"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.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Christmas Feast

As Christmas approached in 1861, the men of the First Georgia, many away from home for the first time, did their best to prepare celebrations for the holiday. Lieutenant William O. Fleming of the Bainbridge Independents wrote in a letter to his wife how he could “see you all now, in my imagination, seated around a nice, blazing Georgia christmas Eve fire.” Private Lavender R. Ray and his messmates in the Newnan Guards gathered the ingredients for eggnog and “enjoyed ourselves last night and this morning.”

In his memoirs of service with Oglethorpe Infantry, entitled Under The Stars And Bars and published in 1900, Walter Clark wrote of a Christmas feast that did not turn out quite as planned:

With a laudable desire to celebrate the day in appropriate style we had arranged with a colored caterer to supply our mess table with the proverbial turkey and such other adjuncts as the depleted condition of our financial bureau would permit. The day dawned and in the early morning hours our appetites for the coming feast were whetted by an eggnog kindly furnished the entire company by Lieu*. J. V. H. Allen. The Christmas sun passed its meridian and traveled on its setting with no Joshua to stay its course. The appointed dinner hour came, as all appointed times do, but the proverbial turkey came not, with adjuncts or without. With our gastronomic hopes knocked finally into pi, but not mince pie, we sat down at last to our hardtack and bacon, lamenting in our hearts the uncertainty of “aught that wades, or soars, or shines beneath the stars.” Whether the roost, from which our caterer expected to supply our larder was too well guarded on the preceding night, or whether the rating given our mess by the commercial agencies was unsatisfactory has remained through all these years an unsolved problem.
To everyone from the Martin family, best wishes for a very Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Troops Have Arrived

In December, 1861, General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson was planning an offensive strike against Federal troops ensconced in the strategic town of Romney, formerly of Virginia and now in West Virginia.

As part of a brigade under the command of Colonel William B. Taliaferro, the First Georgia arrived in Winchester. Through recruitment and new arrivals from home, the regiment entered its camp at nearly full strength. General Jackson noted the arrival of Taliaferro’s regiments in a report to his immediate superior, General Joseph E. Johnston:

Winchester, Va., December 24, 1861.


GENERAL: In reply to your letter of December 21 I have to state that on inquiry I learn from General Loring that there is no company of Colonel Moore's regiment in Colonel Gilham's regiment. The regiments now here from Western Virginia are: The Twenty-third Virginia, aggregate 517; Thirty-seventh Virginia, aggregate 846; First Georgia, aggregate 918; Third Arkansas, aggregate 756. 

I do not know the names and strength of the other regiments ordered here. As soon as I learn them I will report to you.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major-General, Commanding.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Camp Diversions

Let me take this opportunity to wish one and all a very Happy Thanksgiving!
150 years ago, high in the Allegheny Mountains, life was relatively quiet.  As winter settled in over the mountains, skirmishes between the enemy armies dwindled.  Soldier's thoughts were turned more toward keeping warm as snow fell on the camps of the First Georgia.  Many hoped that they would be moved to winter quarters in warmer climes.  Meanwhile, the men did what they could to keep their shelters snug and to keep boredom at bay, as described in this article from the Augusta (GA) Chronicle & Sentinel of November 24, 1861: 

From a Member of the Walker Light Infantry.

We are permitted to take the following interesting extracts from a private letter of a member of the Walker Light Infantry. It shows that, even in that bleak country, camp life has its pleasant aspects.

CAMP BARTOW, Nov. 17th, 1861.

Dear Friend:--We are having a cold time now, the ground being covered with snow and ice. But few in our regiment have ever seen such cold weather; but the boys enjoy it and suffer no one to pass, not even the Colonel, without pelting the passer with snow balls. Colonel Clark and our Surgeon are enjoying themselves with this pleasant sport. Joe Taliaferro is sitting in the corner reading “Valentine Vox;” Capt. Crump and Fred. Stoy are talking over the adventures of the latter in the mountains; Russell is writing; Hood and Charley Doughty have gone on the Alleghanys to hunt provisions; Gibson, Deas, Bugg and Bowden are on picket guard; Larus has gone with a requisition for blankets and shoes, while the other members of the company are either keeping warm by the fire, or cooking their dinner.

The men enjoy good health, but I fear that many will suffer much with cold if we are not ordered soon to go into winter quarters. I do not think that any but insane man can approve prosecuting an active campaign in North Western Virginia this winter.

In our tent we are quite comfortable, having a fire-place. It is made by digging a trench which is covered with rock, one end being in the tent, in which we build a fire, a barrel with both heads knocked out is our chimney: but even with the fire my hands are so cold I can hardly write.

Monday.—I was interrupted in writing by Col. Clark bringing up the Regiment, armed with snowballs to take our battery. After a desperate fight, they succeeded.

Yesterday Henry J. Sibley arrived with blankets, &c. He gave to our company each man a blanket, undershirt and pair of socks. He also gave articles to the Oglethorpe Infantry and other companies.

An order has just been received for us to march to Staunton on Thursday, there to receive other orders. We are ordered to send our trunks and all extra baggage to-morrow.

As it is so cold I can hardly hold my pen, you will excuse brevity. The company are all well.

Yours, &c., W.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Civil War Monitor Review

Thanks to all who stopped by my table at the Dahlonega Literary Festival.  My wife Cathy accompanied me to this event, and we both made some new friends.

I am deeply honored to report that "I Will Give Them One More Shot" has received another good review - this one written by Dr. James I. Robertson for the new magazine, "The Civil War Monitor". Dr. Robertson is one of the preeminent scholars of Civil War history, and I was thrilled to read his review of my work.  He writes:  "George Martin’s history of the first of the 1st Georgia Infantry regiments (ten different units bore the title) is a solid contribution to regimental studies. It is as well a fitting tribute to a Confederate force whose campaigning life lasted less than a year."

The entire review can be read here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Dahlonega Literary Festival

On this Veteran's Day, I would like to take a moment to thank the veterans from all branches who have served and now serve in war and peace for their commitment to secure and preserve the freedoms that we citizens of the United States enjoy. 


On the road again this weekend - this time to Dahlonega, Georgia, for the Dahlonega Literary Festival.  My ancestor who served in the First Georgia was a member of the Dahlonega Volunteers, Company "H" of the First.  I will have a table where I will be signing and selling books, and on Saturday morning will be participating in a forum on local history.  I invite all who might be in the neighborhood to stop by and say hi. 

More information on the Festival can be found here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New Book On The "First Campaign"

First, my apologies for taking awhile to post.  Between various obligations and a much needed vacation, I've been lax in my writing over the past few weeks.

I'd like to congratulate my friend and fellow historian W. Hunter Lesser on the publication of his new book, The First Campaign:  A Guide to Civil War in the Mountains of West Virginia, 1861.  The book, published by Quarrier Press of Charleston, West Virginia, describes three one-day driving tours through the Allegheny Mountains region marched and fought over during the first year of the Civil War. 

As described by Hunter, "This guidebook offers three one-day driving tours filled with spellbinding scenery and adventure. Easy to follow directions, narratives and “fun facts” are your ticket to a delightful journey through these “enchanted” mountains."

