Owen Clinton Pope, Reconstruction Teaching and Preaching

Owen Clinton Pope (1842-1901) came to Berrien County, GA during Reconstruction. He was a Confederate veteran who before the War was a rising pastor in the Baptist ministry. He may have come to Berrien County because of his acquaintance with Philip Coleman Pendleton or with Mercer University classmate Edwin B. Carroll. A graduate of Mercer, Pope was highly qualified to teach in country schools of Wiregrass Georgia and took jobs at the schools at Milltown, GA and Ocean Pond, GA.

 

Owen Clinton Pope, Jr.

Owen Clinton Pope, Jr.

Owen Clinton Pope was born February 15, 1842, in Washington County, Georgia.

His father, Owen Clinton Pope, Sr.,  was a farmer and newspaper man for 30 years associated with the Milledgeville Southern Recorder.   O.C. Pope Sr. became a business associate of Philip Coleman Pendleton and together they purchased and operated the Central Georgian newspaper at Sandersville, GA. Census records show Pope, Sr had a three-horse farm, with 300 acres of improved land in addition to large tracts of undeveloped land.  In 1860 O. C. Pope, Sr owned 20 enslaved African-Americans ranging from infants to 25 years in age. The age and gender distribution of the people enslaved by O. C. Pope, Sr. from 1850 to 1860 suggests that he may have been raising slaves for the slave market.

His mother, Sarah Sinquefield Pope, died in 1843 when Owen Jr was but one year old. His father remarried on Owen’s second birthday, February 15, 1844, to Nancy Miller Hunt in Washington County, GA.

At the age of 16, O. C. Pope, Jr. entered Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, graduating in 1860 with a bachelor of divinity degree.

Shortly after graduation from Mercer, at barely 18 years of age, he married Mollie Sinquefield of Jefferson County, Georgia, and was also called to pastor the Baptist church of Linville, Georgia. He was ordained to the ministry in 1861.

He was married December 18, 1860 to Miss Mollie W. Sinquefield, daughter of Hon. William Sinquefield, of Jefferson County, GA, a young lady who was educated at Monroe Female College, and who, as a wife, like ‘the holy women in the old time’ has always been ‘a crown to her husband'”

Marriage Certificate of Owen Clinton Pope, December 18, 1860

Marriage Certificate of Owen Clinton Pope and Mary “Mollie” Sinquefield. The ceremony was performed by Asa Duggan, Minister of God, December 18, 1860 in Washington County, GA

In January 1861, the newlyweds O. C. and Mollie Pope took charge of the Railroad Academy at Sandersville, GA.

When O.C.’s father died of paralysis on September 10, 1861 leaving an estate of nearly 1,500 acres, O. C. Pope, Jr. was still regarded by law as a minor. A bill was introduced in the Georgia Legislature, “to authorize Owen C. Pope, a minor, of the county of Washington, to probate and qualify as Executor of the last will and testament of Owen C. Pope, senior,” passing in the house of representatives but failing in the senate. His step mother, Nancy Miller Pope was appointed Adminstratrix.

In December 1861, O.C. Pope became principal of  the newly incorporated Mount Vernon Institute at Riddleville, GA, a co-educational high school of the Mount Vernon Association of Churches. While teaching, he continued to preach in local churches.

These positions as pastor and teacher he resigned at the call of his country, enlisted as a private in the Confederate army.

He enlisted on May 16, 1862 at Washington County, GA for twelve months service as a private in Company E, 1st Regiment of Florida Cavalry. He provided his own horse and uniform. Pope wrote that he was “attached to first regiment of Florida Cavalry; not because he was ashamed of his native state, for the valor of her sons and the hospitality of her inhabitants are proverbial throughout the confederacy,”

He rendered military service on the staff of Gen. W.G.M. Davis in the Tennessee and Kentucky campaigns.

In June of 1862, Pope left his bride and work behind and made his way “by personal conveyance” to the camp of the 1st Florida Cavalry regiment on the banks of the Tennessee River, some 265 miles northeast of his home at Sandersville, GA.

¦¦¦¦¦¦¦

ARMY CORRESPONDENCE
Of the Central Georgian.

