Confederate Cures in the Civil War

In the Civil War, the death rate from contagious diseases and illnesses were very high. “In the Federal armies, sickness and disease accounted for 7 of every 10 deaths. One authority has estimated that among the Confederates three men perished from disease for every man killed in battle. Small wonder that a Civil War soldier once wrote his family from camp: “It scares a man to death to get sick down here.” – The Civil War

In the Summer of 1862 the Berrien Minute Men, 29th GA Regiment, stationed at Causton’s Bluff and Battery Lawton would suffer with malaria, fever, measles,  mumps,  dysentery, tonsillitis,  wounds, typhus,  pneumonia, tuberculosis, syphilis, hepatitis, and rheumatism. The heat, mosquitoes, fleas and sandflies just made the men all the more uncomfortable. All of the stations of the Berrien Minute Men on the Georgia coast were disease ridden. After visiting Battery Lawton on June 22, 1862, Captain George A. Mercer wrote, “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.” The “miasma” was actually mosquito-born transmission of diseases like yellow fever or malaria, but the conventional wisdom at the time was that all diseases were carried by vapors, which were believed to be especially prevalent in coastal marshy areas.  Given the state of medical knowledge in the 1860s, Regimental Surgeon, William P. Clower, had little if any effective treatments for such contagious diseases. (Surgeon Clower’s brother, John T. Clower, would later practice medicine in Ray’s Mill, now Ray City, GA).  Wiregrass Georgians had always depended more on home remedies, patent medicines and faith than doctors.

On June 12, 1862, a concerned citizen advised Confederate soldiers via a newspaper article to treat camp illnesses themselves and not to trust their health to physicians. Some of the “cures” seem worse than the disease.  In discussing the recipes for tinctures and enemas, the advise is, “If the pepper is too exciting for delicate patients, leave it out…   

On the treatment snake bite, the reference to Hog Artichoke has a trivial connection to the Berrien Minute Men; Colonel William Spencer Rockwell, who enlisted the Berrien Minute Men in the C.S.A., was perhaps the leading horticultural authority on Hog Artichoke in the State of Georgia.

 

Savannah Morning News
June 12, 1862

“[From the Columbus Enquirer.]
Every Soldier his own Physician.
Editor Enquirer:—Horrified at the rapidity with which our soldiers die in camp, we are tempted to give them the following recipes, the result of some experience, in hopes that some may be saved by using remedies simple, safe, and generally sure cures:
TO PREVENT SICKNESS.—Have a Jug of salted vinegar, seasoned with pepper, and take a mouthful just before going to bed. The salt and vinegar make a near approach to the digestive gastric Juice of the stomach, and are besides antidotes to many of the vegetable and miasmatic poisons.
FOR PNEUMONIA, COLDS AND COUGHS.—Take half a cup or less of the salted pepper vinegar, fill the cup nearly full of warm water, and then stir in a raw well-beaten egg slowly. Taken mouthful every 15 or 20 minutes; in the intervals slowly suck on a piece of alum. If the attack is violent, dip a cloth in hot salted pepper vinegar and apply it round the throat, cover with dry clothes to get up a steam, and do the name to the chest.
FOR CHILLS.—Put a tablespoonful of salted pepper vinegar in a cup of warm water, go to bed and drink ; In two hours drink a cup of strong water-willow bark tea; in two hours more another tablespoonful of the vinegar and warm water, and so on, alternating, until the fever is broken up. After sweating, and before going into the out door air, the body ought always to be wiped off with a cloth dipped in cold water. Dogwood will do if water-willow cannot be obtained
FOR MEASLES.—Put a small piece of yeast in a tumbler of warm sweetened water, let it draw, and drink a mouthful every 15 or 30 minutes, and drink plentifully of cold or hot catnip, balsam, horehound, or alder tea”, and use In place of oil or salts, one table spoonful molasses, one teaspoonful lard, and one teaspoonful salted pepper vinegar, melted together and taken warm. Take once a day, if necessary— keep out of the wet and out-door air.
FOR DIARRHOEA.— A teaspoonful of the salted pepper vinegar every one or two hours. Take a teaspoonful of the yellow puffs that grow round oak twigs, powdered fine; take twice a day in one tablespoonful of brandy, wine or cordial If these yellow puffs can not be found, suck frequently on a piece of alum. The quantity of alum depends upon the severity of the attack; take slowly and little at a time.
FOR CAMP FEVERS.—One tablespoonful of salted pepper vinegar, slightly seasoned, and put into a cup of warm water—drink freely and often, from 4 to 8 cupfuls a day, with fever or without fever. Pour a cupful more or less of the salted pepper vinegar into cold water, and keep the body, particularly the stomach and head, well bathed with a cloth dipped in it. Give enemas of cold water, and for oil use a tablespoonful molasses, a teaspoonful lard, and a teaspoonful pepper vinegar, melted together and taken warm. If the pepper is too exciting for delicate patients, leave it out of the drinks and bathings, and use simply the salt and vinegar in water, and very little salt.
ANTIDOTE FOR DRUNKENESS: FOR THE BENEFIT OF OFFICERS —One cup of strong black Coffee, with out milk or sugar, and twenty drops of Laudanum. Repent the dose if necessary. Or take one teaspoonful of Tincture Lobelia In a tumbler of milk; if taken every ten or fifteen minutes it will act us an emetic: taken in longer intervals, say thirty minutes, it will act as an antidote. The Yankees declared that poisoned liquor was put on the counters in Newbern to poison their soldiers. Nobody doubts the liquor being poisoned, but it was made of poison to sell to our own Southern boys; and it is horrifying to think of the liquors now being made down in cellars, of “sulfuric acid, strychnine, buckeye, tobacco leaves, coloring matter and rain water.” For this poisoned liquor, the best antidote is an emetic, say lobelia and warm salt and water, and then drink freely of sugared vinegar water.
FOR SNAKE BITES —The best thing is one teaspoonful of Lobelia and ten drops of Ammonia, taken every few minutes, and a bottle filled with Lobelia and Ammonia, stopped with the palm of the hand and warmed in a panful of hot water; then apply the bottle to the bite, and it will draw out and antidote the poison. Either of these, Lobelia or Ammonia, will answer without the other. Tobacco, or Nightshade, or Kurtle Burr, or Deer Tongue, (a rough-leafed herb, in flower and appearance like to hog artichoke) stowed in milk; drink the milk, using the rest as a poultice. The last is an Indian remedy, and will cure in the agonies of death.
FOR CHICKEN CHOLERA, NOW DEVASTATING FOWLDOM.—Put one or two Jimpston or Jamestown weed leaves, properly called Stramonium, into the water trough every day—fresh leaves and fresh water. This is one of the triumphs of Homeopathy, for we were just from a perusal of one of their works, and finding that the chickens died and made no signs of sickness, except holding the head down, we concluded the head must be the seat of the plague, and reading that stramonium affected the brain with mania and stupor, we tried it, and have not lost a chicken since the using.
If other papers will copy these recipes, they will save many lives, now sacrificed to the negligence of salaried physicians The Eastern monarch’s plan ought to be adopted, to strike off a certain percent of a Doctor’s salary every time he loses a patient— that would soon stop the feast of Death! X.

Confederate medicine: cures for soldiers in the regimental camps.

Confederate medicine: cures for soldiers in the regimental camps.

