Berry Infantry, 29th Georgia Regiment at the Battle of Port Royal

The Berry Infantry of Floyd County, GA, along with the Berrien Minute Men of Berrien County, GA, were among the companies forming the 29th Georgia Infantry Regiment in the Civil War…

Eight months after the Confederate capture of Fort Sumter the US fleet struck back, attacking Port Royal, SC.  To make the attack, the fleet of some sixty ships sailed from New York through the Expedition Hurricane of 1861, while the Berrien Minute Men weathered the storm on Sapelo Island sixty miles south of Port Royal.  The Federal naval assault came on November 7, 1861; on Sapelo Island the Berrien Minute Men could hear the sounds of the Battle at Port Royal. The untested men on Sapelo were impatient for battle and lamented that they were stuck in a backwater of the war. Not so, their future regimental mates, the Berry Infantry of Rome, GA who were hurriedly dispatched from their station at Camp Lawton near Savannah to Fort Walker on Hilton Head Island overlooking Port Royal Sound, SC.    The Berrien Minute Men and other Confederate companies on Sapelo would have gone, too, it was said, but for the Colonel commanding being too drunk to take the men into battle.  Had the men on Sapelo known what the Berry Infantry were facing, they would perhaps not have been so eager to go.

The destination of the Berry Infantry was Fort Walker, a Confederate earthworks fortification hastily built of sand in the summer of 1861 using the labor of enslaved African-Americans owned by the planters of Hilton Head Island. Construction continued through the summer with the slaves hauling palmetto logs, digging trenches, erecting a powder magazine, and constructing gun emplacements. But the fort was not complete when the Federal fleet commenced the attack on the morning of November 7, 1861.

A soldier of the Berry Infantry, upon returning to Savannah, wrote a series of reports to the Rome Weekly Courier under the pen name “Floyd” describing their experience at the Battle of Port Royal. The writer was probably Thomas J. Perry of Floyd County, GA, a lieutenant of the Berry Infantry, who was known to have written the Courier under this name. In composing these passages, the writer freely confessed, “I have had to write amidst confusion, and under the most unfavorable circumstances. We are hourly expecting to hear of the approach of the enemy. News came last night that they had landed at White Bluff, eight miles below here [Savannah, GA]. I have given you the points though much disconnected.” The narrative has been reorganized here, to present events in chronological order:

Our Savannah Correspondence

Camp Lawton, near Savannah, Ga., November 12th, 1861.

Dear Courier:

There are some facts connected with our departure to Hilton Head Island, that are worthy of notice, The night we first started [Nov 5, 1861,] H. W. Berryhill, H. C. Smith, G. W. Freeman and W. H. Mitchell, had got furloughs to go home, and were getting ready to start, when orders came at 8 o’clock,

Lt. Henry W. Dean, Berry Infantry, 29th Georgia Regiment

Lt. Henry W. Dean, Berry Infantry, 29th Georgia Regiment

for us to be at the Charleston Wharf at 9. Berryhill and Smith abandoned the idea of going home, and at once informed their Captain that they would go with him. B. had just recovered from a spell of sickness, and was not able to do duty. Smith had been sick in his tent for two days. The Captain objected to their going, but they begged so hard that he consented, and they went to the boat with us, and would have gone, if the orders had not been countermanded. Freeman was not able to go, having been sick for the last three weeks; so he and Mitchell left. Lieut. H. W. Dean, who was just recovering from the measles and had just came into the camps that day, got ready to go with us but was ordered to remain. He insisted on going, but the company refused, and ordered him to remain. We left, but on reaching the boat, we found him there, armed and equipped.

The next morning [Nov 6, 1861] when we left, again, the Captain found it necessary to detail one man to stay and take care of the sick. H.C. Smith was by this time broken out with the measles. The Captain asked if there was any one that would stay, and no one responded. He then said, “I must make some one stay.” All spoke and said they wanted to go, and voted for Dean or Berryhill to stay, but they refused, and go they would.  R. Dollar [Reuben Dollar] was then requested to stay, but he refused, although he had just recovered from a hard spell of sickness. Finally James McGinnis was left.

Our Savannah Correspondence.
Camp Lawton, Nov. 9, 1861.

Twenty-six-year-old Lt. Col. Thomas James Berry, CSA, led a Regiment of Georgia troops, including the Berry Infantry, at the Battle of Port Royal. He was a graduate of West Point, class of 1857.

Twenty-six-year-old Lt. Col. Thomas James Berry, CSA, led a Regiment of Georgia troops, including the Berry Infantry, at the Battle of Port Royal. He was a graduate of West Point, class of 1857.

Dear Courier—Our Regiment left here on Wednesday  morning [Nov 6, 1861] at 9 1/2 o’clock, on board the steamer St. Marys, under the command of Lieut. Colonel Thos. J. Berry, for Hilton Head Island, on the South Carolina coast, and arrived there at 1 o’clock, p. m., and then took up the line of march to Port Royal, five miles distance, and arrived there about dark, and spent the night in some old barns.

Next morning [Nov 7, 1861] at 8, we were ordered out, and formed in a line of battle about one mile from the beach, and in the rear of the sand Battery [Fort Walker]… There was no fort, only a sand battery with 13 guns, and only two large ones, and all exposed… At half past 8, the fleet came up, and opened fire on the battery of 13 guns.

Battle of Port Royal. The Berry Infantry, 29th Georgia Regiment were at Fort Walker during the bombardment.

Battle of Port Royal. The Berry Infantry, Company D, 29th Georgia Regiment was at Fort Walker during the bombardment.

The fire was returned, and soon became general.

It was soon announced that one vessel had passed the battery. We were then ordered to advance within a half mile of the beach—we did so, and were ordered to lie down—the enemy discovered our position, and turned loose a shower of shot and shell on us. We lay there for about one hour, the balls and shells fell thick and fast around and about us.

 Bombardment of Fort Walker, Hilton Head, Port Royal Harbor, SC by United States Fleet, November 7, 1861. The Berry Infantry (later Company D, 29th Georgia Regiment) was among Georgia companies sent to defend the island. Image source: Campfire and Battlefield


Bombardment of Fort Walker, Hilton Head, Port Royal Harbor, SC by United States Fleet, November 7, 1861. The Berry Infantry (later Company D, 29th Georgia Regiment) was among Georgia companies sent to defend the island. Image source: Campfire and Battlefield

[At Fort Walker] The largest [gun] was dismounted at the first shot, the next at the 2d fire, so there was only 11 small ones, and Capt. Ried’s [Capt. Jacob Reed, Company D, 1st GA Regulars] two brass pieces to contend against over 500 guns, and they on steel and iron clad vessels.

Cameron [John D. Cameron] went with us, and the evening we arrived there [Nov 6, 1861], he said he would spend the next day in hunting oysters for us, but when morning came he saw that a fight was on hand, and went into the Hospital, where he could have a good view of what was going on, thinking, of course, that he was in a secure place; but the fun had not lasted long before a ball passed through the top of the house; the second soon came along, and then others in such rapid succession that he thought he had got into the wrong pew, and left in double quick, and dodged behind a pine stump, and would occasionally peep around, and could see the balls falling and hear them whizzing bye, and presently he saw a ball strike a tree and tear it to pieces. The thought struck him, that the stump was but little protection, and double-quicked it a little farther. This is his own story. In justice to him I will say he stuck closer to the Berry Infantry, all day, than it could have been expected of him, as he was not allowed to come near our ranks, while in line of battle, as he held no position in the Regiment as yet, not having received his commission. Night came but Cameron had found no oysters, at least he said nothing about them….

