"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, March 31, 2012

The Final Casualty?

The men of the old First Georgia are home.  Many who did not return are mourned by their loved ones.  J. M. G. Medlock, editor of the Sandersville Central Georgian and former member of the Washington Rifles, poured out his grief in his newspaper:

WELCOME HOME.--The 1st Regiment Georgia Volunteers, having served out their term of enlistment, have been disbanded, (the order for them to go to Tennessee was countermanded) and the train from Augusta Monday evening last, brought back to their anxious friends, our brave boys of the Washington Rifles. The joy that was felt can only be realized by those who participated in it.

But this meeting was one of sorrow as well joy. There were those who looked in vain for the familiar faces of those beloved and whose return they had fondly anticipated.— [illegible] his own almost upon the eve of their starting for home. Pardon us reader, if we open afresh the wound that time had partially healed. We would not cause one pang of sorrow or awaken one sad thought. But we mourn a brother dead. For weeks and months had we looked forward to the return of the Rifles, for the HE would once again gladden our hearts by his presence. But the hand of disease feel heavily upon him. When the Regiment left Winchester he was confined to the hospital. He now sleeps his last sleep in that far off land. Yes EUGENE is dead! If we only knew that some friend was with him in his last moments to hear his last request; but if so we know not who that friend was, as the company were far on their way homeward. But he has given up his life in a noble cause, and we try to say “thy will be done.”

To William G. Robson, Esq., we owe a debt of gratitude, for his kind attention to our brother, which we can never repay. Heaven alone can reward him according to his desserts.

Some who did return to Georgia still suffer afflictions resulting from the harsh conditions they endured during their service.  The Augusta Daily Chronicle of March 15, 1862, recorded what may have the final casualty of the First Georgia Volunteer Infantry:

DEATH OF A GEORGIA VOLUNTEER.—Mr. William D. Lewis, of Washington county, Ga., and a member of Company E, First Georgia Regiment, died at this place [Augusta], at the house kept by the Rev. N. Graham, on Sunday night last. He was attended by Dr. Whitaker, a member of the same command who left with his remains on Monday night. The First Georgia, it will be recollected, participated in the fight which took place at Laurel Hill and Cheat Mountain, and has doubtless seen as much severe service as any Regiment which has participated in the war.

The unfortunate young man, whose death we record, was among those who made that long and fearful passage across the wild mountains of Western Virginia. He is said to have been a good and true soldier. The circumstances of his death are melancholy, (being upon his passage home to the bosom of loved ones after a long perilous service) but it should be consolation to his afflicted relatives to know, that, notwithstanding he was a stranger, he received every attention and kindness during his last hours; free of charge, from the family at whose house he died, and from others of our most respectable citizens. He was watched by them until dissolving, nature had made its struggle, and was then tenderly and decently prepared for the grave.

Friday, March 9, 2012


On March 9, 1862, the First Georgia Volunteer Infantry arrived in Augusta.  The next day marked the end of a remarkable year in the lives of these soldiers.  The reception and final hours of the regiment were described in the Augusta Chronicle and Sentinel:

Arrival and Discharge of the First Georgia.

After many delays and disappointments the First Georgia Regiment unexpectedly arrived in our city, by a special train, early yesterday morning. As they were not looked for until about ten o’clock, but few of our citizens were at the depot to meet them. The young ladies had, on Saturday, tastefully decorated the depot with evergreens and flags, presenting a very pleasing effect. Over the carriage way leading to the depot, a very neat arch was thrown, and suspended from it the motto “A hearty welcome home.” A short distance up Reynolds street, a line of evergreenes with a wreath attached extended across the street.

The Ladies had prepared an enthusiastic reception for the “boys,” but their early arrival disconcerted the arrangements. They will, however, accept “the will for the deed;” our city companies, no doubt, found the “hearty welcome,” extended to them at their own firesides, after a year’s absence—a cordial recompense for all their privations, suffering and toil. The members of the regiment are all looking in fine health, and are ready to again march forth in defence of their country. Our city, with its accustomed liberality, extended to the regiment the hospitalities of the city and during their stay they will be well provided for as guests of the city.

During the day, many hearty reunions took place, and many a home rejoiced as loved ones gathered around the table and rehearsed the incidents of their twelve month campaign. We are sorry that the regiment has not reorganized under its old name, as all who remember Pensacola Laurel Hill, Green Brier, Bath and Romney, will point with pride to the record of the noble men who first rallied to the defence of their country, and have won an enviable fame as THE 1ST GEORGIA.

The members of the Regiment formed in front of the Georgia Railroad passenger depot this morning at 10 o’clock, after which they marched through Jackson street to Green, where a square was formed, in front of the Bell Tower, and Col RAMSAY, in a brief speech, addressed the Regiment. We are sorry we cannot give the gallant Colonel’s remarks in full, as his address was replete with eloquence and patriotism.

He returned thanks to the officers and men for the patience and zeal which had always marked their career, for the strict discipline they had maintained, for their kindness and affection to each other, and in conclusion, exhorted them to go to their home, recruit their energies, again form their companies, and go forth once more maintaining the honor and glory of Georgia, and add new glories to those already won by the 1st Georgia.

At the conclusion of his remarks, three hearty cheers were given by the Regiment, when Adjt. Palmer read the order of discharge, and the regiment was mustered out of service. A resolution of thanks to the citizens of Augusta for their hospitality was passed—Lieut. Col. JAS. O. CLARKE made a few remarks and the large concourse of our citizens dispersed. Most of the regiment will leave for home to-day. We bid them God speed on their journey. Their deportment, during their stay in our city, has been marked by the utmost propriety.


This Saturday I will be in Forsyth, Georgia, at the Mercer University Press table at the Forsythia Festival.  Please stop by to say hi.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Going Home

The news of the regiment's disbandment, brought by Captain John A. Houser of the Southern Rights Guard, turns out happily to be true.  The First Georgia is to be sent back to Georgia to be mustered out of service.  On March 3, 1862, the men pack up their kits as they prepare to move out.  Their muskets, cartridge boxes and bayonets are collected to be turned over to troops serving under General Edmund Kirby Smith.