"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.

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.”