"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.

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.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

And So It Began . . .

150 years ago today, the First Georgia Volunteer Infantry was enroute to Pensacola.  As they traveled the route to Florida, the soldiers learned of and cheered the news from Charleston.  The following is from a letter to the editors of the Augusta Chronicle & Sentinel, dated April 18, 1861:

It will no doubt be the pride of Georgia to know that there is but one feeling animating her Regiment, and that is, harmony and the determination to maintain the honor of Georgia, noble mother of us all.  There is now a regimental parade every afternoon at 8 ½ o’clock.  The encampment is under strict military discipline, and Gen. Bragg has placed this point under martial law.  The Confederate soldiers are active, and determined to have Fort Pickens. 

Hurrah for the Carolinians!  Our flag waves over fallen Sumter, and Major Anderson is spared the necessity of shedding the blood of those dear to him.  Pickens, we hope, will fall into our hands as successfully as Sumter; but Pensacola may yet run red with the blood of Americans in fratricidal strife.  If such be Nature’s decree, then “welcome be Cumberland’s steed to the shock—let them dash his proud foam like a wave on the rock”—for Georgians, and Mississippians, and the true Confederate troops, will cheerfully yield their blood and life rather than be the subjects of bigotry and insolence.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

"May The God Of Battles Go With You"

On April 4, 1861, the new First Georgia Volunteer Infantry paraded at Camp Oglethorpe in Macon for Governor Joseph E. Brown.  Following the review, the regiment formed a three-sided square around the govenor's carriage.  Curious citizens crowded the fourth side of the square as Brown stood in the carriage to speak to the troops.

Officers and Soldiers:

The circumstances which have called for this rendezvous are of a peculiar character.—Our fathers bequeathed to us the wisest and best Government on the face of the earth.—The foundations upon which that Government was based, were the equality of the states, and the equal protection of the rights of the citizens of every section of the Union.—Equality of sovereignty, equality of rights, and equality of protection, are all the South ever demanded. She has borne much, endured long, but her stern decree has at last gone forth, that with less than these she never will be content. In the hope of a returning sense of justice on the part of the people of the Northern States, and for the sake of the Union, the South has long submitted to unjust Congressional legislation, which has plundered her of millions of dollars annually, to build up and enrich her Northern Confederates.

Southern industry has been taxed for the Northern interests, until our Confederates there, sustained by our bounty, and pampered by our liberality, have grown rich and haughty. Not content with all the advantages afforded them by our tariff acts, navigation laws and other legislation, intended to tax us for their benefit, they have even grown insolent, and despite our frequent warnings and remonstrances, have assumed to exercise the right of regulating our domestic affairs, according to their own notions of propriety. Not only so, but they have assumed to themselves exclusive ownership and control over the whole territory of the Union.

When Southern blood and Southern valor had won a rich domain, and added it to the common territory, they appropriated it all to their own use, and insisted on excluding the sons of the South from all participation in it, unless they would consent to occupy it upon terms of inequality. We demanded an equal participation in the common property. They refused to allow it. We then offered to divide it by a line giving them much the larger portion. They spurned the offer and by superior numbers in Congress attempted to drive us from every inch of it. Nor was this all, a portion of their number invaded the soil of a Southern sister State, and attempted to incite insurrection and rebellion, and with fire and sword, to spread devastation and turn over the fair field of our native South. A powerful political party sympathizing with this outrage and even deifying the demons who perpetrated it, planting itself upon a free soil platform, and adopting for his watchword, Northern superiority and Southern inequality, has trampled down our friends in the Northern States, proudly triumphed over us at the ballot box, and then taunted us with its arrogance about Northern strength and Southern weakness.

But one of two alternatives was left. We must cling to the Union, and become slaves to it, or we must sunder its ties and live free men out of it. We chose the latter, and seven gallant Southern States have resumed the powers delegated to the Federal Government, which had been so wantonly abused by it. Sovereign and independent as each then was, they all met in Convention, and have formed a new Confederate upon the basis of the old Constitution, making such modifications only, as the experience of three-quarters of a century had shown to be absolutely necessary, and such as might have preserved the old Union perpetually, had they been incorporated into the old Constitution, and faithfully carried out in practice by the Government. The wisdom of these changes is so apparent to all, that even our enemies are obliged to acknowledge the superiority of our statesmanship and sagacity.