Camp Kerby Smith, 22 Miles West of
Chattanooga, June 28, 1862

Dear Georgian – As war is the all absorbing topic which occupies every mans thoughts, I have have concluded that it would not be amiss to give a few items of its progress in East Tennessee, through your columns to old friends in Washington. I am at present attached to first regiment of Florida Cavalry; not because I was ashamed of my native state, for the valor of her sons and the hospitality of her inhabitants are proverbial throughout the Confederacy, but having some intimate friends in it, and on account of its destination to a healthy climate and active field I was induced to cast my humble lot as a soldier with it.
Having traveled by private conveyance through Georgia to Chattanooga, I had ample opportunity to inform myself with reference to the wheat crops. I regret to say that I have seen but few fields which promised anything like an average crop, and in this portion of Tennessee, wheat is almost an entire failure. Corn however, looks very fine and if seasons continue, we have reason to hope that we will make bread enough to feed our army until a peace is conquered or another crop comes on. Considerable damage has been wrought upon the farming interest on the opposite side of the river, by the predatory habits of our would be conquerors. The Tennessee river, upon the banks of which we are now stationed, appears to be the dividing line between us, but we occasionally cross over in scouting parties and bring over a few prisoners.
The position which we have is one of natural strength, consisting as the country does of mountains with only here and there a narrow pass. There is quite a contrast between the level piny woods of Washington, and the mountainous rocky regions around here. Near our encampment is Knickajack cave [Nickajack Cave], is almost two hundred feet in width, with an altitude of about one hundred feet, the walls being composed of massive rock in regular strata, varying from six to ten feet in thickness. From it emerges a beautiful stream navigable with canoes for many miles underground. This place is rendered important by the manufacture of Saltpetre, carried on by the government. The work was suspended about six weeks ago by the appearance of a band of Yankees who frightened away the laborers and destroyed the utensils; it has, however, been renewed since the appearance of our force in this vicinity.
The mountains around contain coal, considerable quantities of which are excavated and sold to the government for foundry purposes. I was favorably impressed with the novelty of a coal mine, and should renew my visits often were it not for the high position of the miners, which requires considerable effort for one not accustomed to their ways to attain.
It is important therefore to the Confederacy that the enemy should not obtain possession of this side of the river while the blockade is closed against saltpeter and coal. But it is much more important in a military view, as their occupation of this part of ——— would place Chattanooga in a more critical position, and subject Georgia to invasion, as we are now only four or five miles from the line. Some Georgians may be surprised to hear, that I, with a detachment of twenty-six others, withstood the enemies shell from two pieces for six hours within 1 1/2 miles of Georgia soil. Georgians must rally to the rescue, strengthen our forces, and beat back the enemy, or the time may soon come when her farms shall be desolated and her citizens carried away prisoners by the ruthless invader who is attempting to crush us beneath the iron heel of tyranny. I have seen those who were compelled to forsake their homes, even gray haired fathers, and as they recounted the bitter wrongs they had suffered, I’ve heard them swear deep and eternal vengeance against the foe. May high heaven grant that such may not be the lot of any who call themselves Georgians.
The skirmish I alluded to above, took place at a little place called Shellmound, a railroad depot. Myself, Charlie and Lawson G. Davis, were detailed with a few others of our regiment, to accompany a detachment of Artillery of two pieces from Macon, to take position on the river that we might prevent an armed steamboat from passing up the river to set troops across near Chattanooga. Our pieces were arranged on the bank of the river during the night, but on the morning our position being discovered, we were opened upon by a regiment of infantry, and two pieces of artillery from the opposite bank of the river. As we were unsupported by infantry, we were compelled to fall back behind the railroad embankment, a few yards off, which answered as a breastwork of protection. We could not use our pieces but few times before the successive volleys of minnie balls rendered it prudent for us to use only a few Enfields and Manards, which we happened to have along, with which we returned the fire in regular guerrilla style. If they had been aware of our force, (only 27) they might easily have crossed the river and captured our pieces. We remained with them however, until night, carrying them off, having killed three and wounded five, without having a single man hurt on our side.
We have made several excursions across the river capturing several prisoners. Last Saturday our regiment killed a Captain and Lieutenant, and wounding several, bringing off four prisoners without any injury to our party.
It is rumored in camp that the Confederacy is recognized by France. Many a stout heart would rejoice if the invader could be checked and driven back. I know not how long we remain here. I would be well please if you will send the Georgian, direct to Chattanooga, care of Capt. Cone. 1st Florida Cavalry. As I may be irksome I will close promising that if anything of interest transpires to write again and commending of country and her cause to the God of Sabbath.
Respectfully
O. C. Pope

Harpers Weekly illustration of Nickajack Cave, Feb 6. 1864. Owen C. Pope's regiment was encamped near the cave in 1861. <br>  <em>The "Nick-a-Jack" Cave near Chattanooga is one of the main sources from which the Confederates have derived the saltpeter required for the manufacture of powder.</em> <em>The cave is situated at the base of Raccoon Mountain, which rises abruptly to the height of twelve or fifteen hundred feet above the low grounds. In the face of a perpendicular cliff appeared the yawning mouth of Nick-a-Jack Cave. It is not arched as these caves usually are, but spanned by horizontal strata resting on square abutments at the sides, like the massive entablature of an Egyptian or Etruscan temple. From the opening issues a considerable stream, of bright green color, and of sufficient volume to turn a saw-mill near at hand. The height of the cliff is about 70 feet, that of the opening 40 feet, and about 100 in width immediately at the entrance, and of this the stream occupies about one-third. The roof of the cave is square and smooth, like the ceiling of a room, but below, the passage is rough and irregular, with heaps of earth and huge angular masses of rock, making exploration both difficult and dangerous.</em>

