Crossroads of Conflict: A Guide to Civil War Sites in Georgia
STONE MOUNTAIN VILLAGE (NRHP), DeKalb County
The site that would become the village of Stone Mountain was incorporated in 1839 as the village of New Gibraltar, a vestige of civilization in the wilderness adjacent to the unusual geologic anomaly and early tourist attraction then known as Rock Mountain. In 1845 the town was moved a half mile west to its present location paralleling the new Georgia Railroad but still within walking distance of the giant granite monadnock.
Stone Mountain Village entered the war era like many other small towns in the South, with the majority of its young men volunteering for Confederate service. The men from Stone Mountain and its district of DeKalb County formed Wright's Legion, 38th Georgia Regiment Volunteer Infantry. The local artillery battalions used the mountain as an occasional testing ground and firing range for breech-loading cannons forged in nearby Atlanta by arms manufacturer William Rushton. The mountain was used to gain range, trajectory, and accuracy by the untested artillerists, honing their skills by firing at a target hung from the face of the mountain.
The village saw military action during the latter stages of the Atlanta Campaign. Federal attempts to sever the Georgia Railroad brought Stone Mountain Village headlong into the conflict. The Federal cavalry who were assigned to break this important lifeline were met with stiff resistance from Confederate cavalry and mounted infantry.
On July 15, 1864, constant skirmishing broke out on the Stone Mountain Road north of the village between Union Brigadier General Kenner Garrard's troops and elements of dismounted Confederate cavalry. Three days later on July 18, Garrard ordered five regiments, a force of several thousand men, to tear up the tracks, burn the ties, and twist the heated iron to render it useless. The destruction began one mile west of the Stone Mountain Depot and included several culverts and a water tank. Garrard's report of the day's action sent to Major General James B. McPherson stated:
In obedience of orders, I left my camp at 5:00 a.m. this morning to break the railroad between Stone Mountain and Decatur. At Browning's Court House [Tucker] I struck the rebel pickets, and skirmished for three miles to the railroad which I effectually destroyed for more than two miles, including several culverts and the water tank at Stone Mountain depot. The only force I had opposed to me, as well as I can learn, was one brigade. I sent a force into Stone Mountain, and found the rebels there about 5:00 p.m., but not in force. The depot was not burned.
Elements of Garrard's cavalry in the vicinity of Stone Mountain Village continued to encounter stiff resistance and fought a protracted engagement at the edge of town against Confederate troops from Colonel George G. Dibrell's mounted infantry brigade. Confederate riflemen took up sniper positions in the buildings and residences in the village's northern edge and maintained a constant fire that forced the Federals to bring up their artillery, driving Dibrell's men from their positions and through the town. While retreating, the Confederates burned two hundred bales of cotton along with quartermaster and commissary stores to keep them from falling into Federal hands.
The Federals returned to Stone Mountain on November 16, 1864, where the left wing of Major General William T. Sherman's army camped in this vicinity on the first night of the March to the Sea. Stone Mountain's historic African American neighborhood, Shermantown, was named in honor of the night that the general spent in the area, as many slaves followed the army to freedom.