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Moments In Time: July 22, 1864 – Garrard’s Cavalry Arrives In Covington

Moments In Time

July 22, 1864:  Garrard’s Cavalry Arrives in Covington

On July 20, 1864,  Maj. Gen William T. Sherman,  located somewhere just north of Atlanta, ordered his Headquarters Cavalry Division under Brig. Gen. Kenner Garrard, to march to Covington to destroy road and railroad bridges, burn Confederate supplies, and appropriate food and livestock from local residents.

Covington and Oxford had become a large center for convalescing Confederate soldiers.  Prominent buildings, such as the Methodist and Baptist churches, the Old Chapel in Oxford, and many stores around the Covington Square were serving as hospitals for the more than 1000 sick and wounded Confederate soldiers overflowing from Atlanta hospitals.  A new general hospital facility was being built just south of town, on Jackson Highway, consisting of 30 buildings designed to handle 10,000 more patients.

But Covington’s primary importance was its position on the main eastern supply line between Augusta and Atlanta.  For Sherman to more easily capture Atlanta, food, troop and munitions supply lines fromAugusta, the Carolinas, and General Lee, must be cut off.

The War had actually come to Georgia in May 1864, when Sherman entered the State with 110,000 men comprising three federal armies, those of the Cumberland,Tennessee and Ohio.  Sherman moved south through the State until mid-June, when the sounds of gunfire at Kennesaw Mountain could be heard in Atlanta for the first time.

The citizens of Covington and its surrounding villages had been apprehensive for some time about a raid by Union forces into their communities.  But the first thing Covington and Oxford knew of the whereabouts of General Kenner Garrard’s raiders was when a vanguard of Garrard’s cavalry – 4000 strong – rode into town on hot, lathered horses around noonday on July 22, 1864.  Today – a Newton County Moment in Time.


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