Harpers Weekly illustration of Nickajack Cave, Feb 6. 1864. Owen C. Pope’s regiment was encamped near the cave in 1861.
  The “Nick-a-Jack” Cave near Chattanooga is one of the main sources from which the Confederates have derived the saltpeter required for the manufacture of powder. The cave is situated at the base of Raccoon Mountain, which rises abruptly to the height of twelve or fifteen hundred feet above the low grounds. In the face of a perpendicular cliff appeared the yawning mouth of Nick-a-Jack Cave. It is not arched as these caves usually are, but spanned by horizontal strata resting on square abutments at the sides, like the massive entablature of an Egyptian or Etruscan temple. From the opening issues a considerable stream, of bright green color, and of sufficient volume to turn a saw-mill near at hand. The height of the cliff is about 70 feet, that of the opening 40 feet, and about 100 in width immediately at the entrance, and of this the stream occupies about one-third. The roof of the cave is square and smooth, like the ceiling of a room, but below, the passage is rough and irregular, with heaps of earth and huge angular masses of rock, making exploration both difficult and dangerous.

During Pope’s service in the Confederate Army, he preached nightly to the troops. He was discharged November 15, 1862 “by reason of the Conscript Act approved April 21st, 1862.” Pope suffered ill health throughout the balance of his life due to his time of service in the Civil War.

At the the expiration of his term of service, he returned home… he found few churches could support a full-time minister, 

He moved to Lee County, GA, taught at Smithville and Sumterville, and preached to country churches till the close of the war… When peace was restored, disorganized churches and the desolate country made extreme poverty the inevitable lot of those who, previous to the war, had depended upon ministerial charges for support…Pope found his property swept away and his health impaired.

Virginia Rhodes Pope, sister of Owen Clinton Pope, assisted him with teaching at Milltown School (Lakeland, GA) in 1867. She later returned to Washington County, GA and married James Berrien Stephens.

Virginia Rhodes Pope, half-sister of Owen Clinton Pope, assisted him with teaching at Milltown School (Lakeland, GA) in 1867. She later returned to Washington County, GA and married James Berrien Stephens.

About 1866, Pope relocated to south Georgia, perhaps because his father’s old business partner, Philip Coleman Pendleton, had opened the South Georgia Times newspaper at Valdosta, GA.  Or perhaps Pope was influenced by former Mercer classmate Edwin Benajah Carroll who was preaching and teaching at Milltown. Like Pope, Carroll was a Confederate veteran, having served as Captain of the Berrien Minute Men, Company G, 29th Georgia Regiment.

In any case, Pope found work in Berrien and Lowndes County, “giving the week to the school-room at Ocean Pond [Lake Park, GA] and Milltown [Lakeland, GA], and the Sabbath to the pulpits of Milltown, Stockton and Cat Creek churches.

O. C. Pope with the assistance of his 13-year old sister, Virginia R. Pope, took charge of the Milltown School. “He was a most competent instructor and created quite an admirable reputation for the Milltown school.”   The prestige of the school grew during these years. At the close of the school year in 1867, students from all the surrounding country schools were invited to the commencement ceremony to view the accomplishments that had been made that year.

By 1870, O.C. Pope had moved to Jefferson County, GA to preach and to teach at academies there. He moved to churches in Tennessee and took up publication of several Baptist periodicals. He moved to Texas and added missionary and fundraising to his interests. He moved to New York to work for the Church Edifice Fund for the American Baptist Home Mission Society. In 1898, at age 55, Pope accepted the position as president of Simmons College, Abilene, TX.

 

 

Owen Clinton Pope, Jr. taught at the Milltown , GA (now Lakeland) school in 1867.

Owen Clinton Pope, Jr. taught at the Milltown, GA (now Lakeland) school in 1867.  Owen Clinton Pope later went on to become president of Simmons College (now Hardin-Simmons University), a Baptist college in Abilene, Texas.

O. C. Pope biographical material compiled in part from The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography., Hardin-Simmons University Website, History of the Baptist Denomination in Georgia, and The Portal to Texas History

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Levi J. Knight, Jr on List of Incompetent Confederate Officers

In the organization and command of the Berrien Minute Men it is noted that Levi J. Knight, Jr. was a nephew of Major Levi J. Knight who originally organized the Berrien Minute Men at Nashville, GA. Levi J. Knight, Jr. also served as an officer in the outfit; In  1861, he was elected 2nd Lieutenant.

