Darien Georgia Visitor Guide



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McIntosh County History

 

The Birth of McIntosh County


After the Revolution, St. Andrew's Parish became a part of Liberty County which had been created in 1777.

 

In 1793, McIntosh County was formed from Liberty, and the seat of government was established at Sapelo Bridge. A courthouse was set up in the home of John McIntosh, a parade ground was laid out for the local militia, and the little town became a stopover point on the state route between Savannah, Darien and St. Marys.

 

After 1806, Darien began to experience rapid growth due to its favorable position at the mouth of the Altamaha River, which gave the town great potential as a port of export.

 

The Altamaha was a primary conveyor from the Georgia interior. Great barges and so-called "Oconee boxes" of cotton from the upcountry plantations were floated down the Altamaha to Darien for shipment to northern and European markets. By 1819, regular steamboat service had been established between Darien and Milledgeville. Darien was becoming a cotton-exporting center of significance, rivaling Savannah in importance.

 

 

McIntosh County and the Civil War


Few Georgia counties - even those in Sherman's path in late 1864 - suffered the hardship and deprivation of Civil War as much as McIntosh County. The fortunes of the planters were irretrievably lost, the plantations were destroyed, the lumber industry devastated, and even the once-thriving seaport town of Darien was destroyed as the result of the "total war" tactics of a renegade Union field officer.

But by far the greatest single act of destruction by the Federals in McIntosh County during the war was the wanton devastation of the undefended little town of Darien in June 1863.

 

Darien was largely deserted when the Yankee ships arrived at the bluff and landed their troops on the waterfront in the area of the present-day Darien bridge.

The troops ransacked many of the town's houses and shops, destroyed the sawmills which were the lifeblood of the community, hauled off tons of sawn lumber and baled cotton, and removed many family possessions.

 

Just before they departed, Montgomery gave orders for the entire town to be burned. The watefront was ablaze from one end to the other as the fire, spurred on by the wind and large supplies of turpentine and rosin in the warehouses, quickly swept through the town. All that was left standing were the thick walls of the two-story warehouse building on the upper bluff, a portion of the Methodist Church and two or three smaller buildings, including the frame residence which still stands at the corner of Highway 99 and Rittenhouse Street.



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