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this (all the while remembering the treks that Hunter and I made through the back country), and hope to be able to travel back up to West Virginia to try out these routes for myself.  The book is priced at $15.95 (plus shipping and handling) and can be ordered through the West Virginia Book Company here.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The War Settles Down

After the Confederate victory at Greenbrier River, a stalemate settled over the Allegheny Mountains as Federal and Confederate soldiers settled into their camps and began to prepare for winter.  The tedium of camp life was broken by an occasional skirmish, as Union troops probed the defenses at Camp Bartow.  One soldier, writing under the pen-name of "Nestor," described the activities in a letter to the Atlanta Southern Confederacy:

CAMP BARTOW, Green Briar River,
Pocahontas County, Va.,
Tuesday Evening, Oct. 15th, 1861.

Dear Confederacy: The almost painful monotony of our camp was dispelled this morning about ten o’clock, on the reception of intelligence that the enemy was coming down to attack us. Instantly the whole camp presented a most lively appearance, and imposing scene—men rushing from ditches and batteries, where they had been working all the morning, to their tents for their arms and accoutrements—the clear, loud ringing voices of our officers commanding their respective companies to “fall in”—the rapidity with which this order was executed—aid-de camps and scouts rushing across the field under full gallop, coming in from every direction with dispatches to Gen. Jackson, al tended to induce us to believe that there was hot work just at hand; and the cool, determined manner of the men, their resolute countenances, showed plainly how deeply they were impressed with the importance of performing, even at the cost of their lives, the duty expected to be assigned them, and their willingness, yes, eagerness, to enter into the contest.

Having stood under arms for some time, momentarily expecting orders to march out to meet the enemy, it was ascertained that the alarm was in consequence of our pickets stationed on the Green Bank Road, leading south-west from here, being fired upon by a small body of Yankees: and also in consequence of one regiment of Hessians being discovered at a point of the road leading to Cheat Mountain, about four miles distant from this encampment. Some are of the opinion that the enemy is sending out strong reconnoitering parties to find out, if possible, our most assailable point, after which he will attack us; while others believe that he is now sending around parties to flank us on either side, and that a large force will be brought up in front, so soon as these flankers shall have had time to gain their respective positions, when we will be simultaneously attacked from three different points. Whether these opinions prove to be correct or not, time alone can tell. One thing, however, is certain, the indications upon which the belief that we will be attacked here in a few days is predicated, are very strong, and as the enemy is not likely, from his experience on the 3d inst, to attack us without having a vastly superior force, you need not be surprised to hear of a great and bloody battle at this point soon.

Gen. [Henry R.] Jackson’s command occupies the same position now that it did prior to the battle of 3d inst. Since that time we have labored very hard in strengthening our old fortifications and in constructing new ones. The result of this work is, that we are now more than twice as able to repulse an attack from the enemy as we were on the day of the recent battle at this place, with the same arms and force we then had. But since that time we have received four pieces of artillery of the following calibre: Two 12-pound howitzers and two rifled 6-pounders, and we were also reinforced this morning by Col. [Samuel V.] Fulkerson’s Va. Regiment, which has been for some time past guarding a pass in the mountains about seven miles south-west from this place. With this addition in men and arms, and the strong position we now occupy, I dare say we can repulse the efforts of at least 15,000 Hessians to break through our lines; indeed, some are of opinion that with the force we now have here, our position is impregnable against an attack of 20,000.

The health of this division of the Army of N. W. Virginia is improving rapidly. But few cases of fever among the soldiers composing it. The weather for the last five days has been fair and very cool. We have had a heavy frost every morning since the 11th inst. I saw ice this morning one-fourth of an inch thick. If anything is to be accomplished here in a military point of view during this campaign, it must be done speedily; for the deep snows and bleak winds of winter will soon put a stop to all active military operations in N. W. Virginia.


I'd like to express my thanks to the Monroe County Historical Society and the Cabiness Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy for their warm welcome during my recent book signing and presentation in Forsyth, Georgia.  Also thanks to the members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans Capt. C. F. Connor Camp #849 who braved the rainy weather to come to my talk in Newton, North Carolina.

Monday, October 3, 2011

October 3, 1861

Shortly after midnight, Union General Joseph Reynolds, at the head of nearly 5,000 troops and thirteen pieces of artillery, began his march down from Cheat Summit Fort.  His target, Confederate Camp Bartow, under the command of General Henry R. Jackson, which was located along the banks of the Greenbrier River near an old stage tavern known as Travelers Repose. 

Near dawn, Reynold's skirmishers struck a Confederate picket line under the command of Colonel James N. Ramsey of the First Georgia.  The pickets held off four separate attacks, but when the Federals brought up artillery, Ramsey ordered the troops to withdraw.  Ramsey himself was cut off from his troops as the action swirled around him.

Colonel Edward Johnson of the Twelfth Georgia, leading a detachment of about 100 men cobbled together from his regiment and the First Georgia, advanced from the fortifications to assist Ramsey's pickets.  Johnson was able to hold up the Federal advance for almost an hour, giving the troops in the breastworks time to bolt their breakfast and form up.  Finally giving way, Johnson's men streamed back toward the camp.  It was at this time that Private David Young of the Gate City Guards, the soldier mentioned in this blog's masthead, was killed.  While Johnson conducted his delaying action, Jackson deployed his troops.  The First Georgia was placed on the far right flank of Jackson's line.  "Your regiment have the post of danger," Jackson told Major George H. Thompson of the First.

The Union commander now ordered up his artillery, which went into battery just eight hundred yards in front of Jackson's redoubts.  During the next four hours, a titanic artillery duel continued between the two sides, with the thunder of the cannon echoing across the valley.  Reynolds also tried advancing troops toward each of the Rebel's flanks, but was repulsed each time.  Finally, having made no progress against the Confederate entrenchments, and observing reinforcements coming up behind Jackson, Reynolds broke off the attack and retreated back to Cheat Summit Fort. 

The Confederates celebrated their defensive victory.  After the battle, a soldier from the Quitman Guards (Company K of the First), out looking for souvenirs on the battlefield, found the flag of the 7th Indiana Regiment leaning against a tree.  The banner was presented to General Jackson and forwarded to Richmond as a trophy of the First Georgia. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Henderson and Monroe Counties

Yesterday I was privileged to have a book signing at the Henderson County Heritage Museum in Hendersonville, North Carolina.  The Museum has a great display of War Between the States memorabilia in commemoration of the Sesquicentennial, and has been inviting local authors of Civil War books to present their works.  I brought along a few of my own relics to display.  Thanks to everyone who stopped by.

Next weekend, I'll be in Forsyth, in Monroe County, Georgia.  Sunday, October 2, I'll be having a book signing from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm at the Monroe County Historical Society Museum.  The next evening, I'll be speaking to the Society about writing a regimental history.  The Quitman Guards of Forsyth and Monroe County were Company K of the First Georgia Infantry.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September 13, 1861

His plans disrupted with the failure of Colonel Rust to attack Cheat Summit Fort, and with all hope of surprise gone, General Lee orders his brigades back to their camps.  General Loring urges Lee to allow the attack on Elkwater to proceed, but Lee decides that an assault on the well-entrenched and now alerted enemy would be suicidal.

