Griffin's story of its Civil War years is a mixed collection of events. Most of the Georgians who fought in the Confederate army were mobilized in Griffin, with cavalry going to Camp Milner north of Griffin on the McIntosh Road, now Municipal Park, and infantry going to Camp Stephens, named for Georgian and Vice President of the Confederacy A.H. Stephens. Griffin, located on the Macon & Western Railroad, was also a hospital town and target of Union raiders. Griffin has one of the older Confederate Cemeteries, Stonewall Cemetery, where more than 500 Confederate soldiers and one Union soldier are buried. Many were casualties of the battles of Atlanta and Jonesboro and died while patients at the many hospitals located in Griffin. Also buried in the cemetery is John McIntosh Kell, a Confederate naval commander who served on the famed C.S.S. Alabama, which sank or captured more than 60 Federal ships. One of the first Confederate Memorial Days in the South was held in Griffin in 1866, and one of the first monuments to Confederate dead was erected here in 1869. Time has worn most of the inscription away, but legible are the words "Rest! Soldiers! Rest!" At the edge of the cemetery, a boulder marks the site of Gen. Wheeler's headquarters during Sherman's occupation of Atlanta. Griffin was where the famed Orphan Brigade of Kentucky became a cavalry unit, using horses captured from Union Gen. George Stoneman. The Orphan Brigade served under Wheeler, actively opposing Gen. Sherman's destructive "March to the Sea" and the Carolinas. When Sherman moved out of Atlanta, his armies divided into two wings with each following the general course of a railroad, one to Augusta and the other toward Macon. Sherman's right wing appeared to be closing on Griffin, so 2,800 members of the Georgia Militia prepared to oppose him in entrenchments at Griffin, but Sherman veered east toward Locust Grove and Indian Springs.
On April 19, 1865, a detachment of cavalry under Union Gen. James Wilson rode into Griffin and burned the railroad facilities, and distributed Confederate stores to poor whites and blacks.
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