General Thomas F. Drayton was in charge of the overall defenses of Port Royal Sound

General Thomas F. Drayton was in charge of the overall defenses of Port Royal Sound

[On the beach] The Captains of the several companies requested Gen. [Thomas F.] Drayton, under whose command we were placed on reaching there, to let us fall back, but he refused. The Captains not being willing to see their men murdered up, took the command of their companies, and ordered them to fall back out of the reach of the guns, until the enemy landed. They accordingly did so. The General soon ordered them back near the beach. The fleet turned loose on us again, with about five hundred guns. We stood there, not being able to return a shot with any success. About 1 o’clock, we were ordered to Reid’s Battery of two guns, near the sand Battery. We remained there until half past two, amid the shower of shot, grape and shell…

There was a continuous roar for five and a half hours. No one could count the reports, and at times could not distinguish the guns.

 

Capt. [John W. ] Turner, Lieuts. [Thomas F.] Hooper and [Henry W.] Dean acted well their parts, perfectly cool all day; in fact there was no fault to be found of any, under all the circumstances.

Our ammunition gave out…

Capt. Reid gave orders for us to leave, as he had lost 15 of his men, killed and wounded.

The men retired calmly, much more so than could be expected…  We [left] all our knapsacks, blankets and clothing.

Those that were with the wounded were left. … There were some left of the South Carolinians wounded. The dead were left on the ground. I heard of no arrangements made by General Drayton to have them buried.

No pen can describe the scene. The fences and houses and Hospital were torn to pieces—men falling in all directions. Some with their heads off, some arms and legs off, and some with their bodies torn to atoms. The balls tearing up the ground in holes deep enough to bury a man. It is impossible to say how many there were killed and wounded.

Gen. Drayton gave orders to fall back with the South Carolina troops in front, and the Georgians to bring up the rear.

The South Carolina troops were the first to leave the field, half an hour before the rest.  Stiles’  [William H. Styles] Regiment next, ours were the last, and our company the last of the Regiment, and Sargeant W. H. H. Camp [William H. H. Camp] the color bearer, the last man to leave. The balls, grape shot and shells falling and passing as thick as hail, as the fleet had ceased firing on the battery and had all their guns were bearing on us, said to be about 500, and we in half a mile of the beach. They continued to fire at us as long as we were in reach of them. I am aware that some will think that this is a strange tale, nevertheless it is true. Our military men men say it was the most terrific bombardment on record.

He [Drayton] marched off, and said nothing about leaving the Island til we got some distance. We all thought when we left the scene of action, we were only going to the woods, to prepare for the enemy when they landed, but to our utter astonishment, we found that the General was making for the boats,

1861 map of Hilton Head Island showing locations of Fort Walker, the woods, Skull creek, and ferry. Distance from Fort Walker to the Ferry landing was about 7 miles.

1861 map of Hilton Head Island showing locations of Fort Walker, the woods, Skull creek, and ferry. Distance from Fort Walker to the Ferry landing was about 7 miles.

We lost all our knapsacks, blankets and clothing….If [Drayton] had let us know he was going to evacuate the Island, we would have brought all our things.

Retreat of the Confederate garrison commanded by General Drayton from Fort Walker to Bluffton, during the bombardment by the Federal fleet, on the afternoon of November 7, 1861. - Frank Leslie's Illustrated History of the Civil War. Image source: House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/38263.

Retreat of the Confederate garrison commanded by General Drayton from Fort Walker to Bluffton, during the bombardment by the Federal fleet, on the afternoon of November 7, 1861. – Frank Leslie’s Illustrated History of the Civil War. Image source: House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/38263.

On reaching the coast we found that the General had succeeded in getting himself and [the South Carolinia] men off before sundown.

He got himself and [the South Carolina] men off the Island first, and leave us [Georgians] to shift for ourselves, exposed to the enemy’s cavalry.

Colonels Stiles and Berry were very indignant at the General’s conduct—they went to work and made arrangements to get us off about 9 o’clock. It was low tide, and we had to wade some distance to get to flat boats, and then some distance to the steamer St Johns. 

Those that were [left at Fort Walker] with the wounded [had] remained some half hour after the regiments left and as soon as they found the condition of things, they picked up the wounded and made for the boats, and succeeded in getting there in time.It was about 11 o’clock before we got on board. We then run out about 4 miles and cast anchor, and remained there until daylight [November 8, 1861], and then set sail for Savannah, all the time on the look out for the fleet to pursue us, but Providence protected us…

Providence alone protected us. The wonderful escape of our soldiers on that occasion should be a sufficient evidence to all God’s people, that he is a prayers-hearing God and will grant their requests when asked in faith. Prayer is greater than steel or iron, or fleets with all their guns, and skill to man them. For trees,

houses, and fences to be torn to peices, the air full of dust from balls striking the ground, and an array of men walking along, and comparatively few hurt, looks too unreasonable to tell, but prayer availeth much. So we are taught in tho Book of Books and a few of us have realized it. A very wicked young man, who has pious parents, remarked to me the evening of the battle, “I have often heard Pa talk about Providence protecting us, and never could under stand it, but I now comprehend his meaning, for if Providence did not protect us to-day, l am at a loss to know what did.” Tears came into his eyes and he seemed deeply impressed.

The Boat was so crowded that there was no room to set or lie down, so we had to stand up, perfectly exhausted, having had nothing to eat since Wednesday morning, but some cold broad, and but little at that, and no water that was fit for horse to drink, feet and legs wet and no means of drying them.

We arrived safely here [Savannah] at 9 1/2 o’clock, We lost all our knapsacks, blankets and clothing. We are all in rather a bad condition,- most of our boys are not able  to change clothing, and all on account of General Drayton’s conduct…

Col. Thomas W. Alexander, once Mayor of Rome, in the uniform he wore as a Confederate Army officer. Image source: A history of Rome and Floyd County.

Col. Thomas W. Alexander, once Mayor of Rome, in the uniform he wore as a Confederate Army officer. Image source: A history of Rome and Floyd County.

On returning [to Savannah] we found Lt. Col. Alex- [Thomas W. Alexander] and Lt. J. E. Berry [James E. Berry] had arrived, and were preparing to join us.

There is several distinguished military men here, among whom is Gov. Brown.  The troops have been moved off all the Islands, and quite a number stationed near here. Gen. Lawton has had a large vessel sunk in Skull Creek, and one anchored at the Oyster Bed, ready to sink, as soon as the news reaches the city that the enemy has taken possession of the Island.

More than half the citizens [of Savannah] commenced packing up their furniture and goods, and having them drayed to the several depots. The Mayor [Thomas Pilkington Purse, Sr.] was soon

After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1842, Alexander Robert Lawton lived in Savannah, Georgia where he was involved in state politics and railroad administration. Lawton was Colonel of the 1st Georgia when that unit overtook Fort Pulaski in January of 1861, and by mid-April he was a Brigadier General in charge of Georgia's coastal defenses. - National Park Service

After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1842, Alexander Robert Lawton lived in Savannah, Georgia where he was involved in state politics and railroad administration. Lawton was Colonel of the 1st Georgia when that unit overtook Fort Pulaski in January of 1861, and by mid-April he was a Brigadier General in charge of Georgia’s coastal defenses. – National Park Service

informed that a great many men were leaving also. He issued his Proclamation, forbidding any to leave under 45, and laid an Embargo on all goods being shipped off, and in that way kept some from deserting the city. He let the women and children go. The cars has been crowded for several days going up the country. Some of these ladies had said that they would never leave their homes, unless it was to stand by the side of their husbands, fathers or brothers in repelling the foe, and that they put their trust in God, but as the time drew for them to make good their promises, they put their trust in the Railroad cars.

Yours, Floyd. 

The account in the Savannah papers are very imperfect. We had two wounded in our company. Joseph S. Ayers, slightly wounded in the foot, W. H.  [William H.] Perkinson in the hand.— We have Ayers at a private home. There never was a greater outrage perpetrated upon any set of men, than Gen. Drayton, of South Carolina, did upon the Georgia troops sent to his assistance. He acted more like a mad-man than a General. It looked like he wanted to have us slaughtered, by marching us up under the fire of over five hundred guns, and where we could not defend ourselves.

