A Bed and a Meal for General Sherman
—March to the Sea Heritage Trail —
The Brown House was built about 1850 by Nathan Haynes. It was purchased by merchant and planter William Gainer Brown about 1851. During the 1850s portraits of William and Miriah Brown were painted by an itinerant artist for $75 plus room and board. The house remained in the Brown family for over 125 years. Originally known as Woodlawn Terrace, it is part of the North Harris Street Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.
Union Major General William T. Sherman chose this house as his overnight headquarters on Saturday, November 26, 1864. The men of his army's Left Wing, who had entered Washington County on the 24th, moved into Sandersville and camped in a broad meadow across the road from the house. Woodlawn Terrace was selected because it was spacious. From its hilltop location General Sherman also had a clear view of the road from the center of town and the nearby tents and campfires. He had supper with Mrs. Brown and her four children, a 15-year-old daughter and three younger sons.
A story is told about Federal soldiers who came into the yard seeking hidden valuables. Suspicious of a child's grave, they began digging it up when the cook saw them from the kitchen and ran out shouting, brandishing a large butcher knife, and chased them away.
The house contains a "fainting" couch
on which General Sherman is believed to have taken a nap that Saturday afternoon and a small leather trunk that William Brown took to the war. While Sherman was staying at Woodlawn Terrace its owner was working at the Savannah salt works Brown was captured there when Sherman's army reached Savannah in December 1864. He had previously served as a sergeant in an artillery battery of the Georgia State Troops beginning in February 1862. By May of that year Brown was an officer in Company D of the 59th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He resigned from the Confederate army in January 1864. After the war Brown served in the Georgia Legislature William and Miriah Brown are buried in Sandersville's Old City Cemetery.
General Sherman held the Left Wing of his army at Sandersville until he received word that this Right Wing, marching from the southwest, had come abreast the Left Wing near Tennille along the line of the Central of Georgia Railroad. Once all was ready, Sherman departed Woodlawn Terrace with his staff and cavalry escort on Sunday morning, November 27th, riding through Sandersville and moving south over a sandy road through pine woods to Tennille. There he met the Right Wings 17th Corps with whom he continued his march to the sea.
Changes and additions were made to the house in 1905. The Washington County Historical Society purchased the house in 1989
and restored it.
Top left: William Gainer Brown & Miriah Mitchell Brown
Bottom left: Union Major General William T. Sherman
Middle: "Treasure Seekers" (Harper's Weekly)
Top right & Background watermark: The Brown House in 1864
(by Shawn Veal, used by permission)