Campfires of the Berrien Minute Men

Berrien Minute Men

Berrien County, Georgia sent forth in the Civil War two companies of men known as the Berrien Minute Men.

The first company, organized  in the summer of 1861 by Captain Levi J. Knight , was designated at various times as Captain Knight’s Company, Captain Wylly’s Company, Company A Berrien Minute Men,  (old) Company C 29th GA Regiment, (new) Company G 29th GA Regiment.

The second company, organized in the fall of 1861 was successively known as Company B Berrien Minute Men, Captain Lamb’s Company, Company D, and Company K 29th GA Regiment.

For the most part, both companies of Berrien Minute Men traveled with the 29th Georgia Regiment and kept the same campfires, although occasionally they had different stations.

Date…………………….. Event
1860 November 28 Muster Roll of Levi J. Knight’s Company, the Berrien Minute Men
1860 December 10 Organization of the Berrien Minute Men, Nashville, GA
1861 January 19 Georgia Ordinance of Secession passed ~ John C. Lamb, a signer
1861 May Grand Rally at Milltown for the Berrien Minute Men
1861 May 23 Berrien Minute Men in camp and drilling at Nashville, GA
1861 July Berrien Minute Men encamped with other companies at Brunswick, GA
1861 Summer Berrien Minute Men muster in at Savannah, GA
1861 July 19 at Causton’s Bluff near Savannah, GA
1861 July 30 Berrien Minute Men and other companies of the 13th Regiment arrive at Savannah, GA via the Albany & Gulf Railroad; Company C issued equipment
1861 August 1 Levi J. Knight elected Captain of Company C
1861 August 20 Berrien Minute Men transported via Brunswick & Florida Railroad (South Georgia & Florida R.R.)  from station No. 9 at Tebeauville (now Waycross), GA some 60 miles to Brunswick, GA
1861 August 28, or abt Berrien Minute Men & 13th Regiment encamped “in the neighborhood of Brunswick”
1861 August Berrien Minute Men, Company C, 29th GA Regt at Savannah, GA
1861 Fall A second company of Berrien Minute Men was organized as Company D, 29th GA Regiment. This company was later known as Company K.
1861 October 2 Levi J. Knight elected Major of the 29th GA Regiment
1861 October 5 Berrien Minute Men Company D arrived Savannah, GA
1861 October 6 Berrien Minute Men Companies C & D (G & K) embarked late evening aboard steamer at Savannah
1861 October 7 Both companies landed at Sapelo Island, GA
1861 October 11 Berrien Minute Men, Company C, 29th GA Regt at Sapelo Battery, GA
1861 October 12 At Camp Spaulding, Sapelo Island, GA
1861 October 14 John C. Lamb elected captain of Berrien Minute Men “Company B” (Company D, later Company K)
1861 October 16 At post of Sapelo Island Battery, GA
1861 October 22 At Camp Spaulding, Sapelo Island, GA
1861 Winter Captain Knight’s Berrien Minute Men company at battery on southern end of Blackbeard Island, GA
1861 December 1 Near Darien, GA
1861 December 18 At Camp Security, GA
1862 January Darien, GA; Company G officer’s purchase of “subsistence stores…for their own use and the use of their families”
1862 January 22 At Masonboro Sound, six miles east of Wilmington, NC
1862 February 20 Camp Wilson, GA; Company C & Company D, receipt of firewood
1862 March 7 Berrien Minute Men at Camp Tatnall, near Savannah, GA while “the old Berrien Company” is on Smith’s Island
1862 March Berrien Minute Men at Camp Tatnall, GA
1862 March 13 Camp Tatnall, GA; receipt of firewood
1862 March 15 Camp Tatnall, GA; receipt of coffin
1862 March 18 Camp Tatnall, GA
1862 March 20 Camp Tatnall, GA
1862 March 24 Camp Tatnall, GA; receipt of lumber and shoes
1862 March 26 Camp Tatnall, GA; receipt of coffin
1862 April 1 At Camp Tatnall, GA; receipt of coffin; firewood; forage
1862 April 17 At Camp Tatnall, GA
1862 April 18 At Causton’s Bluff, GA
1862 April 23 At Causton’s Bluff, GA; receipt of supplies
1862 May Berrien Minute Men at Causton’s Bluff near Savannah, GA
1862 May 1 At Causton’s Bluff, GA; receipt of coffin; firewood; forage
1862 May 10 At Camp Debtford Major Levi J. Knight resigns; John C. Lamb elected major of the Regiment;