I hope he will never be in command of any more Georgia troops for he is not the man for a General. 

In the first place, the island was not sufficiently fortified.

And if South Carolinians want help she should first do her duty, and prepare for the worst. She has been boasting that she was ready—she now sees to what extent she was prepared.

Battle of Port Royal headlines, Savannah Daily Morning News, November 9, 1861

Battle of Port Royal headlines, Savannah Daily Morning News, November 9, 1861

Battle of Port Royal
Terrific Cannonading!
Evacuation of the Batteries by the Confederates!
The Forts In Possession Of The Enemy.

About half past one o’clock yesterday morning we received the dispatch published in our morning edition, announcing the evacuation of Fort Walker by our troops and their retreat towards Bluffton. This astounding news was only the precursor of teh more disatrous accounts which reached the city this morning by the boats from the scene of the action which arrived here early this morning.
In the confusion of statements of persons engaged in the action, it is impossible, in the time allowed us to obtain a very connected or circumstantial account of the fight. From various sources we have gathered the following.
As stated in our paper yesterday, the firing between Fort Walker and the fleet commenced about nine o’clock, the fleet giving the most of their attention to Fort Walker. Before ten o’clock seven of the largest steamers of the fleet had passed the batteries, and when the St. Marys left, from whose passengers we obtained our account of the first part of the action, a most terrific cannonading was going on. The fight continued until the departure of the Emma, at twelve o’clock, and when the Savannah left, at 2 o’clock, the firing was unabated, except at the Bay Point battery, which had been silenced between eleven and twelve o’clock. At this time a tremendous cannoading was kept up by the fleet, consisting of some thirty odd steamers and gun boats, which was returned by Fort Walker, the battery on Hilton Head.
The Fort Walker armament consisted of sixteen guns, nine of which bore upon the shipping, the balance being in position on the land side. Five or six of these guns, among them the 24 pound rifle cannon and one ten inch Columbiad, were disabled during the forenoon.- Thus disabled and their ammunition exhausted, the garrison evacuated Fort Walker between three and four o’clock, retiring in the direcgtion of Bluffton, leaving the guns in position and unspiked, have no spikes for that purpose.

In the course of the morning and previous night, considerable reinforcements of infantry and artillery from Georgia and Carolina had arrived at Hilton Head, and were stationed in or in the vicinity of the batteries, but we are unable at present to ascertain the number of troops engaged in the battle.

Capt. Jacob Reed’s artillery corps of the First Georgia Regiment of Regulars arrived at the scene of action on Wendesday night, and, on yesterday bore a gallan part in the fight. Four or five of his men were killed early in the action. The corps lost two of their guns and several horses.
Col. Randolph Spaulding, Georgia Volunteer Regiment, commanded by Capt. Berry were also in the engagement. THey were marched to the beach where they received a galling fire of round shot and shell from the fleet, which, however, they were unable to return with their muskets. Of the Floyd county Berry Infantry, Jas. S. Ayres and Second Surgeon Wm H. Perkinson, received slight wounds.
Col. Wm. H. Styles’ Volunteer Georgia Regiment reached the scene of action at 11 o’clock, havng marched from Skidaway, seven and a half miles distanct, at the double-quick. But they were also unable to fire on the fleet, which was out of the range of their guns. The Regiment had several killed and wounded by shells from the fleet. Our informant states the Col. Styles had two horses shot under him, and in the fall of one of them received a slight injury in the shoulder. The Colonel and his Regiment was at one time exposed to a terrific shelling from the ships, and it is only surprising that more of them were not killed and wounded.

Col. Randolph Spaulding, not bein in command of his Regiment, joined a corps belonging to another Regiment, and engaged in the fight, as far as it was possible for the infantry to participate in it, with his musket on his shoulder

Between 11 and 12 o’clock, twelve vessels engaged the forts, five of them first class steam frigates, the other seven were second class steamers, with a tug leading. The tug opened fire on our infantry stationed some distance from the beach. One of the frigates, the Minnesota, at a distance of two miles, also threw shot and shell at the infantry.
Our informant assures us that seven Dahlgren guns from one of the frigates fired many shots on the hospital containing our wounded, hitting the building several times, notwithstanding the yellow flag was flying. The Surgeons were compelled by this barbarous act to have our wounded moved further into the interior.
The Minnesota is reported to have been on fire three times from hot shot thrown from the batteries.
Col. Spalding’s regiment lost all its baggage, blankets, &c., but saved all their arms.
In the hurry of preparing our noon edition it is impossible to obtain reliable accounts of much that we hear by rumor. We understand that the loss on our side is about twelve killed and forty wounded. Among the latter is Capt. J. A. Yates of Charleston, who was seriously injured by the bursting of a shell. Dr. [Edwin Somers] Buist, of Greenville, South Carolina, was instantly killed by a shell striking him in the head.
We have no positive information from Bay Point battery, farther than it was silcenced at 11 o’clock. We hear that it suffered serious loss. It is reported that garrison retired in safety toward Beaufort.
Of Col. DeSaussure’s regiment, stationed at Fort Walker, four were killed at the battery and twenty wounded.
We understand that the Confederates lost no prisoners, except, perhaps, one or two from Col. DeSaussure’s regiment.
The killed were covered with blankets and left. The wounded were all placed on board of steamers, and will arrive in Savannah today.
The abandon batteries were taken possession by the enemy and the United States flag waived over them as our troops retired.
Thus ends the first act in the grand drama of invasion and subjegation on our Southern coast.
We have no time for comments, and can only say, important as it is, let it not dishearten or discourage, but rather let it stimulate our entire people, every man, woman and child, to determined and unconquerable resistance.

 

Return to Berrien Minute Men on Sapelo Island: Part 5

 

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Berrien Minute Men on Sapelo Island: Part 6

Berrien County in the Civil War
29th Georgia Regiment on Sapelo Island
Part 6: In Regular Service

Berrien Minute Men on Sapelo Island

  1. Arrival On Sapelo
  2. Place of Encampment
  3. Camp Spalding
  4. Election of Officers
  5. Tidewater Time
  6. In Regular Service

During the Civil War,  two companies of men that went forth from Berrien County, GA were known as the Berrien Minute Men.  From October, 1861 to January, 1862, the campfires of the Berrien Minute Men  were made at Sapelo and Blackbeard islands protecting the approaches to Darien, GA on Doboy Sound and the Altamaha River.  The Berrien Minute Men arrived in early October and were stationed on Sapelo Island along with the Thomas County Guards, Thomas County Volunteers and Ochlocknee Light Infantry.  Regimental officers were elected by the first of November. Through the fall, the men bided their time on the tidewater, fighting boredom and disease…

According to Regulations for the Army of the Confederate States “An officer may draw subsistence stores, paying cash for them at contract or cost prices, without including cost of transportation, on his certificate that they are for his own use and the use of his family.” The officers of the 29th GA Regiment were authorized to purchase provisions at Darien GA. Records of the Subsistence Department show Major Levi J. Knight signed for  59 pounds pork, 195 lbs flour, 112 lbs meal, 299 lbs rice, 46 lbs coffee, 162 lbs sugar, 2 lbs candles, 12 1/4 lbs soap, 16 quarts salt for his officers and their families during the month of January, 1862.

 

Finally, the 29th Regiment was reported ready for service.

On January 14, 1862, Brigadier General Alexander Robert Lawton informed Adjutant Inspector General Samuel Cooper that the regiment had been properly mustered in as the 29th GA Volunteer Infantry.