In May 1862, Levi J. Knight, Jr was elected Captain of Berrien Minute Men Company C (later Company G), 29th Georgia Regiment. His election followed the resignation of Captain Thomas. S. Wylly. Captain Wylly may have resigned under financial pressure. The Savannah Daily Morning News reported May 19, 1862 that the State of Georgia had filed suit against him for collection of back taxes.

Captain Knight, Jr was detailed to take Company C to Battery Lawton, where they joined the Brunswick Rifles manning artillery defenses of the city. The Berrien Minute Men and Brunswick Rifles had encamped together at Brunswick.  (Berrien Minute Men Company D was manning the battery at Causton’s Bluff and other posts around the city.)

Lawton Battery

Lawton Battery was part of the complex of Advance River Batteries supporting Fort Jackson on the Savannah River. The battery site had been selected by General Robert E. Lee while on an inspection trip with Col. Edward C. Anderson on December 8, 1861. Anderson noted foundations for a gun Battery were already being constructed with slave labor on a mud island above Fort Jackson. The other sites included Smith’s Island and Huchinsons Island, and “at both which points the General ordered batteries to be erected.” Smith’s Island became the site of Lawton Battery.

1864 map showing relative positions of Savannah, Battery Lawton, Fort Jackson, Fort Lee, Causton's Bluff, Oatland Island and Whitemarsh Island.

1864 map showing relative positions of Savannah, Battery Lawton, Fort Jackson, Fort Lee, and Causton’s Bluff.

Lawton Battery consisted of one 32-pounder rifle gun, one 42-pounder smooth bore, two 8-inch and two 10-inch columbiad guns. The battery was built on low-lying land of Smith’s Island (Barnwell Island, SC) on the Savannah River  opposite Battery Lee.

Col. Edward Clifford Anderson, Commanding

Lawton Battery, Fort Jackson and the other Advance River Batteries were under the command of Col. Edward C. Anderson. Anderson was educated at a Massachusetts prep school, a former mayor of Savannah and a former officer of the United States Navy. He had participated in numerous naval and amphibious operations in the Mexican-American War.    At the outbreak of the Civil War he was sent as an envoy to England and styled himself as the Confederate Secretary of War.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Anderson was sent to Richmond by Governor Joseph E. Brown, to purchase ordinance from the Tredegar Iron Works for the State of Georgia. Soon after, Anderson was personally summoned to Montgomery, AL by the President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, who commissioned him a major in the Corps of Artillery. He was ordered at once to set sail for Europe, as a confidential agent to buy war material for the Confederacy, arranging for its transfer to the Confederate States, through the Union blockade by way of blockade runners. In England, he was stalked continually by spies hired by the United States Consul General, Charles Francis Adams. Anderson described his position as the Secretary of War in England. He and fellow Georgian James D. Bulloch negotiated with the British for the sale of warships and blockade runners to the South.

On a mission to purchase arms from Great Britain, Edward C. Anderson flew the Confederate national flag to celebrate the southern victory at the Battle of Bull Run (Manassas).

On a mission to purchase arms from Great Britain, Edward C. Anderson flew a Confederate national flag, the “Stars and Bars,” to celebrate the southern victory at the Battle of Bull Run (Manassas). The same flag would have flown over Fort Jackson, Battery Lawton, Fort Lee, Causton’s Bluff, and other advance river batteries from March 1861 through May 1863.

Upon learning of the Southern victory at the First Battle of Bull Run, Anderson raised a Confederate Flag upon the rooftop of a friend’s house in Liverpool. Their success in both exporting arms, and running the blockade prompted other British firms to begin blockade-running efforts. Returning home in November 1861, aboard the newly purchased Merchant Steamship Fingal with Bulloch, they delivered much needed arms and ammunition. Fingal was later converted to the iron-clad CSS Atlanta. Anderson was promoted, and served as “Commander of the River Batteries” as a part of General Robert E. Lee’s staff. At this time, Anderson was placed in command of Fort James Jackson (Old Fort Jackson), becoming the Confederate Headquarters for River Defenses, including the Confederate Navy. He was a member of the Confederate high command at Savannah until the end of the war.

Col. Anderson was somewhat of a stickler for military discipline. In the summer time the soldiers’ daily routine at Battery Lawton, Fort Jackson and other Savannah River batteries under Anderson’s command began at 4:30 am and ended after sunset, approximately 8:30 pm.

On the 1st of May 1862, a soldier of Battery Lawton staunchly defended the pride, commitment, professionalism and patriotism of the men stationed at the battery.