The revolution is complete! A new nation is born! Civil and religious liberty are established! A Government of equality exists! And a Statesman and warrior of splendid intellectual powers, great prudence, commendable caution and enlarged experience, who has won by his valor in the field, and his wisdom in the Senate, a reputation which has extended far beyond the limits of our continent, has been called to watch over this infant giant in its tender years. Who is not proud to rally around the flag of his country, when Jefferson Davis directs the sword, and presides over the Cabinet? But I must not forget that Georgia’s great statesman, whose brilliant intellect, clear head, pure heart, and eloquent tongue have excited for him the plaudits of millions of freemen, and the admiration of civilized man everywhere, occupies the second place in the Councils of the Confederate States. I might refer with pride, to the Cabinet, with the giant Georgia intellect at its head, but I forbear. With the blessings of Heaven upon us, and with such men as Davis, Stephens ad Toombs at the helm, who can fear the result of the voyage?

But why are you here soldiers? Is it for the purpose of invading the territory of the United States, or plundering their people? No. We are not the aggressors. We rall only in defence of Southern homes, Southern firesides, and Southern altars, which are threatened with invasion and destruction. We deprecate war. But if war is forced upon us, we are prepared for it, and when once commenced, we swear by our altars, it shall never terminate till those who provoked it shall have been the greatest sufferers by it.—In its prosecution, should we be compelled, in self defence, to “carry the war into Africa,” and seize the Federal Capitol, or even to devastate Northern cities, it will not be our fault. We have only asked to be permitted to depart in peace from those whom we could no longer live in peace. In the language of Abram to Lott, we have said to our Northern brethren, Let there be no strife between us we pray thee. Is not the whole land before thee? If thou will take the left hand, then we will go to the right, or if thou depart to the right hand, then we well go to the left.

How have they responded to these peaceful overtures? They deny our right to either to depart in peace from them or to live as equals in peace with them. They claim the right to execute their laws within our jurisdiction, to garrison our Forts with a Black Republican army, and to blockade our cities with a Black Republican navy. Nay, more, they threaten to vindicate this assumed right at the mouth of the cannon and the point of the bayonet.—You have rallied, soldiers, to meet them upon this ground, and if necessary to drive them back by force of arms.

You are not called, however, to meet them upon the soil of Georgia, for we are proud to know that no federal troop desecrates her soil, and no federal flag waves over any portion of her territory.

We not only occupy our own forts and arsenals in Georgia, but by virtue of the moral power which sleeps in those stalwart arms of yours, you have enabled me, as your Executive, to extort respect for our State even from our enemies, and to compel the public officers of a great freesoil State, who had plundered on of your fellow-citizens, to make prompt resititution.

We must not forget, however, that some of our sister Confederate States are less fortunate, and that United States troops now occupy some of their strongest fortifications, while that Government threatens further reinforcements. The cause of all the Confederate States is now a common cause. It is for the common defence, therefore, that you have been called to arms, and most nobly have you responded to the call. Fifteen thousand other brave volunteers, with arms in their hands, will stand ready, at a moment’s warning, to march to sustain you, and fifty thousand more will respond whenever their services are needed. Soldiers, you are now soon to pass from my command, and leave for a time the territory of our beloved old State. Would that I could accompany you, and share with you your toils, and participate with you in your glory! My whole soul is in this movement, and my heart swells with emotions which I cannot utter, when I am obliged to bid you adieu, and return to my field of labors elsewhere. But you, in common with the people of Georgia, have assigned me other duties than those which you are called to perform, and I must obey your behest, and discharge them to the best of my ability.

As I am not permitted, therefore, to go with you, I must commit to your hands, upon the field, the flag of Georgia, and the honor of Georgia. In you custody I know that the one will ever wave victorious, and the other will never be tarnished. While the eyes of a million of persons in Georgia will be anxiously turned towards you, the prayers of our churches, our mothers, our wives, our daughters, and our sisters will constantly attend you. None will contemplate your defeat, but the hearts of all will leap with joy at your success.

Take then, that flag in your hands, and remember that, in the presence of this vast audience, I here commit the honor of Georgia to your keeping.

Go, then, and may the God of battles go with you, and lead, protect and defend you, till the last foot-print of the invader shall be obliterated from the soil of our common country.