Head Quarters, Dept of Geo

Savannah Jany 14th 1862

General S. Cooper
Adjt Inspector General
             Richmond
                               General
                                             I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a letter of the 10th inst from the Ajt General’s Office, inquiring if Col R Spalding’s 29th Geo Regiment has been properly mustered in or not.
                                            In reply I beg leave to say that it is a full regiment and has been for some months regularly in service
                                           I have the honor to be, very Respy
                                                                         Your Obdt Servt
                                                                          A R Lawton
                                                                         Brig Genl Comg

Brigadier General A. R. Lawton letter of January 14, 1862 confirming readiness of the 29th GA Infantry

Brigadier General A. R. Lawton letter of January 14, 1862 to Adjutant Inspector General Samuel Cooper confirming readiness of the 29th GA Infantry.  (In 1864, General Cooper stayed the execution of Confederate deserter Burrell Douglass. Cooper is credited for the preservation of Confederate service records after the war).

A Regimental Surgeon, William P. Clower, was finally appointed on January 18, 1862. Surgeon Clower’s brother, John T. Clower, would later serve as the doctor in Ray’s Mill (now Ray City, GA). The surgeon was a welcome addition, but the health conditions of the Regiment did not immediately improve.  James Madison Harrell was sent home sick.  Alfred B. Finley, who joined the Berrien Minute Men at Darien, contracted measles and lost an eye to complications; despite that disability he would continue to serve with the 29th Regiment.  Hiram F. Harrell contracted measles and died at Darien, GA.  Edward Morris contracted measles and “camp fever” and never recovered; he died a few weeks later at Savannah, GA.

The 29th Regiment’s tenure on Sapelo would soon be over.  Before the end of January, the 29th GA regiment would be called up to the coastal defenses at Savannah.  When the regiment finally left Darien, John Lindsey, William Hall, and James Newman and John R. Langdale were left behind, sick. William Anderson, who had been on sick leave in October, had a relapse and was also left in Darien.  Thomas J. Lindsey, David D. Mahon and Robert H. Goodman were detailed to Darien as  nurses. John W. McClellan was also detailed to remain at Darien. Malcolm McCranie died of measles at Darien on February 2, 1862 and Ellis H. Hogan  died February 25, 1862. In the Ochlocknee Light Infantry, George Harlan was disabled and discharged at Darien on February 17, 1862 and Francis M. Dixon died of typhoid pneumonia at Darien the following day.

A Civil War letter from Camp Security dated February 12, 1862 describes the prevalence of tonsillitis and measles among the men. This letter, signed Gussie, was probably written by Augustus H. Harrell, of the Thomasville Guards.  Of the 350 or so men at the camp, less than half were fit for duty.  There weren’t enough guns to arm all of the soldiers; some of the men carried a pike as their primary weapon.

The defense of Georgia’s sea islands quickly proved untenable against the strength of the Union Navy. By early December 1861 U.S. forces had occupied Tybee Island off the coast of Savannah, and were landing ordnance and constructing batteries there.  By the end of January, 1862 U.S. Navy vessels  were maneuvering to enter the Savannah River, and threatened to cut off Fort Pulaski from Savannah. On the South Carolina side, U.S. troops occupied Daufuskie Island and constructed batteries on Bird Island and at Venus Point on Jones Island.
General Lee was desperate to shore up Confederate artillery defending Savannah, Georgia’s chief seaport. To strengthen the Savannah defenses, General Lee instructed General Mercer at Brunswick to remove the  batteries on St. Simon’s and Jekyll islands if the defense of those positions became untenable, and to forward the artillery to Savannah.  By this time the sea island planters had moved their property inland, and the residents of Brunswick had abandoned the city. By February 16, 1862 General Mercer reported the guns had been removed from Jekyll and St. Simons and shipped to Savannah and Fernandina. At the retreat of the 4th Georgia Battalion and Colonel Cary W. Styles 26th Georgia Regiment from Brunswick, General Mercer wanted to burn the city as a show of determination not to be occupied by U.S. forces.
With the withdrawal of the 29th Georgia Regiment from Sapelo Island, the Confederates abandoned the defense of Darien altogether. Indeed, the Savannah Republican newspaper of June 27, 1862 reported “two Yankee gunboats had passed Darien some four or five miles up the river, seemingly to destroy the railroad bridges across the Altamaha… A gunboat had been up the river as far as Champion’s Island – Nightingale’s Plantation…she was seen lying at Barrett’s Island, about three miles from the town, having in charge a two mast schooner that had been hid up the river.”  The schooner was believed to have been loaded with rice. The coast around St. Simon’s, Doboy, Sapelo and St. Catherines was said to be infested with Yankee steamers. The coastal inhabitants feared that crops in fields bordering the rivers would be destroyed by the Union forces;  “They have already stolen a goodly number of our slaves, thus curtailing our provisions crops…” 
Current navigational chart showing Sapelo Island, Blackbeard Island, Doboy Island, Queens Island, Wolf Island, GA. The Berrien Minute Men, Company G & K, 29th Georgia Regiment, were stationed at Sapelo Island and Blackbeard Island during 1861, defending the Altamaha River delta from Union forces.

Current navigational chart showing Sapelo Island, Blackbeard Island, Doboy Island, Queens Island, Wolf Island, GA. The Berrien Minute Men, Companies G & K, 29th Georgia Regiment, were stationed at Sapelo Island and Blackbeard Island during 1861, defending the Altamaha River delta from Union forces.

 

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Albert Douglass, 26th Georgia Regiment and the Battle of Brawner’s Farm

Special thanks to Wm Lloyd Harris for contributions to this post.

Albert Douglass, of Berrien County, GA served with the 26th Georgia Regiment after desertion from the Berrien Minute Men.

The 26th Georgia Regiment suffered heavy casualties at Brawner's Farm, August 28, 1862 in the first engagement of the Second Battle of Manassas (Bull Run). Albert Douglass, of Berrien County, GA served with the 26th Georgia Regiment after deserting from the Berrien Minute Men. G.F. Agee, a soldier of the 26th Georgia reported, “We held our fire until within a hundred yards of the enemy. We dropped behind a small rail fence and poured a heavy volley into them. After firing seven or eight rounds, we raised the rebel yell and charged.”

On August 28, 1862 in the first engagement of the Second Battle of Manassas (Bull Run), the 26th Georgia Regiment suffered heavy casualties at Brawner’s Farm.  G.F. Agee, a soldier of the 26th Georgia reported, “We held our fire until within a hundred yards of the enemy. We dropped behind a small rail fence and poured a heavy volley into them. After firing seven or eight rounds, we raised the rebel yell and charged.”

 Albert Douglass and the 26th Georgia Regiment

Albert B. Douglass, son of  Seaborn Douglass, came with his father and siblings from Hamilton County, FL to  Lowndes County, GA sometime before 1838.   About 1851 Albert Douglass, then a young man of 19,  married Abigail Shaw,  a daughter of Martin Shaw, Sr.  In the Census of 1860 Albert and Abigail were enumerated in Berrien County, Georgia.  Albert was  28 years old, Abigail was 35.  Their daughter Francenia  Douglass was enumerated as age 6.  Also in the Douglass household was the seven-year-old boy William W. Turner.

The Douglass Family had a tradition of military service. Albert’s father and brothers served in the Indian Wars 1836-1858. Albert and his four brothers all enlisted during the Civil War.  Albert Douglass enlisted with the Berrien Minute Men, Company D (later Co. K), 29th Georgia Regiment.  He soon went absent without leave and was listed as a Confederate deserter from the 29th Regiment while they were stationed in Savannah, GA.  In actuality, he joined the 26th Georgia Regiment and went with them to Virginia in the summer of 1862.   Also serving with the 26th Georgia Regiment were: David Stone, father of Arrilla Stone Cook of Berrien County, GA;  James Brown, father of Creasy Brown Wood of Rays Mill, GA; John Jefferson Beagles served with the unit until May 1862; Andrew Jackson Liles, Adjutant of the Regiment, was a merchant and post master of Milltown, GA – his civil rights were restored by an act of Congress in 1868 and he later practiced law in Valdosta, GA; Benjamin P. Jones, who later opened a bank at Rays Mill, served with the 26th until the regiment departed for Virginia, at which time he hired a substitute to take his place. (Hiring a substitute for military duty was allowable under Confederate military practice; Soldiers in Savannah, GA advertised for substitutes in the newspapers.)