Savannah Daily Morning News
May 3, 1862

COMMUNICATED
Smith’s Island, May 1st, 1862.

Mr. Editor: Please make room in your valuable paper for the following. In the Republican of yesterday, is to be seen in one of its paragraphs, under the head of “Savannah Never to be Surrendered”

“One thing more remains to be done, and then we shall be ready to measure arms with the enemy. Let the commanders of our various batteries call together their respective garrisons and swear them never to abandon a gun so long as it sets on its carriage, and a soldier is left to man it.”

A soldier takes the liberty here to inform the editor of the Republican (if he is not aware of it, that we are volunteers from Georgia, absent from respectable and comfortable homes, and come without consulting Mr. Republic and, to defend our homes and country at large, and expect to do it to the last. We need no oaths to make us fight for all that is near and dear lo us. Prompted by a sense of duly and a spirit of patriotism, we expect to accomplish all that can be done by human hands. Any one who can’t fight without taking an oath, can’t fight with. No one need be sworn to fight except those who would have others sworn. But God help the country whose battles are to be fought by such men, or the prattling tongues of editors. We are ready and daily expecting the enemy, and have been for weeks, and it has just now transpired that there is one thing more to be done before “we are ready to measure arms with the enemy,” (not so much of the “we,”) and that as set forth in his paragraph. I confess that I am ashamed even to let our enemies know that we have men—or a man in our midst—that would either publicly or privately express such an idea. I confess, also, that I thought the people whose homes are but a few miles above our batteries, and which we are shortly to enter into a life and death struggle for, had more confidence in the soldiers whose lots are cast at batteries amid sand flies, mosquitoes, marsh mud, swamp fever, &c. Georgians never have disgraced themselves on the battle field or elsewhere, neither have they given any cause for any one to suppose they would. If the said Editor wishes to make a display of his patriotism, I would advise him to lay down his air-gun and take a musket. But that he will not do; he prefers remaining In his office amusing himself by abusing Gov. Brown, dictating for wiser men than himself and making himself conspicuous, as well as ridiculous, in various other ways. But the whole trouble with said Editor is this, if “we” are defeated below, the Republican office falls into the hands of the enemy; and I am constrained to believe that he would see it, with all Savannah, laid in ruins before he would for a moment expose his breast to the galling fire of the enemy, and, from his editorial, would conclude that he would have us (hundreds) sacrifice our lives to save his ‘‘little all.” I hope God will save his office, protect his person, and take a liking to his principles. I can’t do either, and more especially the latter. I have my hands full fighting for the Confederacy.

In the spring, men at Smith’s Island may have taken their station with pride, but in warmer weather the conditions at the river batteries were nearly intolerable. At Fort Pulaski, on April 6, Lt. Montfort wrote about the pests:

We are terribly annoyed with sand flies & soon will be musquitoes. Yet we have the consolation of knowing that “Afflictions though they seem severe, are often mercy sent.” While we are annoyed by them we are assured by those acquainted with the places occupies by Yankee Soldiers & Batteries on the River between here & Savannah, that they are a hundred times worse than here. The places now occupied by them between here & Savannah on the river, are the places on the river where heavy vessels heretofore have had to stop to unload & load & so annoying are the musquitoes & sand flies & the places so sickly that I am informed frequently they have been unable to employ men at one dollar an hour to go there to assist in unloading & loading. And while we have abandoned all idea of assistantance from the Government we put our trust in God, ourselves, the musquitoes & sand flies. If these fail us we are gone.

Captain George A Mercer, after visiting Smith’s Island and Fort Jackson on Sunday, June 22, 1862, wrote of the miserable experience.

“Sunday was intensely hot, and I could not but feel how much our brave soldiers were enduring in their present position. Fort Jackson, and the adjacent batteries, are located in low swampy fields, where the insects are terrible the air close and fetid and full of miasma and death. Capt. Blain’s men, on Smith’s Island, are particularly uncomfortable; their tents are pitched on the muddy ground, beneath the blazing sky; not a dry spot of earth, not a shade tree is near; the tide frequently rises above the platforms of their tents, soaks their bedding and washes away all they have; they have positively been obliged to anchor their cooking utensils to prevent their being carried away. And yet these brave fellows must stay — and do stay cheerfully in this dreadful spot, where every comfort is denied them, and sickness and death must add their horrors to the scene. I spent a miserable night last night; I lay down at the Fort but not to sleep; hundreds of fleas ran over me stinging me into a fever; I did not secure one moment’s sleep, but lay tossing in misery, counting the weary hours till morning; had I left the bed and gone outside the net the mosquitoes would have been as bad as the fleas. Indeed a sad necessity is imposed upon our troops; they must garrison spots where a white man can hardly live.

Berrien County Minute Men garrisoned at the Savannah River batteries during the Civil War would have taken quinine as long as supplies were available.

Berrien County Minute Men garrisoned at the Savannah River batteries during the Civil War would have taken quinine as long as supplies were available.

Captain Mercer noted that in August and September 1862, “The River Batteries [were] guarded only by small detachments of ten or twelve men each; the deadly miasma in the vicinity has rendered them uninhabitable.”  The “miasma” was actually mosquito-born transmission of diseases like yellow fever or malaria. Even on January 31, 1862, Lieutenant William Dixon, of the Republican Blues, had noted at Fort Jackson, “This has been a very warm day. The mosquitoes have been bad and troublesome.” – Fort Jackson interpretive materials

“Several times during the war, the river batteries were left almost empty because most of the soldiers stationed here were in the hospital in Savannah – many with malaria. In 1862, Private Vaughn of the 22nd Georgia Heavy Artillery wrote home: “There is no use of my trying to get a furlough…for a dead man can’t get one hardly in this department and besides our company is all sick but ten… and we can’t hardly get a Corporal’s guard.” Over half the garrison were in the Savannah hospitals. Quinine was known to be effective in the treatment of fevers, and Col. Anderson required his troops to take daily doses of quinine in “tonic water” for as long as supplies held out. But after the Union blockade of Savannah was established, imports of quinine were cut off.  It was also believed that camphor smeared over the upper lip at night could fend off the “miasma”; The treatment was somewhat effective, as camphor is a natural mosquito repellent.  – Fort Jackson interpretive materials

For those soldiers who did get sick, the care provided in hospitals was as likely to make them worse off as it was to effect a recovery.

The hospitals in Savannah were feared by the soldiers as death houses. In order to address this fear Lt. Col. Anderson set up a separate hospital at Deptford. The less critically ill could be sent there, watched by their comrades and not have all their personal belongings stolen – which would happen when they were sent into Savannah.

Regimental returns show Captain Levi J. Knight, Jr was at Camp Debtford in July; Camp Debtford was on the Debtford plantation adjacent to Causton’s Bluff.  In August,  Knight was sent to Camp Anderson.  Other men of the 29th Regiment detailed to Camp Anderson included First Lieutenant Willis Clary, 2nd Lt Henry Clary and Pvt Hines H. Grey of the Georgia Foresters; Stephen D. Chitwood, Fountain Nally, Thomas Mills and John F. C. Mills of the Stephens Volunteers; Elijah W. Bryant, Thomasville Guards; John H. Elkins, John R. Griffin, Jonas Johnson, Peter Madden, George C. Maddox and Hines Holt Grey, 17th Patriots; Isiah Goff, Allen D. Smith, William D. Warren  and R. M. Simpson, Thomas Volunteers.

Camp Anderson was where Major Robert Houston Anderson was forming a “select battalion of sharpshooters” from highly qualified volunteers and select officers and men from the existing regiments around Savannah.  “By Special Order No. 259, District of Georgia, dated July 30, 1862, men were chosen from the regiments manning the defenses of the city to fill up the other companies of the new battalion.” Company D of the new sharpshooter battalion was composed of men selected from the 29th, 30th, 47th, and 13th Georgia Regiments and the 8th Georgia Battalion.  According to Russel K. Brown, “Camp Anderson was situated on Wildhorn Plantation, 12 miles below Savannah on the west bank of the Groves or Little Ogeechee River and near the line of the Savannah, Albany and Gulf Railroad. William Moody described the camp to his wife thus, ‘We are camped about 1 1/2 miles from Number 1 station and in 1/4 mile from the little Ogechee River on a very high pleasant place tho I exspect it is a sickly place. The sand files is very bad.'” 

Circumstances at Camp Anderson may have been better than at Lawton Battery, but only marginally. As at other Savannah garrisons, health conditions were problematic from the first encampment at Camp Anderson. Men died of typhoid, typhoid fever and typhoid pneumonia, bowel disorders, chronic diarrhea, congestion. Many more went on sick rolls. Desertion became a problem; by the end of the year 29 men would desert from Camp Anderson.  At least one deserter killed himself rather than be captured and returned to Camp Anderson. Another, after firing a shot at Major Anderson, was court-martialed and executed by firing squad. Three more deserters were sentenced to death but were released and returned to duty under a general amnesty and pardon issued by Jefferson Davis.

Levi J. Knight, Jr was not at Camp Anderson for long; After August 29, 1862, he was reported on regimental returns as absent sick in a Savannah hospital.  Willis Clary, suffering with a lung impaired by pneumonia and a congenital short leg, resigned at Camp Anderson on August 22.   Henry Clary was sick in a Savannah hospital; he died September 4, 1862.