1862 May At Camp Debtford Thomas S. Wylly elected captain of the Berrien Minute Men
1862 May Levi J. Knight, Jr elected Captain of Company D?
1862 May 22 at Causton’s Bluff; Wiley E. Baxter elected 2nd Lieut. Co. K
1862 June Captain Levi J. Knight in command of Lawton Battery
1862 June 2 Company D (later K) at Causton’s Bluff, near Savannah, GA (at this time Causton’s Bluff is an open battery)
1862 June Berrien Minute Men at Camp Mackey, near Savannah, GA
1862 June 12 At Causton’s Bluff, near Savannah, GA
1862 June 19 At Causton’s Bluff, near Savannah, GA
1862 June 26 At Causton’s Bluff, near Savannah, GA
1862 June 27 At Causton’s Bluff, near Savannah, GA
1862 July 5 At Causton’s Bluff, near Savannah, GA
1862 July Major Lamb on temporary detached duty,
1862 July 27 Picket duty on White Marsh and at Capers Battery
1862 July 30 At Causton’s Bluff, near Savannah, GA
1862 August 27 At Causton’s Bluff, near Savannah, GA
1862 September 2 At a camp two miles from Savannah, GA on Thunderbolt shell road.
1862 September 11 At a camp near Savannah, GA
1862 September 13 At Camp Troupe
1862 October 4 In route by train from Savannah to Grooverville, Brooks County; marched to Monticello, FL
1862 October 5 In route by train from Monticello to Lake City, FL
1862 October 6 In route by train from Lake City to Camp near Baldwin, FL
1862 October 7 Picket duty near Baldwin, FL
1862 October 21 Return from Jacksonville, FL
1862 October 25 Berrien Minute Men at “a camp near Savannah, GA”
1862 November Stationed Camp Young
1862 November 9 At a camp near Savannah, GA
1862 November 14 Camp Young, Near Savannah, GA
1862 November 21 Camp Young, Near Savannah, GA; receipt of tents
1862 November 25 Near Savannah, GA
1862 November 28 Savannah River Batteries
1862 December 14 Embarked by train to Wilmington, NC
1862 December 16 Company D in Battle of Nashville
1862 December 20 At Kingsville, NC
1862 December ? At Camp Clingman
1862 December 31 Returned by train to Savannah, GA
1862 December 31 Elbert J. Chapman, “Old Yaller” AWOL
1863 January 1 Camp Young, GA; receipt of forage, Company D
1863 January 3 Berrien Minute Men returned to Camp Young, near Savannah, GA
1863 January 7 In route to Wilmington, NC
1863 January 21 On station at Wilmington, NC
1863 February On station at Wilmington, NC
1863 Feb 11 Camp Young, near Savannah, GA; receipt of forage
1863 February 20 At General Review of Infantry and Cavalry at Savannah, GA
1863 Feb 24 At Camp Young, near Savannah, GA; receipt of stationary supplies
1863 Feb 25 At Camp Young, near Savannah, GA
1863 March 3 At Genesis Point, Near Savannah, GA
1863 March 6 At Camp Young, near Savannah, GA
1863 March 12 Reward offered for deserters from Camp Young, near Savannah, GA
1863 March 13 At Camp Young, near Savannah, GA
1863 March 17 At Camp Young, near Savannah, GA
1863 March 19 At Camp Young, near Savannah, GA
1863 March 27 At Camp Young, near Savannah, GA
1863 April 1 At Camp Young, near Savannah, GA
1863 April 2 At Camp Young, near Savannah, GA
1863 April 9 Berrien Minute Men & brigade dispatched to Charleston
1863 April 19 Returned to Savannah, GA
1863 April 27 Dispatched to Pocotaligo, SC
1863 May 4 Returned to Savannah, GA
1863 May Berrien Minute Men and the 29th GA Regt departed Savannah for Jackson, MS
1863 May 1 At Vaughan Station, MS; receipt of forage, Company D
1863 May 12 At McDowell’s Landing, MS
1863 May 13 Arrived at Meridian, MS
1863 May 14 In route by train toward Jackson, MS
1863 May 15 At Forest City, MS
1863 May 17 “fought all day…the battle was awful
1863 May 28 At Deaconsville, MS about 20 miles east of Yazoo City, “six miles west of Vanus Station”; Deserter Elbert J. Chapman captured
1863 May 29 Departed Camp near Deaconsville, MS;
1863 May 30 On the march
1863 June 3 Camp near Yazoo City, MS
1863 June 4 moved to Camp three miles south of Yazoo City, MS
1863 June 5 Camp near Yazoo City, MS (three miles south)
1863 June 18 At Vernon City, MS
1863 July 2 At a camp in the field, 25 miles from Vicksburg, MS
1863 July 5 At Big Black River, MS
