Capture of Macon and Harden


Maj. Gen. James Harrison Wilson commanded the 17,000 strong Cavalry Corps of Sherman’s Military Division of the Mississippi. His 2nd Cavalry Division was commanded by Col. Robert H. G. Minty (in the absence of Brig. Gen. Eli Long). Under Minty was Col. Abram O. Miller’s 1st Brigade led by Col. Jacob G. Vail, consisting of the 98th Illinois Infantry, the 123rd Illinois Infantry, and the 17th Indiana Mounted Infantry.

Wilson’s forces captured Columbus, Georgia on April 16, 1865. His advance on Macon was led by Minty’s 2nd Cavalry. The Confederates began evacuation of Macon on April 19. The next day Lieut. Col. Frank White’s 17th Indiana moved forward. About 13 miles from Macon, White’s force met Brig. Gen. Felix Robinson, under a flag of truce, carrying a message from Maj. Gen. Howell Cobb. Cobb had instructions from Beauregard to cease fire and occupy their present positions for 48 hours pending final surrender terms between Johnston and Sherman in North Carolina. White had no such information and relayed the message to Minty (who though it might be a ruse) up to Wilson. Wilson got the message at 6 PM and halted the advance, while White’s force captured 2,000 Confederates. Minty’s 2nd Cavalry arrived in Macon the following morning, April 21. That day Cobb surrendered the city to Wilson and 11,000 Confederates were paroled including Brig. Gen. Hugh Weedon Mercer. Wilson gave command of Macon to Col. Vail. A total of 14,985 Confederates were paroled in April and May of 1865. 

On April 30, Vail’s 1st Brigade reported the capture of Cpl. William Harmon Harden.