 

Regimental return for September 1862 showing Levi J. Knight, Jr. absent from post at Camp Anderson.

Regimental return for September 1862 showing Levi J. Knight, Jr. absent from post at Camp Anderson.

In mid August, 1861 the Confederate Quartermaster General, A.C. Myers, raised questions of payroll fraud by Levi J. Knight.  The matter was referred down the chain of command from Brigadier General Hugh Wheedon Mercer, to Captain George A. Mercer, to Col. Edward C. Anderson. Anderson’s investigation found that the alleged double pay drawn by Knight was the result of the Quartermasters confusion of Captain Levi J. Knight, Jr with his uncle, Major Levi J. Knight, and the matter was terminated without prejudice.

Three months after L. J. Knight’s separation from the Confederate States Army, questions arose about pay he had received while serving as Captain of  Company A, 29th Georgia Regiment.    The  , reported the matter on August 12, 1862.

In October Captain Knight returned to Battery Lawton on Smith’s Island. Also detailed to Battery Lawton was Lt. William Pendarvis, of the Georgia Foresters, Company A, 29th Regiment. In October Pendarvis was “in arrest.” Pendarvis tendered his resignation November 20, 1862 which was endorsed by Col. Anderson. The Colonel had previously busted Pendarvis from rank for “disreputable conduct,” and Pendarvis had been subsequently elected lieutenant while Anderson was away from the post. Anderson pronounced him totally incompetent, and he would have been court-martialed had he not resigned. About the only men of the 29th Georgia Regiment for which Col. Anderson had any respect were its blacksmiths; Anderson complained to his superiors about the reassignment of blacksmith Richard Ault.

It appears that an animosity also developed between Captain Knight and Col. Anderson.  Knight, a big man, was six feet tall with dark hair and eyes, and dark complexion. Col. Anderson, who described Knight as an irresponsible, demoralizing “evil example,” undoubtedly saw him as a dark and brooding figure.

The situation culminated on November 28, 1862, when Knight’s insolent behavior drove the Colonel to place the captain “in arrest” and to make charges against Knight in a letter to Captain George A. Mercer, Assistant Adjutant General;

Letter page 1 of 2 of Col. Edward C. Anderson, Nov 28, 1862 censoring Captain Levi J. Knight, Jr.,

Letter of Col. Edward C. Anderson, Nov 28, 1862 censoring Captain Levi J. Knight, Jr.

Letter page 2 of 2 of Col. Edward C. Anderson, Nov 28, 1862 censoring Captain Levi J. Knight, Jr.

Letter of Col. Edward C. Anderson, Nov 28, 1862 censoring Captain Levi J. Knight, Jr.

Savannah River Batteries
28th Novb 1862

Capt Geo A Mercer
AAG

Captain
I regret to have to bring to the notice of the Brig Genl Comdg. the total inefficiency of Captain Levi J. Knight, Co G 29th Regt Ga Vols. This officer commands one of the finest companies in the service in point of materiel. Yet from inattention and want of care they have lapsed into a condition o negligence not just to so fine a body of men & very far from creditable to the officers whose duty it was to have encouraged and instructed them. There is a familiarity between the captain & the private soldiers that is hurtful to the service. The men have free access to his tent even to taking possession of his bed and loafing there. As evidence of the detrimental tendency of this system of free intercourse I have to inform you that on the occasion of my exercising the companies today at the great guns Captain Knight’s men failed to come forward at the long roll & only appeared after repeated calls & by my sending up the commanding officer of the port to enforce the order. Captain Knight had been duly notified of my intention to drill the men. He did not accompany his detachments, but after the lapse of half an hour came strolling leisurely down by the longest & most circuitous route & being informed that I had ordered him under arrest for his conduct, excused himself upon the plea of not feeling well. Upon another occasion when reported to me for failing to attend the School of Instruction ordered by you & for leaving the Island without notice to his commanding officers, the same excuse was made & thus it has been again & again. I have been unwilling to suppose that an officer would lightly avail himself of the plea of indisposition to evade his duty & hence have refrained from bringing the matter to your notice heretofore. Candor compels one today that Captain Knight is not fitted for the responsible trust confided to him & that – in the event of any mishap to the officers in command of the Battery – I do not regard him as qualified to fill his place. I should regret to lose his company. Under a different Captain they could be made a credit to the service, but under existing auspices the forces of evil example will demoralize & cripple them.

I am Captain Very Respectfully
Your Obbt

Ed. C. Anderson

Coming to the attention of Brigadier General Hugh Wheedon Mercer, the matter was forwarded for further action:

Head Qrs. Dist. Ga.
Savannah, Nov 30th 1862.
Respy. forwarded to the Genl. Comdg. The Department with the request that a Board of Examiners may be convened to examine the conduct of the officer.