 

 

Related posts:

Ned Holmes and Civil War Epidemics

Edward “Ned” HOLMES, was a soldier of the 25th Georgia Regiment, which shared garrison duties with the Berrien Minute Men and the 29th Georgia Regiment several camps around Savannah, GA in the spring and summer of 1862. In June, the colonel of the 25th Regiment, Claudius C. Wilson, would assume command of Causton’s Bluff, where the Berrien Minute Men were stationed.

Ned Holmes was born about 1834 in DeKalb County, Georgia, the younger of two sons of James and Martha Thurman Holmes.

Ned’s father, James Holmes, according to family tradition left the family in Atlanta to go west to look for land to homestead. He was never heard from again…  Ned’s brother Mike Holmes, as oldest son, was sole support of his family and supposedly worked as an overseer to support them. Once again family legend says Mike rode a winning horse in a race in Atlanta the purse for which was enough for him to move his mother, five sisters and Ned  to Alabama. About 1845, the family moved to Henry County, AL, settling near Wesley, about 7 miles northeast of Abbeville. – Gordon W. Holmes, Jr

In Henry County, Mike Holmes first worked as a farmer then in 1858 was elected Sheriff of Henry County as a Democrat.  By 1860, Ned Holmes was employed as an overseer and moved out of his brother’s household to a place of his own in Franklin, AL.

When the Civil War broke out Mike Holmes enlisted at Abbeville, AL on May 11, 1861, in Company A (became Company B), 6th Regiment, Alabama Infantry, CSA. 

Edward “Ned” Holmes was enlisted on April 12, 1862, in Henry County, Alabama, by Capt. George W. Holmes (no relation) for 3 years, in Company E, 25th Regiment, Georgia Infantry, CSA. Ned remained at home on furlough through the end of April, 1862. In May, he  joined his unit at Camp Smith near Savannah, Georgia. After joining the 25th Regiment, Ned Holmes would suffer a battery of contagious diseases.

Colonel Claudius C. Wilson gathered a petition from the 29th Georgia Regiment requesting that Elbert J. Chapman's life be spared.

Colonel Claudius C. Wilson gathered a petition from the 29th Georgia Regiment requesting that Elbert J. Chapman’s life be spared.

The Twenty-fifth regiment Georgia volunteers had been organized during the summer of 1861.  Claudius C. Wilson, a member of the Georgia Bar and former solicitor-general for the eastern circuit of Georgia, was elected colonel and commissioned the unit’s first commanding officer. The unit was mustered into Confederate service at Savannah, Georgia, early September 1861.  The Twenty-fifth, after being equipped and drilled, was assigned to the department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, and throughout the latter part of 1861 and during 1862 served on the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina. By September, 1862 the 25th Georgia Regiment would  serve alongside the 29th Regiment at Causton’s Bluff, east of Savannah, GA.   The initial officers of the regiment were: William Percy Morford Ashley, lieutenant-colonel; William John Winn, major; Rufus Ezekiel Lester, adjutant, and William DeLegal Bacon, quartermaster. The captains were Alexander W. Smith, Company A; Martin L. Bryan, Company B; Jefferson Roberts, Company C; Andrew J. Williams, Company D;  William Sanford Norman, Company E; George T. Dunham, Company F;  William D. Hamilton, Company G;  W. Henry Wylly, Company H; Alexander Hamilton “Hamp” Smith , Company I, [post-war resident of Valdosta, GA];  Mark Jackson McMullen, Company K, Robert James McClary, Company L.

By the time Ned Holmes joined the Regiment in May 1862, the 25th Georgia had already served eight months at posts around Savannah: at Camp Wilson with the 27th, 31st and 29th Georgia Regiments;  at Camp Young; Thunderbolt Battery;  Camp Mercer on Tybee Island; and Camp Smith.

Most of the 25th Regiment had already suffered through a host of communicable diseases. “The fact that a majority of the soldiers were from rural communities made them very susceptible to such “city sicknesses” as measles, chicken pox, and small pox. The death rate from these diseases were very high. In the Federal armies, sickness and disease accounted for 7 of every 10 deaths. One authority has estimated that among the Confederates three men perished from disease for every man killed in battle. Small wonder that a Civil War soldier once wrote his family from camp: “It scares a man to death to get sick down here.” – The Civil War

Isaac Gordon Bradwell, a soldier of the 31st Georgia Regiment at Camp Wilson wrote,”“We had not been in these camps many days before we were invaded by measles the dread enemy of all new soldiers, and many of our men died or were rendered unfit for further service. Other diseases thinned our ranks, and for a while few recruits came to take their places.”  When new recruits like Ned Holmes did come, measles might be contracted within days of the men’s arrival.   Measles had hit The 29th Georgia Regiment and the Berrien Minute Men hard at Camp Security, GA in December 1861. Augustus H. Harrell,, of the Thomasville Guards, took the measles home from Camp Security.   William Washington Knight wrote from Camp Security, “Nearly all of our company have the measles. Capt [John C.] Lamb has it,” along with 60 others of the Regiment.  William A. Jones went home to Berrien County, GA with the measles and died there in January, 1862; a son born after his death suffered from apparent Congenital Rubella Syndrome.

Ned Holmes wrote home from Camp Smith on June 7, 1862, telling his family that he had a very bad cold and cough, and that there was a lot of sickness in the the 25th regiment.  By June 11, 1862 he wrote he was sick with measles.

“Measles [Rubeola] infection occurs in sequential stages over a period of two to three weeks. For the first 10 to 14 days after infection, the measles virus incubates. There are  no signs or symptoms of measles during this time. Measles symptoms typically begin with a mild to moderate fever, often accompanied by a persistent cough, runny nose, inflamed eyes (conjunctivitis) and sore throat. This relatively mild illness may last two or three days. Tiny white spots with bluish-white centers on a red background form inside the mouth on the inner lining of the cheek — also called Koplik’s spots. A skin rash develops made up of large, flat blotches that often flow into one another. Over the next few days, the rash spreads down the arms and trunk, then over the thighs, lower legs and feet. At the same time, the fever rises sharply, often as high as 104 to 105.8 F (40 to 41 C). The measles rash gradually recedes, fading first from the face and last from the thighs and feet. A person with measles can spread the virus to others for about eight days, starting four days before the rash appears and ending when the rash has been present for four days.”- Mayo Clinic

 

In June, 1862  the 25th Regiment’s Colonel, Claudius C. Wilson, was assigned special duty as commander of the post at Causton’s Bluff.  The bluff, about three miles east of Savannah, overlooked St. Augustine Creek and Whitemarsh Island (pronounced Whitmarsh Island). “This twenty to thirty foot bluff strategically commanded the rear approach to Fort Jackson, on the Savannah River, and the approach to the part of the eastern lines of the city.”  Causton’s Bluff had been garrisoned since December 1861 by   the 13th Georgia Infantry, also known as the Bartow Light Infantry, under the command of Colonel Marcellus Douglass .  After the U.S. Army captured Fort Pulaski on April 11, 1862, the Berrien Minute Men and the 29th Georgia Regiment were brought up to strengthen the garrison.  Soon the 25th regiment moved up from Camp Smith to join the garrison at Causton’s Bluff.  At Causton’s Bluff, the men would suffer with fever, malaria, measles, tonsillitis, mumps,  wounds, typhus, dysentery, pneumonia, tuberculosis, syphilis, hepatitis, and rheumatism as well as mosquitoes, fleas, and sandflies.

In a letter to his brother, Ned Holmes wrote that he had his gear “hauled from the old camp,” and that he was sick with the mumps.