Confederate military records show Albert Douglass was admitted to Chimborazo Hospital, Richmond, Virginia, for dysentery, June 29, 1862 and returned to duty  July 10, 1862. On August 14, he was admitted to Lovingston Hospital, Winchester, VA with a complaint of fever and convulsions.  He returned to duty on August 27, 1862.

The following day, the 26th Georgia Regiment suffered  horrific casualties at the opening of the  Battle of Second Manassas (called the Second Battle of Bull Run by the Union army), when Confederate forces under the command of Stonewall Jackson met Union Brigadier General John Gibbon’s Black Hat Brigade in the late afternoon and evening of August 28, 1862 near Groveton, VA.   Earlier that same afternoon about ten miles to the west, the Berrien Light Infantry, Company I, 50th Georgia Regiment had engaged federal forces, driving them out of  Thoroughfare Gap through the Bull Run mountains, and occupying the position at the gap.

According to a historic marker placed at Groveton, Confederate General Robert E. Lee had  dispatched “Stonewall” Jackson to lure Major General John Pope’s Union army away from the Rappahannock River.  At the same time, Lincoln hoped drawing some of Lee’s troops to northern Virginia to confront Pope would weaken Lee’s position outside Richmond and help the Army of the Potomac.”

On August 28, Jackson’s force concealed itself northeast of here near Groveton atop a wooded ridge on and beyond John Brawner’s farm to await the rest of Lee’s army.  Early in the evening, as Brigadier General Rufus King’s division of Pope’s army marched by in search of Jackson, he attacked, stopping the Federal movement with heavy casualties on both sides.

The 26th Georgia Regiment suffered 74 percent casualties that bloody summer evening in the Battle of Brawner’s Farm. This engagement began the Second Battle of Manassas.

John Brawner’s farm was located on the Warrenton Turnpike, on present day U.S. Highway 29 inside Manassas National Battlefield Park.

Brawner Farm, near Groveton, VA

Brawner Farm, near Groveton, VA

By the morning of August 28, Jackson had deployed his 25,000 men along Stony Ridge, behind the embankments of a railroad grade of the unfinished Manassas Gap Railroad north of the little village of Groveton, near the old First Bull Run battlefield. From there, Jackson could monitor Union activity along the Warrenton Turnpike, a strategic east-west thoroughfare, while awaiting Longstreet’s arrival. Due to the concealment of Jackson’s defensive position, Pope had completely lost track of the Rebels’ movements after the destruction of Manassas Junction on August 27. Stonewall Jackson’s 25,000 soldiers were, in effect, missing as far as the Army of Virginia was concerned.

On the evening of August 28, Gibbon’s brigade of 1,800 Westerners sluggishly marched eastward toward the village of Centreville, where the majority of Pope’s army was massing. The 2nd Wisconsin (the only regiment in the brigade that had previously seen combat, at First Bull Run), the 6th and 7th Wisconsin and the 19th Indiana were getting very close to having a chance to show their mettle in battle. –  from Civil War Trust’s Battle of Brawners Farm

 

The first exchange of fire began about 5:45 pm.  The battle raged ferociously for two hours when General Stonewall Jackson ordered the 26th and 28th Georgia regiments to advance on the Union line.

In a letter to the editor of the Savannah Republican, a soldier of the 26th Georgia Regiment reported the Southern perspective on the battle:

Savannah Republican
September 22, 1862

The Twenty-sixth Georgia in the Battle of the 28th August

          Editor Savannah Republican: – While the opportunity presents itself, I cannot refrain from writing you a few lines commemorative of the gallantry of the 26th Georgia regiment upon the bloody and well contested field of Manassas, on Thursday, the 28th of August, 1862.
Again has Georgia been illustrated by this bravery of her sons, and again is it her lot to clothe herself in the mourning garb, in memory of the gallant dead. As we marched past the graves of the lamented Bartow and of the members of the Oglethorpe Light Infantry, of Savannah, little did we think that so many of us through whose veins the warm blood was so freely flowing, would, before the dawn of day, like them, be lying in the cold embrace of death.
Just before dark, on the evening of the 28th, General A. R. Lawton’s brigade, to which the 26th belongs, was drawn up in line of battle in a skirt of woods near the battle field, and at dark was ordered to support General Trimbull’s brigade.  The 26th entered the field under the command of Lieut. Col. E.S. Griffin, Major James S. Blain and Adjutant A. J. Liles. We marched steadily across an open field for four or five hundred yards, through which the balls were flying by thousands, without firing a single shot.  Men were constantly falling from the ranks, but our brave Georgians wavered not; as a man fell, his place was immediately filled by another, and the regiment moved steadily to the front.  Not a word was uttered except the necessary commands given by officers.  As we neared the enemy, General Jackson road up behind the brigade and urged us by the memory of our noble State to one bold stroke, and the day would be ours; and gallantly did the brave men to whom he was speaking obey his orders.  Volley after volley was poured into the ranks of the enemy with terrible effect; still they held their ground and our ranks kept getting thinner and thinner. During the heavy fire, Lieut. Col. Griffin, of the 26th was wounded and the command devolved upon Major J. S. Blain.  After firing several rounds, Gen. Lawton gave orders for the brigade to fix bayonets and charge the enemy. At the command every man bounded over a fence which separated them from the enemy, and with the true Georgia yell rushed upon them.  Then it was that the 26th suffered so terribly.  Men fell from the ranks by dozens still they wavered not.  The color Sergeant fell mortally wounded; but the colors had hardly touched the ground before they were raised by Lieut. Rogers of the color company, and again waved in the advance.- Then it was that a well directed volley from the brigade, at a distance of thirty yards, sent the enemy flying in confusion over the hills to the woods.  The night being very dark no pursuit was attempted; we had accomplished our object and was content to hold the battle field.
It was a heart sickening sight to me as I gazed upon the regiment when formed after the battle.
The 26th Georgia entered the field with eighteen commissioned officers and one hundred and seventy-three non-commissioned officers and privates; and lost twelve commissioned officers and one hundred and twenty-five non-commissioned officers and privates.
I send you a list of the killed and wounded of the 26th Georgia regiment, which I hope you will publish, with the request that the Macon Telegraph and Augusta Constitutionalist copy.

Very respectfully,
Your obedient serv’t,
One of the 26th.

 

Letter from a soldier of the 26th Georgia Regiment describing the Battle of Brawner's Farm, August 28, 1862.

Letter from a soldier of the 26th Georgia Regiment describing the Battle of Brawner’s Farm, August 28, 1862.

The Northern troops had a different perspective on the fight, as described at the  Civil War Trust website on the Battle of Brawners Farm:

Jackson personally ordered Lawton’s Georgia brigade to move forward at 7:45 p.m., but once more only two regiments responded. Jackson led the Georgians toward their parlous undertaking. In the fading sunlight, the 26th and 28th Georgia advanced obliquely toward the 2nd Wisconsin. Their attack was short-lived.

As they advanced, the 7th Wisconsin and the 76th New York wheeled to the left and poured a lethal volley into the Rebels’ flank. Colonel William W. Robinson of the 7th Wisconsin wrote, ‘The evolution was executed with as much precision as they ever executed the movement on drill. This brought us within 30 yards of the enemy.’

One man in the 7th reported, ‘Our fire perfectly annihilated the rebels.’ While the Southerners received fire from their flank, the 2nd Wisconsin poured deadly volleys into the Georgians’ front. ‘No rebel of that column who escaped death will ever forget that volley. It seemed like one gun,’ said one New Yorker.

The 26th Georgia suffered 74 percent casualties in its feckless assault (134 of 181 men). One Wisconsin officer noted: ‘Our boys mowed down their ranks like grass; but they closed up and came steadily on. Our fire was so terrible and certain that after having the colors in front of us shot down twice they broke in confusion and left us in possession of the field. They left their colors upon the field.’  – from Civil War Trust’s Battle of Brawners Farm

 

After the decimation of the 26th Georgia Regiment, the battle raged on through sundown.  The fighting subsided after 8:00pm and at 11:00 the federal troops withdrew toward Manassas Junction.

