Captain Edwin B. Carroll and the Atlanta Campaign

Edwin B. Carroll, Captain of the Berrien Minute Men, Company G, 29th Georgia Regiment.

Edwin B. Carroll, Captain of the Berrien Minute Men, Company G, 29th Georgia Regiment.

Edwin B. Carroll

In the Civil War, E. B. Carroll served in the leadership of the Berrien Minute Men, one of four companies of Confederate infantry sent forth from Berrien County, GA.

After serving  on Confederate coastal artillery at Battery Lawton on the Savannah River the Berrien Minute Men, Company G, 29th Georgia Regiment,  finally ended their long detached duty in Savannah and went to rejoin the 29th Georgia Regiment at Dalton, GA. The 29th Regiment was to be part of the Confederate forces arrayed northwest of Atlanta in the futile attempt to block Sherman’s advance on the city.  By this time the ranks of the 29th Georgia regiment had been decimated by casualties and disease.   The 29th Regiment “in September, 1863, had been consolidated with the 30th Regiment. The unit participated in the difficult campaigns of the Army of Tennessee at Chickamauga, endured Hood’s winter operations in Tennessee, and fought at Bentonville. In December, 1863, the  combined 29th/30th totaled only 341 men and 195 arms,” according to battle unit details provided by the National Park Service.

The Berrien Minute Men departed Savannah April 26, 1864 by train at the depot of the Central of Georgia Rail Road. (The building now serves as the Savannah Visitors Center). Col. Anderson saw the men off

Tuesday, 26th April… at 4 1/2 repaired to the CRR Depot to see the Lawton Batty Co’s go off – They parted with me with every demonstration of regard – Many of the men coming up & shaking hands with me.”

Four days later, the 54th GA Regiment was dispatched to Dalton GA to join the Confederate defensive positions against Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign.  Anderson noted in his Journal:

Saturday, April 30, 1864
The 54th Regt, Col Way left this morning en route for Dalton. I understand they left many stragglers behind.

Apparently by June of 1864  Captain Carroll was present for at least part of the Battle of Marietta.  By this time it seems an exaggeration to call the 29th Georgia a regiment.  The unit was assigned to General Claudius Wilson’s, C.H. Stevens’, and Henry Rootes Jackson‘s Brigade in the Confederate Army of Tennessee, led at that time by Gen. Joseph E. Johnston. Henry R. Jackson in 1860 had attended the arrival of the first train to reach Valdosta, GA.

Sherman first found Johnston’s army entrenched in the Marietta area on June 9, 1864. The Confederate’s had established defensive lines along Brushy, Pine, and Lost Mountains. Sherman extended his forces beyond the Confederate lines, causing a partial Rebel withdrawal to another line of positions.

Harpers Weekly illustration - Sherman's view of Kennesaw Mountain from Pine Mountain, from a sketch drawn about June 15, 1864. In the distance is a view of Marietta. Between the two mountains the smoke ascends from three Federal encampments, belonging to the armies of the Cumberland, the Ohio, and the Tennessee. The Confederates under General Johnston hold a strong position on Kennesaw Mountain.

Harpers Weekly illustration – Sherman’s view of Kennesaw Mountain from Pine Mountain, from a sketch drawn about June 15, 1864. In the distance is a view of Marietta. Between the two mountains the smoke ascends from three Federal encampments, belonging to the armies of the Cumberland, the Ohio, and the Tennessee. The Confederates under General Johnston hold a strong position on Kennesaw Mountain.

By June 15 1864, Sherman’s army was occupying the heights on Pine Mountain, Lost Mountain and Brushy Mountain. On that day H.L.G. Whitaker, Thomas County Volunteers, Company I, 29th GA Regiment wrote home telling of the death of his friend Chesley A. Payne. Payne was a private in Company B, Ochlockonee Light Infantry, 29th GA Regiment.

“Dear beloved ones, I will say to you that my dear friend C. A. P. [Chesley A. Payne] was cild [killed] on the 15 of June. Robert Reid was standing rite by him syd of a tree. Dear friends it is a mistake about his giting cild [killed] chargin of a battry, nothing more than a line of battle. So I cant tell you eny thing more about him.”

On the Federal line Pvt Charles T. Develling, 17th Ohio Regiment recorded the day’s of skirmishing.

June 17th, we moved to front line. Companies D. and H. skirmished all night. We built breastworks, and rebels attacked us but were repulsed. June 18th, Companies C. and F. charged rebel pickets capturing 4 and driving the rest into their breastworks, fighting nearly 2 hours without support, when our brigade came up and fought till dark. Company C had 1 killed and 2 wounded. J

On Saturday, June 18, 1864 the Confederate newspaper dispatches reported:

Three Miles West of Marietta, June 18 – The enemy has moved a large number of his forces on our left. Cannonading and musketry are constant, amounting almost to an engagement. The rains continue to render the roads unfit for military operations. The indications are that our left and centre will be attacked. The army is in splendid spirits and ready for the attack. A deserter came in this morning drunk. But few casualties yesterday on our side…

June 19. Rain has been falling heavily and incessantly the greater part of last night and all this morning. – Columbus Times, 6/20/1864

Pvt Charles T. Develling, 17th Ohio Regiment continued in his journal:

June 19th, daylight revealed the fact that the rebels had retreated [Johnston had withdrawn the Confederate forces to an arc-shaped position centered on Kennesaw Mountain.] We pursued them, day spent in skirmishing; very heavy artillery firing from our batteries. Night found us in front of Kenesaw Mountain fronting east, skirmishing with the rebels, and fortifying with dispatch. We advanced to within about 700 yards of the rebel’s works, and kept their artillery silent with musketry. Threw up a temporary fort at night for our artillery.

June 20th, our skirmish line, is within 15 or 20 yards of the rebels. We have three lines of works. Heavy skirmishing all along the line. Our artillery gave the rebels a terrific shelling this evening.

June 21st, the rebels got their artillery in position or the mountain and began shelling our camps, immediately our batteries opened and there was one of the grandest artillery duels of the war. Heavy skirmishing in our front just before night; our men held their ground.

"Kennesaw's Bombardment, 64", sketch of Union artillery in the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, by Alfred Waud,

“Kennesaw’s Bombardment, 64”, sketch of Union artillery in the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, by Alfred Waud,

On the Confederate side of the line, on June 21st and 22nd John W. Hagan, of the Berrien Minute Men, wrote battlefield letters to his wife, Amanda Roberts Hagan, in which he refers to Captain Edwin B. Carroll.

Letters of John W. Hagan:

In Line of Battle near Marietta, Ga
June 21st 1864

My Dear Wife I will drop you a few lines which leaves Ezekiel & myself in good health. James was wounded & sent to Hospital yesterday. He wounded in the left thygh. It was a spent ball & made only a flesh wound after the ball was cut out and he was all right. He stood it allright. I think he will get a furlough & he will also write to you when he gets to Hospital. We had a fight day before yesterday & yesterday on the 19th we had a close time & lost a grate many in killed & wounded & missing. The 29th [GA Regiment] charged the Yankees & drove them back near 1/2 mile or further. I cannot give a list of the killed & wounded in the fight. In Capt Carrells [Edwin B. Carroll] there was only one killed dead & several wounded. Lt J. M. Roberts [Jasper M. Roberts] was killed dead in the charge & Sergt. J. L. Roberts [James W. Roberts] of our company was killed dead & Corpl Lindsey wounded. Capt Knight is in command of the Regt. Capt. Knight & Capt Carrell is all there is in the Regt. The companies is all in commanded by Lieuts & Sergts. I have been in command of our company 3 days. Lieut Tomlinson [Jonas Tomlinson] stays along but pretends to be sick so he can not go in a fight but so long as I keep the right side up Co. “K” will be all right. The most of the boys have lost confidence in Lt Tomlinson. As a genearl thing our Regt have behaved well. If the casualties of the Regt is got up before I send this off I will give you the number but I will not have time to give the names. You must not be uneasey about James for he is all right now. Ezekiel stands up well & have killed one Yankee. I do not know as I have killed a Yankee but I have been shooting among them. You must not be uneasy about me and Ezekiel for we have our chances to take the same as others & if we fall remember we fell in a noble cause & be content that we was so lotted to die, but we hope to come out all right. Ezekiel hasent bin hit atal & I have bin hit twice but it was with spent balls & did not hurt me much. I was sory to hear of Thomas Cliffords getting killed for he was a gallant soldier & a noble man. I havent time to write much but if we can find out how many we lost in the 19th & 20th I will give a statement below. Ezekiel has just received yours of the 15th & this must do for and answer as we havent time to write now & we do not know when we will have a quiet time. You speak of rain. I never was in so much rain. it rains incisently. Our clothing & blankets havent been dry in Sevearl days & the roads is all most so we can not travel atal. I will closw & write again when I can get a chance. You must write often. Ezekiel sends his love to you all. Tel Mr. and Mrs. Giddins that Isbin is all right. Nothing more. I am as ever yours
J. W. H.

P.S. as to Co. G being naked that is not so. All have got there cloths that would carry them. Some threw away there cloths but all have cloths & shoes yet. E.W. & Is doesn’t threw thayen away & have plenty. P.S. since writing the above another man of Co. G. is wounded.

In Line of Battle near Marietta, Ga 

June 22, 1864

My Dear Wife, As I have and opportertunity of writing I will write you a few lines this morning. I wrote to you yeserday but I was in a grate hurry & could not give you the casualities of the Regt. & I can not yet give you the names but I will give you the number killed wounded & missing in the Regt. up to yesterday 6 oclock P.M. we had 83 men killed wounded & missing & only 7 but what was killed or wounded. This is only the causalties since the 14th of this month & what it was in May I do not know. I do not beleave any of Co. “G” have writen to Jaspers [Jasper M. Roberts] mother about his death & if you get this before She hears the correct reports you can tell her he was in the fight of the 19th & was killed dead in a charge he was gallantly leading & chering his men on to battle and was successfull in driving back the Yankees. He was taken off the battle field & was burried as well as the nature of the case would permit. Our Regt suffered a grate deal on the 19th & some on the 20th. I was in the hotest of this fight & it seemes that thousand of balls whisled near my head, but I was protected. Heavy fighting is now & have been going on for some time on our right & left & I beleave the bloodiest battle of the war will come off in a short time & I feel confident that when the yankees pick in to us right we will give them a whiping, but Gen Johnston dos not intend to make the attack on them.
Amanda, I want you to go & see John C. Clements & find out when he is coming to camps & I want you to sen me some butter by John in a bucket or gord or jar. You can not send much for John can not get much from the R. Road to our camps. You must not send me the book I wrote for some time ago. I can not take care of anything in camps now. You must be shure to go & see cosin Sarah Roberts & tel her about Jasper. I would write to her but I have a bad chance to write on my knee. This leaves Ezekiel & myself in good health & hope you and family are the same
I am as ever your aff husband
J. W. Hagan

P. S. if any of the old citizens from that settlement comes out here, you can send me some butter and a bottle or two of syrup by them. Parson Homer came out some time ago & brought Co. G a nice lot of provissions &c.

In the evening of the 22nd, on the Federal side of the line, Pvt Charles T. Develling, 17th Ohio Regiment wrote in his journal.

June 22nd, the rebels gave us a severe shelling this afternoon, from five different points. Our artillery replied promptly and with effect. Shortly after dark we moved to the right and into front line, already fortified, in an open field, in the hottest hole we have yet found, as regards both the sun and fire from the rebels.

General Sherman's Campaign - The Rebel Charge on the Right, Near Marietta, GA, June 22, 1864. Harpers Weekly illustration of the Battle of Kolb's Farm, four miles west of Marietta, June 22, 1864. On the Federal line, General Schofield held the extreme right; on his left, General Hooker commanded the Marietta Road; General Howard held the center; and Palmer and McPherson extended the Federal line to Brush Mountain, on the railroad. Nearly all day the rebels engaged Howard, to divert attention from the right, where they were massing troops on the Marietta Road against Hooker. A furious attack was made by the Rebels at this point at five P.M.

General Sherman’s Campaign – The Rebel Charge on the Right, Near Marietta, GA, June 22, 1864. Harpers Weekly illustration of the Battle of Kolb’s Farm, four miles west of Marietta, June 22, 1864. On the Federal line, General Schofield held the extreme right; on his left, General Hooker commanded the Marietta Road; General Howard held the center; and Palmer and McPherson extended the Federal line to Brush Mountain, on the railroad. Nearly all day the rebels engaged Howard, to divert attention from the right, where they were massing troops on the Marietta Road against Hooker. A furious attack was made by the Rebels at this point at five P.M.

Southern newspapers claimed the fighting on June 27th as a victory for the South,  reporting that Cleburne’s Division and Cheatham’s division had killed 750 federal troops along the front and inflicted another 750 casualties in the Federal lines. General Hardee’s Corps and General Loring’s corps were credited with inflicting nearly 8,000 casualties. “Five hundred ambulances were counted from the summit of Kennesaw Mountain to Big Shanty.” – Daily Chattanooga Rebel, June 30,1864

On June 28th, John W. Hagan wrote  Amanda of more casualties in the Berrien Minute Men

I haven’t any news to write you that would interest you much. There hasent been much fighting neather on the right or left today & we beleave the Yankees are trying to flank us again. We have had a hard time & have lost about 100 killed wounded & missing. We had our Lieut of Co. “B” killed yesterday. Liut. Ballard of Co. “C” wounded and R. Bradford [Richard Bradford] of Co. “G” wounded & one leg cut off. I hope times will change soon &c. I hear today James had got a furlough for 30 days & was gone home. I hope it is true & I want you to send me a box of something the first chance you get. Send me some butter & a bottle of syrup & some bisket if you see a chance to get them direct through. Also send us some apples if you can get any in the settlement. John Clemants or James Matthis might bring it. Express it to Atlanta & then ship it to Marietta in care of the Thomas County Releaf Society. I think old Lowndes & Berrien is not very patriotic or they would dispach some man from that section with something for the soldiers who are fighting for them daley. Many things might be sent us & some one sent with it. Thomas County has its society out here & do a great deal for the sick & wounded & many boxes are shiped through them to fighting troops…

From the Front
Further Particulars of Monday’s Fight
Marietta, [Wednesday], June 29th [1864] –Unusual quiet prevails along the lines to-day, the enemy being permitted to bury his fast putrifying dead…

Following the retreat from Kennesaw Mountain, the Berrien Minute Men were in the line of battle at Marietta, GA on July 4, 1864. After dark, the Confederate forces withdrew to take up a new defensive line on the the Chattahoochee River. In a letter to his wife, John William Hagan  wrote about the Confederate retreat to the Chattahoochee and his confidence in the defensive works of General Joseph E. Johnston’s River Line and the Shoupades.   These earthwork fortifications along the north bank of the Chattahoochee, some of the most elaborate field fortifications of the Civil War, were constructed under the direction of Artillery Commander, Brig. General Francis A. Shoup.

In the Battle of Atlanta, Edwin B. Carroll was captured July 22, 1864 near Decatur, GA along with Captain John D. Knight, 2nd Lieutenant John L. Hall, Jonas Tomlinson and others of the 29th Georgia Regiment.