Early in the morning, 20th of June 1862

Mike,
As I did not get off my letter yesterday I write you a few lines this morning. I feel very well this morning. I am swole up powerful with mumps this morning but they give me but little pain. I am taking good care of myself. Perhaps you think I cant do that in camp but my tent is as dry as any — house. Last night we had 2 pretty hard storms & heavy raining and I never felt a drop of water or a breeze of wind. I managed to get my bed stead hauled from the old camp yesterday. It is as good a bed as I would want at home. I think I will improve all the time now. I want you to write me. I have not heard from you since you were on your way to Richmond. I don’t know how I will like the move we made. I have not been out any since I came to this place. All I know is it’s very level where we are camped.
Tell Sim’s folks he is well. Dick [Knight] is in good health. Be sure to write soon. Dick got letters from home saying that Reuben Fleming has been carried home. I want to hear about it.

Ned

According to the CDC, “Mumps is a contagious disease that is caused by a virus. Symptoms typically appear 16-18 days after infection, but this period can range from 12–25 days after infection.It typically starts with a few days of fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Then most people will have swelling of their salivary glands. This is what causes the puffy cheeks and a tender, swollen jaw. Some people who get mumps have very mild symptoms (like a cold), or no symptoms at all and may not know they have the disease. Mumps can occasionally cause complications, especially in adults. In men, complications can include: inflammation of the testicles (orchitis) in males who have reached puberty; this may lead to a decrease in testicular size (testicular atrophy); inflammation in the pancreas (pancreatitis); inflammation of the brain (encephalitis); inflammation of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (meningitis); deafness. Inflammation of the testicles caused by mumps has not been shown to lead to infertility.” – CDC
Mumps generally last about ten days.

About the time Ned Holmes recovered from the mumps, he wrote that he was sick with diarrhea.

June 30, 1862

Dear Mike
I recvd your letter dated 26. I was glad to hear you was all well. I am not as well as I was when I saw you. 2 days ago my bowels was a little out of order tho not bad but just enough to keep week and not able to do anything. I am up all the time but dont have the strength to do anything. You need not be uneasy about me, if I git bad sick I will let you know. I think I will be able for duty in one or 2 days. Tell Mary she need not be uneasy about me that I can come home if I git sick much and I am going to do it. A sick man — tese very depressing and can get a furlough here. I dont want one now, no use of going home. I would not go now if I had a furlough. I will write you all the particleurs that I can gather in a few days. I am writing every other day. I will until I get plum well. Morris and Simm Schick and Zuch is all well. I have no more to write at present.

Write me often.

E. [Ned] Holmes

In July, Ned Holmes wrote that he had suffered a relapse of the measles. In  Civil War times little distinction was made between measles (Rubeola) and Rubella, sometimes called “German measles.”  Both diseases were contagious and both were rampant in the regimental camps. It appears that Ned’s “relapse” may have been Rubella.  Ned’s letters from July 1862 indicate that he had returned to Camp Smith to recuperate.  Soldiers who got sick preferred care in a camp hospital or sick ward over being sent to a hospital in Savannah.

The hospitals in Savannah were feared by the soldiers as death houses. In order to address this fear Lt. Col. Anderson, [commander of the Savannah River Batteries,] 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. – Fort Jackson Interpretive Materials

But even while in recovery at Camp Smith,   Ned Holmes found his personal items being pilfered.

Camp Smith, Savannah, Ga., July 1862

(To Mat and the Family)
I thought I was surely well of the measles till yesterdasy, it was a cloudy wet day and the measles made their appearance on me as plain as ever. It’s cleared off this morning & looks like Sept. It’s cool & pleasant, the air stirring brief and is a very pleasant time. I will finish this in the morning and tell you how I am getting along. Dick has got the mumps. He took them yesterday. I hope he will get well soon. Tell Mama somebody has stolen one of my socks and I have an old one and if she sees any chance to send me one, to do it. I shall get out of socks before long anyway.

“Rubella, also called German measles or three-day measles, is a contagious viral infection best known by its distinctive red rash. Rubella is not the same as measles (rubeola), though the two illnesses do share some characteristics, including the red rash. However, rubella is caused by a different virus than measles, and is neither as infectious nor usually as severe as measles. The signs and symptoms of rubella are often so mild they’re difficult to notice, especially in children. If signs and symptoms do occur, they generally appear between two and three weeks after exposure to the virus. They typically last about one to five days and may include: Mild fever of 102 F (38.9 C) or lower; Headache; Stuffy or runny nose; Inflamed, red eyes; Enlarged, tender lymph nodes at the base of the skull, the back of the neck and behind the ears; A fine, pink rash that begins on the face and quickly spreads to the trunk and then the arms and legs, before disappearing in the same sequence.” – Mayo Clinic.

 

July the 6th [Camp Smith]

My health is improving now again finally. If I can keep mending 2 or 3 days more as I have for 2 days I will be well. I have quit discharging blood, have not discharged any in 30 hours & my bowels feel like they are getting well & they are not moving more than 4 times a day. I think today I will be much better than usual. We have most pleasant weather here now I ever saw at this season. It’s clear and cool and the wind stirring like fall of the year. I had almost concluded there was no Yankees about here till I heard them shooting on the 4th. There is plenty of cannon whether there are any Yankees with it or not. I suppose they fired some 2 hundred big guns at 1 o’clock at 2 or 3 different points. I have nothing else to write. Thomas Doswell has just this minute come into camp. I want to see him right soon. get my watch home.

I remain,

Ned

By August Ned’s health was improved. He returned to his unit at Causton’s Bluff and on August 26, 1862 was elected Junior 2nd Lieutenant.   On August 10, 1862, Ned Holmes wrote a letter home to his family.

Camp Costons Bluff,[Near Savannah] Aug. 10, 1862

Dear Mat and Viney,
I write you a few lines that leaves me about well except my mouth. I never was in such a fix with fever blisters before. I received a letter from you, Santanna just a few minutes ago. Alex Gamble is going to start home tonight. I will send this by him. I think my fever is broken entirely up. I have not had any since Friday morning so I feel as well as I did before I was taken. There is a deal good of sickness around —– but they are also not dying as fast as they were ten or fifteen days ago. There is a heap of heavy shooting going on today in the direction of Fort Pulaski. I don’t know what it means.

They are fixing up a volunteer company right now to go to Wilmington Island, a place we have never scouted.
It’s beyond Whitemarsh and from where we are camped and on the way to Fort Pulaski. I don’t know what information they expect to obtain by going to Wilmington. It’s all under the General of the Fort [Pulaski, captured by U.S. Army forces from Tybee Island on April 11, 1862,] and they never expect to hold it unless the fort is retaken which will never be done for there is nothing here to take it with. Morris is well. Miles is getting well. John Nobles is right sick. Washer Nobles came into our company this morning to stay. I may get off home when Sim gets back. I don’t know. Everbody has been here longer than I have. I will be there by the first of September anyway if I keep well. And I am not afraid of being sick anymore this summer.

Love, Ned

P.S. Tell Mike if there are any of Cook’s pills there to send me some. And I can manage my own cases.

In September 1862 Ned Holmes was on detached duty.  He was later reported as “wholly incompetent & probably physically unfit to hold office.

In 1863, Ned Holmes and the 25th Georgia Regiment would be sent to north Mississippi, forming part of the army assembled for the relief of Vicksburg. The The Berrien Minute Men and the 29th Georgia Regiment were also sent to join that effort.

