Dr. John K. Derden, Professor Emeritus of History at East Georgia State College, has had an article accepted for publication in Georgia Backroads Magazine. Entitled “A Uniform of Gray the Only Passport Needed,” the article details the significance of Millen, Georgia, during the Civil War. The article explains the importance of the Central of Georgia Railroad’s junction at Millen, making it a communications and transit hub connecting Savannah, Augusta, and Macon. It not only brought important personages such as President Polk and Henry Clay through the town, but its strategic importance also attracted the attention of Union General William Tecumseh Sherman as his forces crossed the state from Atlanta to Savannah in the fall off 1864. They destroyed the junction and left Millen a burning rubble.
The article also contains a brief history of Millen’s “Wayside Home,” a volunteer effort by the women of Burke County to provide respite for Confederate soldiers transiting the junction. The home provided food, medical care, rest facilities, and female companionship for war-weary soldiers from its inception in the spring of 1863 to its destruction in early December 1864.
In addition, Dr. Derden’s article explains the importance of Camp Lawton, the Confederacy’s largest but short-lived military prison located five miles north of Millen.
According to Dr. Derden “the story of Millen demonstrates that small towns can have a rich history, even to the point of becoming epicenters of nationally significant events.”