In the Berrien Minute Men Company G, Sgt William Anderson, 2nd Lieutenant Simeon A. Griffin, 2nd Lieutenant John L. Hall, Captain Jonathan D. Knight were captured. James A. Crawford was mortally wounded. Levi J. Knight, Jr. was wounded through the right lung but recovered. Robert H. Goodman was killed.  In the Berrien Minute Men Company K, Wyley F. Carroll, James M. Davis, James D. Pounds, William S. Sirmans, and Jonas Tomlinson were captured.  John W. Hagan was reported dead, but was captured and sent to Camp Johnson.

In the Berrien Light Infantry, Company E, 54th Georgia James M. Baskin was wounded in the hip; he spent the rest of the war as a POW in a U.S. Army hospital.

In a letter written from camp near Atlanta, H.L.G. Whitaker reported Robert Reid, Ocklocknee Light Infantry, Company B, 29th GA Regiment was among those killed on July 22.  In the Ocklocknee Light Infantry David W. Alderman, John L. Jordan, Thomas J. McKinnon, P. T. Moore were wounded; Mathew P. Braswell and Joseph Newman were captured.

Among the Thomasville Guards, Company F, 29th GA Infantry the wounded were Stephen T. Carroll, Marshall S. Cummings, Thomas S. Dekle, Walter L. Joiner. Private Green W. Stansell and Sgt D. W. McIntosh were killed; Ordinance Sgt R. A. Hayes was mortally wounded. John R. Collins was missing in action,

In the Alapaha Guards, Company H, 29th GA Infantry, Joseph Jerger was wounded and captured. In the Georgia Foresters, Company A, 29th GA, H. W. Brown and 1st Corporal Furnifull George were captured. Richard F. Wesberry shot in the leg, was sent to Ocmulgee hospital where his leg was amputated. In the Thomas County Volunteers, Company I, M. Collins, Alexander Peacock were wounded; Captain Robert Thomas Johnson and Ransom C. Wheeler wounded and captured. Thomas Mitchell Willbanks was wounded in the leg, necessitating amputation.

For Captain E. B. Carroll the fighting was over. A prisoner of war, he was put on the long journey to a northern prison camp.

On September 17, 1864 Captain E. B. Carroll was being held prisoner near Jonesboro, GA.  A few days later  on August 31 – September 1, 1864 remnants of the 29th Georgia Regiment were engaged  in the Battle of Jonesboro.  Apparently Captain Carroll’s kid brother, David Thompson Carroll, had joined the Berrien Minute Men by this time. Seventeen-year-old David T. Carroll had left school in the spring of 1862 and traveled to St. Marks, FL to enlist with the 5th Florida Infantry, but after 2 1/2 months of service had been discharged with a hernia and “epileptic convulsions.” Although the official service records of the Confederate States Army do not document that he re-enlisted,  both Edwin B. Carroll and William H. Lastinger later reported that David T. Carroll was a soldier of the Berrien Minute Men and that he was among the  men killed in the Battle of Jonesboro.  Hundreds of Confederate dead, including men from the Berrien Minute Men and probably David T. Carroll,  were buried in unmarked graves at  Jonesboro in the yard of the train depot which is now Patrick Cleburne Cemetery.

In 1890 Edwin B. Carroll would return to the Battlefield at Jonesboro where he found rusting weapons still lying about the abandoned earthworks.

After his capture, Edwin B. Carroll and other Confederate prisoners were transported to the Louisville Military Prison at Louisville, KY then to the U. S. Military Prison at Johnson’s Island.

Prisoners were transported to Sandusky, OH and were conveyed by steam tugs across an arm of Lake Erie three miles to Johnson’s Island. Johnson’s Island contains about one hundred acres, twenty of which were enclosed in a stockade…Within this enclosure were fifteen buildings – one hospital, two mess halls, and twelve barracks for the prisoners. The stockade was rectangular, and there was a block-house in each corner and in front of the principal street…The guards… had five block houses with several upper stories pierced for rifles and the ground floors filled with artillery. Moreover, outside the pen there were enclosed earth-works mounting many heavy guns. and the gunboat Michigan with sixteen guns lay within a quarter of a mile.”

Despite the presence of the prison fortress, Johnson’s Island continued to be the destination of organized boat excursions from nearby towns, which brought picnickers to the island and a brass band for entertainment.

Sixty-two  of the Confederates captured at Atlanta on July 22nd entered the Johnson’s Island prison population on August 1, 1864.  The indignant prisoners were searched before being taken into the prison.


Sketch of U. S. Military Prison at Johnson's Island, Lake Erie.

Sketch of U. S. Military Prison at Johnson’s Island, Lake Erie.

Arriving in the heat of summer, the men had the unfortunate experience of dealing with the bedbugs that infested the camp.

Any description of Johnson’s Island which contains no mention of bedbugs would be very incomplete. The barracks were cieled, and were several years old. During the cool weather the bugs did not trouble us much, but towards the latter part of May they became terrible. My bunk was papered with Harper’s Weekly, and if at at any time I struck the walls with any object, a red spot would appear as large as the part of the object striking the wall. We left the barracks and slept in the streets…When I get my logarithmic tables and try to calculate coolly and dispassionately the quantity of them, I am disposed to put them at one hundred bushels, but when I think of those terrible night attacks, I can’t see how there could have been less than eighty millions of bushels.

Men of the 29th Georgia Infantry Regiment already at Johnson’s Island included Lieut. Thomas F. Hooper, Berry Infantry.

Hooper had been captured June 19, 1864 at Marietta, GA. Details of Hooper’s capture were documented when a letter addressed to him reached the Berry Infantry days after he became a prisoner of war.  The letter, addressed to Lieut Thomas F. Hooper, 29th Reg Ga Vol, Stevens Brigade, Walkers Division, Dalton, Georgia, was initially marked to be forwarded to the Army of Tennessee Hospital in Griffin, Georgia. But when it was discovered that the addressee had been captured, it was forwarded a second time back to Okolona, MS with ‘for’d 10’ added on the envelope for the forwarding fee. Lieutenant  Thomas J. Perry, added a lengthy notation on the back of the envelope.

“Marietta, Ga June 22, 1864 The Lt was captured on the 19th inst out on skirmish. He mistook the enemy for our folks and walked right up to them and did not discover the mistake until it was too late. As soon as they saw him, they motioned him to come to them and professed to be our men. I suppose Capt [John D.] Cameron has written you and sent Andrus on home. The Lt was well when captured. Thos J. Perry.”

Thomas F. Hooper, Berry Infantry, 29th Georgia Infantry Regiment

Thomas F. Hooper, Berry Infantry, 29th Georgia Infantry Regiment


Thomas J. Perry writes about capture of Thomas F. Hooper near Marietta, GA on June 19, 1964

Thomas J. Perry writes about capture of Thomas F. Hooper near Marietta, GA on June 19, 1964

On the night of September 24, 1864 a tornado struck the Johnson’s Island prison, destroying half the buildings, ripping roofs off three of the barracks and one wing of the hospital, and flattening a third of the fence.  But in the midst of the gale the Federal guards maintained a picket to prevent any escape. One of the mess halls was wracked and four large trees were blown down in the prison yard. Ten prisoners were injured, only one severely.  The stockade fence was repaired by September 29; it was weeks before the camp was sound again.

As the war dragged on, outrage grew both sides over the treatment of prisoners of war.  Following newspaper reports of the mistreatment of U.S. Army soldiers in Confederate prisons, the U.S. Commissary General of Prisons ordered that Confederate prisoners of war held at Johnson’s Island and other prisons “be strictly limited to the rations of the Confederate army.” Furthermore, the previous practice of allowing prisoners to purchase food from vendors on the prison grounds was disallowed. “On October 10, Hoffman ordered that the sutlers should be limited to the sale of paper, tobacco, stamps, pipes, matches,
combs, soap, tooth brushes, hair brushes, scissors, thread, needles, towels, and pocket mirrors.”

A prisoner at Johnson’s Island wrote,

“Our rations were six ounces of pork, thirteen of loaf bread and a small allowance of beans or hominy – about one-half the rations issued to the Federal troops. The pork rarely had enough grease in it to fry itself, and the bread was often watered to give it the requisite weight. Such rations would keep soul and body together, but when they were not supplemented with something else, life was a slow torture. …the prisoners were not to buy anything [to eat]. The suffering was very great. Men watched rat holes during those long, cold winter nights in hopes of securing a rat for breakfast. Some made it a regular practice to fish in slop barrels for small crumbs of bread, and I have had one man to point out to me the barrel in which he generally found his “bonanza” crumb. If a dog ever came into the pen he was sure to be killed and eaten immediately.” 

The prisoners provided all kinds of services for themselves; There were cooks, tailors, shoe-makers, chair-makers, washer-men, bankers and bill-brokers, preachers, jewelers, and fiddle-makers.

We had schools of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Spanish, Italian, French, German, Theology, Mathematics, English, Instrumental Music, Vocal Music, and a dancing school. The old “stag-dance” began every day except Sunday at 9 a.m., and the shuffling of the feet would be heard all day long till 9 p.m.”

“Tailoring was well done at reasonable rates. Our shoe-makers, strange to say were reliable and charged very moderate prices for their mending. The chair-makers made very neat and comfortable chairs, and bottomed them with leather strings cut out of old shoes and boots. Our washer-man charged only three cents a piece for ordinary garments, and five cents for linen-bosomed shirts, starched and ironed. Our bankers and bill-brokers were always ready to exchange gold and silver for green-backs, and even for Confederate money till Lee’s surrender.”

We had also a “blockade” distillery which made and sold an inferior article of corn whiskey at five dollars, in green-backs, per quart. It was a very easy matter to get the corn meal; but I never could imagine how they could conceal the mash-tubs and the still, so as to escape detection on the part of the Federal officers who inspected the prison very thoroughly two or three times each week.

John Lafayette Girardeau, a slave owner and proponent of white supremacist theology, was famous for his ministry to enslaved people.

John Lafayette Girardeau, a slave owner and proponent of white supremacist theology, was famous for his ministry to enslaved people.

We had many preachers, too. Dr. Girardeau, of South Carolina, one of the ablest preachers in the South preached for us nearly every day. Our little Yankee chaplain was so far surpassed by the Rebs that he rarely showed his face.

Major George McKnight, under the nom de plume of “Asa Hartz,” wrote:

There are representatives here of every orthodox branch of Christianity, and religious services are held daily.

The prisoners on Johnson’s Island sent to the American Bible Society $20, as a token of their appreciation for the supply of the Scriptures to the prison.

We have a first-class theater in full blast, a minstrel band, and a debating society. The outdoor exercises consist of leap-frog, bull-pen, town-ball, base-ball, foot-ball, snow-ball, bat-ball, and ball. The indoor games comprise chess, backgammon, draughts, and every game of cards known to Hoyle, or to his illustrious predecessor, “the gentleman in black.”

There was a Masonic Prison Association, Capt. Joseph J. Davis, President, which sought to provide fresh fruit and other food items to sick prisoners in the prison hospital.

On November 9, 1864, Sandusky bay froze over. In early December the prison got a blanket of snow.  Monday, the 12th of December was the coldest day of the year, and perhaps one of the strangest at Johnson’s Island Prison. That day one of the POW officers gave birth to a “bouncing boy”; the woman and child were paroled from the prison. That night a group of prisoners rushed the fence, perhaps thinking they could make their escape over the ice. The guards managed to push them back; the next day four corpses were placed in the prison dead-house. Ohio newspapers reported Lt. John B. Bowles, son of the President of the Louisville Bank, was among the dead.

The cemetery at Johnson’s Island was at the extreme northern tip of the island, about a half mile from the prison.

Digging graves in the island’s soft loam soil was not difficult. However, between 4 feet and 5 feet down was solid bedrock. It was officially reported that the graves were “dug as deep as the stone will admit; not as deep as desirable under the circumstances, but sufficient for all sanitary reasons.” The graves were marked with wooden headboards. – Federal Stewardship of Confederate Dead


Major McKnight described funerals at the prison:

Well! it is a simple ceremony. God help us! The “exchanged” is placed on a small wagon drawn by one horse, his friends form a line in the rear, and the procession moves; passing through the gate, it winds slowly round the prison walls to a little grove north of the inclosure; “exchanged” is taken out of the wagon and lowered into the earth – a prayer, and exhortation, a spade, a head-board, a mound of fresh sod, and the friends return to prison again, and that’s all of it. Our friend is “exchanged,” a grave attests the fact to mortal eyes, and one of God’s angels has recorded the “exchange in the book above. Time and the elements will soon smooth down the little hillock which marks his lonely bed, but invisible friends will hover round it till the dawn of the great day, when all the armies shall be marshaled into line again, when the wars of time shall cease, and the great eternity of peace shall commence.

Two prisoners of Johnson’s Island were released  by order of President Abraham Lincoln, issued on December 10, 1864. The Tennessee men were released after their wives appealed to the President, one pleading her husband’s case on the basis that he was a religious man.

When the President ordered the release of the prisoners, he said to this lady: “You say your husband is a religious man; tell him when you meet him that I say I am not much of a judge of religion, but that, in my opinion, the religion that sets men to rebel and fight against their Government because, as they think, that Government does not sufficiently help some men to eat their bread in the sweat of other men’s faces, is not the sort of religion upon which people can get to heaven.”

Berrien Minute Men Second Lieutenants James A. Knight and Levi J. Knight, Jr. arrived at the prison on December 20, 1864; They were captured at Franklin, TN on December 16.

Col. William D. Mitchell, 29th Georgia Regiment. Image Source: Tim Burgess

Col. William D. Mitchell, 29th Georgia Regiment. Image Source: Tim Burgess

December 22, 1864 was snowy, windy and bitter cold at Johnson’s Island. New arrivals at the prison on that day included Col. William D. Mitchell, 29th, GA Regiment; Lacy E. Lastinger; 1st Lieutenant Thomas W. Ballard; Captain Robert Thomas Johnson, Company I, 29th Regiment,  arrived at the prison.  Lastinger, 1st Lieutenant from Berrien Minute Men, Company K, 29th GA Regiment and Ballard, Company C, 29th GA  had been captured December 16, 1864 at Nashville, TN.   Other arriving prisoners from the 29th GA Regiment included 2nd Lieutenant Walter L. Joiner, Company F.

Edwin B. Carroll and the other prisoners passed Christmas and New Years Day on Johnson’s Island with little to mark the occasion.  By February 1865, Confederate POWs at Johnson’s Island were being exchanged for the release of Federal POW’s imprisoned in the South.

On March 29, Major Lemuel D. Hatch wrote from Johnson’s Island,

For several months we suffered here very much for something to eat, but all restrictions have now been taken off the sutler and we are  living well… The extreme cold of last winter and the changeableness of the climate has been a severe shock to many of our men. I notice a great deal of sickness especially among the Prisoners captured at Nashville. Nearly all of them have suffered with rheumatism or pneumonia since their arrival.

The end of the war came with Robert E. Lee’s surrender on April 9, 1864 and, for Georgians, the surrender of General Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate Army to General William T. Sherman at the Bennett Place, April 26, 1865.

The surrender of Genl. Joe Johnston near Greensboro N.C., April 26th 1865

The surrender of Genl. Joe Johnston near Greensboro N.C., April 26th 1865

After spending almost a year in the Johnson’s Island prison, Edwin B. Carroll was released in June 1865.

To leave Johnson’s Island a prisoner was required to take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States, as by accepting Confederate citizenship they had renounced their citizenship in the United States. The Confederate prisoners called taking the oath “swallowing the eagle,” and men who swore allegiance to the United States were called “razorbacks,”  because, like a straight-edged razor, they were considered spineless.