Not receiving the recall order, General Jackson continued to demonstrate in front of Cheat Summit Fort, hoping to draw the Federals out of their fortifications.  With no success, Jackson begins building his own fieldworks, but on the 16th receives orders to return to Camp Bartow.

Unsuccessful at Cheat Mountain, Lee decided to try again at another point.  On September 20, Lee directed Loring to follow him south to the Kanawha River Valley with 5 regiments, leaving General Jackson in command at Camp Bartow.   

Monday, September 12, 2011

September 12, 1861

Lee’s various brigades made their way to their positions opposite Elkwater and Cheat Summit Fort. Surprisingly, even with torrential downpours and clashes with Federal pickets, the different brigades reached their jump-off points on schedule. General Jackson’s brigade, including the First Georgia, was to approach Cheat Mountain from the east.

Early on the morning of September 12, a detachment of 100 soldiers, taken from the First and Twelfth Georgia regiments, under the command of Lt. Samuel Dawson of the Twelfth, were sent ahead to silence the Union pickets. After several encounters, Dawson’s small force got close enough to Cheat Summit Fort to hear music from within. Dawson felt that his soldiers were too exposed where they were, so he elected to withdraw back down the mountain. As they came down the road in the early morning rain and fog, they came upon a column of troops moving toward them. Believing the column to be Federals, several of Dawson’s men panicked and opened fire. Actually, the troops were the Twelfth and First Georgia, who deployed into the trees and began returning fire.

For several minutes the Georgians blazed away at each other, before some of Dawson’s men realized that they were firing on their own regiments. Dawson’s detachment ceased fire and began to yell “Georgians, Georgians!” and “Hurrah for Jeff Davis!”

Colonel Edward Johnson of the Twelfth hollered to his men “It’s a damned lie. Pop it to ‘em, pop it to ‘em!” Sergeant William Dent of the Newnan Guards, bleeding from where a ball had grazed his head, ran through the hail of lead shouting, “Great Gods! You are killing your own men!” Dent’s actions finally brought the firing to a halt. Private Tom Brown of the Newnan Guards was mortally wounded, and Private Rufus McPherson Felder from the Southern Rights Guard was killed. The Georgians took care of their killed and wounded, then proceeded to their designated positions.

Lee now had the Federals at Elkwater and Cheat Mountain encircled. The signal for all commands to attack would be the sound of Colonel Rust’s guns as his small brigade struck the rear of Cheat Summit Fort. However, captured Union soldiers convinced Rust that there were over 3,000 troops in the fort, instead of the few hundred actually there. That, and the formidable breastworks, caused Rust to have second thoughts. He decided that it would be suicidal to attack, so withdrew back to Camp Bartow. The rest of Lee’s troops waited all day for the sound of Rust’s attack, but it never came.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 1861...2001...and 2011

Orders went on to the soldiers of the First Georgia to ready themselves to march. On the afternoon of September 11, 1861, strips of white cloth were passed out to the troops, to be attached to their uniforms as identification. Shortly thereafter, the First formed ranks and marched out of camp, working their way along the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike toward Cheat Mountain as lightning flashed around them and rain began to fall. 


Like millions of Americans on the morning of September 11, 2001, I was beginning my work day when news came that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. The office television was quickly switched on, and we viewed with shock and sadness at what looked to be a terrible accident. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, there was a fleeting glimpse of an object tearing across the sky, and within seconds, flames billowed out from the second tower. My thought at that moment was this is no accident. The images on the TV screen were unbelievable, surreal – like the special effects of a science fiction movie. It was almost impossible for my mind to wrap itself around what was happening. But deep down within me, I knew that this country was changed on that horrible day.


This morning on my front porch, my United States flag flies at half staff. I would ask everyone to please take a moment today to remember those that lost their lives on 9/11/01, as well as the men and women in uniform who now serve our country across the globe; from those in harm's way, to those in support roles, and the loved ones who wait at home for their safe return.   

Friday, September 9, 2011

September 9, 1861

While in the midst of planning an attack on Union fortifications at Elkwater in Western Virginia, General Robert E. Lee was approached by Colonel Albert Rust of the Third Arkansas. Rust claimed to have scouted a trail which led to the rear of Federal Fort Milroy on Cheat Mountain, and proposed a multi-pronged attack which would take both positions. Lee was unsure about the plan, but was swayed by Rust's enthusiasm. The general put together an ambitious plan for a simultaneous assualt by five brigades to commence on September 12, 1861.
Colonel Albert Rust
of the Third Arkansas Infantry

Rust requested the honor of leading the troops which would approach Cheat Summit Fort from the rear. Though senior in rank, Colonel William B. Taliaferro of the Twenty-Third Virginia and Colonel Samuel Fulkerson of the Thirty-Seventh Virginia agreed to serve under Rust's command. Having the farthest distance to travel to it's jump-off position, Rust's brigade, including his own Third Arkansas, Taliaferro's and Fulkerson's regiments, the Thirty-First Virginia under Lt. Colonel William L. Jackson and Major George Hansborough's Ninth Virginia Battalion, marched out of Camp Bartow on September 9.

If his brigades could reach their positions undetected, Lee would have the Union fortifications surrounded, and victory would be certain. The signal for all of his troops to attack would be the sound of Colonel Rust's guns as the Arkansan struck Cheat Summit Fort. Lee's decision to give such a vital role to an untested officer would have unforseen results.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Great Expectations

Colonel Robert E. Lee of the United States Army,
as he appeared at the beginning of the Civil War.
Considered by many to be the best soldier in the pre-war United States Army, Robert E. Lee had been offered command of the Union Army being assembled around Washington. Unwilling to lead an army which would probably be sent against his native state of Virginia, Lee chose instead to resign his commission. Shortly thereafter he was offered command of all Virginia forces, which he accepted. When Virginia seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy, the state troops were absorbed into the Confederate army. Lee was quickly offered the job of military advisor to President Davis.

After the disastrous retreat of General Robert S. Garnett’s Army of the Northwest from Laurel Hill, and that general’s death at Corricks Ford, General William W. Loring was ordered to Western Virginia to take command of the army. Still anxious over the state of affairs in the region, President Jefferson Davis decided that more help was needed, so he ordered his most trusted advisor to head west. Expectations were high that Lee could recover the region for the Confederacy. However, the general proceeded under the handicap of having no specific orders to take charge, rather, he was given vague instructions to oversee and advise the area commanders. Loring, who had outranked Lee in the pre-war army, and who had only been in command for a short time, viewed Lee’s arrival as a hindrance.

Undertaking a personal reconnaissance of the area, Lee began planning for an offensive which would push the Federal army back out of Western Virginia. The general had high hopes for success. The events which transpired over the month of September would dash those hopes, and cause Lee’s reputation to plummet.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Documentary about a Documentary?

David Woodbury recently posted the following YouTube video on his blog, "of Battlefields and Bibliophiles", and I thought it was so hilarious I wanted to share it.  If you watched the entire run of Ken Burns "The Civil War," you should find this as funny as I did.

