|One of North Georgia's newest attractions is one of North Georgia's oldest buildings: Lee and Gordon's Mill on Chickamauga Creek. In September, 1863 the mill was the focal point of the battle of Chickamauga, although the only action it saw was relatively minor cavalry skirmishes.
Entrepreneur James Gordon came to this area in 1836, and purchased land recently distributed to whites during the Sixth Land Lottery. Included in the purchase was a mill built by James Holiway on this location. A homesite at the confluence of Chickamauga Creek and the run-off from Crawfish Springs known as "The Fork" was also purchased by Gordon. In 1838 Gordon gained clear title of the land with the removal of the Cherokee Indians on the Trail of Tears. By 1840, when he began to build his palatial estate known as Gordon-Lee Mansion it is estimated that he owned more than 2000 acres of land. Gordon's daughter Elizabeth married miller James Lee and in 1857 the mill became known as Lee and Gordon's.
This well-known landmark served as a point of reference for both Yankee and Rebel troops as they moved into the area in September, 1863. Additionally, the building also housed a general store that was of interest to the Union troops and a bridge crossed Chickamauga Creek just south of the structure that was of interest to the Rebels.
William Rosecrans and his chief of staff James Garfield stayed with the Lee's (James Gordon had died earlier in 1863) in Chickamauga while Braxton Bragg stayed in Gordon Hall in LaFayette, where he planned an attack on Union forces concentrating at Lee and Gordon's Mill. Crossing Chickamauga Creek further north at Reed's Bridge and Alexander's Bridge, the Confederate forces never made it that far south, engaging the Union forces on the LaFayette-Chattanooga Road (now U. S. 27) north of the mill. James Lee, an ardent Confederate, was forced to mill grain for the Union Army.
The mill was used by General James McPherson as the starting point for his move south to Snake Creek Gap west of Resaca at the start of the Atlanta Campaign.
After the war James Lee continued to run the mill. His son, Gordon Lee, who became a powerful United States Representative inherited the business and ran it until his election to that august body in 1892. Between 1892 and his death in 1927 other family members oversaw the work done at Lee and Gordon's Mill.
The Wallace brothers purchased the mill in 1929 and continued to operate it until 1967, when operations ceased. For 25 years the old mill sat dormant.
In 1993 Frank Pierce purchased the property and completely restored the mill to its appearance at the time of the Civil War. When we visited the mill we were greeted by Adair Brotherton, himself a piece of Georgia history. It was his great-grandfather who owned Brotherton Cabin on the battlefield of Chickamauga.
In the front of the mill is a museum that contains pictures of the mill from the time of the Civil War through modern-day along with pictures of each of its owners. Additional artifacts cover the Civil War and the battle of Chickamauga. As we moved into the large central room Adair powered up a ceiling fan system powered by the still working mill wheel. Then we visited the mill wheel itself. The ancient stone enclosure held the wheel that was powered by a dam a few feet up-stream from the mill. Although much of the dam has been renovated, a portion of the original dam remains, near the opposite bank of Chickamauga Creek.