On Nov. 15, 1864, after destroying Atlanta and cutting his communications with the North, Maj. Gen. W. T. Sherman, USA, began his destructive campaign for Savannah — the March to the Sea. He divided his army [US] into two wings. The Right Wing (15th and 17th Corps), Maj. Gen. O. O. Howard, USA, moved south via McDonough to feint at Macon, crossed the Ocmulgee River at Seven Islands (9 miles SE of Jackson), and concentrated around Gordon (17 miles SW of Milledgeville), where it could communicate with the Left Wing, then converging on Milledgeville. Kilpatrick's cavalry division covered the right of the army as far as Gordon, skirmishing continually with Wheeler's cavalry [CS].
The Left Wing (14th and 20th Corps), Maj. Gen. H. W. Slocum, USA, marched east from Atlanta in two columns. The 20th Corps, Brig. Gen. A. S. Williams, USA, moved through Social Circle and Madison, feinted at Augusta, then turned south through Eatonton, reaching Milledgeville on the 22nd. The 14th Corps, Maj. Gen. J. C. Davis, USA, accompanied by Gen. Sherman, turned southeast via Covington and Shady Dale, reaching Milledgeville on the 23rd.
On Nov. 18th, the 14th Corps moved through Covington, camping that night in and east of town and on the banks of Ulcofauhachee (Alcovy) River, four miles east. The 20th Corps destroyed the Georgia Railroad east from Social Circle, camping near Madison.