The creator of this video says "this was a video I wrote and produced in 2001 after watching the Ken Burns documentary The Civil War. It was shown in the 2001 Hot Docs festival in Toronto."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Roster Additions

As mentioned in my previous post, I've come up with additional soldiers who served in the First Georgia.  Follows is a listing of those troops - (1) is for a soldier present when the regiment formed in Macon, (2) is for one present when the regiment mustered out in Augusta:

Company B, Southern Guards

Bradford, Berry: Enlisted Sept. 1861. Transferred to Co. G, 29th Inf. Regt. Captured 15 Dec. 1864. Discharged at Camp Chase, OH, June 1865.

Brown, Samuel: (no further info)

Barnett, J. W.: Reenlisted, unit unknown. Surrendered at Greensboro, N.C., May, 1865.

Company D, Oglethorpe Infantry

Newsom, John W. (1,2)

Whitley, William (2)

Company E, Washington Rifles

Youngblood, A. (2)

Company F, Gate City Guards

Fish, John M. (2): Reenlisted, unit unknown. Captured and exchanged, location and date unknown. On detail duty in Savannah hospital 1865.

Company H, Dahlonega Volunteers

Cardin, C. R. (2)

Crenshaw, Thomas H. (1,2)

Hensley, LaFayette (1,2)

Strochan, Joseph W. (2)

Company I, Walker Light Infantry

Brown, Joseph (2)

Hooks, J. (1,2)

Company K, Quitman Guards

Banks, I. P. (1,2)

Kendrick, W. B. (2): Enlisted 1862. Reenlisted, unit unknown. Captured, date and location unknown. Paroled Washington, GA, Nov. 1865.

As always, if anyone knows of other soldiers who should be included, please let me know.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Question of Two Bells

Even though my history of Ramsey’s First Georgia Volunteers has been out for several months now, my research on the regiment continues as I follow up on leads and resources not available before publication. New sources that I was unaware of continue to make their appearance. A perfect example is an early roster of the First that I just recently acquired. The booklet is quite old and not in very good condition, as evidenced by the scan of the cover shown above. It also has no information about author, printer or even date published. The person I purchased it from estimated it was probably printed in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s.

In searching through the roster, I’ve come across some sixteen soldiers who do not appear in any other source I’ve seen. And in one case, the new listing has lead to a bit of a confusing mystery. In the roster included in I Will Give Them One More Shot is a listing for a Joseph H. Bell, a member of the Dahlonega Volunteers, Company H of the First Georgia. Most of my information about Bell came from the Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia, 1861-1865, edited by Lillian Henderson, and from the Compiled Service Records, held by the National Archives, and accessible through Footnote.com. These records simply state that Bell mustered in on March 15, 1861, and mustered out on March 18, 1862.

The entries in the old roster pamphlet revealed two Bell’s, as follows:

Further research has revealed that Bell, Jos. H., Jr., was the son of the Joseph Bell that shows a muster date of March 18, 1861. The notation that Jr. was “in prison at time of surrender” was intriguing. By performing a name search in Footnote, I discovered a folder for Joseph H. Bell of the 21st Battalion Georgia Cavalry. As I read through this record, another mystery began to develop – though the CSR was only under one name, there were showing two different enlistment dates in the 21st; one on April 15, 1862, and the other on November 1, 1862. It finally began to dawn on me that both father and son had also ended up in the 21st – and that their records had been mixed together by accident. Evidently the clerk assembling the package assumed that the two Joseph H. Bell’s were the same man, even though on some records there is a “Sr.” after the name, and others not.

After sorting the different cards in the record between the two men, (and also checking some other genealogy sites), I was able to put together the following entries:

Bell, Joseph Henry, Sr. (1,2): Enl. Augusta Mounted Rangers 15 Apr. 1862. Unit designated Co. A, 21st Battalion Cavalry 8 May 1862. Unit consolidated into 7th Regt. Cavalry 13 Feb. 1864. B. SC 6 May 1819. D. 21 Aug. 1905, Upshur Cty, TX. Bd. Hopewell Cemetery, Gilmer, Upshur Cty., TX.

Bell, Joseph Henry, Jr.: Enl. 1 Apr. 1861. Enl. Co. A, 21st Battalion Cavalry 1 Nov. 1862. Unit consolidated into 7th Regt. Cavalry 13 Feb. 1864. Cap. Trevellian [Louisa Courthouse], VA, 11 June 1864. Released on oath at Elmira, NY, 21 June 1865. B. 1844. D. Schlatterville, Pierce Cty, GA 1902.

(As in the roster in my book, the (1) is for a soldier present when the regiment formed in Macon, and the (2) is for one present when the regiment mustered out in Augusta.)

Thus, I hopefully have presented a more accurate picture of Joseph Sr. and Jr.’s service. I continue to look for any and all details on the First Georgia, and I encourage anyone who has additional information to please contact me through my website at http://www.ramseysfirstgeorgia.com/.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Another Review

I'm very pleased and gratified to announce that I Will Give Them One More Shot has received another good review.  I'd like to thank Mr. John Michael Priest of the Civil War News for his kind words.  Mr. Priest wrote that "I Will Give Them One More Shot . . . is a comprehensive, well-written account of the 1861 campaign in what is now West Virginia. . . . In resurrecting the forgotten history of this one-year regiment, he [Martin] has skillfully filled a niche in Civil War research. . . .This well-written book goes beyond the realm of local history and belongs on the Civil War student’s shelf."

The full review can be read here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

July 20, 1861

The bulk of Major Thompson’s 300 men, led by “Tanner Jim” Parsons, begin to come into the camp at Monterey There they are greeted with wild cheering and laughter by their comrades, who had been certain that they had all been all been captured or killed.

Amazingly, when all of Thompson’s troops arrive and are accounted for, not one man is missing. However, the trek through the wilderness had shattered the health of many. An officer later wrote that “A great many of those who had suffered so much died of fevers and other ailments in a few months. Most of those who had become crazy, recovered for a time, but either died soon afterward or become permanently deranged.”

James Rust Parsons, the savior of Major Thompson’s 300, received the grateful thanks of the regiment. Following the war, the soldiers sang “Tanner Jim’s” praise at their reunions and in their memoirs. Parsons himself was unable to return home after the rescue, however. Because of the strong Unionist sentiment in the region, he believed he would be killed if he returned – in fact, there were several reports that he had been murdered for helping the Georgians. Parsons traveled westward to Iowa, where he took refuge with his brother, Robert Slack Parsons. Not until the war ended would he feel safe enough to return to his farm in the Allegheny Mountains.

