Monday, October 18, 2010

Battle of Sunshine Church - Round Oak, Georgia

During the last days of July 1864, the Union army launched a daring attempt to liberate the Federal prisoners of war being held at Camp Oglethorpe in Macon and Camp Sumter at Andersonville. The effort ended in disaster on July 31st at the Battle of Sunshine Church.
Remembered today as Stoneman's Raid because it was led by General George Stoneman, the raid had been launched at Stoneman's request amid much fretting by his commanding officer, General William Tecumseh Sherman. Stoneman made it as far as Macon before realizing there was no way he would be able to fight his way through to either Camp Oglethorpe or Andersonville. He did destroy miles of railroad track, loot homes, steal livestock and otherwise terrorize the people of Middle Georgia, but he did not fight his way across the Ocmulgee River at Macon.

Falling back after the Battle of Dunlap's Hill at Macon, Stoneman began a desperate effort to make it back to Sherman's lines at Atlanta. He failed. Confederate General Arthur Iverson had been born and raised in the area and used his knowledge of roads and trails to block Stoneman's path at a little country chapel called Sunshine Church. The Federal cavalry arrived there to find Iverson's men dug in along a commanding ridge with cannon aimed straight up the main road.

The Battle of Sunshine Church was a desperate affair and although two brigades of Federals were able to break out of the Confederate trap, Stoneman and hundreds of his men could not. In the end they were forced to lay down their arms and surrender. The Union general and the remnant of his command were marched off to the very prisons they had expected to attack.

Often overlooked, the Battle of Sunshine Church was a critical moment of the War between the States in Georgia. To learn more, please visit

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