“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Oliver in Screven County, Georgia — The American South (South Atlantic)

Little Ogeechee Church

"Now you understand what a flank movement means"


— March to the Sea Heritage Trail —

Little Ogeechee Church Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, December 5, 2018
1. Little Ogeechee Church Marker
Inscription.  Little Ogeechee Baptist Church is the oldest congregation in Screven County. Organized in 1790, its first two structures were composed of logs. During the Civil War members met in a white clapboard building with a high-pitched roof and an impressive steeple. The present church sanctuary was constructed in 1912.

During the Federal army's march to the sea in November and December 1864, Major General William T. Sherman predicted that any Confederate defensive stand between the Ogeechee and Savannah Rivers would likely occur at Station Number 4-1/2 (aka Oliver), where the Louisville road and the Central Railroad crossed Little Ogeechee Creek. By Friday, December 2nd, Henry C. Wayne, Georgia's adjutant and inspector general had ordered the destruction of the railroad bridge over the creek and started entrenching on its south bank with the Georgia Military Institute cadets, various militia and three cannon. On December 4th, Confederate Major General Lafayette McLaws arrived from Savannah with three brigades of militia, two regiments of state infantry and one brigade of North Carolina veterans. McLaws assumed command with a combined force
The Little Ogeechee Baptist Church. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, December 5, 2018
2. The Little Ogeechee Baptist Church.
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of about 4,000.

A Federal probing force selected from the more than 11,000 men in the 17th Corps was led by Lieutenant Colonel Dennis T. Kirby. They encountered General Wayne's cadets, suffering a few casualties. Kirby's shoulder strap was "Cut by a ball" wrote Major Henry Hitchcock of General Sherman's staff in his diary. Kirby's force also rescued about 70 other Federals who advanced without orders and had been surrounded.

General McLaws quickly realized that he could be outflanked by the Federal 20th Corps approaching from his right or by the 15th Corps west of the Ogeechee River. He ordered a retreat to Eden (toward Savannah) during the night of December 4th. The next morning the 17th Corps cautiously advanced toward Station 4-1/2, fording the creek with no opposition. General Sherman smiled as he commented to Major Hitchcock, "Now you understand what a flank movement means."

Major Hitchcock observed that the Confederates had constructed a defensive line of earth and rails across the Louisville road. "They could have poured an ugly fire right on the road." He thought a second line of embankments and felled trees was superior to the works nearer the creek and potentially more troublesome.

General Sherman and his staff rode on to "...Ogeechee Church, a large plain frame church in grove of oaks--fine grove for camp
View of marker looking west towards Oliver Highway. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, December 5, 2018
3. View of marker looking west towards Oliver Highway.
where at first General ordered camp made, but presently learning of good house nearby we went there."
For two days Federal soldiers camped all around present-day Oliver. On Wednesday, December 7th, General Sherman and the 17th Corps continued south from Station Number 4-1/2 on the Louisville road.

[Photo captions]
Background: Little Ogeechee Church
Left top: Little Ogeechee Baptist Church As seen by soldiers in 1864
Middle top: Confederate Major General Lafayette McLaws
Middle bottom: Union Lt. Col. Dennis T. Kirby (after his promotion to Brigadier General)
Left top map: Approximate routes of the "March to the Sea" through coastal Georgia in November & December 1864

Erected 2018 by Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails, Inc. (Marker Number R20.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Churches & ReligionWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Georgia Civil War Trails, and the Sherman’s March to the Sea series lists. A significant historical month for this entry is December 1864.
Location. 32° 31.149′ N, 81° 31.989′ W. Marker is in Oliver, Georgia, in Screven County. Marker is on Old Louisville Road east of Oliver Highway (Georgia Route 24), on the left when traveling east. Located in front
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of the Little Ogeechee Baptist Church. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: Old Louisville Road, Oliver GA 30449, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 12 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Confederate Line (approx. 0.2 miles away); British Headquarters (approx. 5.1 miles away); New Hope Methodist Church (approx. 5.6 miles away); North Newington Baptist Church (approx. 6.3 miles away); Sherman's Advance (approx. 7.7 miles away); Middle Ground Baptist Church (approx. 8.4 miles away); Cooperville (approx. 11.1 miles away); The March to the Sea (approx. 11.1 miles away).
Also see . . .  Historic Rural Churches of Georgia about the Little Ogeechee Baptist Church. (Submitted on December 8, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Credits. This page was last revised on January 9, 2019. It was originally submitted on December 8, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 188 times since then and 3 times this year. Last updated on January 6, 2019, by T. Patton of Jefferson, Georgia. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on December 8, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.

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Jan. 25, 2022