Thus ended the tragic retreat of the Army of the Northwest.  Reinforcements would continue to arrive in Monterey to bolster the command, but it would be many weeks before the army would be ready for another campaign.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

July 19, 1861

The decimated Army of the Northwest straggles into Monterey.  General Jackson is shocked and dismayed at the condition of the troops, and the next day sends the following dispatch to Richmond, in which he describes the wretchedness of Colonel Ramsey's command:

Camp at Monterey, July 20, 1861.
Assistant Adjutant-General, C. S. Army, Richmond, Va.:

SIR: Yesterday I received the letter of General Lee of the 16th of July, unaccountably delayed upon the road, in which he refers to the importance of defending the mountain passes to prevent the advance of the enemy to the Central Railroad at Millborough. I have been exceedingly anxious that the general should be apprised by personal inspection of the indescribable condition into which this branch of the army has fallen, and therefore have learned with great pain, through Major Harman, that his contemplated movement toward this quarter has been delayed. I can confidently say that of all the troops under my command the regiments from Georgia and North Carolina are alone reliable and fit for service, all the rest having been demoralized to a greater or less extent by our late disasters. The condition of Colonel Ramsey's command, the larger portion of which has arrived in camp, is in truth pitiable. Officers and men are absolutely stripped of everything-tents, clothing, cooking untensils, shoes-and I am sorry to believe that many have thrown away their arms. Men and horses jaded, dispirited, half, and limping, are wholly unfit for duty, and what disposition to make of them is a most serious question. No re-enforcements have come up from below. The Arkansas regiment, so long and anxiously looked for, did not leave Stauntion until yesterday. It certainly must be obvious at a glance that with the available troops at hand little or northing can be done, and yet, unless the points referred to by the general be taken at once, they must pass into the enemy's hands. Is the whole country thus to be surrendered? A glance at the map will show that to prevent the advance of the enemy at least two routes toward the east must be at once held-the one upon which we now are had the turnpike from Huttonsville through Huntersville to Millborough. My letter of yesterday will have informed you that I have sent forward a small but comparatively well-organized force to occupy the Alleghany pass on the former, with the faint hope that they might ascertain by reconnoitering that the Cheat pass had as yet been neglected by the enemy, and by a forced march at night might throw themselves into it. This movement, contemplated by me from the first, had been delayed by the sickness of Colonel Johnson, who, it is needless to say, had been my main reliance. I am sorry to say that he is still unwell and unable to sustain the advance by his presence. The inhabitants of Pocahontas, through which the other route passes, are said to be loyal. Those of them who are not already in General Wise's brigade are flying, or are disposed to fly, to arms. But they appeal for assistance and ask not to be abandoned. Under these circumstances, weak as I am, the receipt of the general's letter decided me at once to send the Sixth North Carolina Regiment into Pocahontas and to the Elk Mountain pass, said to be defensible, accompanied by the Bath County Cavalry. I have taken the liberty of countermanding the proclamation of Major Harman calling upon the militia of Pocahontas and adjacent counties to rendezvous at Staunton. Have directed that they rendezvous at Huntersville; have sent them powder for their rifles; have ordered them to go at once against the enemy, to blockade the road from Huttonsville to Elk Mountain by felling trees before him, and to beset his flanks from the adjacent woods and fastnesses. I have also written to Major Harman to send one of the regiments at Staunton by the railroad and Millborough int the same direction, and shall make arrangements at Huntersville for their supplies. I think the general will perceive that in comparison with my resources I have undertaken a vast deal, and yet what else was to be done? I must either advance or retreat from this point. To advance may be dangerous; to retreat would be ruinous, since the whole country, thus apparently abandoned, would turn from us to receive the enemy with open arms. I must be excused, therefore, for praying most earnestly that attention be turned in this direction; that re-enforcements of all kinds be forwarded at once; that some one more competent than I be placed in charge of these complicated operations; or that, if this cannot be, the necessary staff officers be sent to my assistance, since, without any exaggeration, apart from the anxieties of my position, flesh and blood cannot long stand the mere detail imposed upon me.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

July 17, 1861

Parsons drives several cattle into the Georgians' camp. As the men butcher the animals, many devour the meat raw, rather than wait for it to be cooked. Several of the soldiers have to be helped to eat, being too weak to raise the food to their lips.  They spend this day and the next resting and regaining their strength. Rescue parties are sent back along the trail to bring back those to weak to travel that had been left behind.
Brigadier General Henry R. Jackson, who had arrived in Monterey a few days before with reinforcements for Garnett's army, sends the following message to Colonel Ramsey:

SIR: Your note of yesterday is at hand. I am surprised and pained to learn by it that you may not be on the road to this point. If so, you will at once change your line of march, and with all practicable dispatch, join me here. You will send forward, with directions to move as rapidly as possible, the artillery and cavalry attached to your command; also the engineer officers, and Lieutenants Washington and Humphries of the C. S. Army.
Brigadier-General, Commanding, &c.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

July 16, 1861

Despair is overtaking the bedraggled soldiers in Major Thompson’s lost detachment as they continue to search for a way out of the mountains. The specter of death by starvation is causing some to even consider the possibility of cannibalism. Suddenly, hope begins to rise as a stranger approaches.

“Tanner Jim” Parsons, a farmer and mountain man who lives near Shavers Fork River, has learned of the Georgian’s plight, and decides to attempt a rescue. He tells Major Thompson that he can lead the soldiers to safety. Suspicious, Thompson agrees, but warns Parsons that if he leads the troops into a trap he will be killed. Parsons directs the men to turn about, and they start back through the mountains, eventually arriving at a clearing near Parsons’ farm, where they bed down for the night.


The retreating Army of the Northwest has reached Petersburg in Western Virginia. Colonel Ramsey, recovering from his illness, has taken command of the army by virtue of his seniority. He dispatches a message to Colonel Edward Johnson, who has arrived in Monterey with his Twelfth Georgia Infantry as reinforcements for Garnett’s army:

My command is here, marching to Harrisburg. We have suffered awfully. Not many men were killed by the enemy, but there are hundreds missing. We were near starvation. The cavalry scouts still hang on our rear, but I do not think they are pursuing in force. What is left of this army will not be fit for service in a month.

Very respectfully,
Colonel, Commanding.

Friday, July 15, 2011

July 15, 1861

Corporal Nathan Pugh of the Walker Light Infantry, makes the following entry in his diary:

Started on our dreary march through the mountainous wilderness of laurel at daylight this morning.  All weak and tottering from hunger.  We have marched through this wilderness for thirty-six hours, without discovering any mark or sign to indicate that man had ever trod the soil before; and I have not idea that this region was ever before penetrated by any man living.  For nearly two days we have marched without so much as hearing a bird.  No game!  Nothing in this region for game to live on.  The growth consists of laurel, laurel, laurel, with occasional spruce-pine and birch.  The boys are eating birch-bark—some are eating spruce-pine bark.  As for myself, I cannot bear to look at them as they eat it.  I ate it freely yesterday, but to-day I am sick—sick, I suppose, from eating it yesterday.  We are marching in profound silence, no man having strength or energy to converse with his companion.  Many of the boys are throwing away their guns, &c., not being able to carry them.  

Thursday, July 14, 2011

July 14, 1861

The retreating Army of the Northwest reaches Red House, Maryland, around 2:00 a.m., where it stops to rest for about three hours. Colonel James Irvine of the Sixteenth Ohio receives orders to intercept the Confederates. Due to faulty intelligence, Irvine’s regiment takes up position on the wrong road. By the time Irvine realizes his mistake and marches for Red House, the Confederates are gone. The Army of the Northwest pulls out of Red House at 5:00 a.m., turning south toward Greenland, Virginia.

Colonel Ramsey, who is actually the senior colonel by virtue of his commission date, has not taken command of the army due to being ill, so the retreat up to now has been overseen by Colonel William B. Taliaferro of the Twenty-Third Virginia.