1863 July 6 Withdrawn from Big Black River, MS
1863 July 7 Marching in retreat toward Jackson, MS
1863 July 8 Arrived at Jackson, MS
1863 July 9 A day of rest
1863 July 10 Ordered to the line of battle near Jackson, MS
1863 July 11 Supporting artillery batteries
1863 July 12 Supporting artillery batteries on the left of Walker’s Division
1863 July 13 Supporting artillery batteries on the left of Walker’s Division
1863 July 13 Major Lamb killed in retreat from Vicksburg, MS;
1863 July 13 Retreated to a position “across railroad bank”; supporting artillery
1863 July 14 Supporting artillery at railroad bank near Jackson, MS
1863 July 15 Supporting artillery at railroad bank near Jackson, MS
1863 July 16 Supporting artillery at railroad bank near Jackson, MS
1863 July 17 Retreating from Jackson, MS
1863 July 19 At a camp in the field; receipt of clothes
1863 July 20 At a camp in the field near Forest City, MS
1863 July 21 Deserter Elbert J. Chapman executed
1863 July 22 At Scott County, MS
1863 July 23 Camp near Forrest City, Scott County MS;
1863 August 10 Camp near Morton, MS
1863 August 23 Embarked train in MS bound for Atlanta
1863 September 5 at camp in the field; receipt of shoes, Company K
1863 September 7 Duty at Battery Cheves
1863 September 15 James Island, SC; Magazine explosion kills Seaborn J. Lastinger
1863 September 19 In battle at Chickamauga
1863 October 18 Camp Near Chattanooga, TN
1863 October 22 Camp Near Chattanooga, TN
1863 October 31 In the field; receipt of clothing “the men being in a destitute condition”
1863 November 24 Near Missionary Ridge
1863 November 25 Near Missionary Ridge
1863 December 6 Dalton, GA; receipt of clothing, on account of “the destitution of the men”
1863 December 31 Dalton, GA
1864 January In winter quarters at camp near Dalton, GA
1864 January 12 Dalton, GA
1864 February 29 near Dalton, GA
1864 March 12 Dalton, GA
1864 March 30 near Dalton, GA
1864 April 30 provost duty inDalton, GA
1864 May Retreating from Dalton, GA
1864, May 11 In battle at Resaca, GA
1864 May 16 Camp near Calhoon, GA
1864, May 17 In battle at Adairsville, GA
1864 May 18 Camp in the field near Cassville, GA
1864 May 21 Camp in the field near Etowah Iron Works.
1864 May 29 Forsyth, GA
1864 June 1 Camp near Dallas, GA
1864 June 5 Camp in the field near Acworth, GA
1864 June 15 In line of battle; near Pine Mountain, GA
1864 June 16 In line of battle near Marietta, GA
1864 June 17 Camp near Marietta, GA
1864 June 19 In line of battle near Marietta, GA
1864 June 20 In line of battle near Marietta, GA
1864 June 21 In line of battle near Marietta, GA
1864 June 21 In line of battle near Marietta, GA
1864, June 23 Battlefield near Marietta, GA
1864 June 24 Battlefield near Marietta, GA
1864 June 26 Supporting General Hindman’s Division
1864 June 27 At Kennesaw Mountain, GA
1864 June 28 Camp near Marietta, GA
1864 July 2 In line of battle near Marietta, GA
1864 July 3 In line of battle near Marietta, GA
1864 July 4 In line of battle, four miles below Marietta
1864 July 5 Withdrawn to works near Chattahoochee River, GA
1864 July 7 Battlefield near Chattahoochee River, GA
1864 July 9 Fell back to pickets south of Chattahoochee River
1864 July 11 Camp in the field, near Atlanta, GA
1864 July 19 In Line of battle near Chattahoochee River
1864 July 20 In line of battle at Battle of Peachtree Creek
1864 July 21 In line of battle near Atlanta
1864 July 22 At the Battle of Atlanta; near Decatur, GA
1864 July 29 Camp near Atlanta, GA
1864 August 7 Near Atlanta, GA; “fought the Yankees”
1864 August 8 Camp in the field near Atlanta, GA
1864 August 12 Camp in the field near Atlanta, GA
1864 August 26 Camp in the field near Atlanta, GA
1864 August 31 Battle of Jonesboro, GA
1864 September 2 Lovejoy Station, GA
1864 October 19 Skirmish at Little River, AL
1864 November 29 Springhill, TN
1864 November 30 Franklin, TN
1864 December 4 Overall’s Creek, TN
1864 December 7 In battle at Murphreesboro
1864 December 16 In battle at Nashville, TN; 29th regiment surrounded and captured