Related Posts

Letter from Camp Security, GA

During the winter of 1862,  the Campfires of the Berrien Minute Men were made at Camp Security near Darien, GA. A Civil War letter from Camp Security dated February 12, 1862 describes the prevalence of tonsillitis and measles among the men. This letter, signed Gussie, was probably written by Augustus H. Harrell, of the Thomasville Guards.

Camp Security, Darien Ga
February 12th 1862

Dear Cousin,
I received your kind letter yesterday and now hasten to respond. I am not well at present nor have been for three or four days. The health of our company is improving slowly. We have lost two men from this battalion since I wrote to you last. We have a disease here called Tonselital which is a swelling of the throat which is so severe with some that they cannot swallow any thing for three and four days and sometimes men choke to death. We have three hundred and forty or fifty men at this post and there is one hundred and fifty or seventy five able for duty. There is a great many that are not down sick but are unable for duty. I really thought I wrote to you before I left home of the death of sister Jane ——. I wrote to several cousins of it.

We have been in service nearly seven months and have just succeeded in electing a Colonel Mr. Young of Thomasville. Ours is the 29th Georgia Regiment Georgia Volunteers, we are in the Confederate service and enlisted for twelve months service which time will expire the 27th day of next July. We will draw pay in a day or two. I was at home and was the cause of all that sickness you read of. I went home to see sister Jane and had the measles fever on me when I left camp and did not know it and I came very near dying two or three times as I had two cases and then a relapse. Every one in this place white and black had them, but were very near well when I left. I guess you could get in this company if you wished. I have a negro boy to wait on and cook for me and if you were here you could tent and mess with me. Give Uncle and Aunt my love and kiss Emma for me and write soon to us.
Ever your cousin
Gussie

I liked to have forgotten to tell you I am going (if I live to see next September) be married and if it will suit your indulgence I would like very much to see you down about that time. There is a probability of our being moved from here and sent to Ft Pulaski. None of the companies in Savannah would volunteer to go there and ours has done volunteered but have not heard whether we are accepted. Excuse all imperfections and write soon as it is a great pleasure for a soldier to receive a letter in camps.

Suppose you come down and join our company. You cannot get a gun but you can get a pike or spear as there is several in our company has them. There is about one hundred men in ours, Capt. C. S. Rockwells Company…

Civil War Letter from Camp Security, GA, probably written by Augustus H. Harrell

scan of letter

Civil War Letter from Camp Security, GA, probably written by Augustus H. Harrell

Related Posts:

Berrien Minute Men on Sapelo Island: Part 5

Campfires of the Berrien Minute Men

Berrien Minute Men on Sapelo Island: Part 6

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

Berrien Minute Men on Sapelo Island

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

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

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

 

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

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

Head Quarters, Dept of Geo

Savannah Jany 14th 1862

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Related Posts:

Berrien Minute Men on Sapelo Island: Part 5

Berrien County in the Civil War
29th Georgia Regiment on Sapelo Island
Part 5:  Tidewater Time

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, fighting boredom and disease…

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

The soldiers of the 29th Georgia Regiment lamented their defensive position so far from the action of the war.   William J. Lamb and Thomas L. Lamb left the Berrien Minute Men in October to join Company E, 54th GA Regiment. Moses Giddens and John F. Parrish  left camp by the end of October. Parrish was a miller and took an exemption from military duty for service essential to the war effort; he later served as a judge in Berrien County. William Anderson, Enos J. Connell and Newton A. Carter left sick, but later returned to the regiment on Sapelo.

While languishing on the tidewater, the closest the 29th Regiment came to an enemy engagement was listening to the sounds of the Battle of Port Royal on November 7, 1861. Some 60 miles from the men on Sapelo Island, cannonade sounds from Port Royal may have carried over the distance due to an acoustic refraction caused by atmospheric conditions.  In the right combination, wind direction, wind shear, and temperature inversions in the atmosphere may cause sound waves to refract upwards then be bent back towards the ground many miles away. Numerous cases of acoustic refraction and acoustic shadows in Civil War battles have been documented.

Battle of Port Royal

Sounds of the Battle of Port Royal were heard sixty miles away by the Berrien Minute Men on Sapelo Island, GA.

Sounds of the Battle of Port Royal were heard sixty miles away by the Berrien Minute Men on Sapelo Island, GA.

The Battle of Port Royal was one of the earliest amphibious operations of the Civil War, in which a US Navy fleet under Commodore Samuel Francis Dupont and US Army expeditionary force of 15,000 troops under General Thomas West Sherman captured Port Royal and Beaufort,  South Carolina. The Confederate forces  defending the harbor at Fort Walker on Hilton Head and Fort Beauregard in Bay Point were completely routed  after a four hour naval bombardment.

Sergeant Robert Goodwin “Bobbie” Mitchell, of the Ochlocknee Light Infantry, Company E, 29th Georgia Infantry wrote  to his sweetheart, Amaretta “Nettie” Fondren in a letter home dated November 11, 1861, “How bad did it make me feel to remain here and listen to the booming of the cannon and not knowing but what every shot was sending death to some noble Georgian’s heart…How my blood boiled to be there.”

Sergeant Mitchell’s letter also reported that Colonel Spalding had gotten “shamefully drunk.” That fact was known to Spalding’s fellow plantation owners as well.  Charles C. Jones, who was Mayor of Savannah until August, 1861, wrote  in a letter to his father on November 9, 1861, that Colonel Spalding was supposed to have taken the regiment to South Carolina to participate in the defense of Port Royal, but it was rumored he was too drunk to do so. Jones was 1st Lieutenant of the Chatham Artillery, which in the summer of 1862 would share a station at Causton’s Bluff with the Berrien Minute Men defending approaches to Savannah, GA.

The Battle of Port Royal dramatically exposed the vulnerability of the Confederate coast, ultimately leading to the abandonment of the Georgia sea islands.

 “The attack on Port Royal had a major impact on General Robert E. Lee, who took command of the Confederate Department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida on November 8, 1861. As a result of his observations of the potential of the Union naval forces, Lee determined that the dispersed garrisons and forts that protected the widely scattered inlets and rivers could not be strengthened enough to defeat Union naval forces. Accordingly, he concentrated the South’s coastal guns at Charleston and Savannah. Making use of the Confederacy’s interior lines of communication, Lee developed quick-reaction forces that could move along the coastal railroads to prevent a Union breakthrough.” – HistoryNet

For a while after the fall of Port Royal, time continued to drag for the Berrien soldiers on the Georgia tidewater. The sick roll continued to grow. Isaac Baldree, John M. Bonds, John W. Beaty, James Crawford, William W. Foster, John P. Griffin, John L. Hall, George H. Harrell, Burrell H. Howell, Bedford Mitchell James, James S. Lewis, Thomas J. Lindsey, Edward Maloy, Newton McCutcheon, Samuel Palin,Thomas Palin, A.D. Patterson, John W. Powell, William J. Powell, James S. Roberts, Jason Sapp, Sidney M. Sykes, Levi T. Smith, Charles N. Talley, James B. White  and Thomas W. Beaty of Captain Wyllys’ company of Berrien Minute Men were absent on sick leave. Hyram F. Harrell, of Captain Lamb’s Company, left sick; he died on February 4, 1862.  On November 27, Hansell H. Seward and James A. Slater of the Ochlocknee Light Infantry were discharged from service at Darien, GA.

