Foraging In Henry County via Flat Rock
The Union Army after gaining control of Atlanta did some major foraging for food
in the area of Flat Rock and the Henry County area. General John B. Hood CSA had
pulled out to the west and was in route to Tennessee. He had left part of his army and the state guard
to antagonize the Union Army of General Sherman.
A report by Major A.B. Smith of the 115th New York Volunteers speaks of them in the area on
October 11, 1864. Here is his words, "Marched at 5:00A.M. on a foraging expidition to Flat Rock a
distance of 16 miles from Atlanta. On October 12th crossed the Flat Rock Shoals at the South River
and turned right. Went four miles and helped load two hundred wagons with corn. On October 13th
and 14th filled the balance of wagons to return to Atlanta with a wagon train of 500 wagons loaded.
Then on October 22nd they marched to the Flat Rock Shoals to cover the return of a foraging wagon
train of 800 wagons threatened by rebel calvary." Also another account of the action of October 22,
1864 is an order by Major General Slocum, commanding the 20th Corps, "to proceed with the
brigade and re-enforce Colonel
Dustin, of the 3rd Division, commanding a forage train of 800 wagons, guarded by 3 brigades and
two batteries, the expedition being threatened by the enemy's calvary; moved down upon the right
flank of the wagon train to Flat Rock and encamped for the night. On October 23rd, marched
through Lithonia to Latimer's finding a few rebel scouts and dispersing them; found the wagon train at
Latimer's loaded with corn. Assumed command of the expedition and moved on to Decatur for the
As one can see the area was quite productive in corn and oats. The Union foragers destroyed the
harvest of the farmers of Henry County. In a two week period they hauled over 1,300 wagon loads
of corn and oats from the Henry County area and this would destroy the economic base for the
farmers of our county. The reason Flat Rock was used for a crossing of the South River is because
the water is
very shallow over the flat rock shoals mass in the river and made it easy to cross.
This kind of activity was the prelude to Sherman's March to the Sea. This activity
by the foragers was to gain supplies for the upcoming march. The foraging and pillaging of Henry
County did massive damage to the county that would take years to repair. That was part of
Sherman's "total war" plan.
(A) The Records of the War of the Rebellion, Washington, DC.
(B) The Georgia Historical Society, Savanah GA.
(C) The Mother of Counties, Vessie Thrasher Rainer, 1971.
(D) The Atlanta Historical Society, 1984.
(E) The Archives, Morrow GA.
(F) The UGA Library, Athens GA.
(G) William T. Sherman, The March to the Sea.