The Savannah Republican later ran a list of the casualties suffered by the 26th Georgia Regiment.

 

Savannah Republican, September 22, 1862

LIST OF THE KILLED AND WOUNDED OF THE 26th GA. REG’T IN THE BATTLE OF MANASSAS, AUGUST 28th, 1862.

FIELD AND STAFF
Killed: None. Wounded: Lieut. Col. E.S. Griffin, neck and shoulder; Adjutant A.J. Liles, neck and shoulder; Serg’t Major E.H. Crawley, arm and hip.

CO. A    BRUNSWICK RIFLES, LT. N. DIXON, COMMANDING
Killed: None. Wounded: Lt. N. Dixon, shoulder; Orderly Sergeant Urbanus Dart, fore-arm; Serg’t John J. Spears, abdomen; Corp’l John Pacety, in right breast; Privates Patrick Burney, hand; Jas. Barrett, arm; Jas. G. W. Harris, thigh; George Holmes, both legs; Jos. McLemore, hand; Daniel Cronan, arm and shoulder; Jno. Niblo, abdomen; Thos. Cumming, heel; Felix F. McMermott, hand.

CO. B    McINTOSH GUARDS, LIEUT. E. BLOUNT, COM’DG.
Killed: None. Wounded: Sergeant Wm. Flauk, right breast; Serg’t Wm. B. White, arm; Private Jas. Danvergue, shoulder. Missing: Privates Geo. Rowe, Jas. Townson.

CO. C    PISCOLA VOLUNTEERS, LT. J. H. HUNTER, COM’DG.
Killed: Color Sergeant Thos. J. Durham, Orderly Sergeant W. S. Hines; Privates John Alderman, Virgil A S Edwards, John P. Hunter, Mathew Smith, Eli C. Mitchell, Robert A Jackson. Wounded: Lieut. J. H. Hunter, abdomen; Privates John Southern, abdomen; Jas. H. Southern, both thighs and hip; John M. Burch, knee; Zach McLeod, hand; Clayton Herring, thigh; S. Brannan, head and eye.

CO. D   SEABOARD GUARDS, LT. E. L. PEARCE OF THE WIRE GRASS MINUTE MEN, COM’DG.
Killed: Privates W. L. Davis, A. J. McClellan, C. B. Gray. Wounded: Corporal J. T. Cooper, hand; Privates Wesley Rowland, knee; Lewis Perdon, thigh; A. J. Herrin, head. Missing; Private David Kean.

CO. E.    WIRE GRASS MINUTE MEN, CAPT. JOHN LEE, COM’DG.
Killed: Lt. Jas. Riggins; Privates J. B. Riggins, T. S. Trowell, Jos. E. Trowell. Wounded: Capt. John Lee, hand; Lt. E. L. Pearce, arm broken; Serg’t J. A. Hogan, head; Corp’l. Wm. A. Thompson, leg; Privates Joseph E. Harper, knee; Wm. J. Morris, arm, knee, and body; E. A. Elliott, shoulder, breast, leg and hand; R. J. Joiner, arm; A. McSwain, shoulder; Mitchell Sweat, foot; W. J. Murray, hips and legs.

CO. F    WARE GUARDS, CAPT. T. C. LOTT, COM’DG.
Killed: Capt. T. C. Lott, Corp’l Jefferson Goettee, Private Lewis Williams. Wounded: Lt. J. T. Patterson, head, arm and breast; Serg’t R. Sweat, knee; Privates Daniel Patterson, leg; Henry Guess, Knee; Moses Coleman, thigh; A. Goettee, left breast and side; John Sellers, hip; R. B. Phillips, wound unknown.

CO. G.    OKEFENOKEE RIFLES, CAPT. JOHN ARNETT, COM’DG.
Killed: Corp’l A. J. Milton, Wm. Waters. Private Jesse Robinson. Wounded: Capt. J. Arnett, side and arm; Sergt. McD. M. Boothe, arm. Privates E. Johnson, thigh; H. Robinson, hand; Wm. Smith, thigh; Benj. Roach, shoulder and breast; Clemons H. Carter, abdomen; David Stone; abdomen; D. Dougherty, head; Willis McPhearson, face; Eaton Taylor, arm; Peter Spikes, wounded and in the hands of the enemy.

CO. H    BARTOW LIGHT INFANTRY, LIEUT. H. H. SMITH, COM’DG.
Killed: Privates Jennings Johnson, Langdon Turnbull, Lafayette Dees, Willet Yarborough, Madison Walker, Irwin Moore. Wounded: Lieut. H. H. Smith, arm. Privates John H. Dasher, hip and abdomen; Richard Moore, leg broken; Wm. C. Wilkinson, through the shoulder and arm broken; S. Cunningham, hand; Lawrence Lawson, leg; Toby Hewett, heel; James Allen, body; George Carter, arm; Jesse More, head; Jesse Adams, ear; Martin Knight, shoulder; Gus. Strickland, hand; W. Hunt, arm.

CO. I    FAULK INVINCIBLES, LIEUT. D. N. NELSON, COM’DG.
Killed: Sergt. Benj. Radford, Corp’l John Hammock, Privates Micajah Paulk, Thomas Saunders. Wounded: Privates Wm. Lamb, arm and thigh; R. McConnell, knee; Benj. Vincent, hand; Patrick Nolan, leg; Wm. Crawford, hip; Noell Hills, lower part of abdomen; J. P. Rickerson, thigh and arm; H. A. Pruett, leg; H. H. Manning, shoulder.

CO. K    FORREST RANGERS, LIEUT. VINCENT A. HODGES, COM’DG.
Killed: Lieut. V. A. Hodges, Sergt. Mark C. Chauncey. Privates Joel Spikes, John Griffins, John Summerlin, Thomas M. Bennett.
Wounded: Sergt. L. T. Morgan, left breast; Corp’l Wm. Smith, left breast. Privates Benj. Smith, in the leg; Wm. B. Booth, thight; J. B. Mills, neck; C. H. Hall, thigh; Wm. S. Ginn, right breast; Thompson Harris, head; J. N. McQuaig, arm and abdomen; Wm. Agu, hand; Jesse G. Booth, hand; D. H. Smith, hip; John Sweat, foot.

 

26th Georgia Regiment casualties at the Battle of Brawner's Farm

26th Georgia Regiment casualties at the Battle of Brawner’s Farm

The Battle of Brawner’s Farm was the opening engagement of the  Second Battle of Manassas, August 29-30.

During the battle, on August 29, 1862  both  the 26th GA and the 50th GA regiments were in positions at Groveton, VA.    A number of men serving with the 50th were from the Ray City area including Green Bullard, Fisher J. Gaskins, Lemuel Elam Gaskins, Joseph Gaskins,  John Jasper Cook and John Martin Griner.

The 26th GA Regiment was present the following month with Lawton’s Brigade at the Battle of Antietam, where they again suffered heavy casualties on September 17, 1862.

On October 19, 1862  Albert Douglass was admitted to 1st Division, General Hospital Camp Winder and transferred to Hod Hospital on December 23, 1862. He was back on the morning report of Winder Hospital on December 24, and then transferred to Ridge Hospital. While he was in the hospital  in December 1862, the 26th Georgia Regiment participated in the Battle of Fredericksburg.