On Sunday, December 1, 1861,  Pvt. William Washington Knight wrote his wife that the weather was unseasonably warm.  William and his brother John were recuperating from severe colds.  Several of the men in camp on Sapelo Island were sick, and measles was spreading among the men.   William and his father, Major Levi J. Knight, were  up the river at Darien, GA, where they attended church together.  The town was later described by Union officer Luis F. Emilio, “Darien, the New Inverness of early days, was a most beautiful town…A broad street extended along the river, with others running into it, all shaded with mulberry and oak trees of great size and beauty. Storehouses and mills along the river-bank held quantities of rice and resin. There might have been from seventy-five to one hundred residences in the place. There were three churches, a market-house, jail, clerk’s office, court-house, and an academy.”   Wharves and docks were along the river.

Hugh E. Benton of the Thomas County Volunteers deserted the regiment on December 4, 1861. By this time, Sergeant Mitchell was frustrated and disgusted with the long inactivity of the 29th GA Regiment on Sapelo Island.  In his letter of December 9, 1861, from Sapelo, Mitchell complained of boredom in the camp.  Historian Lesley J. Gordan summarized Mitchell’s  despondence:

Far from the front, he found himself doing “nothing exciting or encouraging.”  The army seemed “cruel and despotic in its nature,” and he grew annoyed with the antics of his fellow soldiers, whom he deemed “rough and unrefined.”  

By mid-December, Berrien Minute Men Company D were on station at Camp Security.  Little is known about this camp except that it was “near Darien, GA” which would seem to place it on the mainland, rather than on the islands. Another soldier’s letter written from Camp Security and postmarked at Darien describes Camp Security as “one of the most abominable places on earth.”

Measles were soon rampant among the men. On December 18, Pvt. William Washington Knight wrote  from Camp Security, “Nearly all of our company have the measles.     Capt [John C.] Lamb has it.   We have eighteen privates fit for duty.    Reddin B. Parrish of our company son of Ezekiel Parrish died yesterday evening at sundown.     He was one of the best steadyest young men in our company.   Capt Lamb sent him home last night to be buried.”  The body of Redding Byrd Parrish was returned to Berrien County, GA.  The internment was at Pleasant Cemetery near Ray’s Mill (now Ray City), GA.

Grave of Redding Byrd Parrish, Pleasant Cemetery near Ray City, Berrien County, GA. Parrish died of measles December 17, 1861 while serving with the Berrien Minute Men at Camp Security, McIntosh County, GA. Image source: Terrell Anderson.

Grave of Redding Byrd Parrish, Pleasant Cemetery near Ray City, Berrien County, GA. Parrish died of measles December 17, 1861, while serving with the Berrien Minute Men at Camp Security, McIntosh County, GA. Image source: Terrell Anderson.

There were some sixty men of the regiment sick with measles including John Knight, Ed Lamb, J.S. Roberts, Jasper M. Roberts, John Clemants, and John W. McClellan among others.

On December 14, 1861, Colonel Randolph Spaulding resigned his position for unknown reasons. In a new election, Captain William H Echols, was elected Colonel of the regiment. But the Confederate War Department declined to permit Echols to accept the position, and he remained in his position with the Confederate Corps of Engineers.  Another election was then ordered and William J. Young was elected and commissioned as Colonel of the Regiment.

Most of the men recovered from the measles. Some didn’t. Nathan B. Stephens of the Thomasville Guards died of measles on December 11, 1861, at Camp Security.

Henry C. McCrary died of measles on Christmas Day.  On New Year’s Eve, John C. Clements was put on sick leave.  Sergeant Lewis E. Cumby of the Thomas County Volunteers was sent home with measles and pneumonia and died on New Year’s Day, 1862.  Elbert J. Chapman, known to the Berrien Minute Men as “Old Yaller,” was furloughed. Chapman later deserted the Berrien Minute Men, joined another unit, was court martialed and executed for the desertion. John A. Parrish and John M. Griffin were absent on sick leave; Griffin never returned. E. Q. Bryant of the Thomas County Volunteers was at home sick.   Harrison Jones of the Berrien Minute Men was discharged with a disability January 12, 1862. Stephen N. Roberts and James S. Roberts, kinsmen of John W. Hagan, went home sick.  James returned to the regiment by February, 1862, but Stephen never recovered; he finally succumbed to pneumonia in Lowndes County, on January 6, 1863.

On January 1, and again on January 4, 1862,  Sergeant Mitchell wrote that there was drinking and fighting among the men.   The conditions of camp life had taken their toll on the morale of the men, but soon the 29th Georgia Regiment would be reported ready for action.

About Robert Goodwin Mitchell:

Robert Goodwin Mitchell was born on a plantation in Thomas county, Georgia, July 15, 1843, a son of Richard Mitchell and Sophronia Dickey. His father had served as a state representative from Pulaski County, before settling in Thomas. After some preliminary work in the neighborhood schools, Robert Goodwin Mitchell attended Fletcher Institute, at Thomasville, and later he was a student in the preparatory department of Mercer University for one term. When but eighteen years old, he volunteered for the Confederate service at Thomasville, and was mustered in Savannah in July, 1861, as color bearer, in Company E of the 29th Regiment. Mitchell had the natural countenance of a leader; He stood 6′ 2″, with blonde hair, grey eyes and a dark complexion. He was soon  appointed sergeant and at the re-organization in 1862, was made second lieutenant. When Gen. C. C. Wilson, of the 21st Regiment, was put in command of the brigade, including the 29th Georgia Infantry, Mitchell was appointed to the General’s staff as aide-de-camp. He married Amaretta Fondren on January 21, 1864. Mitchell was serving in the trenches under fire in the battle at Atlanta on July 22, 1864, and was severely wounded on the line southwest of the city, August 9, 1864. It was while Robert G. Mitchell was disabled from the wound he received in the war that he began the study of law. In 1865, he established a home south of Thomasville which grew to be a 2000 acre plantation. He went into a law partnership with his brother for a while before being appointed Solicitor General of the Southern Circuit. He was elected a state representative, then a state senator.   After serving his term as senator, Mitchell resumed his law practice until 1903, when he was elected judge of the superior court of the southern circuit of Georgia, to succeed Judge Augustin HansellThe letters of Robert Goodwin Mitchell are part of the Robert Goodwin Mitchell Papers, Hargrett Rare Books & Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, GA.

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Berrien Minute Men on Sapelo Island: Part 2

Berrien County in the Civil War
29th Georgia Regiment on Sapelo Island
Part 2: Place of Encampment

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
William W. Knight wrote home from Camp Spalding, Sapelo Island, GA.

William W. Knight wrote home from Camp Spalding, Sapelo Island, GA.

The  Berrien Minute Men were two companies of infantry that went forth from Berrien County, GA during the Civil War. From October, 1861 to January, 1862, the campfires of the Berrien Minute Men  were made on the coast of McIntosh County at Sapelo and Blackbeard islands protecting the approaches to Darien, GA on Doboy Sound and the Altamaha River.  The Berrien Minute Men arrived on Sapelo in early October and were stationed on the island along with the Thomas County Guards, Thomas County Volunteers and Ochlocknee Light Infantry.