The prisoner had to first apply to take the Oath. He was then segregated from the prison population and assigned to a separate prison block. This was done for the safety of those taking the Oath as they were now repudiating their loyalty to the Confederacy. Until 1865, only a small number of prisoners took the Oath because of their fierce devotion and loyalty to the cause for which they were fighting. However, in the Spring of 1865, many prisoners did take the Oath, feeling the cause for which they fought so hard was dead. The following letter written by prisoner Tom Wallace shows that “swallowing the eagle” (taking the oath) was not done without a great deal of soul searching.

Tom Wallace, 2nd Lieutenant in the 6th Kentucky Regiment wrote from Johnson’s Island in 1865 about taking the Oath of Allegiance:

My dear mother,
Perhaps you may be surprised when I tell you that I have made application for the “amnesty oath”. I think that most all of my comrades have or will do as I have. I don’t think that I have done wrong, I had no idea of taking the oath until I heard of the surrender of Johnston and then I thought it worse than foolish to wait any longer. The cause that I have espoused for four years and have been as true to, in thought and action, as man could be is now undoubtedly dead; consequently I think the best thing I can do is to become a quiet citizen of the United States. I will probably be released from prison sometime this month

Edwin B. Carroll swore the Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America on June 14, 1865 at Depot Prisoners of War, Sandusky, OH. He was then described as 24 years old, dark complexion, dark hair, hazel eyes, 5’11”

When the War ended, and he returned home, he could find no employment but teaching, in which he has been engaged almost every year since… In October, 1865, he was married to Mrs. Julia E. Hayes, of Thomasville, Georgia.

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Edwin B. Carroll, Captain of the Berrien Minute Men

Edwin B. Carroll, Captain of the Berrien Minute Men, Company G, 29th Georgia Regiment.

Edwin B. Carroll, Captain of the Berrien Minute Men, Company G, 29th Georgia Regiment.

E. B. Carroll was born in Kenansville, North Carolina, on the 3rd of March, 1841. His parents [James and Elizabeth Carroll of Duplin Co., NC,] were both Baptists – his father an active deacon and his mother a consistent Christian woman. They came to Georgia when he was eight years old and settled at a place now known as [Lakeland, in preset day Lanier County.]

According to Wiregrass historian Folks Huxford, the Carrolls were among several families that moved to Berrien County, GA from their home community in Duplin County, N. C. “Among these families were those of William J. Lamb, James Carroll, Jesse Carroll, William Godfrey, Andrew J. Liles, William Best, James W. Dixon and others.  These all settled in or around the village then called Alapaha but now named Lakeland, Lanier County… John Bostick and family moved to what was then Lowndes County not long after.”

Edwin B. Carroll

The early years of his life, up to seventeen, were spent on the farm, sometimes attending school and at other times, tilling the ground. At that age his father sent him to Marshall College, in Griffin, Georgia, then conducted by Dr. Adiel Sherwood.

Adiel Sherwood, slave owner and outspoken Baptist advocate for slavery.

Adiel Sherwood, slave owner and outspoken Baptist advocate for slavery.

Sherwood, probably the most important spiritual influence in the founding of Mercer University, was a slave owner and an outspoken advocate for slavery in the southern states.  Sherwood and other Southern Baptists defended slavery as a biblical institution. He asserted that southern slaves were better off than northern farmers; slaves had plenty of free time to work for their own profit, and “not infrequently, by the privileges granted them, they are enabled to purchase their own freedom.

He [Edwin B. Carroll] entered preparatory department, but in the autumn was admitted into college proper. 

Reverend Jesse H. Campbell was a slave owner and volunteered as an "evangelist" in the Confederate States Army.

Reverend Jesse H. Campbell influenced Edwin B. Carroll to preach the gospel. Campbell was a slave owner and volunteered as an “evangelist” in the Confederate States Army.

When he had finished his Freshman studies, he determined to gain a year. This he succeeded in doing, carrying on the course of both Sophomore and Junior classes at the same time. At the opening of the spring term of the Sophomore year, it was announced by the faculty that he was a regular member of the Junior class. He made this effort, not because his necessities forced him to it, but because he wished to do it and felt that he could. The year that he entered college, 1858, a revival wave swept over almost the entire country. In Griffin, there were numbers added to all the churches – to the Baptist Church, nearly one hundred – and he was among them. Dr. Sherwood, as pastor, of the church, baptized him. The night after his baptism, during an earnest prayer offered by Dr. Jesse H. Campbell, he felt impressed with a strong desire to preach the Gospel. The struggle between this desire and a sense of his own unfitness was fierce, and resulted in his putting the work away from him. To use his own language, he “fought against” this impression for fourteen years, and is now in the work because he feels he can not help it, and the cry of his soul is, “Woe is me if I preach not the Gospel!” In 1860, he entered the Junior class in Mercer University, and pursued studies there until May, 1861, when he returned home, and, though only twenty years old, joined a Regiment “for the War”, which was then just beginning.

At Mercer University, Edwin B. Carroll was a classmate of Owen Clinton Pope, who after the War, would come to Milltown (now Lakeland), GA to teach at the Milltown Academy.

Edwin B Carroll served the Confederacy in the Berrien Minute Men, Company  C (later Company G), 29th Georgia Infantry Regiment. Company Muster Rolls show he was mustered into Confederate States service in Savannah, GA on August 1, 1861. Enlisting as a private, he rose through the ranks.

At Savannah, the campfires of the Berrien Minute Men were initially made at Causton’s Bluff, overlooking St. Augustine Creek and Whitemarsh Island. By August 20, 1861 the Berrien Minute Men were sent to Brunswick, GA with the 13th Georgia Regiment at Camp Semmes, Brunswick.   On October 11, 1861 three companies of the 29th Regiment including the Berrien Minute Men were stationed on Sapelo Island. They were manning  Sapelo Battery, an earthworks and gun emplacement on the south end of Sapelo Island defending Doboy Sound. The Civil War letters of  Private John Hagan described Battery Sapelo as armed with five cannons the largest of which was a 160 pounder.

By November 1861 Edwin B. Carroll was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant of the Berrien Minute Men. Thomas S. Wylly was Captain.  Their coastal Georgia posts included Stations on Blackbeard Island; Camp Spalding on Sapelo Island; and Camp Security at Darien, GA.  By early 1862 The Berrien Minute Men,  having gotten “regulated” into the 29th Georgia Infantry Regiment , were sent to Camp Wilson, near Savannah.  On the night of February 21,  Captain Wylly’s Company of Berrien Minute Men were ordered from Camp Wilson to Fort Jackson to relieve the Savannah Republican Blues.  By March 7, 1862 “Captain Wylly’s Company” was on Smith’s Island at Battery Lawton supporting Fort Jackson, defending Savannah against incursions by the ships of the U. S. Navy. Most of Edwin B. Carroll’s Confederate service would be in the Savannah River batteries at Battery Lawton on Smith’s Island,

Colonel Edward Clifford Anderson (November 8, 1815 – January 6, 1883) was a naval officer in the United States Navy, Mayor of Savannah, Georgia and a brigadier general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He commanded Fort James Jackson near Savannah before its capture in 1864. He was elected mayor of Savannah eight times, before and after the war, and on December 6, 1865, he became the first mayor to be elected after the war.

Colonel E. C. Anderson,  (November 8, 1815 – January 6, 1883) was a naval officer in the United States Navy, Mayor of Savannah, Georgia and a brigadier general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He commanded Fort James Jackson near Savannah before its capture in 1864. He was elected mayor of Savannah eight times, before and after the war, and on December 6, 1865, he became the first mayor to be elected after the war.

At the reorganization of the regiment on May 7, 1862 Edwin B. Carroll was appointed 1st Lieutenant with the notation that he was “deficient in battery and artillery drill.”  In that same election of officers, May 1862, Levi J. Knight, Jr was elected Captain of  Berrien Minute Men, Company G, 29th GA Regiment following the resignation of Captain Thomas S. Wylly.

On the Savannah River Batteries, Company G was under the command of Col. Edward Clifford Anderson. A product of the U.S. Navy, Col. Anderson was a disciplinarian, critical of subordinates and superiors alike. Captain L. J. Knight, Jr., in particular, drew the censorious scrutiny of Col. Anderson.

Throughout May, June and July of 1862 Lieutenant Carroll and Berrien Minute Men, Company G garrisoned Battery Lawton on Smith’s Island. In the summer time the soldiers’ daily routine at Battery Lawton, Fort Jackson and other Savannah River batteries under Anderson’s command began at 4:30 am and ended after sunset, approximately 8:30 pm. The conditions of summertime service on the mud island must have been among the worst in the Georgia coastal defenses. The annoyance of mosquitoes, sand flies, and fleas multiplied the discomfort. Captain George A Mercer, after visiting Smith’s Island on Sunday, June 22, 1862, wrote of the miserable experience.

[The] men, on Smith’s Island, are particularly uncomfortable; their tents are pitched on the muddy ground, beneath the blazing sky; not a dry spot of earth, not a shade tree is near; the tide frequently rises above the platforms of their tents, soaks their bedding and washes away all they have; they have positively been obliged to anchor their cooking utensils to prevent their being carried away. And yet these brave fellows must stay — and do stay cheerfully in this dreadful spot, where every comfort is denied them, and sickness and death must add their horrors to the scene…Indeed a sad necessity is imposed upon our troops; they must garrison spots where a white man can hardly live.

The Regimental Return for July 1862 shows Lieutenant Carroll at Camp Debtford, an encampment established by Col. Anderson near Causton’s Bluff to serve as a convalescent camp and respite for troops serving on the Advance River Batteries under his command. In August and September 1862, Lt. Carroll was present at Camp Anderson along with others of the 29th Georgia Regiment. Among Lt. Carroll’s more unpleasant duties, ordering coffins for deceased soldiers.

By October 1862 Lt. Carroll and Company G were back at Lawton Battery on Smith’s Island, where the Berrien Minute Men, Company G were under the direct scrutiny of Col. Edward C. Anderson.  On August 8, 1862, Edwin B. Carroll was promoted to Captain of the Berrien Minute Men, Company G, 29th GA Regiment.  Knight was brought before an Officers Examining Board on December 4, 1862 and  was “suspended from rank and commission by order of General Beauregard.” Knight’s rank was reduced to private.

Under Captain Carroll, the company of Berrien Minute Men remained on post on the Savannah River through the end of 1862.

March 1, 1863 found the company at Camp Young, Savannah.

In March,  deserters from Causton’s Bluff and Thunderbolt batteries at Savannah were communicated in Union newspapers as reporting that Confederate troops were on subsistence rations.

The daily rations of sesesh soldiers. A Hilton Head letter of the 27th says: We have received into our lines several deserters from rebel defences at Causton’s Bluff and Thunderbolt, who affirm that the daily rations of troops consist only of four ounces bacon and seven of cornmeal. Many of the rebel troops are falling sick and all are fearing illness. Deserters assert that only for the fact that they are kept on inside post duty the entire regiments to which they belong would desert. From what is deemed a source entirely trustworthy, I learn that all the women and children have been ordered out of Savannah. – They left the city on Monday and Tuesday. This measure is induced not more by fear of attack than by the inability of commanding General to subsist his troops while there are so many non-combatants to be fed. -Fall River Daily Evening News 01 Apr 1863

In April, slaves were selling in Savannah for $1100 to $2200 per person.

Civilian conditions in Savannah worsened. Food shortages drove profiteering and inflation. Lieutenant George Anderson Mercer, Assistant Adjutant General, 1st Georgia Infantry, was appalled:

“A mad fever of speculation – a rabid thirst for wealth – appears to have seized those who are not in the service; a fearful, gambling, corrupt spirit is abroad which is sufficient to call down the denunciations of the Judge of the Universe; all “make haste to be rich,” and they are not innocent. These speculators have done, and are doing, us incalculable harm. They are depreciating our currency and starving the poor…Think of a suit of fatigue uniform clothes costing over $200 in Savannah, and of a Barrel of Whiskey selling for $1600…the sordid speculators, composed chiefly of German Jews, of Aliens, of Yankees, and of our own people who have bought substitutes [to take their place in military service]…The Jews, who nearly all claim foreign protection, and thus avoid service, are the worst people we have among us; their exemption from military duty, their natural avarice, and their want of principle in this contest, render them peculiarly obnoxious; they are all growing rich, while the brave soldier gets poorer and his family starve.

April 1863 newspapers reported food shortages, hoarding and profiteering in Savannah, GA (Lancaster Gazette [Enland], April 18, 1863)

April 1863 newspapers reported food shortages, hoarding and profiteering in Savannah, GA (Lancaster Gazette [England], April 18, 1863)

The Savannah Republican says: – The want of provisions in Savannah is becoming most important. The city authorities have requested the railways to refuse to carry provisions out of the town. This may do good as far as rice is concerned, but it is questioned whether there is anything else in Savannah. For the last few days it has been difficult for families to buy bacon, and many persons could not find Indian corn meal even in small quantities. The evil is that retailers of provisions have been forced to go or send up the country for supplies. They succeeded in buying small quantities, but their entry was stopped by government agents at the Gulf road. Even small parcels remain. Families require them.

“By the summer of 1863, conditions in Savannah were horrendous. Scarlet fever, typhoid, and small pox ran rampant, and corpses piled in the streets. The Union blockade created a powder keg among the urban poor. Food ran low while enterprising merchants and blockade runners kept warehouses full to the brim.” – David T. Dixon

Eventually “bread riots” would erupt in Savannah and other southern cities.

Berrien Minute Men Drill on Coastal Artillery

On November 10, 1863, Edward C. Anderson reported a cold front moved through Savannah in the morning with ice and bitter cold winds out of the northeast. Monday, Nov 23, 1863 was a blustery day on the Savannah River, with cold winds from the north east. Col. Anderson visited Fort Lawton on Smith’s Island and “Drilled Carroll’s men [Berrien Minute Men, Company G] at the guns & fired shell from the 10 & 8 inch guns & blank cartridge from the latter only.” Morris’ company moved up from Proctor’s Point to join the Berrien Minute Men on Smith’s Island.

Civil War soldiers practice firing artillery cannon.

Civil War artillery drill.

With warmer weather and cloudy skies, on November 24, 1863 Col. Anderson ordered that the ordnance magazine at Battery Lawton be overhauled and the gun cartridges be arranged; he sent over all the ordnance men to assist with the work. On following morning, a dreary, rainy day, the men on the Savannah River batteries heard that the Confederate States Army had abandoned Lookout Mountain were retreating before Sherman’s assault.

On December 18, Captain E. B. Carroll requested a leave of absence.

Lawton Battery
December 13th, 1863

Brig, Genl Jordan
Chief of Staff

I have the honor to apply through you to the General Comdg. for twenty (20) days leave of absence. I would not make the application for so long a time, could I do what I wish in a shorter period and I promise, if Savannah is attacked during my absence to return immediately. All the officers of the company are present & able for duty.
Very Respectfully
Your Obt Svt
E.B. Carroll
Capt. Co G. 29th Ga.

Carroll was absent with leave From December 19, 1863 to Jan 19, 1864. Around this time, late 1863 to early 1864, it appears the Berrien County Company E, 54th Georgia Regiment returned from South Carolina to serve in the Savannah River defenses along with the Berrien Minute Men, Company G, 29th Georgia Regiment.