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Levi J. Knight ~ in the Antebellum Wiregrass

Antebellum Wiregrass

By the early 1840s Levi J. Knight, pioneer settler of Ray City, GA, was well known across the state for his military and political leadership, and had been noted in the national press for his actions in the Indian Wars. In his home county of Lowndes, (now Berrien), GA Knight  had a well established estate and was consolidating his real property.   On April 11, 1842 he  purchased 9 lots in the 10th District.  These Lots were available for purchase to anyone with the cost of the $18 survey fee. The Digest of the Taxes of Lowndes County for the Year 1844 shows the following about the property held by the Knight family:

Levi J. Knight owned 7350 acres of pines in the 10th district, Lowndes County, 40 acres of “oak & hickory” on Lot No. 830 in the 18th District, Cherokee county, and seven slaves.

William A. Knight, father of Levi J. Knight, owned 2940 acres of pine land in the 10th district  in Lowndes county, this land improved with bridges and ferries valued at $200. Also three slaves and 250 acres of pine land on Lot 250 in the 7th District in Early County. His tax liability for the year was $15. 26.

John Knight owned Lot No. 453 in the 10th District, Lowndes county, with 490 acres of pine land. No slaves were assessed, with his total property tax being $0.85.

Aaron Knight owned the adjacent Lot No. 454, with all 490 acres in pines. No slaves were assessed, with his total property tax being $0.85.

1844-property-taxes-family-of-levi-j-knight-thumb

In 1846, Lowndes County Deputy Sheriff Jesse W. Carter advertised a Sheriff’s sale which included Levi J. Knight’s property in Lot No. 292 in the 10th district. The land was sold to satisfy a debt Knight owed to Elias Roberts.

The Milledgeville Federal Union, April 28, 1846 — page 3 Lowndes Sheriff’s Sale. Will be sold on the first Tuesday in June next, within the legal hours of sale, before the Court house door in the town of Troupville, Lowndes county, the following property, to wit:… …at the same time and place, will be sold 490 acres of land, known as lot No. 292, in the 10th district of originally Irwin now Lowndes county; levied on as the property of Levi J. Knight, to satisfy a fi fas from Lowndes Superior Court-Elias Roberts vs. Levi J. Knight: property pointed out by defendant. JESSE W. CARTER, D.S. April 16, 1846.

Elias Roberts, plaintiff in the above case, was a fellow veteran of the Indian Wars. He had settled a home place in western Lowndes county bordering on Mule Creek.  About him, historian William Harden wrote,

Elias Roberts, having bought land bordering Mule creek, first built a house of round logs to shelter his family. Then his slaves laboriously whip-sawed boards from the native timber and with a skilled house-joiner and carpenter to direct the operations, a commodious two-story dwelling was erected. The boards were two and a half inches thick, were dove-tailed together at the ends, and were fastened to the studding with wooden -dowel-pins in lieu of nails. When finished, and for some years afterward, this was the most pretentious residence in all this countryside…  Before coming into this part of Georgia, he had served under General Jackson in the Florida Indian wars, and after coming here was a member of a company organized for protection against the Indians over the border, the company being several times called out to drive the red men back to their reservations. During such troublous times the Roberts homestead above described became the place of refuge for the women and children of the settlement, so that it served both as a residence and a fort. Elias Roberts had been a participant in the battle of Brushy Creek in 1836, when the Indians made their last great stand in defense of their hunting grounds.