The regimental encampment on Sapelo was Camp Spalding, on the 4000 acre Sapelo Island plantation which had been established by Thomas Spalding.  Spalding, in 1827 served on a commission which attempted to survey the Florida-Georgia border and kept a journal of the journey.  The expedition bushwhacked its way from the east coast through largely unexplored areas of north Florida and south Georgia,  a portion of the route passing through Lowndes County to intersect Coffee’s Road near William Blair’s place just west of Sharpe’s Store.  The Coffee Road was cut in 1823 from Jacksonville, Telfair County, GA to Tallahassee, FL ; It was the only improved road through Wiregrass Georgia at that time and passed seven miles west of Ray City, GA.

According to New Georgia Encyclopedia,

“Thomas Spalding (1774-1851), noted antebellum planter of Sapelo Island, was one of the most influential agriculturists and political figures of his day in Georgia…He cultivated Sea Island cotton, introduced the manufacture of sugar to Georgia, and promoted Darien and the coastal area as the economic center of the state…Spalding was an influential Democrat and a pro-Union advocate.  As the sectional crisis worsened in the late 1840s he was instrumental in ensuring the support of Georgia for the Compromise of 1850.

Thomas Spalding, a pro-Union man, was elected president of the convention at the Georgia State Convention of 1850, convened to deliberate Georgia’s immediate secession or its alternatives. He led the convention with a majority of Union Men, mostly Whigs, to conditionally accept the Compromise of 1850 in a resolution known as the Georgia Platform. The act was instrumental in averting a national crisis, as other southern states soon followed the Georgia example.

…Despite his ownership of more than 350 slaves, Spalding had considerable misgivings about the institution of slavery, exemplified by his reputation as a liberal and humane master. He utilized the task system of labor, which allowed his workers to have free time for personal pursuits. Slaves were supervised not by the typical white overseers but by black managers, the most prominent of whom was Bu Allah (or Bilali), a Muslim and Spalding’s second-in-command on Sapelo.” 

The Muslim community at Sapelo Island was among the earliest in America, and some scholars believe the ruins on Sapelo include the foundations of one of the first mosques in the country.  Descendants of the 400 enslaved men, women and children who lived on Thomas Spalding’s antebellum plantation still reside on Sapelo Island in the Hog Hammock community. In the description of Sherpa Guides,

“The Gullah village, with its unique cultural, artistic, and linguistic traditions, is without a doubt the most unusual community in Georgia. Old timers speak geechee, a colorful creole that blends English with a number of African languages, primarily from the western coast. Hog Hammock was created in the early 1940s when R.J. Reynolds, who owned most of the island, consolidated the scattered black land holdings around the island. Blacks exchanged their holdings in Raccoon Bluff, Shell Hammock, and other communities for property and small houses with indoor plumbing in Hog Hammock.”

Thomas Spalding’s South End Mansion on Sapelo Island had been inherited by his son, Randolph Spalding.  Randolp Spalding and his five siblings had received the  slaves from their father’s estate, as well. In Sapelo’s People: A Long Walk to Freedom, William S. McFeely writes, “Randolph Spalding, unlike his scientific father, better fit the popular image of the Southern plantation grandee; in his thirties as the war approached he liked fast horses and big house parties.”

At the outbreak of the Civil War, the sea islands were among the most exposed and vulnerable southern properties.  For the tidewater plantation owners, “fears were great of a ‘plundering expedition’ aimed at the huge population of slaves along the coast.”

In McIntosh county 78 percent of the population was enslaved. In neighboring Glynn county 86 percent were slaves and the enslaved populations of the coastal Georgia counties were nearly as great: 67 percent in Camden county, 74 percent in Liberty, and 71 percent in Chatham.

1861 Harpers map of Georgia Slavery - detail of coastal counties.

1861 Harpers map of Georgia Slavery – detail of the Georgia coast showing the percentage of enslaved population in Chatham, Liberty, McIntosh, Glynn, and Camden counties.

“Charles Spalding, Randolph’s brother, wrote to an official of the Georgia militia on February 11, 1861 ‘that there are on the Island of Sapelo…about five hundred negroes which might be swept off any day unless protected by a small detachment of infantry on the island.” Spalding feared not only slave raiders, but the slaves themselves: ‘there are on.. [the nearby Altamaha rice plantations] some four thousand negroes, whose owners will continue to feel very insecure until some naval defenders are placed upon these waters.'”

That responsibility fell for a while on the Berrien Minute Men and the 29th Georgia Regiment. On Sapelo Island, the 29th  had duty manning Sapelo Battery  near Sapelo Lighthouse as well as additional gun batteries near Dean Creek.  A gun battery on Blackbeard Island at the Atlantic Inlet to Blackbeard Creek was the site of Captain Knight’s encampment. These positions were important in defending the northern delta of the Altamaha River and the port at Darien, GA from intrusion by Union forces.

A number of Civil War letters of John W. Hagan document the experiences of the Berrien Minute Men. Writing from Sapelo Island on October 11, 1861, Hagan gave his wife, Amanda Roberts Hagan, an update on her brothers Ezekiel W. Roberts and James S. Roberts, cousin Stephen N. Roberts, and the other soldiers of the Berrien Minute Men.

Sapelo Island, Ga.
Oct. 11, 61

My Dear Amanda,
I have imbraced the present opportunity of writing you a short letter which leaves my self and all the company in good health with a few exceptions. We landed in Savannah on Monday night at 8 Oclk and taken the Steamer on Tuesday eavening for our place of encampment which is on Sapelo Island. We landed on Sapelo on Wednesday morning & the same eavening Capt. L. J. Knight’s compny was removed to Sapelo all so and I found Ezeakle & James in good health & in good spearet. There is four companies stasioned hear now the Thomasvill guards & the Oclocknee light infantry & Capt Knights company and the company I came with. The health of the men on this Island is verry good and as to the reports which was going the roundes in Lowndes in regard to yellow feavor that is all faulce. Some of the men of Blackbeard did not take care of themselves, & by exposure and exerting too much they became bilious & I was realy surprised when I found all the boys in so fine health. As to James, Ezeakle & Stephen you would hardly know them. Ther is but four or five on sick report at this time and nothing is the matter with but colds & risings &c. Ezeakle will I think go home on the first boat & he will give moor satisfaction in regard to our fair than I can by writing. We have drew rashings but havent elected any of our offiscers for the company yet. We feel assured that John C. Lamb of Milltown will be our Capt but we know not who will be our Leutenants. All the boys was glad to see us and I think we will get along as well as any solders could expect. Capt Knights company has not drew any money yet but is to draw as soon as the Capt gets abble to go to Savannah. He has the Bloody Piles and is not able at present to travel. We have on this Island five canon mounted. The largest carries 16 lbs balls. The others are smaler & we calculate to mount moor as soon as posable. I do not apprehend any danger heare at present. There was a blockade came in sight here yesterday & we thought we should have a fight. The 3 companies was marched to the Battery or a detachment of the three companies. The cannon was uncovered & loaded & nessery arrangements was made for a fight when all at once the ship taken a tack in a different directsion. We do not now realy whether it was a blockade or an Inglish ship expected & last night at 11 Oclk a small steamer started out so that in case it should be an Inglish vessel they could convey her in.

Amanda, we are not regulated yet & I can not give you a full deatail but in my next letter I hope I shall be able to write something interresting. Some of the boyes are writing, some singing, some fiddleing, some dancing, some cooking, some play cardes & some are at work cleaning off our perade ground & places to pitch our tents. Cience I have bin hear I have seen several of the Thomas county boys. 2 of the old Allen Hagans boys from Thomas is heare. I feel satisfide that we will be healthey & fair as well as we could wish &c.

