Historical Facts about Abbeville and Wilcox County
Battle of Breakfast Branch
Near this spot on March 9, 1818, 34 men of the Telfair County Militia, commanded by Major Josiah D. Cawthon, engaged about 60 Creek Indians in combat. Four Indians and five whites, including Capt. Benjamin Mitchell Griffin were killed. Three whites, including Mark Willcox (later Major General), were wounded. Willcox was saved by Nat Statham and Wiley Ellison who carried him back to the Ocmulgee river while under fire. This was the last battle between Indians and whites in this vicinity.
156-5 GEORGIA HISTORIC MARKER 1987
|Hernando de Soto discovered Ocmulgee
River at or near Abbeville on April 3, 1540. “Here,” says
the chronicler Biedma, “we found a river that had a course
not southwardly, like the rest we had passed, but eastward
to the sea.” Next day the Altamaha Inidans “brought many
canoes and the army crossed very comfrotably” to their
principal town where they met its chief Camumo and the great
chief of Ocute from the river above and here they erected a
second wooden cross.
156-5 GEORGIA HISTORIC MARKER 1987
|On May 4, 1865, Jefferson Davis
arrived in Washington, Georgia (152 miles NE), where he
performed what proved to be his last duties as President of
the Confederate States of America. Shortly thereafter, with
a small staff and escort, he departed enroute to the
trans-Mississippi Department, from which vantage point he
hoped to negotiate a just peace. Traveling via Warthen and
Sandersville, he reached Dublin (50 mile NE) about 11
o’clock May 7th, after being joined by his family early that
morning. Leaving Dublin, he camped for a few hours near
Alligator Creek (30 miles NE) and again four miles SE of
Eastman (UDC marker at site); then he pushed on toward
Abbeville, unaware that the 1st Wisconsin Cavalry (USA) had
learned of his passage through Dublin and had begun a
On the 8th, after a day of hard rains and boggy roads, his party crossed the Ocmulgee River at Poor Robin Ferry and camped in Abbeville. Next morning, they took the direct (old) road toward Irwinville (26 miles SW) and camped a mile N of the town in the present Jefferson Davis Memorial State Park. At dawn on May 10th, his camp was surrounded by men of the 1st Wisconsin and 4th Michigan cavalry regiments (USA) and he became a “state prisoner,” his hopes for a new nation, in which each state would exercise without interference its cherished “Constitutional Rights,” forever dead.
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|Late on May 8, 1865, Jefferson
Davis, with his family and a small escort, camped in
Abbeville, unaware that hostile pursuit was close behind.
His pursuers, the 1st Wisconsin Cavalry [Federal], Lt. Col.
Henry Harnden, arrived next morning, shortly after his
departure. Stopping only to feed and water, Harnden’s men
were moving out in pursuit when the 4th Michigan Cavalry
[Federal], Lt. Col. B. D. Pritchard, arrived. Harnden
confided to Pritchard both Mr. Davis’ proximity and probable
route; then, after declining an offer to help, he rode on to
overtake his command.
Pritchard, bound down-river to intercept other Confederate officials, rode on some 12 miles: then, abandoning his own mission, he made a forced march and, after finding the Davis camp late that night by posing as the escort, he surrounded it quietly and waited for dawn.
Harnden had camped a few miles away. Unaware of Pritchard’s presence, he moved up just before dawn to surround the camp. His advance was fired upon and, in the fight that followed, two Michigan soldiers were killed before a prisoner taken by Harnden’s men revealed the Identity of the “enemy.”
During this unfortunate collision, Pritchard closed in and captured Mr. Davis and his party, thereafter claiming for the 4th Michigan the fruits of the 1st Wisconsin’s labors.
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New Hope Primitive Baptist Church
|New Hope Primitive Baptist Church
was constituted in July, 1830. The Presbytery officiating
were: Wilson Conner, David Wood and Jordan Baker. Minutes of
the church for the first 12 years were lost, and there is no
record of charter members, but the church roll of March 5,
1842, lists 53, many of them pioneers of this section. It
was in New Hope Church that the division in the Primitive
Baptist denomination occurred, when some withdrew and formed
a Missionary Baptist Church. The Rev. Richard M. Tucker was
the first recorded pastor, in 1842. George R. Reid as clerk
156-4 GEORGIA HISTORICAL COMMISSION 1958
|This County was created by Act of
the Legislature Dec. 22, 1857. Georgia Archives show that it
was named for Capt. John Wilcox though some authorities
believe it was named for his son Gen. Mark Wilcox, state
legislator and one of the founders of the Georgia Supreme
Court, who died in 1850. Among the first County Officers
were: Sheriff Joseph S. Graham, Clerk of Superior & Inferior
Courts Stephen Bowen, Ordinary James W. Washburn, Tax
Receiver John McCall, Tax Collector Stephen Mitchell,
Surveyor William A. Barker and Coroner Daniel M. Bruce.
156-1 GEORGIA HISTORICAL COMMISSION 1954