In 1847, L. J. Knight’s eldest daughter, Elizabeth,  married Hardeman Sirmans.  According to historian Folks Huxford, “Mr. Sirmans served in the Indian War as a private in a volunteer company of Lowndes County militia commanded by his father-in-law, Capt. (afterwards General) Levi J. Knight, August 15th to Oct 15 1838. He was 1st Lieutenant of the 664th militia district, Lowndes County, 1845-46, then served as Captain in same district 1847-1851. Folks Huxford also states in his sketch of Levi J. Knight that when the Mexican War broke out in 1848,  Knight enlisted and served as a captain of volunteers the greater part of that war. About this service, little else is known. In 1850 Levi J. Knight resigned his commission as Major General of the 6th Division of the Georgia Militia, an office he held since 1840. He tendered his resignation in a simple letter to Governor George W. Towns posted September 16, 1850 from Troupville, GA. (see The Commission of Major General Levi J. Knight.) Resignation notwithstanding, state newspapers continued at least through 1854 to report Maj. General Knight as in command of the 6th Division, Georgia Militia with his Head Quarters at Troupville, GA . The 1850 census of Lowndes County, Georgia showed Levi J. Knight’s real estate holdings by that time had amassed a value of $5000. At the time of enumeration his occupation was listed as farming. The  Knight household in 1850 included Levi J. Knight (47)  Ann D. Knight (48), and children William Washington Knight (21), John Knight (18), Mary A. Knight (14), Levi A. Knight (12), Jonathan D. Knight (10), Keziah A. Knight (7).  Also in the Knight home was Elizabeth Clements, age 80, blind, born in Ireland.  Sons William and John assisted their father with farming, The General’s neighbors were his son-in-law Hardeman Sirmans, and William Patton, who was Justice of the Peace. These were difficult and contentious political times. The threat of southern rebellion over the constitutionality of slavery, the fugitive slave law, and the admission of free states to the Union was imminent. In November of 1850, Levi J. Knight  was selected by “the People of Lowndes county, believing that no just cause of resistance now exists” as the Whig delegate to a state Convention that had been called “to resist past aggression – the admission of California into the Union.”  In light of the Compromise of 1850 which had been passed by the U.S. Congress the previous month, Knight pledged that he believed the people of Georgia could honorably acquiesce  in reference to the subject of slavery;  that he would exercise “Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation” at the Convention; and that he would  commit no act nor give his vote for any measure that would tend directly or indirectly to subvert the Constitution of Georgia, or the United States. As one of the most educated men in the county, L. J. Knight was frequently called upon by his neighbors to handle legal affairs. In 1850 he acted with power of attorney for Thomas Giddens, an illiterate veteran of the Seminole Wars, to receive 80 acres of land due Giddens as compensation for eight months of military service. 1850-ljknight-power-of-attorney In the election of 1851, Levi J. Knight was re-elected to the State Assembly as the Senator from Lowndes, Ware, and Clinch counties. Following his retirement from the Georgia Militia, General Levi J. Knight engaged in the construction of Georgia railroads.  He became one of the principals in the Brunswick & Florida Railroad, apparently as both a commercial venture and as a strategy in response to looming military conflict  (see General Levi J. Knight ~ Railroad Tycoon and General Knight’s Railroad Rolls Into Civil War ). In 1856 L. J. Knight was instrumental in the laying out and establishing of Berrien County, newly created from portions of Lowndes, Irwin and Coffee counties. One of Knight’s unhappy senatorial duties in 1856 was  to serve as chair of the legislative delegation sent to pay last respects to Andrew J. Miller, a member of the Georgia Legislature for 20 years and twice president of the state senate.  

