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Wednesday, July 30, 2014 - 3:16am

Macon's Only Action In Civil War Was The Sole Confederate Victory In Sherman's March

Wednesday marks the 150th anniversary of the only battle that Macon saw in the Civil War.

While Union General Tecumseh Sherman laid siege to Atlanta, he dispatched more than 2,000 men led by General George Stoneman to cut off the city's crucial rail link with Macon.

But Stoneman's ambitions were bigger than that.

"Stoneman had brought up the idea of capturing Macon, and possibly even capturing Andersonville prison," said former Macon city councilor and amateur historian Giles O'Neal, who has been researching the battles that followed.

"This would, I think Stoneman felt, would be a real boost to a somewhat lackluster career," O'Neal said.

Stoneman faced heavy resistance during the Battle of Dunlap Hill in East Macon and was forced to retreat.

About 500 Union soldiers and officers, including Stoneman himself, were captured the next day at the Battle of Sunshine Church in northern Jones County.

"It was the only real Confederate victory on the campaign of Sherman's March to the Sea," O'Neal said.

Read a contemporaneous newspaper account of Stoneman's ill-fated raid here.