Catharine Whitehead Rowland's Diary
—March to the Sea Heritage Trail —
This land is part of the former Ivanhoe Plantation property of the Whitehead family. The plantations home was located near the northeast corner of the Quaker road and the Walker Bridge road (Story Mill Road). A diary kept by 26-year-old Catharine Barnes Whitehead Rowland while living at Ivanhoe detailed her family's encounter on Sunday, November 27, 1864 with Federal Cavalry commanded by Brigadier General H. Judson Kilpatrick and their skirmish with the Confederate cavalry of Major General Joseph Wheeler.
Union Major General William T. Sherman ordered General Kilpatrick to deceive Confederate authorities by feinting toward Augusta. General Wheeler's movements to protect Augusta enabled Sherman's infantry to continue toward Savannah with little opposition. Prior to Kilpatrick's arrival at Ivanhoe via Ogeechee Shoals, Gibson and Sylvan Grove his rear guard was attacked repeatedly by Wheeler's outnumbered force.
When Kilpatrick's troopers reached Ivanhoe the plantation house was spared but little else. "They broke open the store room stole every thing,"
wrote Catharine Rowland, "left nothing, poured the syrup all over the floor & sprinkled the flour & Sugar all over the yard what they could not carry off, filled the land with trash & did every thing that was mean & vile. They killed up the turkeys & chicken which they did by throwing the cut glass tumblers & china at them & cutting off their heads. They were certainly the vilest wretches that ever lived...if they are not punished in this world, God will
surely punish them in the world to come."
Catharine was especially angered from "...a Soldier from Michigan named Whitehead & when he saw our [water] dipper with the silver plate upon it bearing Father's name, he took it marched off."
She concluded that "Even Kilpatrick asked for the silver & when the General condescends to anything of the kind you cannot expect anything more from the men."
The Federals began making camp near the house, intending to remain overnight. But soon gunfire was heard as Wheelers Confederates began another attack. A brief fight raged around and east of the house. Catharine reported that "a great number of [bullets] fell in the yard...in front of the house one passed through the kitchen."
General Kilpatrick's .cavalry rode east on the Quaker road toward Waynesborough. Their immediate objective was to burn the bridges over Brier Creek north of town. General Wheeler's men made camp a short distance northwest of the Ivanhoe Plantation house, protecting the bridges along Brier Creek. They continued to harass Kilpatrick through Waynesborough then south to Big Buckhead Church. Wheeler's headquarters remained near Ivanhoe for several days until Kilpatrick returned to the area reinforced by Federal infantry. In Catharine's eyes, Wheeler was a hero. After a family slave gave birth the day of the fight at Ivanhoe, Catharine insisted the child be named "Wheeler in honor of "[the] instrument in God's hands in delivering us from the Yankees."
Catharine ("Kate") B. Whitehead Rowland circa 1903
Bottom left: Confederate Major General Joseph Wheeler
Top middle: Union Brigadier General H. Hudson Kilpatrick
Bottom middle: Water dipper from Ivanhoe Plantation circa 1820-1850.
Coconut shell, unidentified wood and silver
(Courtesy of the Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia)
Top right: Significant cavalry engagements, November 26 to December 4, 1864
(Lloyd's Topographical Map of Georgia, 1864)
Background watermark: Cavalry Engagements, November 26 to December 4, 1864