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…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.

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 vessel  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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29th Georgia Regiment Soldier Killed by Fellow Soldier

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

Letter from a Floyd County soldier reports deadly game of marbles at the camp of the 29th Georgia Regiment, Savannah, GA

Letter dated September 20, 1862from a Floyd County soldier reports deadly game of marbles at the camp of the 29th Georgia Regiment, Savannah, GA

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.

1862-rome-tri-wkly-john-m-reynolds

John M. Reynold did not recover. The Savannah Republican issue of October 1, 1862 reported his death:

Savannah Republican
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.

1862-oct-1-savannah-republican-john-m-reynoldsWriting from Camp Troup on October 1, 1862, a Floyd county soldier reported to the Rome Weekly Courier:

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.

letter dated Oct 1, 1862

letter dated Oct 1, 1862

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 dated October 2, 1862

letter dated October 2, 1862

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.

1862-10-16-rome-tri-weekly-samuel-fuller-trial

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.

Letter dated October 29,1862 reports delay in the trial of Samuel Fuller for the death of John M. Reynolds

Letter dated October 29,1862 reports delay in the trial of Samuel Fuller for the death of John M. Reynolds

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:

Samuel Fuller has had his trial at last; he was cleared and returned to duty.1863-feb-20-rome-wkly-courier-samuel-fuller-killed-29th-regt-ga-soldier

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J. M. Sloan Dies after Throw From Horse

James Murray Sloan came to the Ray's Mill, GA neighborhood in 1871. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

James Murray Sloan came to the Ray’s Mill, GA neighborhood in 1871. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

James Murray Sloan, a son of David and Diadema Sloan, was born Jan. 18, 1833 in Duplin County, N.C.,  J. M. Sloan and his wife, Martha Susan Gordon,  removed from North Carolina to Mississippi for a brief stay, then to Echols Co., Ga.; thence to Berrien County, GA in 1871 where J.M. Sloan engaged in farming.  A number of Duplin County, NC families had relocated in the 1850s to that portion of Lowndes County which was cut into Berrien County in 1856. Among these Duplin transplants were William J. Lamb, James Carroll, Jesse Carroll, William Godfrey, Andrew J. Liles, William Best, James W. Dixon, and Robert Rouse. James Dobson brought his family and slaves, Peter McGowan and Richard McGowan believed to be among them. William Hill Boyett, John Bostick, Treasy Boyett Bostick and Mary C. Bostick came from Duplin to Berrien in the mid-century, and A few years later, Jessie Bostick also removed from Duplin County to the area.  Many of these settled in the area between present day  Ray City and Lakeland, GA (then called Allapaha).

County property tax records for 1873  show J. M. Sloan paid a poll tax in Berrien County that year but  listed no taxable property in his name.  The 1874 tax records show an assessment on  household and kitchen furniture valued at $10, $25 in plantation and mechanical tools, and $166 in ‘other property,’ but no real estate.  By 1875 J. M. Sloan had acquired 245 acres in lot 450, 1144 GMD, in the 10th district, about a mile outside of present day Ray City, GA,  valued at $400 and had $145 in ‘other property.’  Portions of adjoining Land Lots 422, 423, 451, and 452 in the 10th land district  were owned jointly by William Roberts and T.M. Ray, founder of Ray’s Mill, GA. (see Thomas M Ray Founded Ray’s Mill in 1863)

1869 Berrien County Map detail showing location of land lot # 450.

1869 Berrien County Map detail showing location of land lot # 450.

The 1876 tax records show  James M. Sloan listed as “agent for wife,”   with 242  acres in lot 450, 10th district valued at $250.  At that time he had  $50 household and kitchen furniture;  $115 in horses, mules, hogs, sheep, cattle, etc.; and  $9 in plantation & mechanical tools.

He was faring about the same in 1877, still on the same acreage in lot 450, now with  $60 household and kitchen furniture, pianos, organs, etc;  $142 in horses, mules, hogs, sheep, cattle, etc.; and  $41 in plantation & mechanical tools.  His total estate was valued at $493.

Neighbors were William E. Langford with 60 acres and  John B. Gaskins with 100 acres on the same land lot 450;  Jethro Patten on Lot 449; John G & Mary Knight on portions of Lot 450 and 451. Barney B. Chism on Lot 426; William A. Bridges on portions of Lot 470 and 471; and 471 Robert Woodard on lot 471. Neighbor Jonathan D. Knight , who was on portions of Lots 424, 425, 450 and 451, was a signer of the 1877 Georgia Constitution. Another neighbor was John Thomas Clower, Doctor of Ray’s Mill, on a small farm in lot 424.

The 1880 tax records show James M. Sloan was the liquor dealer at Rays Mill.

In 1890 the Berrien County tax digest shows the Sloans were still on their 242 acre farm on Lot 450 in the 10th Land District, now valued at $500.

