The Civil War in Hinesville. Georgia

Before 1864 Liberty County was quite prosperous. Hinesville invested in naval stores, which are products from pine resin like turpentine, while plantations and farms produced indigo, rice, and cotton. All of this changed in the winter of 1864, when Union general William T. Sherman’s march to the sea reached the area.


Hinesville’s history during the Civil War (1861-65) includes a series of skirmishes in and around the town. With nearby Midway and Flemington under the control of the Seventh Illinois Infantry, Hinesville was a target for scouting and raiding parties. During a raid on December 1, W. P. L. Girardeau, ordinary of the county, was shot and severely wounded as he stood on the courthouse steps.

On December 16, the Seventh Illinois rolled through Hinesville. There they met a detachment of cavalry from Confederate general Alfred Iverson’s Army of Tennessee. After a skirmish through town, the Confederate detachment withdrew, and the march continued. Two days later, the Battle of the Altamaha Trestle, the bloodiest in coastal Georgia, took place, and the march was complete.

Liberty County was left devastated and in a state of chaos. Most plantations and farms in the county were destroyed, and citizens were hungry and destitute. Many people left in the wake of the march, afraid that displaced Confederate soldiers and freed people would loot and rob the area. The courthouse in Hinesville was deserted, and the naval stores industry ground to a halt.

Barlament, James. “Hinesville.” New Georgia Encyclopedia, last modified Sep 11, 2014.