Sick or not, Douglass was lucky to be out of the cold.  James S. Blain, Captain of Douglass’ company in the 26th Georgia Regiment, wrote on December 4, 1862 in a letter to the editor of the Savannah Republican:

       Dear Sir:- We are frequently surprised by receiving letters from home congratulating us upon being so well prepared for a winter campaign in Virginia. This is probably true with regard to most of the Georgia troops in Virginia, but in reference to Lawton’s Brigade, it is very far from the truth. This error has probably been promulgated through the papers by letters from members of other Brigades…
        Lawton’s Brigade is composed of the 13th, 26th, 31st, 38th, 60th, and 61st Georgia Regiments, and I venture to assert that a more gallant set of men were never embodied under one command. .. At the last report from our Brigade we had seven hundred and five (705) men without shoes, and there are numbers without a single blanket to shelter them from the cold. This is no fiction, but a simple statement of the truth. Georgians! think of this, think of such a number of these men, who have aided in making the name of Georgia illustrious, marching twenty and twenty-five miles per day, with nothing to shelter their feet from contact with the snow, frost and rocks, and without a blanket to shelter them from the chilling blast at night, and this, too, without a murmur at their hard fate…

Very respectfully,
Your obediant servant,
James S. Blain
Capt. Co. A, 26th Georgia Reg’t

In May, 1863 the 26th Georgia Regiment was at the Battle of Chancellorsville.

Albert Douglass was admitted to Receiving and Wayside Hospital (General Hospital No. 9)  on June 4, 1863 and the following day he was discharged from the Confederate States Army.

Douglas later served with the Florida Militia and the Union Navy.

Related Posts:

General Levi J. Knight ~ Railroad Tycoon

Following his retirement from the Georgia Militia, General Levi J. Knight invested in the construction of Georgia railroads.  He became one of the principals in the Brunswick & Florida Railroad and a senior manager of the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad.

Slaves began laying the track of the Atlantic & Gulf at Tebeauville, GA in 1859, heading west. The first engine to roll down the track into Valdosta was the Satilla, Engine No. three of the Savannah, Albany & Gulf Railroad - the Satilla was the third locomotive acquired by the S,A&G. The Satilla arrived in Valdosta on July 4, 1860. The Satilla was the

Slaves began laying the track of the Atlantic & Gulf at Tebeauville, GA in 1859, heading west. The first engine to roll down the track into Valdosta was the Satilla, Engine No. three of the Savannah, Albany & Gulf Railroad – the Satilla was the third locomotive acquired by the S,A&G. The Satilla arrived in Valdosta on July 4, 1860.

The Brunswick & Florida Railroad

The B&F Railroad had been originally chartered in 1835 with a proposed route “between Brunswick, Georgia and the Territory of Florida.” A U.S. Congressional Act of 1837 granted that, “the Brunswick and Florida Rail-road Company, incorporated by an act of the Legislature of Georgia, be, and they are hereby, authorized to extend their rail-road from the Georgia line to the city of Tallahassee, and thence to the river Apalachicola, or St. George’s sound.” But the Panic of 1837 derailed the enterprise, and “nothing more was done until the fifties, when funds were raised and preparations were made to build the road.”

By the 1850’s southwest Georgia had undergone substantial industrial and commercial growth; and  a rail connection to ports on the eastern seaboard  was desirable, with Brunswick holding the best hope. “The prospects for traffic on such a road, in the event of its construction, were very good. The project was now revived under the Brunswick and Florida Railroad charter, which had been kept passively in existence; and shortly before 1855 funds were secured with which construction might be undertaken, and preparations were made accordingly.

In December, 1853 in the Georgia State House at Milledgeville, GA, Representative Levi J. Knight introduced a bill to extend State credit to railroad companies “to assist them in the purchase of iron.”  At the introduction the House seemed to have great enthusiasm for the bill, but the following day, they voted to table it.

In 1854 General Levi J. Knight attended meetings of the stockholders of the Brunswick and Florida Railroad.

When the stockholders met in the Oglethorpe Hotel in Macon, GA on May 31, 1854, General Knight was present:

The Macon Georgia Telegraph
June 13, 1854

Meeting of the Stockholders of the Brunswick and Florida Railroad

According to agreement, by public advertisement, a portion of the stockholders of this road assembled at the Oglethorpe Hotel on the 31st ult. The names of the delegates as far as we can learn, are as follows:

      Messrs, Davis, Hodges, and Peabody, of New York; Maj. E.E. Young, Col. Young, Boston and Northfield, of Thomas; T.A.A. Bryan and Gen. Levi J. Knight of Lowndes, besides several others whose names we have not by us. There were also several present from this county, but as the meeting adjourned somewhat prematurely, and without any definite action, we are unable to furnish a full report.

      The meeting assembled at 10 o’clock A.M., and proceeded to business. The minutes of the last annual meeting were read, as also were several reports adopted by the Board of Directors in New York, one of which we published today.  The other reports, for some reason unknown to us, we were unable to obtain, the substance of which, however, we are in possession of.  The principle report to which we allude was in regard to the financial condition of the company.  This report states that $102,000 had been paid on some 11,000 shares by the Northern stockholders, and that this amount, with the exception of $9,65 had been paid out for iron and work done on the road.

    After the adoption of the several reports, Major E.E. Young, of Thomas, took the floor and made few vigorous and substantial remarks, the substance of which was…

 

The meeting adjourned with the agreement to meet again on the 15th of July, 1854 at Thomasville, GA.

The following year at the May stockholders meeting of the Brunswick & Florida Railroad, General Knight was elected to continue as the only southern representative on the board of  directors. The Milledgeville Southern Recorder, May 15, 1855 — page 2 reported:

“On motion of Mr. Knight, the meeting then went into the election of Directors for the ensuing year. The tellers having performed their duty, it appeared that 9,124 votes were represented, and were cast unanimously in favor of the following ticket:

Levi J. Knight, of Georgia.
Henry Spalding Welles, of New York.
Chancy Vibbard, Albany.
Charles B. Stuart, New York.
Paris G. Clark, New York.
S.W. Goodrich, New york.
George E. Gray, Albany.

The Chairman announced that the above had been unanimously chosen Directors of the Brunswick & Florida Railroad Company, for the ensuing year.”

In this endeavor, Levi J. Knight was associated with some of the greatest and most powerful railroad men of the age:

Henry Spalding Wellesidentified himself in 1847 with the rapid spread of railroads, and his first operation was the construction of some twenty-seven miles of the Great Western Railroad in Canada. He constructed in 1853, under the firm name of H.S. Welles & Co., the then great work of over one hundred miles of the New York and Erie Railroad, together with sixteen miles of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad.  The firm also built forty miles of the Buffalo and State Line Railroad (now a part of the Lake Shore Railroad;) some forty miles of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, a very heavy mechanical work. the whole of the Lackawanna and Bloomsburg Railroad; the Warren Railroad of New Jersey, forty miles long.  At the breaking out of the [Civil] war the firm had nearly finished the Brunswick and Albany Railroad, 350 miles, across the State of Georgia. Probably the greatest work of Welles & Co. was the waterworks of the City of Brooklyn, the contract price being about $5,000,000. Mr. Welles was one of the projectors of the Portage Lake and Lake Superior Ship Canal Company in Michigan.  After the civil war he contracted with the United States Government to clear Savannah Harbor of its sunken obstructions. He was identified with many private enterprises and was a man of great personal magnetism, energy, and commanding presence.

Chauncy Vibbard, a U.S. Congressional “Representative from New York; born in Galway, Saratoga County, N.Y., November 11, 1811; attended the common schools and was graduated from Mott’s Academy for Boys, Albany, N.Y.; clerk in a wholesale grocery store in Albany, N.Y.; moved to New York City, and in 1834 went to Montgomery, Ala.; returned to New York and settled in Schenectady; was appointed chief clerk of the Utica & Schenectady Railroad Co. in 1836; became a railroad freight and ticket agent in 1848; consolidated the many little railroads of western New York into the New York Central Railroad Co., serving as its first general superintendent 1853-1865; elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-seventh Congress (March 4, 1861-March 3, 1863); declined to be a candidate for renomination in 1862; during the Civil War served as director and superintendent of military railroads in 1862; first president of the Family Fund Insurance Co. 1864-1867; moved to New York City in 1865 and became involved in the business of steamship lines and elevated railroads; interested in the development of southern railroads and South and Central American enterprises at the time of his retirement in 1889; died in Macon, Ga., June 5, 1891; interment in Riverside Cemetery.”