Amanda, Old man Crofford seemed to be in the nosion to buy my land when I saw him at Nailor. He said he would give me $1500 for my place if he traded with your father providing I would give him two payments from next January. Tel your father to make any trade with Crofford that he thinks proper, but if he wants time he must pay interrest on the payments. I must close for this time & I hope you wil write soon  & I think we had better change our Post office to Nailor because you can send evry Satterday or every other Satterday & get your mail shure & where we send too at present it is unsirtin when you get it. When you write you must derect it as I derect you nothing moor. yours affectsionate husband Til Death. John W. Hagan

N.B. address your letters to
John W. Hagan
Sapalo Island Ga
in care Capt Knight

N.B. Kiss Reubin for me
J. W. H.

By mid-October, 1861 the sick of the regiment on Sapelo Island were more or less recovering from their initial illness.  William Washington Knight wrote on October 12, “There is fourteen on the sick list but none of them very bad all able to be up some little.” Ten days later, William Washington Knight was himself sick with a “bowel complaint.” Of the Berrien Minute Men, he added, “father [Captain Levi. J. Knight] has been very sick but he is getting better so as to be about and attend to his businefs.    There are several of the recruits sick,   five that tolerable bad off although I do not think any are dangerous.    Some of the old company (Company C) are sick yet,    three pretty low.”  But by the end of October, a number of men had given up the regiment. Of the Thomas County Guards, James M. Blackshear provided a substitute and left.  Sixteen-year-old Elias Beall and W. R Pringle apparently went back home.    William A Jones left the Berrien Minute Men and went home on leave to Berrien County, never to return. Jones died of measles in Berrien County on January 18, 1862, leaving behind a pregnant wife  and a young son.

Measles would spread among the regiment  in the coming months at Camp Spalding.

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Mary Ann Knight and William A. Jones

Mary Ann Knight was born  July 1, 1838 near Beaverdam Creek,  the present day site of  Ray City, GA  Her parents, John Knight and Sarah Sally Moore were pioneer settlers of the area, then situated in Lowndes County, Georgia but cut into Berrien County in 1856.

Mary Ann Knight Jones married William A.  Jones On November 5, 1856 in Berrien County, Georgia in a ceremony performed by the bride’s grandfather, Elder William A. Knight. The Berrien County Marriage Records of 1956 include the following hand written entry:

 Go any ordained minister of the gospel Judge of the Superior Justice of the Inferior Court Justice of the peace or any person by the Laws of this State authorised to Celibrate  these are to authorise and permit you to join in the Venerable State of matrimony this William, A. Jones of the one part and this Mary Ann Knight of the other part according to the constitution and laws of this state and according to the rites of your church provided there be no lawful cause to obstruct the same and this shall be your authority for so doing given under my hand and seal this the 1st day of November 1856.

John Lindsey Ordy

Thereby Certify that William A. Jones and Miss Mary Ann Knight were duly joined in matrimony by me this fifth day of Nov 1856

William A Knight, O.M.

Mary Ann and W.A. Jones settled on a farm next to her brother, William Washington Knight in the new county of Berrien, in the vicinity of present day Ray City, GA. Other nearby neighbors included James A. Knight, Reverend Nathan Talley, William R. Brandon, and James M. Baskin. The farm of Allen Jones and Kiziah Knight Giddens Jones was in the same area.

In 1861 Mary Ann and William had a son, William Malachi Jones.

When the Civil War got underway,  William A Jones joined the Berrien Minute Men, along with Mary Ann’s brothers and other men of Berrien County. This was a company of volunteer infantry organized by Mary Ann’s father, Levi J Knight.  The Berrien Minute Men were mustered in as Company G, 29th Georgia Infantry, and William A. Jones was enlisted as a private on August 1, 1861 at Savannah, GA. Four months later the company muster rolls note that he was “absent with leave.” Later service records show that he died of measles in Berrien County on January 18, 1862. The location of his grave is unknown.

Mary had two children by William A. Jones, the youngest, Adam, apparently born after his father’s death.  Adam Jones was deaf and dumb, birth defects with a high probability for a baby whose mother is infected with measles in the early weeks of pregnancy.

For five years, the widow Jones raised her children as a single parent. On March 25, 1866 she married Green Bullard  in Berrien County, GA.

Related Posts:

The Estate of Green Bullard

Green Bullard

 

Children of Edwin and Sallie Griner

Children of Edwin and Sallie Griner

In the 1930’s D. Edwin Griner  was a miller working at a grist mill in Ray City, GA.  He and his wife grew up in Berrien County, GA and lived for many years in and around Ray City.

As a boy D. Edwin Griner suffered tragic loss, watching his siblings die of measles in the spring of 1889 – four dead in a  week – and in the winter of that same year his mother, Sarah Gaskins Griner, was taken.

In adulthood, Edwin Griner married Sarah “Sallie” Rouse, daughter of Robert and Kizzia Rouse. The couple made their home in the 1144th Georgia Militia District, the Rays Mill District where the census of 1900 shows they owned a farm near Sallie’s parents and others of the family connection.

But tragedy was not over for Edwin; he and Sallie would have to endure the painful loss of four of their own precious children, and the loss their daughter-in-law.

The four lost children of  Sarah Rouse Griner and D. Edwin Griner rest at Empire Cemetery. Their son, Bill, the only child who survived to adulthood, was buried next to his parents at New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

 

Grave of Carl Griner, born September 11, 1894; died November 5, 1900; buried Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Grave of Carl Griner, born September 11, 1894; died November 5, 1900; buried Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

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Grave of Eugene Griner, born May 26, 1896; died November 3, 1900, buried Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Grave of Eugene Griner, born May 26, 1896; died November 3, 1900, buried Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

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Grave of Lona Belle Griner, born April 15, 1899; died November 11, 1909; buried Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Grave of Lona Belle Griner, born April 15, 1899; died November 11, 1909; buried Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

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Grave of Willie "Bill" Edwin Griner, born December 5, 1902; died April 21, 1984, buried New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA. Image source: Robert Strickland

Grave of Willie “Bill” Edwin Griner, born December 5, 1902; died April 21, 1984, buried New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA. Image source: Robert Strickland

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Grave of Sarah V Griner, born 1905; died some time before 1930; buried Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Grave of Sarah V Griner, born 1905; died some time before 1930; buried Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

 

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Green Bullard Fought Sickness in the Civil War

Green Bullard  was a pioneer settler of Berrien county. He came to the area of present day Ray City, GA with his parents some time before 1850.  They settled on 490 acres of land acquired by his father, Amos Bullard, in the 10th Land District, then in Lowndes county, GA (cut into Berrien County in 1856).

confederate-camp

Following the commencement of the Civil War Green Bullard, and his nephew, Alfred Anderson, went to Nashville, GA and signed up on March 4, 1862 with the Berrien Light Infantry, which was being formed at that time.   The company traveled to Camp Davis, a temporary training camp that had been established two miles north of present day Guyton, GA (then known as Whitesville, GA). There they received medical examinations and were mustered in as Company I, 50th Georgia Regiment on March 30, 1862.

For many of the men in the 50th Regiment, this was the farthest they had ever been from home and the largest congregation of people they had ever seen.  Coming from the relative isolation of their rural farms and small south Georgia communities, many received their first exposure to communicable diseases such as Dysentery, Chicken Pox, Mumps,  Measles, or Typhoid fever. The first cases of Measles were reported within days of the men’s arrival and at times nearly two-thirds of the regiment were unfit for duty due to illness. On April 7, 1862 Bullard’s nephew, Alfred Anderson, reported sick with “Brain Fever” [probably either encephalitis or meningitis] while at Camp Davis, with no further records of his service.  With so many down sick, the Regiment could barely drill or even put on guard duty.  As the summer wore on, those that were fit participated in the barricading of the Savannah River and in coastal defenses.

