On July 20, 1864, Union forces under Maj. Gen. W.T. Sherman, USA, were closing in on Atlanta. Hq. 2nd Cavalry Division [US], Brig. Gen. Kenner Garrard, was in Decatur, 6 miles E of Atlanta. Garrard's three brigades were guarding bridges over the Chattahoochee River and picketing the left flank. That night, Garrard was ordered to assembly his command and march to Covington (29 miles S) to burn the bridges over the Yellow and Ulcofauhachee (Alcovy) rivers and destroy the Georgia Railroad in that area.
He marched late on the 21st. Next morning the destruction was begun. At Covington, he burned the depot, a newly-built hospital center, 2,000 bales of cotton, and large quantities of quartermaster and commissary supplies. After destroying 2 railroad and 4 wagon bridges, 3 trains and 6 miles of track, he turned north toward Loganville (11 miles SE), arriving there on July 23rd.
While Long's and Miller's brigades performed the same mission in and around Loganville, Garrard detached Minty's brigade to Lawrenceville to strip this area of horses and mules. Reaching Lawrenceville later in the day, Minty encountered a small force of cavalry [CS] which, after a sharp skirmish, he drove from the town. After rounding up all stock which had not been hidden at his approach, Minty moved to Yellow River (4 miles SW) and made camp. Next morning he marched to Decatur to rejoin Garrard.