In 1838, Roswell's founding father, Roswell King began work on the first cotton mill. In 1839 it was incorporated as The Roswell Manufacturing Company, just one year after the native Cherokee people were forced onto the Trail of Tears. The company was hugely successful and during the Civil War, they were one of the leading suppliers of goods to the Confederacy. When Union soldiers arrived in Roswell to take the river bridge, they discovered two things: the bridge has been destroyed by Confederate troops and the mills were still in operation. In an attempt to save the mills, Theophile Roche, a French citizen, flew a French flag over the mills to disguise their purpose. The letters "CSA" (Confederate States of America) were found on the cloth being produced. This action angered General W.T. Sherman and he ordered the mills burned. Some 400 mill workers, mostly women and children, since the men were fighting the war, were arrested and charged with treason and shipped North to uncertain fates.
Few are familiar with the tragic events that took place in Roswell during Sherman's march on Atlanta, but a local branch of the Sons of Confederate Veterans has taken steps to ensure that the story of the mill workers is not forgotten. Today, the Lost Mill Workers of Roswell monument is located in Old Mill Park paying tribute to those citizens and their sacrifices. The 10-foot tall granite Corinthian column was unveiled in July 2000 and stands in a small park in the heart of the mill village. The shattered column symbolizes lives that were torn up side down by the Civil War.