Causton’s Bluff Part 4: Arrival of the 29th GA Regiment

Berrien Minute Men Arrive at Causton’s Bluff

On the night of April 16, 1862 the Berrien Minute Men, Company D, 29th Georgia Regimen moved to Causton’s Bluff, between Savannah and Tybee Island.   They came along with other companies of the 29th Georgia Regiment to reinforce the 13th Georgia Regiment which had fought an engagement with Federal troops of the 8th Michigan Infantry the evening before on Whitemarsh Island.  Causton’s Bluff was also the site of Camp Stonewall Jackson, the encampment of the 47th Georgia Regiment.

The Berrien Minute Men Company D, under command of John Carroll Lamb, was the second of two companies of that name going forth from Berrien County, GA in 1861.  They had made their campfires most of the previous year at coastal defenses of Georgia, first on Sapelo Island and then around Savannah, GA.

The Berrien Minute Men Company D had been encamped at Camp Tattnall, Savannah, GA and from that vantage point had witnessed the Federal bombardment and recapture of Fort Pulaski by U.S. Army forces from Tybee Island on April 11, 1862, exactly one year to the day from the Confederate seizure of Fort Sumter.  Within the week the Federal forces were probing the Confederate pickets on Whitemarsh Island, prompting the move of the 29th GA Regiment up to Causton’s Bluff.

  1. Causton’s Bluff Part 1: The Key to Savannah
  2. Causton’s Bluff Part 2: Challenge from Tybee
  3. Causton’s Bluff Part 3: War on Whitemarsh Island
  4. Causton’s Bluff Part 4: Arrival of the 29th GA Regiment
  5. Causton’s Bluff Part 5: Tidewater Time

 

Harmon Neal Baldree served with the Berrien Minute Men, Company K, 29th Georgia Regiment. In June, 1862 he was on detached duty as a ferryman at Causton's Bluff on St. Augustine Creek near Savannah, GA

Harmon Neal Baldree served with the Berrien Minute Men, Company D (K), 29th Georgia Regiment at Causton’s Bluff near Savannah, GA. In June, 1862 he went on detached duty as a ferryman on St. Augustine Creek at Causton’s Bluff

The Berrien Minute Men had arrived at Causton’s Bluff in the middle of the night on August 16th, having been aroused by an alert and summoned as reinforcements. After a quick march in darkness they took up a position at the bluff, only to find by morning it was to be their new encampment. Their equipment was sent down the next day.  Berrien Minute Men Company D (K) and most of the other companies of the 29th Regiment spent May of 1862 at Causton’s Bluff.  The Ocklocknee Light Infantry, Company E, was at Debtford Plantation adjacent to Causton’s Bluff.  Berrien Minute Men Company C (G) continued to serve at Battery Lawton on the Savannah River.

In some ways, the arrival of the Berrien Minute Men must have been similar to the experience described by Walter Augustus Clark upon his arrival at Thunderbolt battery, overlooking the marsh just south of Causton’s Bluff:

My earliest recollections of Thunderbolt is associated with a fruitless effort to mix turpentine soap and salt water. We had reached the place tired and dusty and dirty. As soon as the ranks were broken, the boys divested themselves of their clothing and soaping their bodies thoroughly plunged into the salt water for a bath. The result may be imagined. The dirt and dust accumulated in streaks, which no amount of scrubbing could dislodge for it stuck closer than a postage stamp.

The 29th Regiment’s move to Causton’s Bluff may have presented a welcome distraction to Lieutenant Thomas J. Perry of the Berry Light Infantry.   At Camp Wilson, a previous encampment of the 29th Regiment, Lt. Perry had gotten into a Regimental Feud with an officer of the 25th Georgia Regiment, publicly condemning gambling and loose discipline among the men of the 25th Regiment. Lieutenant W.P.M. Ashley of 25th Regiment had Perry hauled before a military tribunal and courtmartialed.  Lieutenant Perry was still awaiting the sentencing of the court. In early May, he was relieved to learn that the sentence from his court martial was a mild one: a reprimand from the Colonel and one week’s suspension. Ready to get on with the business of the regiment, Perry wrote:

Causton’s Bluff, near Savannah, GA
May 8, 1862

Our Regiment is on picket duty on Oakland [Oatland] and Whitmarsh Island [Whitemarsh Island], in connection with the 13th Regiment and 11th Battalion. We have had no fighting yet, though we are sometimes in shooting distance of the Yankees…There are no prospects of a fight here soon…The weather is remarkably pleasant. Days moderately warm and nights cool. The sea breeze is delightful. There is but a few cases of sickness in our company. It is much more healthy here than our up country friends would suppose. We have good water, but not so good as you have in Floyd [County]. 

Perry’s assessment of the healthfulness of the camp at Causton’s Bluff would turn out to be overly optimistic. The 29th Georgia Regiment had yet to face the oppressive heat and pestilence of summer on the marsh. The men at Causton’s Bluff would suffer with mosquitoes, fleas, sandflies,  fever, malaria, measles, tonsillitis, mumps,  wounds, typhus, dysentery, pneumonia, tuberculosis, syphilis, hepatitis, and rheumatism.

