union cavalry forces under Gen. George Stoneman during the Battle of Dunlap Hill on July 30, 1864. Stoneman, located approximately 3 miles east on the Clinton Road, fired the shot which "struck the sand sidewalk, passed through the second column from the left on the gallery and entered the parlor over a window, landing unexploded in the hall. Its course may be traced by the mended column, a patch in the parlor plaster, and the dent in the hall floor." Stoneman was later captured 25 miles north of Macon on August 3.
The unlucky Holts thought they could avoid the Yankees by fleeing to their plantation in Jefferson County, but they were right in the path of Sherman's "March to the Sea." Their plantation home, used by Union officers, was spared, but all their livestock was slaughtered, their granary and cotton gin house and warehouse were burned with 200 bales of cotton, all their household goods stolen, food confiscated and well ropes and buckets destroyed. Worse, Asa Holt was hanged three times, as Union troops tortured him to learned where they thought he had hidden gold. He survived each time, revived by servants, although the third time he was described as being "barely alive."
The home was bought in 1863 by the Sidney Lanier Chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy, and is managed by them today. Two rooms honor the founding of the first two sororities in the United States Alpha Delta Pi and Phi Mu at nearby Wesleyan College. The servants quarters and kitchen behind the house serve as the Macon Confederate Museum and have many interesting and rare relics. The house and museum are open to the public.
Built in 1858 with a 185-foot steeple, poet Sidney Lanier was a member of this church. Local legend tells the story that when U.S. Gen. James Wilson occupied the city shortly after Appomattox, he ordered that the U.S. flag be hung over the front door. The minister refused to hold the service and was replaced by a colleague who read a Psalm: "For they that carried us away captive required of us a song and they that waste us required of us mirth." The congregation left by the back door to avoid the stars and stripes.
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