"Peculiarly distinguished among the advance guard, where all were distinguished, must be recorded . . . Private J. W. Brown, of Company F, First Georgia Regiment, who, upon hearing the order to fall back, exclaimed, 'I will give them one more shot before I leave,' and while ramming down his twenty-ninth cartridge fell dead at his post." - General Henry R. Jackson in his report of the Battle of Greenbrier River.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Georgia Sesquicentennial

The Tourism Division of the State of Georgia’s Department of Economic Development has just unveiled a new website dealing with Georgia’s commemoration of the state’s involvement in the Civil War. The website address is http://www.gacivilwar.org/. The stated purpose of the site is “to facilitate and promote an understanding of the Civil War and Georgia's role in it, as well as to promote heritage tourism that will inspire people to visit Georgia's Civil War historic sites and attractions. To serve as an online portal for communities and Civil War organizations in Georgia to promote their Civil War commemoration activities and events on one comprehensive site.”

On the site are tabs for War Between the States events and attractions, along with a timeline containing summaries of occurrences during each year of the war and an interactive map showing locations for battle sites, museums and other landmarks. There is a nice listing of links to Georgia Civil War-related sites. Definitely worth checking out.

Here is a list of other states’ Sesquicentennial sites:

Alabama: http://www.alabama.travel/activities/tours-trails/civil-war/civil-war/
Arkansas: http://www.arkansascivilwar150.com/
Connecticut: http://finalsite.ccsu.edu/page.cfm?p=2296
Indiana: http://www.in.gov/history/INCivilWar.htm
Kentucky: http://history.ky.gov/sub.php?pageid=132§ionid=5
Maine: http://www.maine.gov/civilwar/
Missouri: http://www.missouricivilwar.net/
New Jersey: http://www.njcivilwar150.org/index.asp
North Carolina: http://www.nccivilwar150.com/
Ohio: http://www.ohiocivilwar150.org/
Pennsylvania: http://www.pacivilwar150.com/
South Carolina: http://sc150civilwar.palmettohistory.org/
Tennessee: http://tnvacation.com/civil-war/
Virginia: http://www.virginiacivilwar.org/
West Virginia: http://www.pawv.org/civilwar150/index.htm

There is also a page on Facebook dedicated to the Sesquicentennial here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


With copyedit work for I Will Give Them One More Shot fairly well behind me, I’ve been taking the opportunity to re-read some of the books in my Civil War library. I just finished Reminiscences of the Civil War by General John B. Gordon of Georgia, and the final paragraphs got me to thinking about the upcoming Sesquicentennial.

Gordon’s book was published in 1903. In it, he makes no bones about his unabashed love and admiration for General Robert E. Lee. While he exhibits no great respect for several officers (in particular General Philip Sheridan), Gordon praises General Ulysses S. Grant for his magnanimity when at Appomattox he allows the officers to retain their side-arms and the soldiers to keep their horses. One would think that Gordon, who was wounded several times during the war and rose from a company captain to become one of Lee’s corps commanders, would be as entitled as any in the South to be bitter over its defeat. Instead, Gordon went on to serve his state and united country, becoming governor of Georgia and serving in the United States Senate.

In his book’s last paragraph, Gordon wrote what could be a guiding principle in Sesquicentennial observances:

Scarcely less prominent in American annals than the record of these two lives [Lee and Grant], should stand a catalogue of the thrilling incidents which illustrate the nobler phase of soldier life so inadequately described in these reminiscences. The unseemly things which occurred in the great conflict between the States should be forgotten, or at least forgiven, and no longer permitted to disturb complete harmony between North and South. American youth in all sections should be taught to hold in perpetual remembrance all that was great and good on both sides; to comprehend the inherited convictions for which saintly women suffered and patriotic men died; to recognize the unparalleled carnage as proof of unrivalled courage; to appreciate the singular absence of personal animosity and the frequent manifestation between those brave antagonists of a good-fellowship such as had never before been witnessed between hostile armies. It will be a glorious day for our country when all the children within its borders shall learn that the four years of fratricidal war between the North and the South was waged by neither with criminal or unworthy intent, but by both to protect what they conceived to be threatened rights and imperiled liberty; that the issues which divided the sections were born when the Republic was born, and were forever buried in an ocean of fraternal blood. We shall then see that, under God’s providence, every sheet of flame from the blazing rifles of the contending armies, every whizzing shell that tore through the forests at Shiloh and Chancellorsville, every cannon-shot that shook Chickamauga’s hills or thundered around the heights of Gettysburg, and all the blood and the tears that were shed are yet to become contributions for the upbuilding of American manhood and for the future defence of American freedom. The Christian Church received its baptism of Pentecostal power as it emerged from the shadows of Calvary, and went forth to its world-wide work with greater unity and a diviner purpose. So the Republic, rising from its baptism of blood with a national life more robust, a national union more complete, and a national influence ever widening, shall go forever forward in its benign mission to humanity.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Flag of the Southern Guard

On Tuesday, February 5, 1861, an overflow crowd jammed into Temperance Hall in Columbus, Georgia, eager to witness a special ceremony. That evening Company “D” of Columbus’s Southern Guard was presented with a brand-new flag, sewn by Mrs. W. J. McAlister and other ladies in her family. The banner was described in an article in the Columbus Weekly Times:

“It was made of rich white silk doubled, and elaborately executed in the handsomest manner. The arms of the Republic of Georgia was painted on one side, beneath the arch of which were the words in gold: “Cotton is King.”

The sentinel usually seen on the Georgia Coat of Arms was moved to the left side, and in his place was positioned a slave seated on a bale of cotton. The article continued:

Above the arch was the Latin quotation, “Non nobis solum sed patrie et amicie”—“Not for ourselves alone, but country and friends.” On the reverse in a semi-circle form were the words “Southern Guard” in gilt letters, with a large “D” beneath; the whole surrounded by wreaths of acorns, and the cotton plant with its bolls in all stages of growth—The banner was trimmed with rich fringe about three inches deep.”

The banner was received on behalf of the company by Lieutenant James N. Ramsey. Three months later, the Southern Guard became Company B of the First Georgia Volunteer Infantry, and Ramsey was elected as the regiment’s colonel.

During the Army of the Northwest’s retreat from Laurel Hill on July 13, 1861, several company flags were stowed in wagons as the army struggled to escape their Union pursuers in the pouring rain and bottomless mud. As the wagons slowly made their way along a narrow trace along the side of Pheasant Mountain, several slid off the side, crashing down into the ravine below. The wagon carrying the Southern Guards’ flag was one meeting this fate. Federal troops picking through the wreckage came across the banner, along with that of the Gate City Guards. Further along, the standard of the Washington Rifles was found in a wagon abandoned at a river crossing below Kalers Ford. It is uncertain exactly where the flags were conveyed from there, but the Southern Guard’s banner was eventually displayed with a collection of other captured banner. The illustration above is from the March 15, 1862 edition of the New York Illustrated News, which described this collection of Rebel flags.

Sadly, though many of the flags captured in Northwestern Virginia were returned to Georgia (the banner of the Gate City Guards is held by the Atlanta History Center, and the Washington Rifles flag is in the collection of the Georgia Capitol Museum in Atlanta), no trace of the Southern Guard’s standard has survived. Using the newspaper and other descriptions, along with the above illustration, I have created what I believe is a close approximation of the banner:

And the obverse:

Maybe someday this beautiful flag will be discovered and restored to the state of Georgia.

(Thanks to Greg Biggs for the image from the New York Illustrated News)