Major Thompson and his 300 Georgians, suffering hunger pangs from lack of food, continue to hack their way through increasingly dense scrub as they try to find their way out of the mountains.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July 13, 1861

Death of General Garnett at Corricks Ford
Early in the morning, General Garnett orders the army to cross Kalers Ford and head northward down the Shavers Fork Valley. Garnett moves ahead with his leading regiments, leaving the Twenty-Third Virginia and Ramsey’s First Georgia as rear guard to protect the wagon train. Cavalry scouts report that Union troops (Captain Benham’s pursuit force) are coming up fast behind. In an attempt to ambush the Federals, Colonel Ramsey divides the First Georgia, ordering Major George Harvey Thompson to place the better part of six companies, some 300 men, in hiding along the far side of the Shavers Fork Valley. Ramsey positions his remaining four companies at the northern end of the valley to await the Federal attack. Thompson conceals his soldiers in a corn field as they wait to spring the trap.

Splashing across Kalers Ford, the Union soldiers move down the valley toward Colonel Ramsey’s position. Through an incredible piece of bad luck, the Federal troops align themselves in such a way as to remain out of range of the smoothbore muskets of Thompson’s detachment, cutting the major and his men off from the rest of the regiment.

Colonel Ramsey, fighting desperately against overwhelming numbers, is forced to order a retreat. The Union column, unaware of the presence of Thompson’s detachment, presses forward in pursuit. At Corricks Ford, Colonel William B. Taliaferro positions his Twenty-Third Virginia, the remnants of the First Georgia and two artillery pieces on a bluff overlooking the river. After a fierce battle lasting about half an hour, Taliaferro is running low on ammunition and orders a withdrawal.

General Garnett meets Taliaferro at the next ford, ordering him to continue his retreat while the general remains with just twenty sharpshooters. When Union troops threaten to swallow up this tiny force, Garnett orders a retreat, but he is shot and killed, becoming the first general officer on either side to be killed in the war.

The Army of the Northwest, now little better than a panic-stricken mob, continues its retreat northward toward Red House, Maryland. Captain Benham halts his pursuit at Corricks Ford to rest his men and wait for General Morris to arrive with the rest of his brigade.

Back at Kalers Ford, the Major Thompson and his six companies, now completely cut off, work their way up the mountain to their east, attempting to find a route back to their army.  Before long, the soldiers are completely lost in the wilds of the Allegheny Mountains.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

July 12, 1861

The road to Beverly is blockaded, stopping the Army of the Northwest’s retreat south. General Garnett receives a report that Federal troops are in Beverly (a mistake). With few choices left to him, Garnett decides to reverse direction and push north, hoping to reach the western tip of Maryland and then to turn back south toward Monterey, Virginia. The army does an about-face, with the First Georgia now in the rear guard. As rain continues to pour down, the troops struggle through knee-deep mud along narrow mountain paths. Much equipment is jettisoned from the wagons to lighten the load. Some of the wagons literally slide off the trail and crash down in ravines below. The Southern Guard and the Gate City Guards, Companies B and F, lose their company flags this way. By late that evening, the army reaches Kalers Ford on the Shavers Fork River, where the exhausted troops go into bivouac.

Back at Laurel Hill, Union General Thomas Morris dispatches three infantry regiments and two artillery pieces, under the command of Captain Henry W. Benham, in pursuit of the Confederates.

Monday, July 11, 2011

July 11, 1861

General Robert S. Garnett’s outpost at Rich Mountain is outflanked and captured by Union troops under General William S. Rosecrans.  When Garnett learns of the defeat, he realizes that his position at Laurel Hill is now untenable.  In a driving rainstorm, Garnett begins his retreat just after midnight, traveling southward toward Beverly.  The First Georgia Regiment is in the van of the retreat.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Baptism of Fire

150 years ago today, the First Georgia Volunteers experienced their first taste of combat.  A picket post in advance of the fortifications at Laurel Hill, manned by the Gate City Guards, was attacked by Union skirmishers.  Ordered to advance the First in support of the pickets, Colonel Ramsey divided his regiment, taking five companies around the Confederate left in search of reported Federal activity there, and sending the remaining four companies, under Lt. Colonel James O. Clarke, around the right.  Coming abreast of a hill to the right of the Gate City Guards position, Clarke was informed that Union troops were coming up the opposite side, probably trying to outflank the Guards.  Clarke sent two companies, the Bainbridge Independents and the Walker Light Infantry, further down the road to protect his flank.  Forming the Dahlonega Volunteers and the Quitman Guards into line of battle, Clarke raised his sword and led the soldiers in a charge, yelling "Up the hill, boys!  And remember you are Georgians!"  Clarke's men hit the Federals at the top of the hill.  The Independents and the Walker Light also charged up the hill in support, and after several minutes of vicious fighting, the Georgians drove the Union troops off the crest. 

The image at the top of the page, taken from Leslie's Illustrated News, shows the battle.  In the foreground are Union troops.  The soldiers in the distance on the hillside are the Georgians.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Best Wishes for a Glorious Fourth

From the Martin family to everyone out there - we wish you all a safe and happy Fourth of July.  As we tend our barbecues and watch parades and fireworks, please take a moment to remember the men and women in uniform who serve our country across the globe; from those in harm’s way, to those in support roles, as well as the loved ones who wait at home for their safe return. 
Confederate Camp at the 150th Anniversary Reenactment of Corricks Ford
I'd also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Rodger Ware and the rest of the staff of the Corricks Ford Battlefield Association for a great first event.  The 150th Anniversary Reenactment of Corricks Ford this past weekend came off without a hitch, and the turnout was impressive for a first event.  With continued support from Tucker County and the community of Parsons, WV, I foresee this reenactment growing into a major national event.  I look forward to attending again next year.

"General Garnett" at Corricks Ford

Friday, June 24, 2011

Corricks Ford

Today I'm heading up to Parsons, West Virginia, for the 150th Anniversary Reenactment of the Battle of Corricks Ford.  I'll be speaking Saturday about the six companies of the First Georgia which were lost in the mountains during the retreat from Laurel Hill.  I invite all to stop by my table to say hi.  For a listing of events, please visit www.corricksford.com.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Murder in Virginia

As the First Georgia marched westward to join General Garnett's Army of the Northwest, many soldiers broke ranks, looking for handouts from homes and liquor from taverns.  On June 16, one such foray resulted in tragedy.  The following is an account published in the Atlanta Southern Confederacy:


Yesterday Mr. W. B. Wood, A. J. Slattings and S. Haas, members of the Newnan Guards, passed through this city with the remains of Mr. Bh. [Bernard] H. Meyer, en route to Newnan, his late home for interment. The circumstances of his death are these: Whilst on guard at Shaw’s Gap, in Virginia, on Sunday night last, a member of the Quitman Guards, named Stokes, attempted to pass the line. Young Meyer demanded the pass-word. Stokes refused to give it, and insisted on passing, which Meyer sternly, yet politely refused.—Stokes returned to his own tent, deliberately loaded his gun, and returned and coolly shot the sentinel dead. His company, or some members of it, had on the previous afternoon bought a barrel of whisky: hence this horrible murder. We sincerely sympathize with young Meyer’s parents and friends. Below we give the letters from his Colonel and Captain, accompanying his remains:

VIRGINIA, June 17, 1861.
My Dear Sir and Madam:

It becomes my painful duty, as Commander of the 1st Regiment, to inform you of the death of your son. He was shot last night, while in the faithful discharge of his duty, as one of my sentinels. From the information I have been enabled to pick up in reference to the affair, you son was shot without any cause—simply for doing his duty. I will see that justice is done the offender.

