Pine Log Mountain in the Civil War
Map of Etowah River Civil War Fortifications
All of the battles in North Georgia were to the west of Pine Log Mountain. The closest Union encampments and battles were along the Etowah and the Western & Atlantic Railroad at Kingston, Cassville, the Etowah Iron Works, and Allatoona Creek.
Union troops burned both Cassville and Canton, even though there was no battle in Canton. This diagram from a 1949 edition of The Weekly Tribune News shows the Union positions along the Etowah.
While all of the counties of Georgia ultimately embraced secession and fought for the Confederacy, there were mixed feelings in North Georgia, as in the rest of Appalachia, about secession and slavery.
Cherokee County voted in favor of secession, but Bartow County (then Cass County) voted against it, as did Pickens and other counties to the north.
In Georgia in 1860, there were 462,198 slaves, mostly in South Georgia. 37% of white families in Georgia owned slaves, and slaves made up 44% of the population in Georgia.
Courtesy of Etowah Valley Historical Society
Civil War Etowah River Fortifications
In North Georgia, however, only 7% of white families owned slaves in 1860. Only 3% of white families in mountain counties owned slaves. In the 1860 census, there were 1200 slaves in Cherokee County and 4800 in Cass (Bartow) County. Throughout the Civil War, there was tension between local families who were known to have Union sympathies and those who supported the Confederacy.
Byron Waters’ Civil War Era Memoir
Byron Waters grew up around the Canton area and documented his life shortly before, during, and after the Civil War. Not only does he provide a wonderful historical treasure by describing important events around this area, but he also relays humorous anecdotes from his childhood. Waters writes:
“The period of the Civil War, from ’61 to ’65, during which much of my boyhood was spent in Cherokee, was a period when boys from the age of twelve to sixteen were often called upon to exercise, efficiently as they might, the functions of grown men.”
A page from Byron Waters’ memoir
Courtesy Reinhardt University, Special Collections.
Ben McCollum and McCollum’s Scouts
Benjamin Franklin McCollum was a Confederate soldier who had served in the Army of Northern Virginia but who in 1864 became part of the Home Guard in North Georgia, forming a group known as “McCollum’s Scouts.”
McCollum had received a commission from Governor Joseph E. Brown making him a Captain in the Blackhorse Cavalry of the Georgia State Militia. However, McCollum’s group, like some other Home Guard groups, rapidly took on more of a vigilante and guerilla role.
Based in Canton, and amounting to as many as 100 men, the ostensible purpose of the group was to harass Sherman’s troops and interfere with their foraging and supply and communication lines. They traveled back and forth between Canton and Cassville on the Pine Log Road and the Alabama Road, killing any Union soldiers they could find.
It is believed that Union troops burned Canton in retaliation for the depredations of McCollum’s Scouts as well as other Home Guard groups.
But McCollum’s Scouts were also feared by local citizens because they were known to commandeer whatever food supplies they could find. In A Little Leaven, Frances Adair fictionalizes them as “Bert McDougal and his savage scouts.”
Courtesy University of Georgia’s Special Collections.
Perry Goodrich Letter.
Perry C. Goodrich Letter
Sergeant Major Perry C. Goodrich of the 1st Wisconsin Cavalry wrote this letter in 1864, while stationed in Cartersville and assigned to patrol the area between Cartersville and Canton looking for Georgia State Militia groups, most likely McCollum’s Scouts.
While there were no battles west of Cassville and Cartersville, Canton was burned by Union troops because it was seen as a haven for Union sympathizers who killed Confederate guerillas, and also because it was the home of Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown.
Skirmishes between Canton and Cartersville were common, with soldiers traveling across the Alabama Road along the Etowah River and the Pine Log Road through Beasley Gap.
In this letter, Goodrich describes how, after receiving reports of the Confederate militia organizing, about 200 Union soldiers set out at dusk on a 35-mile journey to track them down. Goodrich reports, “[W]e frequently saw small squads of two or three rebels galloping through the woods or fields” and describes chases and the capture of prisoners.
Transcription of Perry C. Goodrich Letter
This transcription of Goodrich’s letter describes the frequent skirmishes between Union and Confederate scouts and guerillas between Cartersville and Canton. Goodrich writes that “single individuals or small squads are in constant danger if outside of camp.” He concludes the letter with:
“I am not in a mood for writing today so you must excuse this form.”
Transcription of Perry Goodrich letter.
John Brooke’s Martin Chumbler Story
Martin Chumbler was a Union supporter who lived in Lost Town and was hanged by McCollum’s Scouts.
Local historian John Brooke wrote this account of Chumbler’s fate. Chumbler had captured a Confederate soldier from Texas, likely with the intent to turn him over to authorities. However, Chumbler’s capture of the Confederate came to the attention of Ben McCollum and his Scouts, a Confederate guerilla group that worked to weed out Union sympathizers, but who also earned the dislike of local families by demanding what was left of their food supplies.
After Chumbler abandoned the Confederate soldier he captured, the man was soon picked up by McCollum, who made him detail everything he knew about Chumbler. McCollum and his Scouts set out to capture Chumbler.
They crossed paths with him along the road leading out of Lost Town and began pursuing him. When Chumbler was finally overtaken, they hanged him for his support of the Union cause. The incident took place along Stamp Creek Road on the south side of Pine Log Mountain.
Thrilling Experiences of a First Georgia Cavalryman by O. P. Harris
Similar to Byron Waters’ memoir, O. P. Harris detailed his experiences throughout his Civil War service. For part of this time, Harris was a special scout serving under General Wheeler in the Confederate Army. His experiences show the gruesome realities of the Civil War that are often not fully realized.
The Harris memoir goes into great detail about subjects such as losing friends in the war and seeing soldiers being hanged on the roadside.
In this excerpt, he describes camping on Col. Sharp’s property in Waleska and traveling the Pine Log Road. He disguises himself as a Yankee soldier in order to pump a Yankee sympathizer named Jim Hughes for information. In another section, he describes seeing “bushwhackers” (Confederate guerillas) “...hanging by their necks. It was a bad looking sight.”
A page from the O. P. Harris memoir.
Courtesy B. C. Yates Collection, Kennesaw State University.
Kennesaw Mountain Battleground
The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain