Friday, July 12, 2013

Union Victory Over Defenseless Darien GA...

On 11 June 1863, a full year before Sherman's Atlanta campaign, Federal troops stationed on St. Simons Island looted and then burned the Georgia coastal town of Darien, including the homes of the black residents/slaves. The destruction of this undefended city, which was of little strategic importance, was carried out by units under Colonel James Montgomery including 54th Massachusetts Volunteers under the command of a reluctant Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. 

Colonel Montgomery was a staunch abolitionist who brought his unconventional jayhawk type warfare to Georgia from Kansas where he had previously campaigned. Noted historian Albert Castel describes Montgomery as "a sincere, if unscrupulous, antislavery zealot." Montgomery ordered that the town be looted and then burned and his troops broke ranks and looted freely, while Shaw ordered his to take only that which would be useful at camp. 

The First African Baptist Church (the oldest African-American church in the county) was destroyed along with the rest of the town. Col Shaw later called his action satanic and was ashamed of his troop's participation in the needless act of destruction. Following the Civil War, Darien was rebuilt, with financial aid coming in small part from the family of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, who had been killed during the War but had written of his shame in participating in the destruction.

Via Georgia Civil War Commission

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