"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, February 17, 2013

What If?

On February 17, 1862, the First Georgia, along with two Tennessee Regiments, received transfer orders.  They were to head west to join the forces under General Albert Sidney Johnston.  Excitement prevailed in camp, as written by a correspondent for the Atlanta Southern Confederacy:
CAMP MASON, NEAR Winchester, Va.,
February 17, 1862.

Editors Southern Confederacy:

            Great excitement and activity prevails this morning throughout the camp of Gen. Loring’s whole former command.  This officer was recently promoted a Major-General, and no doubt, will be assigned to another Department of the Army.  His former Brigade have all been transferred from the Valley District to other Divisions of the army; and have been disposed of as follows:  The 1st Georgia, 1st and 3rd Tennessee Volunteers, received orders late yesterday evening to report without for delay for duty, in Gen. A. S. Johnston, at Knoxville, Tenn.  Orders were issued at the same time to the 3rd Arkansas, 7th and 14th Tennessee Volunteers to the effect that those Regiments should report forthwith to Gen. Holmes, commanding the Aquia District, at Fredericksburg, Va.  The remainder of Gen. Loring’s late command, comprising the 21st, 23rd, 37th, 42nd, and 48th Virginia Volunteers, together with Maj. Munford’s Battalion of Irish Regulars, are ordered to report immediately to Gen. Joseph E. Johnston at Manassas.

            This is a complete re-organization of Brigades, and I havn’t, as yet, been able to learn under whose immediate command the several Brigades will be placed.  I learn Geo. Kirby Smith’s Brigade are marching hither from Manassas, to supply the place of the troops before mentioned in the Valley District.

            We will leave this place for our several points of destination as soon as we can get transportation.  Quartermasters are actively employed this morning devising means of transportation.  Wagon-masters and teamsters are equally as busy in getting their wagon trains and teams ready for the march.

            There is an expression of joy resting on every countenance at the prospect of leaving this frigid, rigorous climate.  There is not a single regret in the heart of any one of us at the thought of leaving the snow-clad mountains of Northern Virginia.  The truth is, we’ve performed such hard service, and experienced such intense suffering in this field of military labor, that we were willing and anxious to be transported to some other department of the army.  We now go with cheerful hearts to meet the ruthless invader of our soil in new and different fields.  Clothed with justice and right, our valiant boys, with strong arms and brave hearts, will meet the Hessians successfully on any field in which anything like an equal number is engaged on either side.

            We’ve had one or two considerable snows here of late.  This is cold and disagreeable day.  It is sleeting very heavily.  We will march to Strasburg, 18 miles distant; thence we will go by Railroad to our point of destination.

            Please change my paper to Knoxville, Tenn.  I while away many hours profitably and pleasantly perusing your almost invaluable paper.  You will hear from me again soon.  Haven’t time to write more at present.


The First Georgia would not make it to Johnston's army.  Landslides on the railroad halted the regiment.  Because the First was close to the end of its one-year term of service, it was decided to divert the regiment back to Georgia to muster out.

I have often wondered what would have happened if the tracks had not become blocked.  Would the First Georgia have joined General Johnston's army?  Would they then have been held in service long enough to participate in the horrendous Battle of Shiloh? 

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