Seeking gold in 1540, Spanish explorer Desoto came through Bartow County. Along the Etowah River was an Indian village around a group of earthen mounds. Soon afterwards the population was decimated with diseases to which they had no immunity. The village and mounds were abandoned.
In the mid 1700’s the Cherokee moved into this area forcing the Creeks out. Neither the Creeks, nor the Cherokees knew who built the mounds along the river, nor who had lived there.
In 1844, a young Army Lieutenant, recently graduated from West Point, while in the area, heard of the Etowah Indian Mounds. He traveled by horse from Marietta, Georgia, through the Allatoona mountains to see the mounds, which were on the plantation of Col. Lewis Tumlin.
Lt. William T. Sherman and Col Tumlin became friends and the young soldier stayed several days in the Tumlin home, Glen Holly. For several years thereafter, the young soldier corresponded with his friendly host.
In 1864, then General Sherman was again in the area with 100,000 Union soldiers. Knowledge of the mountainous terrain gained during his earlier visit prevented General Sherman from following Confederate defenders into the Allatoona mountains.
While here, General Sherman wrote his wife Ellen that he was in that area of Georgia that she would remember he had “taken such a fancy”.
He longed to see his friend Col. Tumlin and to again visit the Etowah Indian Mounds. With several other Union officers, he rode up to Col. Tumlin’s house and knocked on the door, but as he wrote in his memoirs, “no one was at home”.
General Sherman then took his friends to see the mounds and they climbed to the top of the largest one. A Confederate artillery force on the other side of the Etowah River saw a group of Union soldiers on top of the mound, not knowing that Sherman himself was within range.
The Confederates opened fire. General Sherman and his friends were forced to evacuate their exposed position. Twenty years and war had altered the hospitality previously extended to General William T. Sherman. He never saw, nor heard from his friend Col. Tumlin again.
David G. Archer
City of Cartersville
Sesquicentennial Celebration Chairman