One Man's Dreams Destroyed
—March to the Sea Heritage Trail —
Griswoldville is among the most severe examples of destruction during the March to the Sea. Nothing remains today of the industrial town that once occupied this crossroads. Named for Samuel Griswold (1790-1867), a Connecticut industrialist, Griswoldville is most often associated with the battle that occurred 1-1/2 miles east on November 22, 1864. Griswold began making cotton gins in the early 1820s after moving to nearby Clinton. The frames for his gins used lumber from long-leaf pines grown where you presently stand. When the Central Railroad of Georgia was completed in 1843 the line combined two important assets at the same location, lumber and Samuel Griswold transportation. By 1849 Griswold moved his gin works here.
By 1850, Griswold's production increased to about 800 gins annually, sold throughout the Southeast. Besides his sawmill and gin works Griswold built a grist mill, blacksmith shop, housing for workers and slaves, a general store, post office, railroad depot, church and more. In 1852 he completed his own three-story 24-room home; by 1860 he owned over 11,000 acres. When war erupted in 1861 Griswoldville was transformed. Through November 1864 it produced close to 3,600 copies of the Colt 36 caliber revolver for the Confederacy, plus swords, pikes, bricks, soap, candles and other materials.
morning, November 20, 1864, fewer than 100 Federal cavalrymen in the 9th Michigan Cavalry Regiment surprised Confederate pickets at Griswoldville. Within minutes they were burning the pistol and candle factories, railroad cars and depot,, a water tank plus 400 boxes of soap. The next day Federal cavalry destroyed more of the town before Confederate Major General Joseph Wheeler's cavalry forced their departure. But Samuel Griswold's dream was destroyed. His home was among the few structures left standing. The following day, November 22nd, Confederate militia repeatedly charged an entrenched Federal brigade just east of Griswoldville and was tragically repulsed.
After Samuel Griswold saw his life's work ruined he said, "It is gone, all gone...
[I]f I could call back ten years, I would soon make it all back, but I am too old and feeble."
Upon Griswold's death he was buried in the Methodist church cemetery in Clinton.
Background: Griswoldville, Ga., circa 1862
Top left: Samuel Griswold
Bottom left: Head of Griswold manufactured "Joe Brown Pike" Produced for the State of Georgia early in the war when firearms were scarce. The steel heads were approximately 10" in length mounted on a six-foot long wooden staff.
Top middle: Griswold manufactured copy of the Colt .36 caliber "Navy
revolver" Griswold used brass and iron because of the scarcity of steel
Middle: Union Captain Frederick S. Ladd 9th Michigan Cavalry Regiment Led destruction of Griswoldville, November 20, 1864 Killed near Savannah, December 7, 1864
Confederate Major General Joseph Wheeler His cavalry was unable to save Griswoldville
Right: "Right Wing" historic driving route of the March to the Sea Heritage Trail through the Griswoldville area
Bottom right: Griswoldville, Georgia, circa 1862