150 years ago today, a flood of submissions began to pour into government offices in the Georgia state capital at Milledgeville as militia units from across the state responded to Governor Brown’s call for volunteers. Eager to go to war, some 250 units tendered their services. To simplify the selection of which companies would be included in the first infantry regiment, it was decided to accept them in the order by which their tender was received (with one exception – more later). The very first to proffer their services was the Newnan Guards of Coweta County. As a result, the Guards would be designated as Company “A” of the First Georgia Volunteer Infantry. The Guards and several other companies received orders to travel to Macon, where they were combined to form the First Georgia. March 18 was listed as the regiment’s official date of muster, as it was the date that the companies’ tender was received by the government. The other units chosen to make up the regiment were as follows:
B – Company “D” of the Southern Guards, Muscogee County
C – Southern Rights Guard, Houston County
D – Oglethorpe Infantry, Richmond County
E – Washington Rifles, Washington County
F – Gate City Guards, Fulton County
G – Walker Light Infantry, Richmond County
H – Dahlonega Volunteers, Lumpkin County
I – Bainbridge Independents, Decatur County
K – Quitman Guards, Monroe County
In addition, four additional companies, the Macon Independent Volunteers, Ringgold Volunteers, Brown Infantry and Etowah Infantry were assembled to create the First Georgia Infantry Battalion.
The exception mentioned above was the Dahlonega Volunteers. Georgia in early 1861 was not entirely in favor of secession - several northern counties contained definite Unionist leanings. Governor Brown, who had spent much of his younger days in that section, decided that having a mountain company would help draw those counties toward supporting separation. Thus, the Volunteers received orders to report to Macon.
The men were on their way. Few had any inkling of what they were bound for.