I know this news will come with crushing effect upon your feelings, but console yourselves with the reflection that he fell at his post, and had conducted himself so as to merit and receive the high approval of his officers. I saw him soon after he was wounded; his sufferings were short. I send him back to you for burial, hoping God may give you fortitude to bear this heavy affliction. It is the great sacrifice you have made for your country.

Respectfully, J. N. RAMSAY,
Col. Commanding 1st Reg. Ga. Vol.

Shaw’s Pass, Va., June 17, 1861.
Mr. Meyer:

It is with feelings of deep regret that I have to communicate the sad intelligence of the unfortunate death of your son. He was brutally murdered last night, whilst in the discharge of his duty as sentinel. The nature of this thing can be more fully explained to you by the soldiers who have been detailed to accompany his remains home. Your son had always borne himself in the most high-toned manner, and no one in the Regiment had more reputation as a soldier—prompt in the discharge of his duties. It is needless on this occasion for my to undertake more to console you for a loss so entirely irreparable.

Hoping you may become resigned to the loss, I remain, sincerely, your friend and sympathizer,

Captain Newnan Guards.

Stokes was arrested and held in jail, but was never arraigned for the murder.  He was eventually released and returned to Georgia, where he died in 1867.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Off to the Seat of War

In late May of 1861, the First Georgia received orders transferring them to Richmond.  They would not remain in the Confederate capital for long, however.  Events taking place out west in the Trans-Allegheny section of Virginia had prompted the government to dispatch Brigadier General Robert S. Garnett to the region to secure it for the Confederacy.  Colonel Ramsey was instructed to march his regiment west as reinforcements for Garnett's small force, styled as the Army of the Northwest.  The Georgians, eager for their chance to fight, were excited at the prospect of engaging the enemy.

On June 10, a correspondent of the Savannah Republican, stationed in Richmond, wrote to his newspaper describing the reaction of the Georgians when they learned of their new assignment:

It is impossible to say how many troops there now are in Virginia, and it would be indiscreet to say, if I knew; but I will venture to remark that your readers would be struck with admiration and amazement, as the future historian will be, at the wonderful energy and activity displayed by a Government and people in bringing such a tremendous force upon the field in so short a time. Let the public, then, be patient, and rest satisfied with the conviction that our civil rulers are equal to the emergency, and that our military operations are confided to leaders of approved courage and sagacity.

The First Georgia Regiment, Col. Ramsay, which arrived here last week from Pensacola, will leave to-morrow or next day for Phillippa, beyond the mountains. It is believed to be the best regiment in the Confederate service, owing to the hard labor, experience and training consequent upon their long service at Pensacola. I was present at a dress parade of the regiment when the order to proceed to Phillippa was read. Col. Ramsay addressed the regiment in a few remarks, the last of which were worthy of Patrick Henry. He said that the invader now pollutes the soil of the Old Dominion by his presence, and that the regiment was here to wash out his foot-prints in his heart’s blood. He then concluded by pointing his sun-burnt hand to the north-west and saying, “There is the road that leads to the enemy—to-morrow we march.” The announcement seemed to electrify the regiment and the vast assemblage of spectators, who sent a round of cheers, not less for the eloquent Colonel, than for the good news contained in the order. Each man in the regiment, in addition to the ordinary arms, is provided with a bowie knife and a repeater, and they leave with the confident expectation of driving the enemy into the Ohio river. After reaching Staunton, the terminus of the railway, they will have to proceed on foot over the mountains a distance of 75 miles. The consider it a short distance however, to any point where the enemy may be found. Col. Ramsay is reported to have said to his regiment on a former occasion, that he desired them to be “the first regiment in this world, and the first in the next.”

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Happy Memorial Day

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy and safe Memorial Day weekend, and to express my gratitude for all those in uniform who sacrifice every minute of every day for our country's safety and well-being.  Last year I posted an article I had written about the history of Memorial Day, and have noticed that it is being pulled up quite a bit this year.  It can be read here.

Thanks to Commander Mike McAlpine and the members of the Col. Hiram Parks Bell Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Cumming, Georgia, for their gracious welcome this past Monday evening.  I spoke to the group about the 300 soldiers of the First Georgia who were lost in the Allegheny Mountains during July of 1861.  Mike and his camp oversee the Bell Research Center in Cumming - anyone who is doing research on any aspect of the Confederacy should definitely check out their facilities.

Me and Mike Webb at Scott's Book Store in Newnan, Georgia

Many, many thanks to Mike Webb of the William Thomas Overby/Coweta Guards SCV Camp of Newnan, for arranging a book signing at Scott's Book Store in Newnan on Tuesday afternoon.  Thanks to all who stopped by to chat - I had a most enjoyable time.  An especial thanks goes out to Tom Redwine of the Newnan/Coweta Historical Society for the tour of historic sites in and around Newnan (and the monstrous big lunch, too!).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Got another busy weekend coming up.  Saturday I will be exhibiting I Will Give Them One More Shot at the Blue Ridge Bookfest at Blue Ridge Community College (not far from where I live - nice to have a very short commute).    Monday I'll be in Cumming, Georgia, speaking to the Sons of Confederate Veterans Col. Hiram Parks Bell Camp #1642 at the Bell Research Center.  And Monday I'll be signing books from from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm at Scott's Book Store in Newnan, Georgia.

There's more information about the Bookfest here.  I'd like to invite everyone to stop by and say hi! 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

From the Homefront

Gone from their homes now for over a month, the soldiers of the First Georgia were beginning to feel the pangs of homesickness and longing for family and friends.  Lieutenant William O. Fleming of the Bainbridge Independents wrote to his wife constantly, many times scolding her for not writing as often as he felt she should. 

In a letter published in the May 15 edition of the Sandersville Central Georgian, one of the women left behind addressed the members of the Washington Rifles to assure them how proud the folks back home were.

To the Washington Rifles, near Pensacola, Florida.

“But few shall part where many meet,
The sand shall be their winding sheet,
And every turf beneath their feet
Shall prove a soldier’s sepulcher.”

Thinking perhaps it would be interesting to you at camp to see something from home, I have concluded to write you a short communication, to let you know that you are not forgotten by us—notwithstanding I am aware of the fact, that nothing would be interesting from my pen, but from the fact it is from Home.

Home? How many pleasant memories linger around the word.

It has been said that the three sweetest words in the English language are, Mother, Home, and Heaven. No doubt all of you can realize more fully the meaning of those words since you left Old Washington—the birthplace of many of you, the adopted home of many others. You have forsaken friends, Home, and many of the comforts and luxuries of life for the toils and hardships of peril and camp life. You seem to be in great danger; but put your trust in the God of Battles. “He will be with us in six troubles and in the seventh He will not forsake us.”