The joint committee of the Senate and House appointed to attend the funeral could not reach this city [Augusta] in time. The Mayor received the following dispatch from the chairman : — Macon, February 5. Hon. W. E. Dearing, Mayor: — A joint committee of both Houses came this far on their way to attend the funeral of the Hon. A. J. Miller; but the trains failed to connect, and we cannot reach Augusta in time. Levi J. Knight, Chairman.

In the fall of 1857, Levi J. Knight suffered the passing of his wife, Ann D. Herrin Knight, she having died on October 14, 1857.  The burial was at Union Church cemetery, in present day Lanier County, GA.

Grave of Ann D. Knight, Union Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Grave of Ann D. Knight, Union Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

On Sept 1, 1858, the General’s youngest daughter, Keziah, married her cousin, James A. Knight.  The Census of 1860 shows the couple living in the General’s household. November, 1859 Levi J. Knight was among the gentlemen “appointed by the Governor, Delegates from the State at Large, and from the several Congressional Districts, to represent the State of Georgia in Southern Commercial Convention, to be held in the City of Savannah, on the 8th of December next.” In the winter of 1859 Levi J. Knight’s mother and father both passed away.  His mother, Sarah Cone Knight, died of old age in November 1859 at the age of 80. The following month his father William Anderson Knight, revered Primitive Baptist minister, also succumbed at the age of 82.  Their deaths are recorded in the 1860 Berrien County Mortality Schedule under the names William Knyte and Sarah Knyte. The year came to a close with Levi J. Knight disposing of some of his Lowndes county property:          

Weekly Georgia Telegraph. Dec. 13, 1859. Advertisement. Pg. 1 FOR SALE! In Lowndes County – fourteen hundred and seventy (1470) acres land – particularly desirable for planting and conveniently located in one body. For description, apply to Gen. Levi J. Knight. Milltown, Berrien county, Ga., or to W. COWLES nov 12              at E.L. Strohecker & Co.

The 1860 United States Federal Census lists Levi J.Knight’s occupation as a farmer, with real estate valued at $5000, and a personal estate of $1500. Related Posts:

General Knight’s Railroad Rolls Into Civil War

By 1857, 36 miles of track had been completed and there were grand designs that the Brunswick & Florida Railroad line would extend all the way to Pensacola, Florida. With service through connecting lines the B&F would provide passenger and freight service from the interior as far west as Vicksburg, MS all the way to the east coast shipping port at Brunswick, GA. The state of Georgia invested half a million dollars in the railroad company’s 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.”[14]

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.

According to Wikipedia, “By 1859, the railroad stretched from Brunswick to Glenmore, Georgia, where it connected with the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad.

 

Ultimately, Levi J. Knight’s investment in the B&F railroad became another casualty of the Civil War.  “The Brunswick and Florida Railroad was in operation up to the fall of 1863, when the Confederate Government seized it under the Impressment Act, tore up the rails, and distributed the property of the Company among other railroads, which were considered as leading military lines.”[15]

“After the war in 1869, the State of Georgia provided about $6 million in bonds to rebuild. The railroad was then reorganized as the Brunswick and Albany Railroad.”

The Brunswick and Albany Railroad (B&A) took over operation of the Brunswick and Florida Railroad. By May 1869, the B&A had reopened tracks between Brunswick, Georgia, and a connection with the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad at Tebeauville  (now Waycross), GA. The B&A went bankrupt in 1872 after a bond was nullified by the Georgia General Assembly. It was reorganized in 1882 and was then named the Brunswick and Western Railroad.

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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. 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 Knight attended meetings of the stockholders of the Brunswick and Florida Railroad.

On May 31, 1854 General Knight was at the stockholders meeting in  the Oglethorpe Hotel  in Macon, GA:

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 Welles “identified 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 Brunswik 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.  The major action of the sitting members of the Board 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.  General Knight was not present at the second meeting of the Board, 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, 36 miles of track had been completed and there were grand designs that the B&F line would extend all the way to Pensacola, Florida. With service through connecting lines the B&F would provide passenger and freight service from the interior as far west as Vicksburg,MS all the way to the east coast shipping port at Brunswick, GA. The state of Georgia invested half a million dollars in the railroad company’s 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.”

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.

According to Wikipedia, “By 1859, the railroad stretched from Brunswick to Glenmore, Georgia, where it connected with the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad.

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