H. W. Mercer
Brig Genl Comdg

By December 1862, Levi J. Knight, Jr was relieved of his command.  Regimental records show Captain Levi J. Knight, Jr was “in suspension,” for insubordinate behavior. On December 4, 1862 he was brought before an Officers Examining Board and he was “suspended from rank and commission by order of General Beauregard. His rank was reduced to private.  On May 28, 1863 his name was on a published “list of officers of different grades who have been dropped from the rolls of the army, in accordance with the provisions of the act for ‘ridding the army of ignorant, disabled and incompetent officers,’ by orders from Adjutant and Inspector General’s office.”

After being stripped of his rank, Knight continued to serve with the Berrien Minute Men. In 1863 he was elected by the company to the rank of Jr 2nd Lieutenant, but the election was set aside by Col. Anderson.

A year later, Knight’s new commanding officer, Captain Edwin B. Carroll,  again put him up for an officers position. In the midst of the defense of Atlanta against the approaching, overwhelming army of U.S. General William T. Sherman, Captain Carroll paused to write a letter recommending Sgt. Levi J. Knight be accepted as an officer of the company.

Camp 29th Ga. Regt
July 14th 1864

Capt J. W. Turner
Comdg 29th Ga Regt

Captain
I respectfully make the following statement in the case of private Levi J . Knight Co G 29th Ga Vols. He was elected Jr 2nd Lieut. in Co G on the 28th day of September 1863 but the election return was disapproved by Col. E. C. Anderson — Comdg on the grounds that Knight had been dropped from the rolls and could in consequence hold no position. Knight was detailed by Col. Anderson and sent to Charleston with another company and another election was ordered. While in Charleston he made a fresh statement of his case to Genl Beauregard and thereupon was ordered before the Board of Examiners that he might prove whether or not he should be put on duty as an officer. The decision of the Board is that he is competent for discharge the duties that may devolve upon him. I think he is entitled to the position and hope that he will be ordered on duty as an officer in the Company

Very Respectfully
Your Obt Svt
E. B. Carroll
Capt Comdg Co G
29th Regt

*************************************

Head Qrs Stevens Brigade
July 15, 1864

The enclosed paper is reply returned with the following statement. Co. G. 29 Regt has been on detached duty in Savannah until very recently. Some of the records are accessible in this case now. The facts are that L. J. Knight was Captain of Co G was brought before a Board of Examiners for incompetency. On their recommendation his name was dropped from the rolls by the War department and he became a private in the same company. Upon the occasion of a vacancy he was elected 2 Lt but on some cause his election was set aside by then Comdg Officer Col E. C. Anderson and a new election ordered at Smith [Island]. J. L. Hall was elected, examined and announced in orders and has filled the position ever since. Upon a transfer to duty in some other command Knight appears to have appeared before a Board of Examiners, the findings of which are herewith enclosed – I would Resply ask what action should be taken in the case.
Resply
H. S. Stevens
Brig Genl

 

Confederate States of America
War Department
Adjutant and Inspector Genls Office
Richmond, Va., April 28th, 1864

Genl
I am directed by the Secretary of War to inform you that the proceedings and findings of the Examining Boards in the following case, have been confirmed by the War Department.

Sergt. Levi J. Knight, Co. “G”, 29th Ga. Vols.
Decision- “The Board pronounce him qualified for promotion.”

You will please issue the necessary orders.

Very Respectfully, General
Your Obedient Servt

Saml M. Melton
Maj.

Days after requesting the promotion of Levi J. Knight, Jr., Captain Carroll was captured in the Battle of Atlanta, July 22, 1864.

Orders came directly from General John Bell Hood that Knight was not to be reinstated as an officer.

Hd. Qrs Dept Tenn
In the field
July 27, 1864

Respy recd but the fact of the officer having been dropped debar him from again becoming an officer.

By order of
Genl Hood

Regardless, Levi J. Knight  fought with the Berrien Minute Men and may have acted in the role of 2nd Lieutenant. It is certain that casualties left a shortage of officers for the Berrien Minute Men.  When Knight was captured near Nashville, TN on December 16, 1864 he gave his rank as 2nd Lieutenant.  Officer’s rank meat he would be sent to the Federal prison for officers on Johnson’s Island, OH rather that the prison for enlisted men at Camp Chase, OH.  Johnson’s Island was where his commanding office, Edwin B. Carroll, and other officers of the 29th Georgia Regiment were held as prisoners of war. Knight was held as a POW until June 16, 1865 when he was released after swearing an Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America.

 

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