Neighbors in 1890 still included John B. Gaskins on Lot 450 and John G. Knight on portions of Lots 424, 450 and 451; Redding D. Swindle on portions of Lot 423 and 424;  Mary A. Ray  and Texas E Ray on portions of Lot 423 and 424; James A. Knight on portions of Lot 471; Elizabeth E. Knight on portions of Lots 424, 450, and 451; Walter H. Knight on Lot 426; Louis L. Knight on portions of Lot 451;  Joseph E. Langford on a portion of Lot 450; portions of Lots 424 and 449 belonged to John T. Higgs; Barney B. Chism on Lots 426 and 427; James M. Baskin on Lots 470 and 471.

In 1894, The Tifton Gazette reported the demise of  James M. Sloan, his death occurring on November 20, 1894.

The Tifton Gazette
Nov. 30, 1894 — page 1

Mr. J. M. Sloan, a thrifty farmer of Rays Mill neighborhood, died on Tuesday of last week.  He fell from his horse some time ago, from which he sustained injuries that produced death.  He was a native North Carolinian, but a resident of Georgia for quite a quarter of a century.

James Murray Sloan died after being thrown from a horse.

James Murray Sloan died after being thrown from a horse.

His widow, Martha Gordon Sloan, continued to reside  in the Rays Mill District.  The census of 1900 shows  she owned the family farm, free and clear of mortgage, which she worked on her own account, with the assistance of farm laborer Charlie Weaver.

Martha Gordon Sloan, wife of James Murray Sloan. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Martha Gordon Sloan, wife of James Murray Sloan. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

Children of Martha Susan Gordon and James Murray Sloan:

  1. John Fisher Sloan 1858 – 1930
  2. Emma Jane Sloan 1859 – 1871
  3. Mary Ann Sloan 1861 – 1863
  4. Sarah Virginia Sloan 1864 – 1944
  5. Martha Ida Letitia Sloan 1867 – 1930
  6. Susan Evelyn Sloan 1870 – 1940
  7. Catherine Diademma Sloan 1872 – 1901
  8. Celia Frances Sloan 1874 – 1895
  9. Fannie Sloan 1874 –
  10. Minnie Gordon Sloan 1876 – 1904
  11. William David Sloan 1879 – 1935
Graves of James Murray Sloan and Martha Susan Gordon, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Graves of James Murray Sloan and Martha Susan Gordon, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

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Medical Men of Ray’s Mill

Medical Men of Rays Mill and Berrien County

John Thomas Clower (1830 – 1893)

On this date, May 13, in the year 1830, John Thomas Clower was born, the son of a Revolutionary Soldier who immigrated from Germany to fight for American independence. As a young man, John Thomas Clower attended medical school in Atlanta. He served as a military surgeon during the  Civil War. Afterwards he came to Ray’s Mill (now Ray City), GA where he practiced medicine in the community from 1870 until 1887.

Over the years many other professional doctors practiced in Ray City, GA. Ray City and Berrien County were also served by informal practitioners of healing.

The Medical Men of Ray City, GA

Other Medical Men of Berrien County according to the Transactions of the Medical Association of Georgia:

ADEL, GA

  • C. C. Giddens – Adel, GA (MAG, 1908)

ALAPAHA, GA

  • W. A. Moore – Alapaha, GA (MAG, 1906)
  • R. T. Kendrick – Alapaha, GA  (MAG, 1891)
  • G. A. Paulk – Alapaha, GA

CECIL, GA

  • W. P. Lovvorn – Cecil, GA (MAG, 1902)
  • F. W. Schnauss – Cecil, GA (MAG, 1907)

ENIGMA, GA

  • J. B. S. Blitch – Enigma

FRANKLINVILLE

LENNOX, GA

  • W. M.  Clements – Lennox, GA
  • M. L. Webb – Lennox, GA (MAG, 1910)

MILLTOWN (Now LAKELAND), GA

  • W. L Patten – Milltown, GA  (MAG, 1895)
  • J. V. Talley  – Milltown, GA  (MAG, 1908)
  • Louis Smith – Milltown, GA (MAG, 1908)
  • Dr. James W. Talley

NASHVILLE, GA

  • L. A. Carter – Nashville, GA  (MAG, 1905)
  • F. P. Key – Nashville, GA (MAG, 1906)
  • J. A. Ward – Nashville, GA
  • Pleasant H. Askew – Nashville, GA (MAG, 1906)
  • H.M. Talley – Nashville ((MAG, 1875)

SPARKS, GA

  • S. G. Etheridge – Sparks, GA (MAG, 1906)
  • L. B. Lovett – Sparks, GA (MAG, 1908)
  • W. M. Shepard – Sparks, GA

TIFTON, GA

  • W. H. Hendricks – Tifton, GA (MAG, 1903)
  • A. P. Hunter – Tifton, GA (MAG, 1900)
  • A. or N. Peterson – Tifton (MAG, 1897)