A communique of December 23, 1863 from George Mercer informed the Savannah River Batteries that “the enemy were about to raise the siege of Charleston and concentrate everything on Savannah.” Col. Anderson ordered Major McMullen, commanding the garrison at Smith’s Island, to “burn off the marsh in front of Battery Lawton, which he neglected to do.”  Apparently the attack did not materialize.

The new year emerged raw and blustery with bitter cold in Savannah.  Days of heavy rains swelled the Savannah River until about January 8, 1864 Smith’s Island was overflowed and Battery Lawton flooded. During the first half of the year, Confederate engineers continued work on Battery Lawton; Like all of the Advance River Batteries around Savannah, it was being built with slave labor. Pilings had to be driven into the mud banks to support gun platforms. In the late spring sand was hauled to Fort Jackson by train, dumped onto flatboats and ferried to Smith’s Island for the construction of earthworks for Battery Lawton.

On Monday, April 4, 1864, Edward C. Anderson reported the tides were the highest he had seen in the Savannah River in 30 years, “overflowing Smith’s Island, drowning its magazine and shell house.” On April 6, 1864, Col. Anderson wrote,

The high tides of last night again flooded Lawton Battery, depositing within its enclosure a mass of rubbish & trash which the hot sun will soon germinate into miasma. The officers and men have applied to be removed up to the city…Thursday, April 7, The flood tide of last night again overflowed Smith’s Island. On visiting it today I found everything afloat & the evidence of the tides having risen fourteen inches into the mens quarters. Ordered them to move up to the City and telegraphed Suley to prepare for their reception.

CSS Ida ferried the Berrien Minute Men from Smith's Island to Savannah.

CSS Ida ferried the Berrien Minute Men from Smith’s Island to Savannah.

The two companies from Lawton Battery loaded onto the steamer Ida and were ferried to Savannah. “At nine pm visited the quarters of the men on the Bay – Carroll has the [Republican] Blues drill room for his company & Morris for the present is in Husseys old quarters, next to McArthurs men.

Col. Anderson wrote that “the Spring tides continue to drown Smith’s Island.” Heavy rains in the early spring of 1864 kept the Savannah river full, and kept the Berrien Minute Men, Company G in the barracks in the city.

The Berrien Minute Men were thus quartered in Savannah when the “bread riot” occurred in the city on April 17, 1864. Reported in the Augusta Chronicle and Sentinel , April 22,1864

A small “bread riot” occurred in Savannah [Georgia] on Tuesday last [April 17, 1864]. The News says that a combination of women numbering from fifty to one hundred, appeared at a grocery store on Whitaker street, when their demand for provisions being made, the proprietor was in the act of distributing bacon among them, when others of the party made a rush into the store and helped themselves to whatever they wanted. The same crowd also went to two other places on the same mission, where they obtained bacon, etc. Three of the women were arrested and taken to the guard house, and would be brought before the Mayor Thursday morning.

In relation to this affair, the News says:

That the present high prices of provisions have provided distress no one can doubt, and it is probable that some who participated in the riotous proceedings of yesterday were goaded to their course by pressure of want, but if we are rightly informed many if not the majority of them, had not even that excuse for the commission of acts of lawlessness. Be this as it may, there can be no necessity or justification for such acts of outrage and robbery. It is not generally the truly worthy deserving poor who resort to such measures, and those who thus set the laws and public propriety at defiance forfeit the sympathy of the community. If there is indeed want and suffering let the sufferers make their condition known in the right quarter, and a community that has never turned a deaf ear to the appeals of the helpless and needy will give them relief.

We trust that our city authorities will investigate this matter, ascertain who they are that truly need assistance, and take the proper steps for their relief. Such action is not only due to the wives and children of soldiers in the service, to the helpless poor, and to the peaceful and good name of our community, but also to the best interests of our city. While the mob spirit should be met with firmness, we should, in these times, act in accordance with the maxim of “help one another.” Let the turbulent be rebuked, but let not the worthy and law abiding poor suffer.

It appears that Captain E. C. Carroll’s company of Berrien men never did return to Lawton Battery on Smith’s Island.

On the the 20th of April Col. Anderson visited “the quarters of Capt. Carroll on the Bay.”  On the 25th, he noted that Headquarters had ordered the reassignment of the companies in “the Lawton Battery Command.” Finally, the Berrien Minute Men, Company G  would end their long detached duty in Savannah and rejoin the 29th Georgia Regiment at Dalton, GA where the 29th Regiment was to be part of the Confederate forces arrayed northwest of Atlanta in the futile attempt to block Sherman’s advance on the city.

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Captain J. D. Evans was Skulking and Hiding Out

Desertion of J. D. Evans

Johnathan D. Evans before the Civil War was residing at Nashville, GA. In the Census of 1860  he was enumerated there as a mechanic and slave owner. At the outbreak of the war, he became Captain of one of the four companies of Confederate soldiers that went forth from Berrien County, GA.

J. D. Evans’ name appears on a March 1862 list of Berrien County men subject to do military duty. He enlisted with other men of Berrien County and was mustered into Company E, 54th Georgia Regiment Volunteer Infantry March 4, 1862. On May 6, 1862, J. D. Evans was elected Captain of Company E. Among other Berrien County men serving in Company E, 54th Georgia Regiment were Jehu and James Patten, George Washington Knight , Matthew Hodge Albritton, James Lee, Jesse Lee, John LeeGeorge Washington KnightJames Madison BaskinWilliam Varnell NixStephen Willis AveraWilliam J. Lamb, Thomas L. Lamb, Samuel Guthrie,  William Henry Outlaw, John Webb, Jordan Webb and Benjamin Sirmans, Jeremiah MayRufus Ray, and Samuel SandersDr. Hamilton M. Talley was Evans’ second in command.

But after a year of service, J. D. Evans deserted his post.

According to the New Georgia Encylopedia,

Desertion plagued Georgia regiments during the Civil War (1861-65) and, in addition to other factors, debilitated the Confederate war effort. Deserters were not merely cowards or ne’er-do-wells; some were seasoned veterans from battle-hardened regiments….   Whereas the sixty-three plantation-belt counties in the lowlands provided more than 50 percent of the volunteer infantry companies, desertion rates among soldiers hailing from this region were among the lowest in the state…This phenomenon may be partially accounted for by the fact that Confederate social and military authority remained reasonably intact in the lowlands for most of the war, making it perilous for would-be deserters from the area to flee home…The economic structure of the plantation belt and the widespread use of slave labor also allowed lowland Georgians to remain in the Confederate army without worries for the safety of their homes and families. [Furthermore] wealthy plantation owners in the lowlands were able to apply for exemptions. While 3,368 Georgians deserted to Union lines throughout the war, approximately 11,000 affluent Georgia men received exemptions and were able to remain in their communities and maintain social and economic stability. 

Berrien County men, like J. D. Evans, did desert, though. Men deserted from  Company E (Berrien County), 54th GA Regiment, from the Berrien Minute Men (companies G & K, 29th GA regiment),  and from the Berrien Light Infantry (Company I, 50th GA Regiment).

Companies routinely sent patrols back to their home counties to round up deserters and stragglers who had overstayed their leaves.  Sergeant William W. Williams was sent in 1864 to hunt skulkers in Lowndes and Berrien County, GA. N. M. McNabb, a soldier of Company D, 12th Georgia Regiment, was pressed into service hunting fugitive deserters in Berrien County in September 1864.

It was not unusual for Confederate soldiers to go absent without having been granted leave.  John W. Hagan, sergeant of the Berrien Minute Men, wrote about having to “run the blockade”  – to slip past sentries and sneak out of camp for a few hours when he didn’t have a pass.  Isaac Gordon Bradwell, a soldier of the 31st Georgia Regiment, wrote from Camp Wilson about his regiment being called to formation in the middle of the night to catch out those men who were absent without leave.  The men returned before dawn, but  “There was quite a delegation from each company to march up to headquarters that morning to receive, as they thought, a very severe penalty for their misconduct. Our good old colonel stood up before his tent and lectured the men, while others stood armed grinning and laughing at their plight; but to the surprise and joy of the guilty, he dismissed them all without punishment after they had promised him never to run away from camp again.”

The men sometimes gave themselves unofficial leave for more than just a night on the town – French leave, they called it.

Desertion was common from the beginning of the war, but, until early in 1862, it was not always defined as such. When the war unexpectedly lasted past the first summer and fall, … recruits began taking what many called “French leave” by absenting themselves for a few days or longer in order to visit friends and family (the term comes from an eighteenth-century French custom of leaving a reception without saying a formal good bye to the host or hostess). Officers pursued these men with varying degrees of diligence, but because most returned in time for the spring campaigns, few were formally charged with and punished for desertion. – Encyclopedia Virginia

In July 1862 a number of men from the 29th Georgia Regiment were detached to Camp Anderson, near Savannah, for the formation of a new sharpshooter battalion. Desertion became a problem; by the end of the year 29 men would desert from Camp Anderson.  At least one deserter killed himself rather than be captured and returned to Camp Anderson. Another, after firing a shot at Major Anderson, was court-martialed and executed by firing squad. Three more deserters were sentenced to death but were released and returned to duty under a general amnesty and pardon issued by Jefferson Davis.

In October 1862 Elbert J. “Yaller” Chapman took  “French leave” when the Berrien Minute Men were returning by train from a deployment in Florida:

“Yaller” stepped off the train at the station on the Savannah, Florida, and Western  [Atlantic & Gulf] railroad nearest his home — probably Naylor, and went to see his family. He was reported “absent without leave,” and when he returned to his command at Savannah, he was placed in the guard tent and charges were preferred against him. It was from the guard tent that he deserted and went home the second time. After staying home a short while he joined a cavalry command and went west.  It is said that he was in several engagements and fought bravely.  

Albert Douglas left the Berrien Minute Men “absent without leave” in December 1862 and was marked “deserted.”  Actually Douglas enlisted in the 26th Georgia Infantry and went to Virginia, where his unit was engaged in the Battle of Brawners Farm. He subsequently served in a number of units before deserting and surrendering to the U. S. Army.  He was inducted into the U. S. Navy, but deserted that position in March 1865.

Deserter Benjamin S. Garrett was later shot for being a spy.

By the spring of 1863 when the 29th Georgia Regiment was stationed at Camp Young near Savannah, GA, twenty men were reported as deserters. Four of the deserters were from Company K, the Berrien Minute Men, including  Albert Douglas, Benjamin S. Garrett, J. P. Ponder and Elbert J. Chapman. Colonel William J. Young offered a reward of $30 for each Confederate deserter apprehended, $600 for the bunch.  From the weeks and months the reward was advertised, one can judge these were not men who just sneaked off to Savannah,  but were long gone.

In April, 1863 deserters from the Confederate works at Causton’s Bluff  and Thunderbolt batteries reported that “the daily rations of troops consist only of four ounces bacon and seven of cornmeal.”

When the 29th Georgia Regiment and the Berrien Minute Men, Company K were sent to Mississippi in May of 1863 they encountered deserter Elbert J. Chapman serving in another regiment. The case became one of the most notorious of the war.  [Chapman’s] desertion  consisted in his leaving [the Berrien Minute Men,] Wilson’s Infantry Regiment, then stationed on the coast of Georgia, and joining a Cavalry Regiment at the front—a “desertion” of a soldier from inactive service in the rear to fighting at the front.  Although Chapman was fighting with another company in Mississippi, he was charged with desertion from the 29th Georgia Regiment and court-martialed.  Despite appeals by his commanding officers Chapman was executed by firing squad. After the war, his indigent wife was denied a Confederate pension.

While Berrien Minute Men Company G was detached at the Savannah River Batteries, the papers of commanding officer Col. Edward C. Anderson indicate desertions from the Savannah defenses were a common occurrence.

It was in July 1863 that Captain J. D. Evans deserted from Company E, 54th Georgia Infantry Regiment.  Given that the 54th Georgia Infantry was engaged in repelling Federal assaults on the defenses of Charleston, his punishment was remarkably light.

Just a few days after J. D. Evans went absent without leave,  Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, issued a general pardon to deserters.

Jefferson Davis

Jefferson Davis

His proclamation, issued on August 1, 1863, admitted Confederate defeats, the horrific death toll, and the pending invasion of Georgia by overwhelming U.S. forces. Davis claimed the goal of the U.S. government is a slave revolt and the genocide or enslavement of Southern whites. He assuaged the guilt of deserters and asserted that Confederate victory could still be pulled from defeat, if all the Confederate deserters would but return to their camps. Finally, Davis “conjures” the women of Georgia not to shelter deserters from disgrace.

Jefferson Davis’ proclamation of pardon and amnesty for Confederate deserters was published in newspapers all over the South.

After more than two years of a warfare scarcely equaled in the number, magnitude and fearful carnage of its battles; a warfare in which your courage and fortitude have illustrated your country and attracted not only gratitude at home but admiration abroad, your enemies continue a struggle in which our final triumph must be inevitable. Unduly elated with their recent successes they imagine that temporary reverses can quell your spirit or shake your determination, and they are now gathering heavy masses for a general invasion, in the vain hope that by a desperate effort success may at length be reached.
You know too well, my countrymen, what they mean by success. Their malignant rage aims at nothing less than the extermination of yourselves, your wives and children. They seek to destroy what they cannot plunder. They propose as the spoils of victory that your homes shall be partitioned among the wretches whose atrocious cruelties have stamped infamy on their Government. The design to incite servile insurrection and light the fires of incendiarism whenever they can reach your homes, and they debauch the inferior race hitherto docile and contented, by promising indulgence of the vilest passions, as the price of treachery. Conscious of their inability to prevail by legitimate warfare, not daring to make peace lest they should be hurled from their seats of power, the men who now rule in Washington refuse even to confer on the subject of putting an end to outrages which disgrace our age, or to listen to a suggestion for conducting the war according to the usages of civilization. Fellow citizens, no alternative is left you but victory, or subjugation, slavery and the utter ruin of yourselves, your families and your country. The victory is within your reach. You need but stretch forth your hands to grasp it. For this and all that is necessary is that those who are called to the field by every motive that can move the human heart, should promptly repair to the post of duty, should stand by their comrades now in front of the foe, and thus so strengthen the armies of the Confederacy as to ensure success. The men now absent from their posts would, if present in the field, suffice to create numerical equality between our force and that of the invaders— and when, with any approach to such equality, have we failed to be victorious? I believe that but few of those absent are actuated by unwillingness to serve their country; but that many have found it difficult to resist the temptation of a visit to their homes and the loved ones from whom they have been so long separated; that others have left for temporary attention to their affairs with the intention of returning and then have shrunk from the consequences of their violation of duty; that others again have left their post from mere restlessness and desire of change, each quieting the upbraidings of his conscience, by persuading himself that his individual services could have no influence on the general result.
These and other causes (although far less disgraceful than the desire to avoid danger, or to escape from the sacrifices required by patriotism, are, nevertheless, grievous faults, and place the cause of our beloved country, and of everything we hold dear, in imminent peril. I repeat that the men who now owe duty to their country, who have been called out and have not yet reported for duty, or who have absented themselves from their posts, are sufficient in number to secure us victory in the struggle now pending.
I call on you, then, my countrymen, to hasten to your camps, in obedience to the dictates of honor and of duty, and summon, those who have absented themselves without leave, or who have remained absent beyond the period allowed by their furloughs, to repair without delay to their respective commands, and I do hereby declare that I grant a general pardon and amnesty to all officers and men within the Confederacy, now absent without leave, who shall, with the least possible delay, return to their proper posts of duty, but no excuse will be received for any deserter beyond twenty days after the first publication of this proclamation in the State in which the absentee may be at the date of the publication. This amnesty and pardon shall extend to all who have been accused, or who have been convicted and are undergoing sentence for absence without leave or desertion, excepting only those who have been twice convicted of desertion.
Finally, I conjure my countrywomen —the wives, mothers, sisters and daughters of the Confederacy— to use their all-powerful influence in aid of this call, to add one crowning sacrifice to those which their patriotism has so freely and constantly offered on their country’s alter, and to take care that none who owe service in the field shall be sheltered at home from the disgrace of having deserted their duty to their families, to their country, and to their God.
Given under my hand, and the Seal of the Confederate States, at Richmond, this 1st day of August, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three.

