Cassville was created by the Georgia Legislature in 1832 to serve as county seat for simultaneously created Cass County (now Bartow), one of ten original counties carved from the former Cherokee territory. By the 1850’s Cassville was the cultural center of north Georgia with two colleges (male and female), four hotels, a newspaper and wooden sidewalks. Georgia’s first Supreme Court decision was delivered at Cassville in 1846. Many of the Cherokee Nation’s legal battles to hold on to north Georgia were staged at the Cassville Court House. But by the end of the Civil War, all that remained of Cassville’s former eminence was three homes, two churches and a Confederate Cemetery.
Today, Cassville is remembered by students of the Civil War for what did not happen here: The Cassville Affair. During the Atlanta Campaign, Confederate General Joe Johnston intended a major offensive here after tricking General Sherman into dividing his forces at Adairsville. Quite likely, this last best offensive would have been successful and leveled the playing field for Gen. Johnston’s extremely out-numbered Confederate troops. However, the evening before the battle that was not, May 18, 1864, Confederate Gen. John Hood convinced Johnston to withdraw south to Allatoona. (The same evening, Gen. Johnston succumbed to another’s wish and was baptized at Cassville by Gen. Polk, a clergyman, at the request of Mrs. Johnston.) Union Forces occupied Cassville from that night until November 1864.
On October 30, orders were issued to destroy Cassville. Residents were given only 20 minutes notice the town was being burned. No images of the town, nor official records of her citizens, survived.
It was a sentiment of the citizenry of Cassville that arose years before the Civil War that sealed the town’s fate, however. When the Western & Atlantic Railroad was winding its way into northwest Georgia in the 1840’s, Cassville’s residents protested having the railroad pass through the heart of the town. They didn’t want the soot from the engines to dirty their streets nor the riffraff from the train to taint their young. The geography of the area confirmed it would be less costly to take the train to the west. Thus, the mighty W&A bypassed Cassville. When the colleges, hotels, fine homes and businesses were burned, there was no reason to re-build. A bustling young town to the south, Cartersville, was thriving with enterprise fueled by the railroad. Thus, in 1867 the people of Bartow County voted, by a slim margin, to move their county seat from Cassville to Cartersville.
Not totally forgotten in the next century, Cassville enjoyed being on the route of “The Dixie Highway,” the nation’s first planned interstate roadway. During the 1930’s, Cassville was remembered by receiving one of five Atlanta Campaign Pocket Parks constructed by the WPA to commemorate The Cassville Affair. Cassville’s “Old Post Office” enjoyed acclaim as the oldest operating U.S. Post Office in the state until the mid 1990’s. Today it houses The Old Cassville Post Office Museum, where members of the Cassville Historical Society open the museum each Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (except holidays) to share Cassville’s history. The museum and the Cassville Confederate Cemetery, the final resting place of 300 Confederate Soldiers and CSA Brig. Gen. William T. Wofford, await visitors in this near-forgotten jewel of Georgia history.
For more information on Cassville visit online, Cassville Historical Society.