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. General O.O. Howard, USA, moved south via McDonough to feint at Macon, crossed the Ocmulgee at Seven Islands (9 miles SE of Jackson), and concentrated around Gordon (17 miles SW), where it would be in communication 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 14th Corps, Maj. Gen. J. C. Davis, USA, accompanied by Gen. Sherman turned southeast and marched via Covington and Shady Dale, reaching Milledgeville on the 23rd. The 20th Corps, Brig. Gen. A.S. Williams, USA, continued east past Madison to feint at Augusta, but turned south through Eatonton, reaching here on the 22nd.
Beginning on the 24th, Slocum moved toward Sandersville and Howard toward Tennille Station (4 miles S of Sandersville). Kilpatrick marched rapidly eastward to cut the Augusta-Savannah railroad and release the Union prisoners-of-war confined in Camp Lawton, an open stockade 5 miles north of Millen (84 miles SE).