By the President:
J. P. Benjamin, Sec’ry of State.

Johnathan D. Evans did not return to his post, however.  On Oct 23, 1863, his Colonel wrote to General Samuel Cooper that Evans was a skulker and hiding from duty. (Cooper was the highest ranking officer of the Confederate States Army, outranking Robert E. Lee and all other officers of the Confederacy.)

Hed. Qrs. 54th Ga. Infantry
James Island, S.C.
Oct. 20th, 1863

Gen’l S. Cooper
Adj’t Insp’r Gen’l

I have the honor to request that you will drop in disgrace from the Army rolls, the name of Captain J. D. Evans of Company “E” 54th Ga. Infantry.
This officer has been absent from his command for a period of sixty days without leave. On the 27th day of July last, the Regiment being ordered to Morris Island, Capt Evans reported sick, and at his own request was sent, by the Surgeon, to the hospital in Charleston. He was subsequently transferred to Columbus, S.C., and thence to Augusta, Ga., since which time he has never reported.
I regret to state that all the circumstances surrounding this case indicate, but too clearly, that he never intends to rejoin his command – at least while it is in active service; (nor from all the reports which reach me) can I be induced to believe that he is sick – on the contrary, I am forced unwillingly to think that he is skulking and hiding from duty. If a more charitable construction could be placed upon his conduct, I should be the last one to suggest so harsh a proceeding in his case.
Where he is – what he is doing – when he intends to return – and where to reach him with an order are questions which no one can answer.
Verbal reports reach me that he is at home with his family – that he is engaged in a Government workshop – but all parties report him well. His influence with his command is lost. For the good of the service, and as a proper example to deter others from adopting a similar course, I earnestly recommend that his name be dropped from the Army Rolls.

I have the honor to be, Gen’l,
Very Respectfully,
Yr Ob’t Sv’t
Charlton H. Way

Col. Charlton H. Way letter of October 10, 1863 requesting Capt. J. D. Evans be dropped in disgrace from Army rolls.

Col. Charlton H. Way letter of October 10, 1863 requesting Capt. J. D. Evans be dropped in disgrace from Army rolls.

Col. Charlton H. Way letter of October 10, 1863 requesting Capt. J. D. Evans be dropped in disgrace from Army rolls.

Evans never did return to his unit. He was dropped from the rolls of Confederate officers for desertion.

The most significant wave of desertion among Georgia soldiers began in late 1863 following the Battle of Chickamauga,…the biggest battle ever fought in Georgia, which took place on September 18-20, 1863.  With 34,000 casualties, Chickamauga is generally accepted as the second bloodiest engagement of the war; only the Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, with 51,000 casualties, was deadlier.

Lt. H. M. Talley assumed command of Company E, 54th GA Regiment.  By the spring of 1864, Company E and the rest of the 54th Georgia Regiment were back at Savannah, GA serving on river defenses under the command of Edward C. Anderson. Anderson’s command also included the Berrien Minute Men, Company G, 29th Georgia Regiment. Col. E. C. Anderson’s frustrations with Confederate desertion included the embarrassment of having his personal boat stolen by three deserters from the Confederate tugboat CSS Resolute on the night of April 15, 1864.

By the summer of 1864, the Confederate States Army was again in pursuit of skulkers.  Colonel Elijah C. Morgan of the  Georgia Militia, wrote from Valdosta, GA to his superior officer requesting a guard to conduct skulkers back to their units. Col. E. C. Morgan had served as Captain of the Berrien Light Infantry, Company I, 50th GA regiment  from the formation of the company in 1862  until April 14, 1863 when he resigned because of tuberculosis; before the war he had been a Berrien County, GA attorney.

Colonel Elijah C. Morgan requests a guard to conduct skulkers from Valdosta, GA back to their Confederate units, August 16, 1864.

Colonel Elijah C. Morgan requests a guard to conduct skulkers from Valdosta, GA back to their Confederate units, August 16, 1864.

Valdosta, Ga   Aug 16th 1864


I again urge the necessity of sending Sergt Wm W Williams back to use as a guard in sending forward skulkers who will not do to trust without a guard.

E. C. Morgan
Col. & ADG
6th Dist GM

According to historian Ella Lonn, of the approximately 103,400 enlisted men who deserted the Confederacy by war’s end, 6,797 were from Georgia.

After the war, J. D. Evans became a Baptist preacher. In 1874 he came to Ray’s Mill, GA (now Ray City) where he was instrumental in organizing a missionary Baptist Church.

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William Brauner Cooper, Missionary Baptist

In the 1840s and 50s, Reverend William Brauner Cooper was pastor of the Missionary Baptist churches at Troupville and Thomasville, GA,  and at Monticello, Florida.  The American Baptist Register of 1852 shows in that year he had 40 church members at Monticello in Jefferson County, Florida, 29 at Ocklocknee Baptist Church in Thomasville, and 22 church members at the  baptist church of Troupville, GA which was then the county seat of Lowndes County, GA.

Rev. W. B. Cooper was a minister of culture who labored successfully to build up [the baptist] denomination in Florida… For meekness, prudence, and humility he was hardly ever excelled and not often equaled…. He was a very earnest minister, and the people loved to hear him. His style of preaching was very instructive. He was a leader in all moral, religious, and denominational works, and he frequently presided over Associations and Conventions. In Hamilton, Columbia, Madison. Jefferson, and other counties he did a grand work for Jesus and for his beloved denomination. – 1881 Baptist Encyclopedia

Wm B. was a farmer and slaveholder, owning considerable acreage at various times in Madison, Hillsborough, and Jefferson Counties in Florida, as well as a “claim” in Texas. He was a great great grandson of Benjamin Franklin

William Brauner Cooper was born 26 Apr 1807 in Abbeville, South Carolina, a son of Joseph Perrill Cooper (1777-1842) and Sarah Ann Franklin (1788-1874). His father served in the War of 1812, in Captain Zachary Meriwether’s company, Austin’s Regiment of the South Carolina Militia. This regiment was mustered from drafted men called into service at the very end of the war. Joseph Perrill Cooper enlisted for 60 days but left his unit after 43 days of service. After his death his widow’s pension claim was rejected ” by reason of insufficient service & personal abandonment.”

[William Brauner Cooper’s] father Joseph, born in Winchester, Virginia, of Quaker parents Jeremiah Cooper and Rebecca Perrill, and his mother Sarah Ann believed to have been born in Maryland of parents William Temple Franklin and Abigail Brauner, came to the Abbeville/Laurens area before 1805, settling on acreage near the Rabons Creek Quaker Meetinghouse. It was here that William B. Cooper and his fifteen siblings would receive their early education and religious training (Huxford Magazine, Vol 27).

William’s father, Joseph Cooper, was a man of rare culture and intellect, and the early education of the son was under his father’s training  (1881 Baptist Encyclopedia). [William’s] father was always very much interested in politics, was an ardent states rights man, and an intimate friend of John C. Calhoun. He, at one time, was a candidate for the state legislature, but whether elected, I am not certain. He had been a carpenter by trade, but taught school in the then thickly settled community, including Greek and Latin in the curriculum of the country district. I have heard my Mother tell how the classes studied out under the trees, and the discipline must have been in keeping more with modern ideas than the switch and ferule of that day, for the kind-hearted Quaker ruled without severity. He was much honored by his family, although he died in 1842, leaving a large number of his children to be brought to maturity by their energetic Mother. The majority of the five sons secured a college education,… (Findagrave).

In 1828, William B. Cooper attended an academy near his home, which was then in Laurens District, SC.   On leaving the academy he went to a [baptist] theological school [Furman Theological Seminary, now Furman University] at a place called High Hills, in Sumter District (1881 Baptist Encyclopedia). The school was named for Richard Furman, a clergyman considered the most important Baptist leader before the Civil War. His son, James C. Furman, became the first president of the Seminary and was the owner of 56 enslaved people. At that time, the school had two professors and about 30 students; the library had 1,000 volumes.

While at the institution William B. Cooper was converted, under the preaching of Daniel Mangram, of Newberry District, and was baptized by him at Mount Pleasant church, SC….He remained two years [at Furman]… (1881 Baptist Encyclopedia).

William B. Cooper first appears in Florida in Hamilton County, which then encompassed all of the land in the fork of the Suwanee River and the Withlacoochee River, and bounded on the north by the Georgia state line.   According to the Florida Baptist Historical Society, William B. Cooper then participated in the organization of the Baptist Church of Christ Concord at Tiger Swamp Meeting-house about one and a half miles south of the community of Wall, FL (now Jasper, FL). Among the founding members were Edmund and Unity Mathis, John Lee, Jesse and Sarah Lee, Perry G. Wall, John L. and Lenora Stewart, Philemon Bryant, Elihu Morgan, as well as William B. Cooper.

Edmund and Unity Mathis were primitive baptists from Lowndes County, GA where they were members of Union Church  having been received April 12, 1828, by letter from Fellowship Church. On June 12, 1830, Edmund Mathis was ordained a deacon in Union Church and continued as a deacon the remainder of his life. Their son, Bunyan Mathis, had brought his family to Hamilton County about 1829.  In fact, “a group of Georgians in search of new farm land migrated to Tiger Swamp located in middle Florida’s Hamilton County. Having established a settlement, several of the Baptists, led by Edmund and Unity Register Mathis, sought the help of Union Church of Lowndes (now Lanier) County, Georgia, to sponsor an “arm” (mission)… Mr. And Mrs. Mathis joined others of the Union Church in a request for that church to establish an “arm” at Tiger Swamp Meeting-house in Hamilton County, near their homes… The group requested the Union Church to provide a ministerial presbytery to help organize and constitute a churchThe request was granted.

According to the Florida Baptist Historical Society, On June 9, 1832, with the assistance of Elders Elias Knight, John Tucker and William B. Cooper, the Baptist Church of Christ Concord as it was then called, was organized. The church called Elias Knight to serve as pastor. The next year the “arm” became an independent church named “Concord” and Deacon Mathis and wife were among charter members. 

William B. Cooper led the church from 1833 to 1836 (Hamilton GenWeb), although in the latter part of this period he was apparently absent pursuing further education. In the spring of 1835 William B. Cooper entered Columbian College, Washington, DC. His choice of institutions may not have set well with some of his church members. Primitive Baptists favor informal training of preachers and consider theological seminaries to have “no warrant or sanction from the New Testament, nor in the example of Christ and the apostles.” There was already a growing “anti-missionary” sentiment among the primitive baptist, and the origins of Columbian College were decidedly missionary.

Columbian College (now The George Washington University) had been planned as “a college and theological institution under the direction of the General Missionary Convention of the Baptist denomination in the United States.” While the charter granted by Congress emphasized that the college must be non-denominational, it remained in the control the Baptists.  The college provided some scholarships for “promising young men…especially if they expressed an interest in becoming ministers of the Gospel.”  “Requisites for admission included an acquaintance with English grammar and arithmetic, a thorough knowledge of geography, and the ability to read and write Latin. The prospective student had to be able to translate, with a high degree of competence, Caesar’s Commentaries, and the works of Virgil, Sallust, select orations of Cicero, and the New Testament in Greek. A candidate for advanced standing from another college had to pass examinations in all subjects previously taken and had to show that he left the other institution in good standing. No one was admitted without satisfactory credentials of good moral character.

According to GWU:

When Columbian College was founded in 1821, the Baptist church and Congress hoped that it would be a national university. But Columbian College quickly got the reputation as a southern institution. There were students from northern states, but the largest contingent of students came from Virginia, then D.C, and to a lesser extent from other southern states on the eastern seaboard….Columbian College existed in a city where human slavery was legal for over forty years prior to emancipation…There are no records of students at Columbian College bringing enslaved people to campus. But the students had opinions about slavery and often freely shared them. In student publications from the time, one common target was abolitionists who the students argued threatened both slavery and national unity. There were also examples found in the pages of these student newsletters of outright support for slavery and by the 1850s, as the sectional crisis advanced, the southern cause. There were also examples of opposition to slavery among the students. The most well-known was Henry J. Arnold, who in 1847 was removed from the school for assisting two men, John R. Smith and a man known only as Abram, who were owned by the college steward. While a student at Columbian, Arnold provided Abram with a letter intended for an attorney and $14 so that he could file a lawsuit to potentially win his freedom in court. For this, he was immediately removed from the student body and the campus by the faculty, an action later approved by the trustees.

Although there is no indication that the college itself ever owned slaves, from the beginning of the college, important leaders and financiers were slave owners and profited from the slave economy. The records also reveal that enslaved people had an almost constant presence on campus working as servants or laborers. Some of these enslaved men and women lived with presidents and stewards on campus while the college hired the labor of others from their masters…The enslaved people that stewards brought to live on campus would have worked as servants (that was their official title) who cleaned and did laundry for the students, prepared meals, and maintained the upkeep of the college building and lawn. We know that enslaved people worked alongside white workers (native and immigrant) and possibly free African Americans…at least 51 of the Board members likely owned slaves at one time or another. A few of the Baptist board of trustee members in slave-owning states (the college was founded and controlled at this time by Baptists), such as Iveson Brooks and Richard Fuller, not only owned slaves but authored influential theological tracts in defense of slavery (GW Libraries). Richard Fuller (April 22, 1804 – October 20, 1876) became one of the founders of the Southern Baptist movement, which split [in 1844] from the Northern Baptists over the issue of slavery in the United States, which Fuller and the Southern Baptists refused to oppose. Northern Baptists held that slave ownership itself disqualified a man for missionary service.

The Historical Catalogue of the Officers and Graduates of the Columbian University, Washington, D. C., 1821-1891, shows that William B. Cooper graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1836. He received a Master of Arts from Columbian University in 1839.

After his graduation he went to Augusta, Ga., where he was ordained.   His first ministry was at Hamburg, South Carolina where he is reported to have experienced a rheumatic condition, causing him to seek a milder clime to the south (Huxford Magazine, Vol 27). He removed to Florida… and located at Madison Court-House, FL (1881 Baptist Encyclopedia).

