Books by Ruth Beaumont Cook

Released: May 1, 1999

A competently told account of an overlooked episode in Civil War history. Roswell, Ga., was Cherokee Indian territory until that people was forcibly relocated to Oklahoma in the 1830s. Thereafter it became a small center of textile manufacture, specialized in the making of rough cloth that could be finished and dyed elsewhere. As such, Roswell became an important supplier of materiel to the Confederate forces during the Civil War, for which reason William Tecumseh Sherman, the famed Union general, charged the millworkers with treason for providing yarn and cloth to the rebel enemy. In 1864 Sherman's soldiers burned the mill to the ground and deported the workers, most of them women, and their families to a federal camp in Louisville, Ky. He evidently wanted, writes amateur historian Cook, to do more than that: he asked the secretary of war for permission to send "all males and females who have encouraged or harbored guerrillas," including the Roswell weavers, to South America, for, he said, "one thing is certain, there is a class of people, men, women, and children, who must be killed or banished before we can hope for peace and order even as far south as Tennessee." The citizens of Louisville were more kindly disposed, and a commission aided the civilians with food and clothing. Some of those refugees, however, were then taken further afield, abandoned in a railroad depot in Indianapolis and told to fend for themselves. Many of them remained in the north after the war ended, opening a textile mill in Cannelton, Ind. Cook bases her account on the reminiscences of those Indiana-relocated Roswell children and their descendants. Others returned to Georgia, and still others are lost to history entirely. Readers with an interest in Civil War history, and especially in the local history of Georgia, will find this worth a look. (b&w photos) Read full book review >