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 Left Wing (14th and 20th Corps) marched east from Atlanta in two columns, to feint at Augusta but to turn southeast and converge on Milledgeville. The 14th Corps marched via Covington and Shady Dale, the 20th via Social Circle, Madison and Eatonton.
The Right Wing (15th and 17th Corps), Maj. Gen. O. O. Howard, USA, marched south via Stockbridge and McDonough and camped at Jackson on the night of the 17th. Next morning, two pontoon bridges were laid across the Ocmulgee River at Planters' Factory (Ocmulgee Mills) near Seven Islands (12 miles SW). At one o'clock the Right Wing began its crossing into Jasper County.
The 15th Corps (Osterhaus), less Corse's division, moved via Hillsboro (10 miles S) toward Gordon, where the Right Wing would be in communication with the Left Wing at Milledgeville. The 17th Corps (Blair), to relieve congestion on the Hillsboro road, marched via Monticello and Blountsville (8 miles NW of Gray) to Gordon. Corse's division, the last to cross, and the 1st Missouri Engineers with the pontoon train, followed the 17th Corps.