Newton Co. History: The Capture of Covington, Georgia
The small, Georgia town of Covington is a quiet, quaint community. The town’s historic square is lined with local businesses. Cars putter around in a sedate manner, old men stroll down Main Street. A true icon of the Old South, the whole city seems at ease, seems to breathe tranquility and peace. But, once upon a time, the quiet town became an explosion of sound; the vulgar sounds of war.
The year was 1864; the final year of the Great War between the States and the South was on its knees. Atlanta had become the center focus of Union Army attacks, creating a war zone out of Georgia’s once-verdant plantations and farmlands. The land seem to bleed, as musket balls and cannon fire scorched the red clay beneath it. On July 22nd of that year, as a decisive battle raged in the capitol, Union Cavalry troops were dispatched from John T. Wilder’s infamous “Lightening” Brigade and led by General Kenner Garrard, the hero of Gettysburg.
The cavalry charged into Covington, Georgia on the sweltering summer day, armed with Spencer repeating rifles and a mission; cut off Atlanta from the surrounding railroad supply lines and further cripple the entrenched Confederate Army. Covington, which at the time was only a tiny railroad stop off, was left unprotected by fleeing Confederate troops. General Garrard ordered his forces to burn down storehouses, destroy three bridges connecting Covington’s main roads, and to confiscate two supply depots and an overwhelming amount of army supplies. Without the aid of their beloved Confederacy (who were busy burning Atlanta), the town was soundly conquered and the Union invasion completed, yet the brave citizens of Covington did not go down without a fight.
Two heroes stand out amongst the rest. A local man named Presley Jones fired at the Union soldiers as they entered the township. Not much is known about this brave soul, except he had exceptional aim. Jones killed two Union soldiers before being killed by a stray bullet. Union troops also executed George Daniel, a furloughed Confederate soldier suspected of resistance. The Federal cavalrymen then destroyed or took with them anything useful to the Confederate war effort. The Capture of Covington, as it became known, lasted for four days and nights, before The “Lightening” Brigade rode on to the nearby town of Oxford.
A historic marker for The Capture of Covington can be found in front of the Newton Chamber of Commerce. You can check it out to learn even more about Covington’s history during the Civil War.