1845 Florida map detail showing Madison County, FL

1845 Florida map detail showing Madison County, FL

While William  B. Cooper was away attending college in Washington, DC., hostilities had broken out at home in Florida  between Native Americans and white settlers. During the period called The Second Seminole War, from 1835-1842,  the remaining Native American inhabitants of Georgia, Alabama and Florida forcibly resisted removal to western lands. The summer of 1836 had erupted into a string of violent encounters.  In Lowndes County, GA  Levi J. Knight led a company of men on or about July 12, 1836 in a skirmish at William Parker’s place. In subsequent days, engagements were fought at Brushy Creek, Little River, Grand Bay, Troublesome Ford, Warrior Creek and Cow Creek in Lowndes County.  In September, 1836, Gen. Jesup ordered Maj. Dearborn with about two hundred United States regulars, into Lowndes county, for the protection of that and the surrounding country against the depredations of Indians.  Dr. Jacob Rhett Motte, a Harvard educated Army surgeon in Dearborn’s command journaled about their duty at Franklinville, GA  in Lowndes County, GA and in Madison County, FL.  In January, 1837, Dearborn’s force moved into North Florida. About February 23, 1837 Dr.  Motte and the troops encamped at Warner’s Ferry on the upper Withlacoochee River, close to the boundary line between Georgia and Florida:

While there [Warner’s Ferry] we built a stockade, for the protection of the neighboring inhabitants, when [after which] we should have left, as a place of refuge for them.

In consequence of an alarm at Hickstown, caused by a body of Indians attacking a plantation in the neighbourhood, on the 1st of March [1837] we crossed the Withlacoochee and marched to the relief of its inhabitants. The swarthy devils, however, had made themselves scarce by the time we got there; so all we had to do was, as the Scotchman says, “to coome back agen.”

We visited San Pedro, which is seven miles from Hicks-town. In truth the latter was nothing but an extensive field, which had once been the site of an important Indian town; but at the time we saw it presented not the least vestige of its former life and bustle or indeed of any life at all. San Pedro was a County-town [county seat], and we found it was the resort of many fugitives who had left their desolated homes to escape the rifles and scalping-knife; and were dwelling in miserable shanties that could scarcely protect them from the slightest shower. The few settlers on the road we traveled on our return, who had not deserted their clearings, were suffering very much from alarm of Indians, who were known to be concealed somewhere in the vicinity; for they would frequently, when prompted by their necessities, leave their lurking place, in the swamps, and commit depredations, and then retire with impunity loaded with their plunder.”

There is a legend that during this period, while the baptist church was still at Hickstown,  “Indians on the war path approached the church and [saw] through the windows the settlers kneeling in prayer.” “Their plan was to massacre the entire assemblage,” according to an old letter reported by State Librarian William T. Cash (1878-1954), “The Red Men then said to each other, ‘They are talking to the Great Spirit and He will be very angry with us if we kill them.” The letter said the Indians then slipped away quietly, but one of them was captured later and told the whites how narrowly they had escaped being massacred in the Hickstown church.” “ A picture of this incident hangs in the vestibule.”  – Middle Florida Baptist Association, 1995


The Florida Militia was also patrolling the Florida-Georgia border during this time. From William B. Cooper’s own Baptist Church of Christ Concord, deacon Edmund Mathis and his son Bunyan Mathis were among those enlisted in Captain John J. Johnson’s Mounted Company of the 2nd Regiment of East Florida Volunteers.  According to military records, the Mathises provided their own horses and were issued U.S. Army muskets, as were other men of the company, The officers of the company provided two horses  and each officer brought a slave as a personal servant.   “Thousands of enslaved men accompanied Confederate officers as their camp slaves, or body servants. These men performed a wide range of roles for their owners, including cooking, cleaning, foraging and sending messages to families back home.” Thousands more were enslaved  as “cooks, butchers, blacksmiths and hospital attendants, and slave owners remained convinced that these men would remain fiercely loyal even in the face of opportunities to escape…” –Diaries of Confederate Soldiers, Smithsonian Magazine

On April 21, 1838, the family and slaves of circuit riding Methodist minister Tilmon Dixon Peurifoy were massacred by Indians near Tallahassee, FL. Attacks at Old Town on the Suwanee River and in Alachua County, FL were reported in the same news accounts.

Reverend Cooper returned in 1839 to the Baptist Church of Christ Concord in Hamilton County, Florida where he became embroiled in the baptist controversy over the appropriateness of missionary work.

Like so many other Baptist churches of the period, the Concord Church in 1839 was confronted by the anti-missions movement. The primary anti-mission proponent was Elder [Elias] Knight, who was still affiliated with the Union Church in Lowndes County (now Lanier), GA.

Serving as the pro-missionary apologist was Hamilton County probate judge and ordained Baptist minister William B. Cooper. The discussion of the pros and cons of the missionary movement continued over a series of monthly church conferences. Finally, Elder Knight told the congregation that the church would take a vote. He explained that whichever faction was in the majority would grant to the opposing faction letters of dismissal so that the departed members could organize another church. The pro-missions’ faction won the standing vote by a slim majority. The missions’ proponents reportedly voted to provide letters of dismission to the anti-missions group, sang a song, shook hands with each other and said their good-byes. The anti-missions’ faction departed and eventually organized the Prospect Baptist Church, which subsequently became a Primitive Baptist congregation. [The Primitive Baptist movement embraced many of the theological positions and faith practices of the early hyper-Calvinists.]

During this contention, Deacon Edmund Mathis and his wife, Unity, were of the anti-missionary sentiment. Upon receiving letters of dismission, they returned to Lowndes County,  where they were received back by Union Church by letter from Concord, Sept. 6, 1839.  Bunyan Mathis and his wife, Elizabeth, went with the anti-mission faction that formed Prospect Church. Although they were at theological odds, William B. Cooper served on the initial presbytery for the organization of Prospect Primitive Baptist Church. Prospect Primitive Baptist Church was located on a bluff overlooking the Suwanee River 17 miles east of Jasper, FL.

It was apparently about this point that William B. Cooper’s Missionary beliefs caused him to abandon the Primitive tenet, and… take a pastorship at newly constituted Hickstown Baptist Church in nearby Madison County (Huxford Magazine, Vol 27).


Hickstown Baptist Church

Portrait of Tukose Emaltha, a chief of the Miccosukee Indians, who was known by the english name John Hicks.

Portrait of Tukose Emaltha, a chief of the Miccosukee Indians, who was known by the english name John Hicks.

The Hickstown Baptist Church was constituted around 1832 to 1835 at the village of Hickstown, about six miles west of present day Madison, FL. The village was named for John Hicks, a chief of the  Miccosukee tribe whose Indian name was Tuckose Emathla. Hicks had moved his tribe to this region after Andrew Jackson’s 1818 punitive expedition against  Miccosukee villages east of Tallahassee, FL (Jackson’s forces included friendly Indians from Chehaw Village, GA, which was massacred by Georgia Militia troops while the warriors were serving with Jackson in Florida.)   Hicks came to realize that the government’s intention to move the Indians to reservations was inevitable and supported peaceful negotiation between the Native Americans and the government. Hicks was among the chiefs signing the 1823 Treaty of Moultrie Creek, under which terms the Native Americans were relocated to a reservation in central Florida. By 1826 Hicks’ tribe of Miccosukee Indians had removed from Hickstown.

In Madison County on US Hwy 90 a historic marker commemorates the Hickstown site with the following text:

The Miccosukee Indian chief, John Hicks, (English name for Tuckose Emathla) was a prominent Indian leader in the period between the First and Second Seminole Wars (1818-1835). It is believed that after General Andrew Jackson destroyed the Miccosukee towns to the west of here in the 1818 campaign against the Seminoles, John Hicks relocated his village near this site. This village, Hicks Town, was evacuated by the Indians by 1826 as Seminoles were removed to a central Florida reservation. John Hicks died in the winter of 1833-34 after a decade as a major spokesman for his people in treaty councils in which important decisions about the future of the Seminoles were made. White settlers occupied the site in the late 1820’s, and in 1830, Hickstown Post Office was established. By the late 1830’s, the village had disappeared as a center of population due to the Second Seminole War and the creation of an official Madison County seat at San Pedro.

The Miccosukee Indian chief, John Hicks, (English name for Tuckose Emathla) was a prominent Indian leader in the period between the First and Second Seminole Wars (1818-1835). It is believed that after General Andrew Jackson destroyed the Miccosukee towns to the west of here in the 1818 campaign against the Seminoles, John Hicks relocated his village near this site. This village, Hicks Town, was evacuated by the Indians by 1826 as Seminoles were removed to a central Florida reservation. John Hicks died in the winter of 1833-34 after a decade as a major spokesman for his people in treaty councils in which important decisions about the future of the Seminoles were made. White settlers occupied the site in the late 1820's, and in 1830, Hickstown Post Office was established. By the late 1830's, the village had disappeared as a center of population due to the Second Seminole War and the creation of an official Madison County seat at San Pedro. Image source:

Hickstown Historic Marker, located on US Highway 90 in Madison County, FL. Image source:


It was around this time that the Hickstown Baptist Church relocated from Hickstown to the community of Madison, which by 1838 had become county seat of Madison County, FL


“From that time on William B. Cooper’s story is that of a heroic worker and missionary. Neither dangers from the Indians nor toils of the road deterred W. B. Cooper. Throughout the Florida counties of Madison, Leon, and Jefferson, and the Georgia counties of Lowndes and Thomas, he prosecuted his labors with zeal unabated. In the face of bitter opposition from anti-missionary elements, he espoused the cause of missions” – A History of Florida Baptists


Assuming a commanding role in the Florida’s Missionary movement along the Florida/Georgia corridor, he next became the first pastor of Little River/Troupville Baptist Church near present day Valdosta, Georgia, [The baptist church in Troupville was constituted in 1840.] In consort with Georgia’s Baptist leaders [he] strove to turn the tide  [that was] against the Missionary movement, becoming known in the annals of Florida Baptist history as “the first Missionary Baptist preacher of Florida” (Huxford Magazine, Vol 27).

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Reverend Carl Winn Minor

Reverend Carl Winn Minor (1868-1940)

Carl Winn Minor was pastor of the Ray City Baptist Church in 1936 and 1937.  Born during Reconstruction, C. W. Minor was a son of Francis Minor and Mary Jane Watson and a grandson of Jim Minor, of Virginia.

Carl Winn Minor served as pastor of Ray City Baptist Church in 1936 and 1937. Rev. Minor had formerly served as pastor of Valdosta Baptist Church.

Carl Winn Minor served as pastor of Ray City Baptist Church in 1936 and 1937. Rev. Minor had formerly served as pastor of Valdosta Baptist Church.

According to Baptist Biography, Vol II, 1917:

In the early part of the last century, Mr. Jim Minor moved from Virginia to Georgia and settled on a farm in the southern part of Hancock county. Among his children was Francis [Frank] Minor, who was made an orphan by the death of his father when he was only six years old. In the early years of Francis the responsibilities of the family fell upon his shoulders. This and the consequent hardships developed the manhood that was in him and he became a successful farmer. At the age of thirty he married Miss Mary Jane Watson, a native of Greene county, Georgia. They lived and labored on a farm in Hancock county, where they reared a large family, Carl Winn Minor, the subject of this sketch being the eleventh of fifteen children.

Mr. Minor was born July 29, 1868, and spent his youth on his father’s plantation, where he was schooled in the art of tilling the soil. By the use of a club axe, the plow and the hoe, he developed a strong body which has served him well in his educational pursuits and in his ministerial career. In the community school, with its short terms, he laid the foundation for his education. Being a diligent student and apt to learn he developed an insatiable desire for knowledge. In early manhood he entered the [Middle Georgia Military & Agricultural College] M. G. M. & A. College, at Milledgeville, Georgia, in which he prepared himself for the Freshman class of Mercer University, Macon, Georgia.

Carl Winn Minor attended Middle Georgia Military & Agricultural College at Milledgeville, GA. The college was housed in the former state capitol building, constructed in 1803. The college is now known as Georgia Military College.

Carl Winn Minor attended Middle Georgia Military & Agricultural College at Milledgeville, GA. The college was housed in the former state capitol building, constructed in 1803. The college is now known as Georgia Military College.

On June 25, 1885, a month and three days before his seventeenth birthday. Mr. Minor was happily converted and united with the Milledgeville Baptist church and was baptized by Rev. A. J. Beck [Reverend Andrew Jefferson Beck]. From the beginning of his Christian life Mr. Minor took an active interest in the work of his church. It was soon recognized that he was a convert of promise and that he was endowed with the gifts of public speech and of leadership. Accordingly, he was licensed to exercise his gifts in preaching the gospel, and on December 18, 1888, while a student at Mercer University, he was ordained to the full work of the gospel ministry by Friendship church, Washington county, Georgia. The presbytery was composed of Revs. T. J. Holmes [Thomas Joseph Holmes], W. J. Durham and D. W. Dewell [William D. Dewell].

Carl Winn Minor attended Mercer University

Carl Winn Minor attended Mercer University

Carl W. Winn was pastor at Union Baptist Church,

Carl W. Winn was pastor at Union Baptist Church, Warthen, Washington County, GA from 1889 to 1893, while attending Mercer University.

Mr. Minor was pastor of one or more churches during his entire course at Mercer University. The churches served while at Mercer were Liberty, Wilkinson county, 1888-1893, and Union, Washington county, 1889-1893. The A. B. course and the duties of preparing sermons and of pastoral work in his churches were a heavy tax on his mind and body, but being accustomed to hard work from his youth up, and possessing an unusual degree of determination, he succeeded in the work of his churches and made a good record in his college classes, graduating with the A. B. degree in 1893. The income from the churches he served was not adequate to meet his college expenses, and it was necessary for him to devote one year to teaching. That year was spent in the grammar school of South Macon.

Old Baptist Church Building , Dublin, GA. Carl Winn Minor taught at this church while attending Mercer University in the 1890s.

Old Baptist Church Building, Dublin, GA. Carl Winn Minor taught at this church while attending Mercer University in the 1890s.

During Mr. Minor’s last year at Mercer he was pastor of the Dublin Baptist church. This church offered exceptional opportunities for a young college graduate, but he was not satisfied with his educational attainments. Accordingly, he resigned the pastorate of the Dublin church in the Fall of 1893 and entered the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, at Louisville, Kentucky, from which he graduated with the Th. G. degree in 1895. While at the Seminary he was pastor of Tate’s Creek and Elko churches, in Kentucky.

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY

After graduation from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Mr. Minor became pastor of the Valdosta Baptist church, Georgia,

 Carl Winn Minor preached from 1895 to 1900 in this Valdosta, GA church building, originally constructed in 1867 by the missionary baptist congregation of Valdosta. The Missionary Baptists sold the building to the Valdosta Primitive Baptist congregation in 1900. It was acquired by the Pentacostal Church 1994. It is Valdosta's oldest existing religious structure.

Carl Winn Minor preached from 1895 to 1900 in this Valdosta, GA church building, originally constructed in 1867 by the missionary baptist congregation of Valdosta. The Missionary Baptists sold the building to the Valdosta Primitive Baptist congregation in 1900. It was acquired by the Pentacostal Church 1994. It is Valdosta’s oldest existing religious structure.

[Reverend Minor served Valdosta Baptist Church] from 1895 to 1902. During this period the city of Valdosta had a very rapid but substantial growth. The church of which Mr. Minor was pastor kept pace with the material development of the community. Through his leadership it erected a magnificent new house of worship, which cost $30,000.


In 1896, a lot on Toombs Street between West Central Avenue and Valley Street was purchased and construction on a new church building began. After four years, on November 18, 1900, the church was dedicated debt free, to the glory of God.

Valdosta Baptist Church

Valdosta Baptist Church


During [Reverend Minor’s] pastorate at Valdosta he spent a year in travel and study abroad.

