Columbus was one of the South’s most important manufacturing centers before the Civil War. Georgia’s third largest city lay out of the U.S. Army’s path until Easter Sunday, 1865, a week after General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. U.S. General James Wilson and his cavalry—13,500 strong—launched a night attack that captured the city and more than 1,500 Confederates.
Columbus had divided over secession, but it eventually sent more than 1,200 men to serve the Confederacy. Its wartime industries supplied clothing, wagons. It boasted the South’s largest shoe factory and the Columbus Arsenal. Its Confederate Naval Iron Works made steam engines for ships, and the Navy Yard built the ironclad Muscogee.
Columbus heavy industry declined after the war, but the city maintained its primacy in textile production, ranking as a leader in the New South, after what became known as “The Last Land Battle of the War East of the Mississippi” on April 16, 1865, Today in Georgia History.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.