Charles Beebe Stuart (June 4, 1814 – January 4, 1881) was an American engineer, United States Navy and Union Army officer and politician. “After being graduated from Union College, he was engaged in the construction of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad, one of the first lines built in this country.  He subsequently constructed the Brooklyn dry docks.  His skill won for him the position of Engineer-in-Chief of the United States Navy. He was the author of an elaborate work on naval architecture, and one on the construction of dry docks, which attracted the attention of the Duke of Wellington, the Emperor of Russia, the Sultan of Turkey, and others.  While State Engineer of New York he conceived the idea of building the suspension bridge across Niagara River.  Though not the engineer in charge of its construction, he had much to do with it, and his wife was the first person to cross it, she being drawn over in a basket on a wire. Upon the breaking out of the late war, Gen. Stewart raised two regiments of engineers, of which he was given command with the rank of Brevet Brigadier General. His service was entirely in the Army of the Potomac, constructing forts, fortifications, and bridges. He was recently engaged in the construction of the Conotton Valley Railroad, now being built from the coal fields in Carroll County to this city by Boston capitalists, and, as in all his previous efforts, he showed marked ability.”  –obituary of General Charles B. Stuart

George Edward Gray “studied civil engineering under Pelatiah Rawson, a United States pioneer in the profession. He was employed as resident engineer of the Black River Canal, New York, at two different periods, and once on the Erie Canal.  He also worked as assistant engineer on the New York and Harlem Railroad, was appointed chief engineer of the Utica and Schenectady and the Mohawk Valley Railroads in 1852, and in 1853 was made chief engineer, when those two roads were consolidated into the New York Central System. In that capacity he built the first wrought-iron bridge, and from 1860 to 1865, acted as chief engineer of the Hudson River Bridge at Albany.”  – Bio of George Edward Gray

On Wednesday, Feb. 27, 1856 Levi J. Knight was present at the state Capitol in Milledgeville, GA where he sat as a member at the first meeting of the Board of Commissioners of the newly chartered Atlantic and Gulf Railroad Company, placing him on the boards of both the A & G Railroad and the B & F Railroad.  The major action of the sitting members of the Board of the A & G was to organize the first meeting of the full Board to be held at the Capitol in Milledgeville, GA on the 31st of March, 1856.

1856-2-29-Main-Trunk-Railroad-Ball

Levi J. Knight, of Berrien County, GA, was a senior manager of the Altantic & Gulf Railroad. The incorporation of the Railroad was celebrated with a ball given at Milledgeville, GA on Friday, February 29, 1856. – Savannah Daily Georgian, Feb 29, 1856.

General Knight was in attendance at the second meeting of the Board of the A & G Railroad, where the major business was the establishment of a chair and business committee, and to arrange for the public subscription to the capital stock of the company.

By 1857, only 36 miles of track had been completed but the state of Georgia made a strategic investment of half a million dollars in B&F stock. The advantage of the B&F, it was said, was that it could move men and materials from ports on the Gulf of Mexico to the Brunswick port on the Atlantic in 24 hours “in case of war between this country and a foreign nation.” Undoubtedly, the “foreign nation” on the minds of Georgia’s political leaders was the United States of America.

Levi J. Knight was present when the annual Convention of the Stockholders of the Brunswick and Florida Railroad Company was held at Brunswick, GA on Wednesday, May 13, 1857.  The good news was that construction of the road was progressing,  but there was no report on the financial condition of the company. General Knight was among those who advocated for the company to negotiate an agreement with the Main Trunk railroad that would secure funding for the construction of a railroad line across southern Georgia.

By 1859, the railroad stretched from Brunswick to Tebeauville, GA where it connected with the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad.

Next UP:  General Knight’s Railroad Rolls Into Civil War

(See additional source citations below)

Related Posts:

Sources:

Georgia.1836. Acts of the General Assembly of the state of Georgia passed in Milledgeville at an annual session in November and December, 1835. An act to incorporate the Brunswick and Florida Railroad.pg 187.

United States. (1851). The statutes at large and treaties of the United States of America from. Boston: C.C. Little and J. Brown. pg 146

Dozier, Howard Douglas. 1920. A history of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. Houghton Mifflin. pg 79.

Phillips, Ulrich Bonnell. 1908. A history of transportation in the eastern cotton belt to 1860. pg 358.

Georgia Telegraph. Dec 20, 1853. From Milledgeville. Macon, GA. Pg 2

Georgia Telegraph. June 13, 1854. Minutes of the stockholders of the Brunswick and Florida Railroad. Macon, GA. Pg 3

Southern Recorder, May 15, 1855. Brunswick and Florida Railroad. Pg 2

Georgia Telegraph. Apr 8, 1856. Minutes of the Board of Commissioners of the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad Company, First Meeting, Wednesday, Feb 27, 1856. Macon, GA. Pg 3

United States. 1857. Appendix to the Congressional Globe containing speeches, important state papers, laws, etc., of the third session, Thirty-fourth Congress. Naval Depot at Brunswick, Georgia: Speech of Hon. A. Iverson of Georgia in the Senate, January 20, 1957. pg 270-275.

Poor, H. V. (1869). Poor’s manual of railroads. New York: H.V. & H.W. Poor; [etc., etc.. Pg. 337.

Loyless, T. W. (1902). Georgia’s public men 1902-1904. Atlanta, Ga: Byrd Print. Pp 166.
Miller, S.F. 1858. The bench and bar of Georgia : memoirs and sketches, with an appendix, containing a court roll from 1790 to 1857, etc. (1858). J. B. Lippincott & Co. Philadelphia. Pg 170

Milledgeville Federal Union, Nov. 18, 1856. Commercial Convention at Savannah. page 3. Milledgeville, GA.

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Eighth Census of the United States, 1860. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1860. M653, 1,438 rolls.Census Place: , Berrien, Georgia; Roll: M653_111; Page: 362; Image: 363.

Mitchell, S. Augustus. 1855. Mitchell’s new traveller’s guide through the United States and Canada. pg 87

Swayze, J. C., & H.P. Hill & Co. (1862). Hill & Swayze’s Confederate States rail-road & steam-boat guide: Containing the time-tables, fares, connections and distances on all the rail-roads of the Confederate States, also, the connecting lines of rail-roads, steamboats and stages, and will be accompanied by a complete guide to the principal hotels, with a large variety of valuable information. Griffin, Ga: Hill & Swayze.

Railga.com. Brunswick & Florida Railroad. https://railga.com/brunfl.html

Savannah Daily Morning News. 1857, July 22. Address of the Directors of the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad Company to the Stockholders. pg 1

Savannah Daily Morning News. 1857, May 18. Main Trunk Secured. pg 2

Savannah Georgian and Journal. 1856, December 1. Satilla Mass Meeting. pg 1.

Savannah Daily Georgian. 1853, October 23. To the editor of the Watchman. pg 2

Savannah Georgian. 1835, November 16. Senate Bills Read for the First Time. pg 2

Savannah Republican. 1836, July 29. Great National Enterprise. pg 2

Savannah Republican. 1836, September 9. From the State Rights Sentinel. pg 2

Daily Savannah Republican. 1836. Nov. 18. The Legislature. pg 2

Daily Savannah Republican. 1836, Dec. 9. Bill to incorporate the bank of Brunswick. pg 2

Savannah Daily Morning News. Nov. 15, 1851. In the Senate. Pg 1

Savannah Daily Morning News. Feb. 13, 1854. From Milledgeville. pg 1.

Savannah Daily Republican. Sep. 15, 1856. The Main Trunk Among the People. Pg 2

http://www.csa-railroads.com/Brunswick_and_Florida.htm