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," he sought to force its fall by sending Maj. Gen George Stoneman, with three cavalry brigades (2112 men and 2 guns) to cut the Central of Georgia R.R. by which the city's defenders [CS] were supplied. On the 27th, Stoneman left Decatur, crossed the Ocmulgee (Yellow) River near Covington (27 miles NW), and turned down the left bank toward Monticello. Arriving here at dark on the 28th, he learned that there were no bridges over the Ocmulgee above Macon by which he could reach the railroad.
Deciding to destroy the railroad at and beyond Macon instead, Stoneman departed at dawn and marched to Clinton (26 miles SE). Next morning, he detached part of the 14th Illinois Cavalry which wrecked railway facilities at Gordon, McIntyre and Toomsboro (SE of Clinton) and at Griswoldville (SSE), and burned trains, stocks of supplies, trestles and the railway bridge over the Oconee River.
At Macon (38 miles S), he was turned back by Georgia Militia, strongly intrenched, and began a retreat which was intercepted next morning at Sunshine Church (19 miles S), by Brig. Gen Alfred Iverson, Jr., who, with only 1300 cavalry [CS], managed to delude him 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 and his artillery and train, to what Iverson had led him to believe was a superior force.