 “In May 1862 the Confederate Government established a General Hospital in Guyton, GA,”  near Camp Davis. “This hospital was located on a nine acre tract of land adjacent to the Central Railroad… From May 1862 to December 1864, this hospital provided medical care, food, clothing, and lodging for thousands of sick and wounded Confederate soldiers.”  – Historical Marker, Guyton Confederate General Hospital.

Finally, in mid-July the 50th Regiment moved out via train to Richmond, VA where they joined Drayton’s Brigade in the CSA Army of Northern Virginia. The Regiment bivouacked first at Camp Lee.  Camp Lee was a Confederate training camp that had been converted from the Hermitage Fair Grounds near Richmond, with the exhibit halls converted into barracks and hospitals. The grounds were filled with the tents of infantry and artillery companies. The men bathed in a shallow creek, “but it is doubtful if their ablutions in that stream are productive of cleanliness,” opined the Richmond Whig in August of 1862.

Camp Lee, near Richmond, VA

Camp Lee, near Richmond, VA. Text from Confederate Military Hospitals in Richmond, by Robert W. Waitt, Jr., 1964.

On August 20, 1863  the 50th Georgia Regiment moved out to see their first real action.  but by that time company muster rolls  show that  Green Bullard was absent from the unit, with the note “Left at Lee’s Camp, Va. sick Aug 21st.”  On September 7, 1862  Bullard was admitted to the Confederate hospital at Huguenot Springs, VA.  Company  mate Pvt William W. Fulford was also attached to the convalescent hospital at that time.  The hospital muster roll of October 31, 1862 marks him “present: Bounty Paid”.  He remained “absent, sick”  from Company I at least through February, 1863.

In 1862, the Huguenot Springs Hotel was converted to a Confederate hospital.

In 1862, the Huguenot Springs Hotel was converted to a Confederate hospital. On September 7, 1862 Private Green Bullard, Company I, 50th Georgia Infantry, was one of the patients convalescing at the hospital.

On June 19, 1863 Bullard was admitted to Chimborazo Hospital Division No. 2, Richmond, VA  this time with typhoid pneumonia. Typhoid fever was a major killer during the war. At that same time, James A. Fogle was a Steward at Chimborazo Division No. 3. Fogle was later promoted to Assistant Surgeon, and after the war came to Berrien County to open a medical practice at Alapaha, GA.

Chimborazo Hospital, the "hospital on the hill." Considered the "one of the largest, best-organized, and most sophisticated hospitals in the Confederacy."

Chimborazo Hospital, the “hospital on the hill.” Considered the “one of the largest, best-organized, and most sophisticated hospitals in the Confederacy.”
Library of Congress

Sometime before February of 1864 Green Bullard returned to his unit. Records show he drew pay on February 29, 1864 and again on August 31 of that year. By October, 1864 he was again sick, but remained with his company. He continued fighting through his illness through November and December,1864. It was during this period (1864) that the 50th Georgia Regiment was engaged in battles at The Wilderness (May 5–6, 1864), Spotsylvania Court House (May 8–21, 1864), North Anna (May 23–26, 1864), Cold Harbor (June 1–3, 1864, Petersburg Siege (June 1864-April 1865, and Cedar Creek (October 19, 1864.)

At Cedar Creek, it is estimated that the Georgia 50th Regiment suffered more than 50% casualties. Among those captured was Jesse Bostick of Company G, the Clinch Volunteers. Bostick was sent to Point Lookout, Maryland, one of the largest Union POW camps. (see Jesse Bostick and the Battle of Cedar Creek.)

Receiving and Wayside Hospital, Richmond, VA.  was an old tobacco warehouse converted to a receiving hospital because of its nearness to Virginia Central Railroad depot.

Receiving and Wayside Hospital, Richmond, VA. was an old tobacco warehouse converted to a receiving hospital because of its nearness to Virginia Central Railroad depot.

By January, 1865 Bullard was too weak to continue fighting. He was sent to Receiving and Wayside Hospital (General Hospital No. 9), Richmond, VA.  From there he was transferred to Jackson Hospital, Richmond, VA where he was admitted with dysentery,  which was perhaps the leading cause of death during the Civil War.  Two months later, March 14, 1865 Bullard was furloughed from Jackson Hospital. No further service records were found.  Following less than one month, on April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, VA ending the War.

Twice  as many Civil War soldiers died from disease as from battle wounds, the result  in considerable measure of poor sanitation in an era that created mass armies that  did not yet understand the transmission of infectious diseases like typhoid,  typhus, and dysentery… Confederate men died at a rate three times  that of their Yankee counterparts; one in five white southern men of military  age did not survive the Civil War.  http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/national_cemeteries/death.html

Despite the odds and repeated  bouts of serious illness, Green Bullard survived the war and returned to home and farm in Berrien County, GA.

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Around Rays Mill ~ June 10, 1911

Around Ray’s Mill

1911-jun-10-valdosta-times-rays-mill

Valdosta Times
June 10, 1911

Around Ray’s Mill

School Closed on Friday  –  Interesting Personal Notes.

The Ray’s Mill school, after a very successful term, closed on Friday June 2.  The patrons feel that the school has been a success and give Prof. and Mrs. Patten the praise of being very good teachers.  The school would have closed sooner, but had to vacate a week on account of measles.
Prof. J. L. Courson of Hahira will teach a ten day’s old-time singing school at Ray’s Mill beginning on the First Monday in June, after which he will teach a music school.  We hope to have a large attendance.
Rev. R. P. Fain is holding a tent meeting here now.  He began Saturday, holding his first service Saturday evening.  Miss McCord, who is just from the Kansas City training school, lectured Sunday afternoon.  They had three services on Sunday but only two in the week, at four o’clock in the afternoon and 7:30 in the evening.
There was quite a crowd out Sunday afternoon to hear Miss McCord’s lecture.  She is a noble Christian worker.
Little John Arthur Yarborough happened to a painful accident last week on his way to school.  He cut his foot on a piece of broken bottle on the railroad.  He went on to the school but when he reached the school house he came near fainting.  He teacher sent for the doctor and he was taken home at once.  He can’t walk yet, but we hope he will soon be able to go back to school.
The Luckie Lumber Co. have started up their planing mill here.
Misses Ada and Eula Starling gave an entertainment one night last week in honor of the cousin, Miss Pearl Hardie.  Miss Hardie returned to her home in Hahira Monday.
Miss Pearl Barfield is visiting her sister, Mrs. Norman Starling, for a while.
Mr. Lester Starling and Mr. Gordon Hardie spent Sunday in Bemis.
Miss Neta Bradford, of Valdosta, with a number of Cat Creek people, was out at church Sunday evening.
Miss Mary Simmons, of the King’s Chapel district, visited her sister, Mrs. R. R. Moore Sunday.
Mrs. Hardie, of Hahira, is visiting the family of Mr. W. H. E. Terry this week.
We regret very much to say that Mrs. W. H. E. Terry of Ray’s Mill is very sick.  She has been sick a little over a week and she is very low, but we trust she will recover.

Notes:

  • Neta Bradford was a student at Kings Chapel School in 1905 and attended Norman Institute in 1906

 

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