29th Georgia Regiment Soldier Killed by Fellow Soldier over a game of marbles
In the summer of 1862, the Berrien Minute Men mustered in as a company of the 29th Georgia Infantry Regiment near Savannah, GA, where the regiment trained and served picket duty on the Georgia coast. They were stationed at a number of camps on the coastal islands and marshes, first at Sapelo Battery, off the coast of Darien, GA, then defending Savannah in Chatham County, GA at Camp Tatnall, Camp Causton’s Bluff, Camp Debtford, Camp Mackey, and Camp Young.
At times the conditions in the Confederate camps of Chatham county were rough. Disease, shortage of provisions, weather, and frustration over being assigned to the literal backwaters of the war all took their toll on the men. Difficulties sometimes arose between soldiers. In one incident a soldier of the 29th Georgia Regiment was killed over a game of marbles. The fatal knifing occurred on September 16, 1862.
In a letter written September 20, 1862 and published September 26, 1862 in the Rome Weekly Courier a soldier of Company E, 29th Georgia Regiment reported the incident:
A serious difficulty occurred in the company on Tuesday last, between Privates Sam’l Fuller and John M. Reynolds. They had been playing marbles, and a dispute arose, which resulted in an encounter, when Fuller drew his pocket knife and inflicted three wounds on the person of Reynolds, two in the back and in in the side. The two in the back were not considered serious, but the one in the side was, as it came very near going the hollow. Mr. Reynolds had been here but a few days having came in the the last squad of recruits. He is in the camp hospital and doing well. – Fuller did not wait to be placed under arrest, but went immediately to the guard Tents and gave himself up – He will be tried to day before the Regimental Court Martial
The knife wounds sent John Reynolds to the camp hospital, which would have placed him under the care of William P. Clower, Surgeon of the 29th Regiment. William P. Clower initially served as company surgeon for the Berrien Minute Men, and was a brother of Dr. John T. Clower of Rays Mill, (now Ray City, GA)
Exerpt from a soldier’s letter written September 26, 1862 at the regimental headquarters, 29th Georgia Regiment, Savannah, GA and published in the Rome Tri-Weekly Courier :
John M. Reynolds is suffering intensely from the wounds inflicted by Fuller, and I fear it will be some time before he recovers, if ever. He is still in the camp hospital, not in a condition to be moved. Fuller’s case has been tried but the decision has not been made public, but doubtless will be in a few days. He is under arrest yet.
John M. Reynold did not recover. The Savannah Republican issue of October 1, 1862 reported his death:
October 1, 1862
INQUEST. – Coroner Eden held an inquest yesterday at the camp of the Twenty-ninth Georgia Regiment, over the body of Private John M. Reynolds, of Co. D., said regiment. The jury found that the deceased came to his death from wounds inflicted on his person by one Samuel Fuller, of the same regiment, in a quarrel which took place on the 16th ult., while playing at marbles. Upon the facts given in evidence, they found a charge of manslaughter against Fuller.
It becomes my painful duty to record the death of private John M. Reynolds, who died on the morning of the 30th ult., of Erysipelas, produced by the wounds inflicted by private Samuel Fuller. The particulars of the difficulty I gave you in a former letter. Mr. Fuller was court martialed and sentenced to fifteen days hard labor, and when not at work, with a ball and chain to his leg and confined to the guard tent, but as the Judge Advocate omitted to record the evidence and the names of the witnesses, the Colonel disapproved of the sentence and remanded him back to his company for duty. This was on the 27th September, Reynolds died on the 30th. Fuller was then arrested again and placed under guard to be delivered over to the civil authorities, when demanded. A Coroner’s Inquest was ordered and held over the body of the deceased, and the jury found that he came to his death from wounds inflicted by Samuel Fuller, and upon the facts given in evidence they found a charge of manslaughter against Fuller. He had not been sent for by the civil authorities when we left today.
Erysipelas was a streptococcus infection of the skin and was difficult to treat without antibiotics.
In a follow-up letter on October 2, 1862, the soldier reported
Samuel Fuller was arrested and turned over to the civil authorities and placed in jail yesterday evening to await his trial. He made a good soldier, one who was always in his place, and did his full share of duty. If the Captain is here when he is tried, he will see that justice is done him.
Letter of October 5, 1862 from Camp Troup near Savannah, GA
Last Friday was appointed for Fuller’s committal trial, but as some of the witnesses were sick, the trial was postponed until Monday, and for the same reasons it was again postponed until last Tuesday two weeks, wo he will have to lie in jail at least that long.
October 29, 1862 letter from Camp Troup, near Savannah, GA reports:
Fuller’s committal trial has been indefinitely postponed on account of so many of the witnesses being sick.
Finally, in a letter written February 12, 1863, while the 29th GA Regiment was at Camp Young near Savannah, GA, the results of the trial are announced:
- John Carroll Lamb
- William W. Knight Writes Home About Old Yellow and Men of the 29th Georgia Infantry
- Berrien Readied for Civil War, May, 1861
- Civil War Letters of James Parrish
- Resolutions of the Berrien Minute Men
- Organization and Command of the Berrien Minute Men
- L.E. Lastinger and Captain Knight’s Berrien Minutemen