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General Sherman's Georgia Romance
About North Georgia

It is on private property beyond [the] gate that the home of Shelman Heights once stood. Now, many Georgians can say that they outsmarted Sherman's army and by various means and ended up with home and goods intact. From the use of Masonic symbols to downright conniving, Georgians went through all manner of manipulations to keep their personal property from being destroyed. But Cecelia Stovall Shelman of Shelman Heights could truthfully say that love saved her home. But not just any love. First love. And that love was William Tecumseh Sherman.

Cecelia's brother, Marcellus, was attending West Point Military Academy in 1836, when she went up to attend the dances. And who should fall hardest for the dark-eyed beauty but her brother's roommate, William Tecumseh Sherman.

Etowah River valley
The daughter of a wealthy Augusta cotton merchant, Cecelia met Sherman's advances plainly: "Your eyes are so cold and cruel," she is said to have told him. "I pity the man who ever becomes your foe. Ah, how you would crush an enemy."

Sherman is said to have responded, "Even though you were my enemy, my dear, I would ever love and protect you."

But, the romance was not to continue. Marcellus resigned from West Point because of ill health the following year, and decided to make the Grand Tour of Europe. Cecelia accompanied him and managed to be in London to witness the coronation of Queen Victoria.

Afterwards, she returned to Augusta where she became interested in another West Point graduate. Unfortunately, Richard Garnett, stationed at the U.S. Arsenal there, did not have a large enough salary to suit Cecelia's father so he packed her off to South Carolina to visit relatives and to let distance kill the blossoming romance. Oddly enough, while Cecelia was cooling her heels in South Carolina, who should be stationed in Augusta but Sherman. Chances are the young lieutenant wouldn't have suited Cecelia's father either as he was looking for someone wealthy to marry his daughter. One must wonder, though, if Sherman's heart didn't beat a little faster when he was told where he was to be stationed.

While in South Carolina, Cecelia met and fell in love with Charles T. Shelman, who was a native of Cass (now Bartow) County. Her father approved of this match and the two were married in 1848. Later, the two would return to Bartow County where Shelman would build his wife a beautiful white home with six Doric columns atop a bluff overlooking the Etowah River. The couple was living here when the War Between the States began in 1861.

In 1864, Sherman arrived to pay a call at Shelman Heights. This time he was a major general at the head of an invading army. When the home was brought to his attention, Sherman decided to see what it had to offer despite the fact it was slightly off his course.

Riding up to the gate, Sherman and a fellow officer were met by an elderly black slave who was lamenting their arrival.

"I sho'ly is glad Miss Cecelia ain't here to see it with her own eyes," he is said to have uttered repeatedly.

"Miss Cecelia?" Sherman is said to echoed, "Not Miss Cecelia Stovall?"

Well, yes, but she was now Mrs. Shelman. Sherman was just asking to be received by his former belle when he was informed that Captain Shelman was in the Confederate Army, and that Miss Cecelia had refugeed. This aged servant was the only one left to take care of the place. Sherman then left a written message that still remains in the family today.

Before riding off, Sherman made sure that everything that had been taken was replaced, and he made sure guards were left to stand watch until the entire Army passed through.

To Joe, Cecelia's faithful servant, he said, "Say to your mistress for me that she might have remained in her home in safety; that she and her property would have been protected. Hand her this when you see her."

And when Cecelia returned to her unharmed home, she read:

"You once said that I would crush an enemy and you pitied my foe. Do you recall my reply? Although many years have passed, my answer is the same. I would ever shield and protect you. That I have done. Forgive all else. I am only a soldier.
Wm. T. Sherman"

Shelman Heights later burned to the ground (on New Year's day in 1911). Captain Shelman died in 1886 but Cecelia lived on until 1904 in her home that stood tall and beautiful on Shelman's Bluff.

A note to the reader who has this story reproduced here without the benefit of the remainder of the tour in the book. The former site of Shelman Heights is just off GA 113 west of Cartersville.
Biography of William Tecumseh Sherman.

Frank and Victoria Logue are in the vanguard of authors who inspired this web site. We have enjoyed some of their previous works and heartily recommend the forthcoming work excerpted here, Touring the Backroads of North and South Georgia (Touring the Backroads Series). Additional books by Frank and Victoria Logue


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