Brown's Mill Battlefield
Brown's Mill Battlefield was fought on July 30, 1864 in Newnan, Georgia during the American Civil War. The battle was between Edward M. McCook's Union and Joseph Wheeler's Confederate forces. The reason was that McCook attempted to destroy Georgia's communications and supplies, but he failed. This resulted in Sherman to siege the city of Atlanta.
During the Atlanta Campaign, General William T. Sherman, wanting to avoid the necessity of laying siege to the city, ordered two columns of Federal cavalry on a series of raids south of Atlanta in an attempt to cut off supply and communication lines. Major General George Stoneman led the cavalry of the Army of the Ohio to the southeast, while Brigadier General Edward M. McCook’s First Division of the cavalry of the Army of the Cumberland was to sever railroads southwest of the city. He was to link with Stoneman and then seize the Andersonville prison camp and free the 32,000 prisoners held there.
Crossing the Chattahoochee River on a pontoon bridge erected at Smith’s Ferry, McCook’s cavalrymen reached Palmetto, where they cut the Atlanta & West Point Railroad. They captured and burned over 1,000 Confederate supply wagons at Fayetteville on July 28. General McCook also gained a reputation for condoning and encouraging the destruction of civilian property. Early the next morning, his raiders reached Lovejoy’s Station, twenty-three miles south of Atlanta, and began wrecking the Macon & Western Railroad. However, McCook called off the raid and turned back across the river when Stoneman failed to appear as planned
Nevertheless, as they tried to return to the main army, McCook’s division was attacked near Brown's Mill, three miles south of Newnan, by Confederate cavalry under Joseph Wheeler. McCook wanted to surrender, but instead let his officers lead their battalions out separately. McCook, thoroughly defeated, lost 1,285 men, 1,200 horses, several ambulances, and two pieces of spiked artillery, as well as 100 killed and wounded. Wheeler also freed some 300 Confederate prisoners that McCook had previously captured. Wheeler’s losses were 50 men.
Stoneman’s forces also met with disaster. General Stoneman was captured, becoming the highest ranking Union officer to be a prisoner of war during the Civil War. Many of his and McCook’s enlisted men ironically wound up in Andersonville, the target of their raid. Brown's Mill changed the course of the Atlanta Campaign, forcing Sherman to abandon his efforts to use cavalry to cut Atlanta's railroads and compelling him to begin a lengthy siege against his wishes.
McCook later took his remaining men northward into Tennessee when Sherman sent the Army of the Cumberland to chase John Bell Hood. McCook fought with distinction during the rest of the war, with his stunning defeat to a lesser force at Brown’s Mill the major blemish on his service record.
Edward M. McCook
Edward Moody McCook (June 15, 1833 – September 9, 1909) was a lawyer, politician, distinguished Union cavalry general in the American Civil War, American diplomat, and Governor of the Territory of Colorado. He was a member of the famed "Fighting McCook" family of Ohio. With the onset of the Civil War in 1861, McCook traveled to Washington, D.C. and served for a time as a secret agent for the Federal government, gathering information of value to the military. He then enlisted as a cavalry lieutenant in the regular army. He then joined the volunteer army as a captain in the 2nd Indiana Cavalry, rising to the rank of colonel by the middle of 1862.
Joseph Wheeler (September 10, 1836 – January 25, 1906) was an American military commander and politician. He has the rare distinction of serving as a general during war time for two opposing forces: first as a noted cavalry general in the Confederate States Army in the 1860s during the American Civil War, and later as a general in the United States Army during both the Spanish-American War and Philippine-American War near the turn of the twentieth century. For much of the Civil War he served as the senior cavalry general in the Army of Tennessee and fought in most of its battles in the Western Theater. At the start of the Civil War, Wheeler entered the Confederate Army on March 16 as a first lieutenant serving in the Georgia state militia artillery, and then was assigned to Fort Barrancas off of Pensacola, Florida, reporting to Major General Braxton Bragg. His resignation from the U.S. Army was accepted on April 22, 1861 He was ordered to Huntsville, Alabama, to take command of the newly formed 19th Alabama Infantry Regiment and was promoted to colonel on September 4.
Wheeler and the 19th Alabama fought well under Bragg at the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862. During the Siege of Corinth in April and May, Wheeler's men on picket duty clashed repeatedly with Union patrols. Serving as acting brigade commander, Wheeler burned the bridges over the Tuscumbia River to cover the Confederate withdrawal to Tupelo, Mississippi.