New Manchester Manufacturing Company
This mill was built in 1849 on Sweetwater Creek, about 15 miles west of Atlanta. The mill was designed to produce a type of yarn from cotton called Osnaburg. In 1861 the Company contracted with the Confederate Government to produce material for Confederate uniforms. The mill/factory combination was five stories tall, bigger than any building in Atlanta at that time. By 1864 most of the men were fighting in the Confederate Army. The 60 to 70 employees at the mill consisted mostly of women and their children. A small contingent of Militia known as the “Sweetwater Guards”, were stationed at the mill.
On July 2, 1864 Union Cavalry commanded by General George Stoneman captured the mill and village around it. On the 9th the entire village and mill were destroyed. General Sherman ordered that everyone connected with the mill be arrested, including the children of the women workers. All were taken to Marietta and imprisoned. While there they were joined by the workers from the Roswell Mills that had also been arrested. This group was taken from Marietta to Louisville, KY and imprisoned there. Those that agreed to sign an “Oath of Allegiance” to the United States Government were then released north of the Ohio River in Ohio and Indiana. A condition of their release was that they could not return south until the war ended. Those that didn’t sign the oath remained in prison until after the war. Although many of the former workers were never heard from again, most made it back to Georgia after the war.
The factory and town at New Manchester were never rebuilt. Today the ruins are part of the 2,035 acre Sweetwater Creek State Conservation Park at Lithia Springs, GA.
|Narrative by Scott Jackson, GA|