1899 Passport application of Carl Winn Minor.

1899 Passport application of Carl Winn Minor.

Three months of the time were spent in the Holy Land. It was his privilege to read the thrilling instances recorded in the Scriptures on the ground where they took place. These opportunities gave him a clearer insight into the realities of the divine revelation. It has had a telling effect on his preaching through all the years. While abroad he spent much time in Germany, France, England and Scotland.


Mr. Minor has held only five pastorates since his graduation from the Seminary in 1895. The unanimous call of the church at Fitzgerald and the exceptional opportunities the field offered, led Mr. Minor to resign his church at Valdosta, in 1902, and to accept the pastorate of the church at Fitzgerald, where he remained through 1905. The church at Moultrie extended him a call in the latter part of 1905. It was an inviting field and the call was accepted and he gave the church three years of faithful and efficient service, resigning its pastorate to accept a call to the church at Bainbridge, where he did a great work during the years 1909 to 1914. Up until 1914 all the pastoral work of Mr. Minor had been in the territory south of Macon. The church at Madison, Georgia, coveted his gifts and secured his services in 1914 and thereafter until 1917. During his pastorate at Madison a commodious Sunday school room was erected at a cost of $25,000.

It may be said that few pastors anywhere have been more successful and more universally popular than Mr. Minor. Good congregations attended the regular services of all the churches he has served, and the churches under his leadership have enjoyed steady and substantial growth in numbers and in Christian liberality. His work as a pastor has been constructive, and every field in which he has labored has been made more desirable for his successor by reason of the character of work he did while in it.

The interest of Mr. Minor has not been limited to the churches he has served nor to the communities in which they were located. The district association of which his churches were members had his active support, and he ever maintained an active interest in the State and Southern Baptist Conventions. Educational institutions have found in him a staunch friend, and he has rendered much valuable service in their interests. Mr. Minor is distinctively a denominational man, and his denomination has recognized his ability as a leader in the interest of its enterprises. Among other positions held, he is trustee of the Georgia Baptist Orphans’ Home, Mercer University, and is president of the Mission Board of the Georgia Baptist Convention, a position which he has held during the past three years. In recognition of his ability as a minister of the gospel and as a theologian, the trustees of Mercer University conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1910.

Dr. Minor is a man of pleasing personal appearance. Friends are easily made, and seemingly quite as easily held. As a preacher he is clear in his thinking, sound in his theology and forceful in his delivery. In his public addresses, he warms up to his subject quickly and creates interest and enthusiasm in his hearers. As a citizen he is every whit a Christian gentleman. Honesty and integrity with him are priceless virtues. In all the communities where he has lived and labored, he has maintained a high standing as a Christian citizen and as a man of good business judgment.

It was a surprise to many of his friends that Dr. Minor could have been induced to leave the pastorate to become associate president of Cox College, where he began his labors in the Fall of 1917.

Cox Female College, Atlanta, GA. Carl Winn Minor was president of the college from 1917 to 1926..

Cox Female College, Atlanta, GA. Carl Winn Minor was president of the college from 1917 to 1926.

In the college, as in the pastorate, he is a tireless and tactful worker. Wherever he has gone he has made friends for the institution over which he presides. Though the college has no organic connection with the Baptist denomination, it is recognized as a Baptist institution. Dr. Minor’s friendship and support of the institutions of the Georgia Baptist Convention have been as hearty since his connection with Cox College as they were before.

Dr. Minor greatly increased his personal happiness and usefulness in his marriage to Mrs. Bessie Fair Sims, on September 17, 1912. In his work as pastor and as president of Cox College, she is a worthy helpmeet. With his home established and with his breadth of learning and with his varied experiences as pastor, educator and denominational worker, he is now at his best. The hard work on the farm in his youth, his struggles in securing an education, the stress and strain of growing pastorates and the exactions of a college president have in no way impaired his physical strength. At no time in his busy life has he been more capable of doing well a diversity of things than now. The brotherhood of his denomination and the people of the communities in which he has lived and labored trust him implicitly and delight to honor him. The days of his greatest usefulness have just begun, and the rewards which he has received and those which await him are well worth all the struggles of his youth and the sacrifices and labors of his manhood.


Subsequent to his tenure at Cox College, Carl Winn Minor served as pastor of a number of Georgia baptist churches. In 1930, he was living and preaching in Augusta, GA.  By 1936, he came to Ray City, GA where he served as pastor of the Ray City Baptist Church for two years.  At the conclusion of his pastorate in Ray City, Carl Winn Minor was 66 years of age. On June 10,1940 he died of a heart attack in Atlanta, GA.  He was buried at Memory Hill Cemetery, Milledgeville GA. Bessie Minor died in 1961 and was buried at her husband’s side.

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Thomasville Times Account of 1836 Battle of Brushy Creek

Previous posts have described some of the actions against Indians in the immediate area of Berrien, Lowndes, Brooks, Cook, Thomas, and Lanier counties in the summer of 1836.  The Skirmish at William Parker’s Place  (July 13, 1836) and the Battle of Brushy Creek (July 15, 1836) were preceded and somewhat precipitated by the Indian uprising at Roanoke, GA (May 15, 1836) and the Battle of Chickasawhatchee Swamp (June 3, 1836). In August, 1836 subsequent local actions were fought  along Warrior Creek, Little RiverAlapaha River, Cow Creek,  Troublesome Ford, and Grand Bay. Levi J. Knight, and other pioneer settlers of Berrien and Lowndes counties, participated in these actions.

On June 12, 1889, The Thomasville Times published a History of Thomas County compiled by W. Irwin MacIntyre of Thomasville, GA, which included an earlier description of the actions at Brushy Creek.

The action at Brushy Creek were under the command of Major Michael Young (Thomas County),  Capt. James A. Newman (Thomas County),  Capt. Henry Crawford TuckerCapt. Hamilton Sharpe (Lowndes County), and Capt. John Pike (Lowndes County) who was the son-in-law of Sion Hall, Coffee Road innkeeper.

Thomasville Times account of Actions on Warrior Creek

      The following account of a battle that took place between the whites and Indians, and in which the citizens of Thomas participated, is gleaned from the papers of the day.
       On the fifteenth day of July, 1836, a severe engagement took place between a party of Creek Indians, on their march to Florida, and several companies of volunteers from Thomas and Lowndes counties, under the command of Major M. Young; one company from Thomas, commanded by Captain James A. Newman, and one company commanded by Captain [Henry Crawford] Tucker; the company from Lowndes commanded by Captain Pike – these three companies composing the battalion.
      On the eleventh day of July, information was received at Thomasville that a body of Indians were seen making their way through the northern part of Thomas County, to join the Seminole tribe in Florida. This intelligence was received at night, and on the morning of the 12th, a company of brave volunteers, forty-six in number embarked in their country’s cause, under the command of Captain Newman, and proceed on their march to the place where the enemy were seen; and on the 13th arrived within a few miles of Warrior Creek Swamp, where the Indians were suppose to be, and camped. The next morning a detachment of men were sent out as scouts, and after proceeding four miles on their way, discovered fifteen Indians between Warrior Creek and Little River, about a mile and a half above the fork. The troops then started upon a forced march, directing their course to a ford of the river, four miles below, thinking to intercept the Indians a a certain place where it was supposed they would leave the swamp, when the companies from Thomas and Lowndes united their forces and placed themselves under the command of Major Young, of Thomas. The troops then advanced to the river, and after swimming their horses, resumed their march for the place where they expected to meet the enemy; but upon arriving there, they could make no discovery. It was then concluded to scour the swamp, which was two miles and a half in length. Every sixth man was detailed to guard the horses; they then entered the swamp; and after marching nearly through it, a tremendous rain came on. Calling a halt until it was nearly over, the pilot got bewildered and lost, and said he knew not which way to direct his course. Another guide was procured, who, after some difficulty, succeeded in carrying the troops back to their horses. Not one Indian was seen after marching until the men worn down with fatigue, were ordered to mount their horses, and marched by three miles, where they could get privisions, and encamped that night.

      During the evening, Captain Sharpe and Captain Tucker joined the troops shortly after they had reached their horses on returning from the swamp. Captain Hamilton W. Sharpe was ordered to remain near where they had entered the swamp. Much credit is due to Captain Sharpe for his vigilance and perseverance in discovering where the enemy were.
      Early on the morning of the 15th, Captain Sharpe and his company came upon their trail, and following it some distance, discovered a body of Indians, nearly one hundred in number. He immediately dispatched a man to give the intelligence, which, when it reached the little band, aroused in them a spirit of unconquerable pride and patriotic bravery. They were soon upon their horses, and, in high spirits, the gallant little army was led away to meet the murderous foe. In a few moments they met Captain Sharpe, who had had an engagement with the enemy and retreated, with the loss of one man killed and one wounded, who piloted them to where the Indians were, and after marching two miles in pursuit of them, the advance-guard was fired upon in a kind of meadow, near a pond in open pine woods. A charge was immediately ordered, and the troops gallantly entered the conflict. Never did a braver little crew march into an enemy’s field; like veterans they stood the shock, the savages poring a heavy fire into their ranks. Buoyed up by the love of country, and ready to protect its sacred altars, they rushed upon the foe, and put them to flight, continuing to pour volley upon volley into their midst as they fled, pursuing them nearly three miles, through several ponds, into a large swamp, killing two of the only three that were seen to enter it. The number of Indians was supposed to be between sixty and seventy, out of which number twenty-two were killed, and two negroes; eighteen were captured – nine squaws and nine children. The volunteers numbered about one hundred and twenty, out of which they sustained a loss of two men killed and eight wounded, but none of them mortally.

Enslaved on Independence Day

On the Fourth of July, 1835, a large and respectable number of Lowndes citizens convened at the Court house at the Franklinville, Lowndes County, GA to celebrate. The Independence Day 1835 Jubilee was marked with a parade, speeches, prayer, the reading of the Declaration of Independence, celebratory meal and numerous toasts; Levi J. Knight gave the keynote address.  Many antebellum celebrations of the “National Anniversary” across Georgia largely followed this agenda, according to accounts published in state newspapers.

Of course, there was little mention of slave participation in these white celebrations.  An account of the 1829 4th of July jubilee in Savannah does state that “Negroes will not be allowed” to be present at the official reading of the Declaration of Independence in the Methodist Episcopal Church.  For enslaved or free African-Americans, Independence day held no social contract or patriotic significance. Nevertheless, it was a day of celebration.

The 4th of July had very different meanings for enslaved African-Americans and their Wiregrass masters.

The 4th of July had very different meanings for enslaved African-Americans and their Wiregrass Georgia masters.

Ike Thomas, born into slavery about 1842 on a Georgia Plantation, shared memories of how enslaved African-Americans celebrated the 4th of July. In one passage recorded in WPA Slave Narratives he described the events of the day.

Before the war, the negroes had a big celebration on the 4th of July, a big barbecue, ball game, wrestling matches, lots of music and singing. They had to have a pass from their Masters to attend and pay to get in. The patrol came by to see your pass and if you didn’t have one, they’d whip you and send you home. When the Negroes first heard that they were free, they didn’t believe it so they just stayed on with their white folks…they could come and go as they pleased for they were free.

According to historian Leonard I. Sweat,

“The Fourth of July was one of the three major established holidays on most plantations, along with Easter and Christmas. The entire system of slave holidays… served as a carrot to spur production and steer behavior…Slaves anticipated the Fourth of July as a day of recreation and relaxation and in many cases a day on which parties were held in their honor by the plantation owners.”

The Fourth of July was marked by Abolitionists as a day of hypocrisy and national shame. But even in the northern states where slavery had been outlawed,

“Whites usually insisted on segregated festivities….Although these abolitionist celebrations of July 4 often featured black speakers, most white celebrations outlawed black participation if not black presence, a painful reminder to blacks of the role denied them in the destiny of the nation. Blacks stood as spectators during the civil and church celebrations of the Fourth of July which existed side-by-side, with the church services periodically interrupted by rifle-shots and drunken shouts from the competing civil celebrations. Here were the patriotic expressions of liberty which made the Fourth of July in particular, and all black heritage days in general, the most perilous days of the year for both slaves and free blacks…”Black attempts at celebrating the Fourth of July frequently suffered …violence and lack of official protection.

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A Brief History of Beaver Dam Baptist Church

In 1874 when Mercer Association missionary Reverend J. D. Evans came to Ray’s Mill, Thomas M. Ray was deeply moved by the baptist’s message.  Evans and Ray were both Confederate veterans and former slave owners.

During the Civil War, Evans had been Captain of the Berrien Light Infantry until he deserted in the summer of 1863.  After the war Evans took up the gospel as a layman. In 1871 he organized a Sunday School at a log house near Morven, GA and was a founding member of Philadelphia Church there.  Shortly afterwards he was ordained by Philadelphia Church, and took up missionary work helping to found a number of Wiregrass baptist churches. In 1874 this work brought him to Ray’s Mill.

At first the missionary baptist church meetings were held in the old log school house and  big revivals that were held at Ray’s Mill in May and July, 1874. Thomas M. Ray must have attended the events for he became instrumental in the formation of a Baptist Church at Ray’s Mill (see Men at Beaver Dam Baptist Church.)  On September 20, 1874 a small group of followers met with Reverend J. D. Evans  at  the  home of Thomas and Mary Ray to organize the church.  Thomas M. Ray and David J. McGee were elected to represent the new church to the Mercer Baptist Association and were sent as messengers to the Valdosta Church. The Reverend J. D. Evans wrote a petitionary letter which they carried to the association. In November 1874 Thomas M. Ray was appointed to a church building committee along with James M. Baskin and David J. McGee. He served on the committed that selected and procured the site for the construction of the church building. He continued to serve on the building committee until his death.

The original wooden church building at Beaver Dam was constructed by William A. Bridges and James M. Baskin (see Baskin Family Helped Found Ray City Baptist Church).  Construction began in  January of 1875.  Baskin and Bridges hand hewed the timbers to frame the church.   Sawn lumber was purchased but had to be dressed by hand. The building was finished with windows and siding. The pulpit, table and pews were all built on site. J. M. Baskin made the doors himself.

Pastors of Ray City Baptist Church

John D. Evans 1874-1875
William E. Morris 1875-1876
George M. Troupe Wilson 1876-1876
John D. Evans 1876-1878
T. W. Powell 1878-1880
William Adolphus Pardee 1884-1887
John D. Evans 1887-1889
William Henry Dent 1890-1898
Malcolm Augustus Grace 1898-1900
J. L. Milner 1900-1901
H. C. Strong 1901-1903
W. J. Odom 1903-1903
W. J. Ballew 1903-1903
A. J. Gross 1905-1906
E. L. Todd 1906-1913
Perry Thomas Knight 1913-1917
M. L. Lawson 1917-1917
N. C. Wilkes 1917-1918
Clayton Samuel Yawn 1918-1921
W. Harvey Wages 1921-1922
J. C. Moore 1924—1925
A. W. Smith 1925-1925
Walter Branch 1925-1935
Carl W. Minor 1936-1937
C. . Schwall 1937-1940
John W. Harrell 1941-1945
P. T. Peavy 1945-1945
John W. Harrell 1946-1953
Claude Tuten 1954-1958
C. C. Lynch 1959-1962
J. Ray Allen 1962-1963
Bob M. Brown 1964-1967
Allen Bates 1967-1972
Wiley Vickers 1973-1977
Dr. William Rathburn 1978-1990
Lee Graham 1990-2006
John E. Patten 2006 –


Men at Beaver Dam Baptist Church

Baskin Family Helped Found Ray City Baptist Church

Pearl Todd Baptist Retreat

Wilmont Pierce and the Valdosta Baptist Association

Perry Thomas Knight Attended Oaklawn Baptist Academy

Mixon Graves at New Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery

Owen Clinton Pope, Reconstruction Teaching and Preaching

Spanish-American War Vet Rests at Ray City, GA

Mary & Saunto Sollami Buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery

There Is Nobody Killed But A Private Or Two

On Wednesday, June 22, 1864 both companies of Berrien Minute Men were in the line of battle at Marietta, GA.  It was a hot summer day.

