Union General Garrard’s cavalry had occupied Roswell, Georgia.
The tiny town had two cotton mills that manufactured sheets, canvas and rope. But they also made grey-colored cloth used for Confederate uniforms.
The men off to war, women and young girls were doing the mill work.
A Frenchman had temporary ownership of one of the mills. He hoped that flying a French flag over it might save the mill. It was not to be: Garrard ordered the mills burned.
Garrard reported what he had found to General Sherman, who wanted revenge on the Frenchman for raising the flag. Sherman wrote to Garrard:
“Should you, under the impulse of anger, hang the wretch, I approve the act beforehand.”
Sherman also ordered Garrard to “arrest all people, male and female, connected with those factories, no matter what the clamor… I will send them to the North… The poor women will make a howl. Let them take along their children and clothing, providing they have the means of hauling, or you can spare them.”
Sherman said the women were “tainted with treason” and “are as much governed by the rules of war as if in the ranks.”
Hundreds of women and children were loaded into boxcars and sent north, where the women struggled on their own to live. Not all of them survived the war.
Only a few were able to make their way back home after the war. Husbands returned to find their wives gone with no way to trace them.
Adeline was heavy with child when she was exiled. But there is a happy ending to her story. It took her five years but she and her child Mary made their way back after the war, mostly on foot.
The outrage was reported in several northern newspapers, but Sherman just went on and burned his way to the Atlantic Ocean.
In 1998, a group of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans did a project to identify the Roswell women and their descendants. Most were identified, and many of the descendants were located, mostly in the North.
The City of Roswell erected a monument to the women, shown here.
Let’s hope no one thinks it should be torn down.