JOSHUA HILL HOUSE
Taking a left on Old Post Road and adjacent to the Town Commons you will see the Joshua Hill Home. Joshua Hill, a member of the US House of Representatives at the time of secession and mayor of Madison during the war, was very much opposed to secession by the Confederate states. During the Union’s occupation of Atlanta, he met with Sherman for the purpose of claiming the body of his son who had been killed in battle in North Georgia. Hill’s introduction came by way of Sherman’s brother, John, with whom Hill had served in Congress. While it is rumored that Sherman promised to spare Madison during their meeting, there is no evidence to support this.
At dawn on Saturday, November 19, 1864, Sherman’s left wing under the command of General Slocum entered Madison by way of Old Post Road (also known as the stagecoach route). Although there was ample warning, the march of what was estimated as 22,000 union soldiers still came as a shock. The following story was reported in the Athens, GA. newspaper on December 14, 1864, as it was reported to them by Joshua Hill himself, “…. (Hill) prevailed upon General Slocum to place a guard at every house to prevent any plundering or rude conduct on the part of the soldiers. Seeing Mr. Hill with Gen. Slocum very often and seeing that the General always heeded the suggestion of Mr. Hill, they obeyed the Mayor of Madison just as they did their own General. By pursuing the course which he did, Mr. Hill rendered the people of Madison a great service for which he deserved credit.” Although homes were spared, the troops did burn the depots, doctors’ offices, cotton warehouses and gins, and anything that would support the conduct of war. Although the northern wing of the march also left most private homes untorched in other towns as well, most historians find it plausible that Hill’s Unionist sentiment and his manifestations to Slocum may have been especially helpful in Madison.
The house was expanded and remodeled in 1918. Joshua Hill would likely not recognize it today. It is important to remember that the houses on this walking tour belonged to the white elite. The antebellum homes would have had quarters nearby for their enslaved servants. Few of those structures have been preserved.