That morning John W. Hagan, of Berrien County, GA, wrote his wife Amanda there was “only 7 but what was killed or wounded” in the 29th Georgia Regiment. That made the total count of men killed, wounded or missing in the past week an even 100 from the 29th GA Regiment.  Hagan reported that among the dead was Jasper M. Roberts, of the Berrien Minute Men. He asked his wife to tell Jasper’s mother, “he was killed dead in a charge he was gallantly leading & chering his men on to battle and was successfull in driving back the Yankees. He was taken off the battle field & was burried as well as the nature of the case would permit.

In the evening, on the other side of the line, Pvt Charles T. Develling, 17th Ohio Regiment wrote in his journal.

June 22nd, the rebels gave us a severe shelling this afternoon, from five different points. Our artillery replied promptly and with effect. Shortly after dark we moved to the right and into front line, already fortified, in an open field, in the hottest hole we have yet found, as regards both the sun and fire from the rebels.

That same day, the Columbus Times, Columbus, GA published a Civil War poem by an anonymous author, a poem apparently not ever appearing elsewhere in print before or since.

For the  Times.
There is Nobody Killed but a Private or Two.

The crack of the rifle in the distance is heard,
From the hills far away comes the shriek of the shell
Through the valley re-echoes the huge cannon’s roar,
Mingling its deep thunder with the victor’s wild yell.

At last we are told that ’twas only a skirmish,
That again to their colors our gallants were true ;
Tho’ around them flew thickly the shot and the shell,
“There was nobody killed but a private or two.”

At the dawn of the morrow a squad is detailed,
’Tis supplied with no arms but the shovel and spade;
To the scene of the conflict their steps are now turned,
Where their comrades lie sleeping in death’s gloomy shade,
The dead are wrapp’d hurriedly in the cold, wet sod,
Uncoffin’d, unshrouded, scarcely hidden from view,
Their task is soon over, to the camp they return,
For “there’s nobody killed but a private or two.”

The telegraph columns of the papers, announce
Another slight skirmish just in front of our lines;
The report is scarce read, and the public complain.
That there’s so little news, considering the times,
Ah ! yes, there is one who has scanned the dispatches,
In her hands her pale face is now hidden from view,
Great God! she exclaims, ’tis my husband they have slain,
Tho’ “there’s nobody killed but a privateer two.”

That mother sits weeping alone in her cabin,
The low mourning winds in the tree-tops are sighing,
Her four little children stand gazing around her,
Wondering the reason why mamma keeps crying.
“Your papa, my darlings, never more will return,
Never more the’fond ties of affection renew,
In the cold distant grave his body’s reposing,
But there’s nobody killed but a private or two.”

How lonely and sad is the cold world to them now !
Ah ! who can portray the deep sorrow that is there!
Four orphans so desolate, left drifting alone,
A mother’s heart wrapp’d in the black gloom of despair!
When they think of the grave where that father’s now sleeping.
Recall to the memory his last fond adieu,
How sad to be told with such wanton indifference,
That “there’s nobody killed but a private or two.”
B***.    – Columbus Times 6/22/1864

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Nathan Byrd

Nathan W. Byrd

Nathan W. Byrd was one of the mail carriers for the post offices of Old Berrien County, GA. He carried mail on  the postal route between Nashville, GA and Milltown (now Lakeland, GA) in the period after the Civil War.  This road from Lastinger Mills at Milltown to the county seat at Nashville was one of the first public roads built in Berrien County. The route passed by the residences of Isben Giddens, Levi J. Knight, and John M. Futch, among others residing in the vicinity of Ray’s Mill, GA.

In 1875 Nathan W. Byrd was awarded the contract  to carry mail between Nashville, GA and Alapaha, GA, 13 miles and back, three times a week. The trip was a four hour ride each way.

The 1876 records of the U.S. Congress show in that year Nathan W. Byrd also put in a bid to carry the mail on  the route from Nashville, GA to Allapaha, GA.

1876 mail routes, Berrien County, GA

1876 mail routes, Berrien County, GA

The route was awarded to William J. Nelson of Allapaha, who was contracted to provide the mail service, three round trips a week, for $190 per year.   That sum would equate to about $49,300 in comparative 2013 dollars.

Nathan W. Byrd was born October 6, 1808 and raised in Sampson County, North Carolina.  He was the only child of Robert Byrd and his second wife, Elizabeth Gulley.   Nathan’s father, Robert Byrd, was a veteran of the Revolutionary War who served with the North Carolina militia from about 1777 to 1780. Nathan’s maternal grandfather, William S. Gulley was also a soldier of the Revolutionary War.

As a young man, Nathan Byrd came to Georgia where he met Ellen Gay, of Alabama. On January 24, 1834  the 25 year-old Nathan W. Byrd married Ellen Gay, age 16 and the couple made their home in Stewart County, GA.

Marriage license of Nathan W. Byrd and Eleanor L. B. Gay. August 14, 1834, Stewart County, GA.

Marriage license of Nathan W. Byrd and Eleanor L. B. Gay. August 14, 1834, Stewart County, GA.

Georgia, Stewart County
I do certify that Nathan W. Byrd and Eleanor L. B. Gay were duly joined in Matrimony by me this 14th day of August 1834
James S. Lunsford, M.G.
Recorded this 22nd day of August 1834
Thomas M. Dennis, Clk


The following year their first child was born, James Byrd, but the child died in infancy.   A daughter, Mary Elizabeth, was born to the couple in 1837,  and in 1839 a second daughter, Martha, was delivered. The following year their son, William Byrd, was born.   By 1840, the Byrds had moved to Houston County, GA where they appear in the census of that year, along with their three children.

Over the next decade, the couple added three more daughters to their growing family; Sarah (1843), Ellen (1846), and Susan Catherine (b. 1848). The Census of 1850 found them still living in Houston County. Nathan was a farmer with $2000 in real estate. At age 40, with four daughters and only one son, William, age 9, to help with farm labor, Nathan would have found it tough going. But the Slave Inhabitant Schedule in the 1850 Census shows that he owned three slaves.

Also enumerated in 1850 living in the Byrd household was 22-year-old William Gay, farmer. A search of the available records has failed to disclose the exact relation of William Gay, but it seems most likely that he is the younger brother of Ellen Gay Byrd. The parents of Ellen or William Gay are not known, the only clue to their origins being Huxford’s assertion that Ellen Gay was “of Alabama.”

In 1850, Nathan W. Byrd was a member of the Southern Rights Party of Houston County, a party dedicated to repelling “the efforts of the North…to interfere with [Southern men’s] rights in slave property.”  At that time there was grave sectional contention  over the future of slavery in this country.  In September of that year, the United States Congress passed the Compromise of 1850,  a package of five separate bills which defused the political confrontation between slave and free states on the status of territories acquired in the Mexican–American War.

Joseph E. Brown, Governor of Georgia from 1857 to 1865.

Joseph E. Brown, Governor of Georgia from 1857 to 1865.

In Georgia, the Legislature directed Governor Joseph E. Brown to convene a State Convention to consider the impact of the Compromise of 1850 on the state’s federal relations.

Each county was to select delegates to this convention. In Houston County,  Nathan W. Byrd was appointed as an elector to nominate four Houston county delegates to the convention.  In Berrien County, one of the candidates for convention delegates was Levi J. Knight, original settler at Ray City, GA. Levi J. Knight was a pro-Union man and lost out to candidates who favored secession.

The State Convention met at Milledgeville, on the 10th of December, 1850 “for the purpose of taking into consideration the many aggressive measures persisted in by the North upon the institutions of the Southern States, and as far as possible and consistent with the provisions of the Federal Constitution, to redress past wrongs and insure sufficient protection for the future.

The Compromise of 1850, dealing with territory acquired during the Mexican War, had numerous critics despite its passage by Congress. Southerners were upset by the admittance of California as a free state, which gave free states a majority of votes in the U.S. Senate. Northerners protested the inclusion of a tough Fugitive Slave Act, designed to appease Southerners. Several Southern states, including Georgia, had highly vocal secessionist movements calling for immediate secession. The Georgia General Assembly authorized a call for a state convention to determine the state’s course. Howell Cobb, Alexander H. Stephens, and Robert Toombs, who represented Georgia in Congress, wielded their influence in Georgia in support of the Compromise. Of the 264 delegates elected to the special convention in November 1850, 240 were Unionists. A Committee of Thirty-three drafted a response, pages 14-26, adopted by a vote of 237 to 19. In it, Georgia gave a qualified endorsement to the Compromise so long as the North complied with the Fugitive Slave Act and ceased to attempt to ban the expansion of slavery into new territories and states. – Georgia Archives

The outcome of this 1850 Georgia Convention was a statement known as the Georgia Platform.

 Supported by Unionists, the Georgia Platform affirmed the acceptance of the Compromise as a final resolution of the sectional slavery issues while declaring that no further assaults on Southern rights by the North would be acceptable. The Platform had political significance throughout the South. In the short term it was an effective antidote to secession, but in the long run it contributed to sectional solidarity and the demise of the Second Party System in the South.


Nathan W. Byrd served as a Grand Juror on the November 1853 term of the Houston County Superior Court.

Up to about 1854, the Byrds continued in Houston County with two more daughters added to the family; Caroline (1851), and Annie (1854). In February, 1854 the Georgia General Assembly passed an Act creating Coffee County from portions of Clinch, Irwin, Telfair, and Ware counties. Seeking opportunity in the newly created county, Nathan Byrd relocated his family. Records show he served as a Grand Juror in Coffee County for the June term, 1854.  Sometime before the 1860 census, William Gay left the Byrd household, or perhaps he remained behind when the family moved from Houston County. In Coffee county, a final child was born to Nathan and Ellen Byrd, a daughter, Eliza, born 1857.

When Douglas, GA was founded in 1855 as the seat of Coffee County, the Byrds were one of the first families in the new town. For a few years they operated a boarding house at Douglas.  Perhaps the location was not conducive, or perhaps the looming war held back development, but the town was slow to develop.  “From 1854, when Coffee County was created, until the 1880s, only a white frame courthouse, a hotel, a store or two, and a few houses occupied the site in the middle of the piney woods.”

National Archive records of Appointments of Postmasters show on October 34, 1856 Nathan W. Byrd was appointed postmaster at Byrd’s Mills, GA. In those days shortly after the creation of Coffee county, the  only other post offices in the county were at Douglas, Ocmulgeeville, and Red Bluff.  Nathan Byrd was succeeded as postmaster by James W. Overstreet on October 13, 1857.

On January 8, 1857 Nathan and Ellen’s eldest daughter, Mary Elizabeth Byrd, then 19, married Littleton L. Albritton  in Berrien County, GA. He was a brother of Matthew H. Albritton.  It was her second marriage; her first husband was a man named Mobley. Mary Elizabeth and Littleton Albritton  were enumerated in Nashville, Berrien County, GA in the Census of 1860.  Nathan Byrd and family were enumerated still living in Coffee county, in the vicinity of Bird’s Mill, GA.

The 1860 Gazetteer of Georgia describes Bird’s Mill as a post office and small village, one of only five towns in all of Coffee county.  By this time daughter Martha had also left home. Their son, William Byrd, now 19, was working as a school teacher.  Nathan Byrd owned $2000 in real estate and $3490 in personal estate. The Slave Inhabitant schedule in the Census of 1860 shows he owned three enslaved people, a 24-year-old black woman, a 3 year old mixed-race boy, and a 3 month old girl. In 2009 dollars his comparative net worth would have been about $1.85 million dollars.

According to Huxford,  the Byrd  family moved to Clinch County in 1861 and made their home at the community of Guest Mill.  Little information is available about the historic community of Guest Mill.  The location of “Guest” is shown on the U.S. Coast Survey Map of 1865,  about nine or ten miles due east of Homerville, GA.  The Guest Millpond Dam is drawn on the modern United States Geological Service (USGS) Sandy Bottom Topo map. Guest Millpond Dam is located in northern Clinch County, GA in the 1061st Georgia Militia District. The dam is located at the latitude and longitude coordinates of 31.1949275 and -82.8606999.

Nathan W Byrd was enrolled in the militia of the 1061st GMD in 1861, and in 1864 he was enumerated there in the Census for Reorganization of the Georgia Militia. He was 55 years old and occupied in farming.  Among his neighbors enumerated in the 1864 census was Miles J. Guest.

Around the end of the war, Nathan Byrd moved his family across the Alapaha River about 25 miles southwest to Nashville, GA where his  daughter, Mary, and son-in-law, Littleton Albritton, were residing. Huxford’s sketch details, “there Mr. Byrd bought a tract of land within the present limits of the town but at that time outside of town. He farmed there and also carried the mails between Nashville and Milltown (Lakeland) for some years.”

On November 28, 1869 Byrd’s daughter, Susan Catherine Byrd, married Confederate veteran Matthew Hodge Albritton,  the brother of her sister’s husband, Littleton Albritton. Matthew and Susan Catherine Albritton  lived first in Nashville, GA, but later made their home near Ray’s Mill in southern Berrien County. Matthew’s sister, Mary Jane Albritton, was the first wife of Thomas M. Ray, of Ray’s Mill.

In the Census of 1870, Nathan and Ellen Byrd, were living in the 1157th Georgia Militia District, centered on Nashville, GA.   Like other men of antebellum wealth in Berrien county, Nathan Byrd had lost most of his net worth after the war. By 1870 Byrd’s assets amounted to just 12 percent of their pre-war value, but he still had a farm.  The 1870 Agriculture Census shows the Byrds were living on 30 acres of land, with three acres improved and the rest in woodlands. The farm was valued at $250 with $10 worth of farm equipment. Byrd owned one horse, two dairy cows and five other cattle, 15 sheep and 15 hogs. All together his livestock was valued at $273. He had 50 bushels of corn, 75 bushels of oats, and 150 bushels of sweet potatoes on hand. He had 60 pound of butter, 110 pounds of honey and 10 pounds of wax. His farm products included two bales of cotton, 400 pounds each, and 34 pounds of wool. The value of “home manufactures” was $106 and the value of animals slaughtered or sold for slaughter was $114. The total value of all farm production including betterments and addition to stock was $682. Nathan Byrd was now 61 years old, still supporting his wife and two minor children.

The 1878 Berrien County tax records show Nathan W. Byrd owned 30 acres of land on Lot 190 in the tenth land district. This lot was on the east of Nashville.

The 1879 records show his neighbors included: John D. Calhoun on Lot 189; Daniel McCranie on parts of 190 and 225; and Levi Sapp on Lot 191; Thomas Asa Baker and his wife Nancy Griner Baker on parts of 191 and 192.  Jane Ivey held an additional 90 acres of Lot 190.

This land was valued at $165 in land and $25 in “town property”. He owned $50 in household furnishings, $47 in livestock, and $15 in other property.

Nathan W. Byrd died at his home January 5, 1881. Mrs. Byrd died March 17, 1901.


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