We are rejoiced to hear you are holding prayer-meetings. Neglect them not; call upon God to assist you in all your undertakings. “If the Lord be for us, who can prevail against us.” Pray for yourselves, and the prayers of Mothers, Sisters, Pastor and Friends, (whose homes and rights you have so gallantly gone forth to defend), will daily ascend the throne of grace in your behalf—for the preservation of your lives and health, and to spare us from the calamities of civil war—brother fighting against brother.

We would not call you back though our heart-strings should burst asunder at parting. We will say, Go! And may the God of our forefathers of the Revolutionary war go with you. We pray God that he will bring you safely back to us: but if it is His will that you should fall “mid the clashing of steel and the roar of cannon,” we feel confident that you, the “Washington Rifles,” will never disgrace the honored name you represent, but will nobly defend by “Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation,” the beautiful flag you bear, and never suffer it to trail in the dust, or “Yield it to our country’s foes,” until your very heart blood is spilled in its defence.

Rest assured that you will not be forgotten by those you have left behind you. The remembrance of your loved forms, and the happy hours we have spent in your society, will ever be “green spots in our memories garden.”

We unhesitatingly place in your keeping the honor of our noble Empire State, knowing you will defend the rights of our country, even at the point of the bayonet.

In conclusion, we would say, we hope and pray for your safe return to your “Mothers and Homes;” and if it is not the will of God that you should return home, may we all meet in that eternal Home, Heaven, where parting is unknown.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Then and Now

The photographs above are from Fort Barrancas, near Pensacola, Florida, and were taken in 1861. (source:  Miller's Photographic History of the Civil War)  The First Georgia was well familiar with the fort, spending much time there moving guns, drilling, and standing guard.  Below are photos I took during a visit a couple of years ago. 

I wanted to send belated thank you's to the officers and members of two Sons of Confederate Veterans camps to whom I had the pleasure of speaking recently. On Tuesday April 19, I spoke to Camp #1946, the Col. John B. Palmer Camp of Burnsville, North Carolina; and on Thursday the 20th, I talked about the First Georgia to the Palmetto Sharpshooters Camp #1428 in Anderson, South Carolina. Many thanks for the gracious welcome I received from both camps.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Settling In

Entrance to Fort Barrancas, Florida
War has commenced, but active campaigning is still some time off. The men of the First Georgia Regiment, recently arrived in their camps close to Fort Barrancas, near Pensacola, are settling into the daily routine. The soldiers are eager for fighting to begin, as evidenced in their letters to home:

From a member of the Oglethorpe Infantry:

The Colonel says if there is any fighting to be done, the Oglethorpes shall have front seats in the Regiment. He also says that if we are a sample of city boys, we can out work country boys two to one. It is a fact, I never saw so much willingness in any company as has been displayed by the Oglethorpe Infantry—to perform any duty which they have been called upon to do—we have been called on to do mule duty, by pulling wagons and cars. We are all well, hearty and sun-burnt. We all keep clean, as the beach is only half mile, and we go down twice a day—after reveille and after regiment parade, six P. M. We have a mail daily, and received papers regularly.

From a member of the Southern Guard:

I am proud to say to you, that our soldiers are all perfectly contented and as loyal a body of men as have ever been congregated for any purpose. It does appear to me, after conversing with the soldiers freely, that every private here has been prompted by patriotism alone, and is willing to suffer anything that the body is capable of undergoing to gain our independence. With such material to use against the invading scoundrels of Fort Pickens, you may with all confidence expect to hear that we are victorious.

Sergeant James Medlock of the Washington Rifles writes:

What Gen. Bragg’s plans are, as a matter of course, I know not. But my impression is, from what I see and hear, that if Fort Pickens is not surrendered soon, it will be taken by force of arms—and that, too, within a few days. On this point, however, there is quite a diversity of opinion. We have several guns that I believe can do the work in a short time.

And from Lieutenant Chester A. Stone of the Gate City Guards:

Pensacola is a beautiful place—magnolias and flowers of all kinds in full bloom. Our company are all well and enjoying ourselves merrily. We are ready, at a moment’s notice, to meet the armies of the Rail-Splitter, and split them worse than he ever did rails.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Another Victory for Battlefield Preservation

Good sense and historical preservation have prevailed again!  Once again, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has rejected placing a casino near the Gettysburg National Battlefield.

From the Civil War Trust:

Proposed Gettysburg Casino Location Rejected by Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board

Civil War Trust praises board for its enduring commitment to protecting this hallowed ground

(Harrisburg, Pa.) – Following today’s decision by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to reject a second proposal to bring casino gambling to the doorstep of Gettysburg National Military Park, Civil War Trust president Jim Lighthizer issued the following statement:

“Both personally, and on behalf of our members, I would like to thank the members of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for their thoughtful deliberation and insightful decision. By stating that the hallowed ground of America’s most blood-soaked battlefield is no place for this type of adults-only enterprise, they have reiterated the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s commitment to its priceless history and upheld its obligation to protect such sites from wanton and unnecessary degradation.

“This is a great day, not just for Gettysburg, but for all historic sites. However, we must remember that this proposal was just a symptom of a larger problem — the numerous irreplaceable sites similarly besieged by ill-considered development. I am confident that those seeking to protect priceless treasures of our past will be empowered by this victory for historic preservation, and I hope that its spirit will be carried forth in other communities facing similar questions of encroachment.

“Sadly, this was not the first time that the Gaming Board was forced to weigh the possibility of gaming with a Gettysburg address. Now that two such proposals have been denied — clearly demonstrating the resonant power this iconic site and the widespread desire to protect it — I sincerely hope that those would seek personal profit and financial gain will think twice about trading on the blood of 50,000 American casualties.

“Now, as ever, the Civil War Trust and its allies stand ready to work on behalf of Gettysburg and the other deathless fields that shaped the legacy of our nation, particularly as we begin the sesquicentennial commemoration of the American Civil War. We are exceptionally pleased to have the support and cooperation of visionary government bodies, like the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, that understand the singular significance of such sites to aid our efforts.”

Since it was announced last year, the proposal to open Mason-Dixon Gaming Resort a scant half-mile from Gettysburg National Military Park has drawn immense opposition — an early April survey by a nationally renowned polling and research firm found that only 17 percent of Pennsylvanians supported the idea, with 66 percent actively opposed and 57 percent indicating that such a facility would be “an embarrassment” to the Commonwealth. Tens of thousands of petitions were submitted against the project and nearly 300 prominent historians united to urge its rejection, as did the national leadership of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and the American Legion. Other prominent Americans who lent their name to the campaign to protect Gettysburg include Susan Eisenhower, Emmy-winning filmmaker Ken Burns, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough, Medal of Honor recipient Paul W. Bucha, renowned composer John Williams and entertainers Matthew Broderick, Stephen Lang and Sam Waterston. In 2005, citing public outcry, the Gaming Board likewise rejected a plan to construct a casino one mile from the edge of the national park.

The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds. To date, the Trust has preserved more than 30,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states— including 800 at Gettysburg. Learn more at www.civilwar.org.