In July, 1864, Maj. Gen. W.T. Sherman's army [US] closed in on Atlanta. Finding its fortifications "too strong to assault and too extensive to invest," Sherman sought to force its evacuation by sending Maj. Gen. Geo. Stoneman, with three cavalry brigades (2112 men and 2 guns), of the Army of the Ohio cavalry to cut the Central of Georgia R.R. by which the defenders [CS] were supplied. On the 27th, Stoneman moved south through Decatur, crossed the Ocmulgee (Yellow) River near Covington, and camped two miles west of Covington at 4 A.M. on the 28th for four hours.
The column passed through Covington about 9 A.M. and marched to Monticello (27 miles SE). There Stoneman learned that there were no bridges over the Ocmulgee above Macon by which he could reach the railroad; so he decided to destroy it at and beyond Macon instead. Nearing Macon on the 30th, he detached part of the 14th Illinois Cavalry which wrecked railway facilities at Griswoldville, Gordon, McIntyre and Toomsboro (E of Macon), and burned trains, trestles and the railway bridge over the Oconee River.
At Macon (65 miles SE), he was turned back by Georgia Militia, strongly entrenched. Attempting to retreat, he was brought to bay next morning at Sunshine Church (19 miles NE of Macon) by Brig. Gen Alfred Iverson, Jr., who, with only 1300 cavalry [CS] had marched to intercept him. Deluded into believing that he was being surrounded, Stoneman covered the escape northward of Adams' and Capron's brigades, then he surrendered, with about 600 men, to what Iverson had led him to believe was a superior force.