At Thunderbolt Battery, Walter Augustus Clark wrote further of summer conditions on the marsh:

We fought and bled, it is true, but not on the firing line. The foes that troubled us most, were the fleas and sand flies and mosquitoes that infested that section. They never failed to open the spring campaign promptly and from their attacks by night and day no vigilance on the picket line could furnish even slight immunity. If the old time practice of venesection as a therapeutic agent was correct in theory our hygienic condition ought to have been comparatively perfect. During the “flea season” it was not an unusual occurrence for the boys after fruitless efforts to reach the land of dreams, to rise from their couches, divest themselves of their hickory shirts and break the silence of the midnight air by vigorously threshing them against a convenient tree in the hope of finding temporary “surcease of sorrow” from this ever-present affliction. It was said that if a handfull of sand were picked up half of it would jump away. I can not vouch for the absolute correctness of this statement, but I do know that I killed, by actual count, one hundred and twenty fleas in a single blanket on which I had slept the preceding night and I can not recall that the morning was specially favorable for that species of game either. I remember further that as we had in camp no “Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,” I corked up an average specimen of these insects to see how long he would live without his daily rations. At the end of two weeks he had grown a trifle thin, but was still a very lively corpse. But these were not the only “ills, that made calamity of so long a life,” for as Moore might have said, if his environment had been different,

“Oft in the stilly night,
Ere slumber’s chain had bound me,
I felt the awful bite
Of ‘skeeters buzzing ’round me “

Their bills were presented on the first day of the day of the month and, unfortunately, on every other
day. At our picket stations on Wilmington and Whitemarsh Islands and at the “Spindles” on the river where the young alligators amused themselves by crawling up on the bank and stealing our rations, there was a larger variety known as gallinippers, from whose attacks the folds of a blanket thrown over our faces was not full protection.

But there were still others. On dress parade in the afternoons, while the regiment was standing at “parade rest” and no soldier was allowed to move hand or foot until Richter’s band, playing Capt. Sheppards Quick stephad completed its daily tramp to the left of the line and back to its position on the right, the sandflies seemed to be aware of our helplessness and “in prejudice of good order and military discipline” were especially vicious in their attack upon every exposed part of our anatomy Capt. C. W Howard, I remember, was accustomed to fill his ears with cotton as a partial protection. I have seen Charlie Goetchius, while on the officers’ line in front of the regiment, squirm and shiver in such apparent agony that the veins in his neck seemed ready to burst. Neither whistling minies, nor shrieking shells, nor forced marches with no meal in the barrel nor oil in the cruse ever seemed to disturb his equanimity in the slightest degree. Quietly and modestly and bravely he met them all. But the sandfly brigade was a little too much for him. In addition to these discomforts, the salt water marsh, near which we were camped, never failed to produce a full crop of chills and fever… Of the one hundred and fifteen men in our ranks only three escaped an attack of this disease. The writer was fortunately one of the three. One man had fifty-three chills before a furlough was allowed him. Quinine was scarce and boneset tea and flannel bandages saturated with turpentine were used as substitutes. Whiskey was sometimes issued as a preventative. In pursuance of a resolution formed on entering the service I never tasted the whiskey and as soon as my habit on this line became known, I was not subjected to the trouble of looking up applicants for the extra ration.

At Causton’s Bluff in May, 1862 Joel J. Parrish, Berrien Minute Men,  went out on sick furlough; despite his absence he was promoted to Sergeant on May 13th.  Charles R. Oliver, Alapaha Guards, was absent sick, but returned and in August was on special duty as a nurse; he later deserted. Reuben Dollar and Isaac B. Stroud, Berry Infantry, came down sick and went home. Dollar was sent to the convalescent camp at Springfield, GA & never returned to the unit. John G. Stroud and John L. Tanner, Berry Infantry, were at hospital in Augusta, GA.  James Sellars, 17th Patriots, contracted measles and was sent to Guyton Hospital at Whitesville, GA. On May 11, 1862, Isaac Watson, Thomas Volunteers, was certified disabled at Causton’s Bluff because of fever and rheumatism. On May 12, 1862,  Joseph N. Singletary, 17th Patriots, died at Screvens Ferry, and George W. Fletcher, Alapaha Guards, was sent home with an “indolent ulcer” on his right leg that went clear down to the bone.   Richard M. Aycock, Berry Infantry, was discharged on May 14, by reason of a severe cut across his foot with an axe which he received before he came into the service.  W. E. Carter, Thomas Volunteers, died of pneumonia May 15, 1862. Daniel M. Banks, Berry Infantry, got sick and was sent to Savannah where he died of fever May 15, 1862. William Ferris, Berry Infantry, on May 15 was at Augusta and died of fever.

Letter from Headquarters of the 29th Georgia Regiment, Causton's Bluff, Savannah, GA supporting discharge of T. S. Gregory on account of consumption. Written May 17, 1862 by Captain, George P. Burch, Thomas Volunteers.

Letter from Headquarters of the 29th Georgia Regiment, Causton’s Bluff, Savannah, GA supporting discharge of T. S. Gregory on account of consumption. Written May 17, 1862 by Captain, George P. Burch, Thomas Volunteers.

James H. Archer, Thomasville Guards, got sick and went home; he died of typhoid dysentery in his mother’s house on May 18, 1862. On May 20, 1862, Frederick Green Thompson, 17th Patriots, died of pneumonia at Screvens Ferry. T.S. Gregory, Thomas Volunteers, who being too weakened and impaired for duty had been serving as a nurse for the previous two months, was discharged at Causton’s Bluff on May 21, 1862 with consumption. James Jones, Alapaha Guards, was discharged May 22, 1862 on account of chronic nephritis. Wesley A. Pugh, Ocklochnee Light Infantry was discharged May 23, 1862 with tertiary syphilis, chronic rheumatism, and chronic hepatitis. On May 24, Lewis J. Collins, Thomas Volunteers, died of typhoid fever at Causton’s Bluff. Philip Schiff, 4th corporal of the Thomasville Guards, 29th GA Regiment, was found physically unfit for duty and discharged on May 26, 1862. Robert A. McKinnon, Ocklochnee Light Infantry, died of typhoid fever on May 27,1862. John E. Dickey , Ochlocknee Light Infantry, got sick in May, went to the hospital and never returned. On May 28, 1862, Waldo McCranie, Berrien Minute Men, was discharged on account of rheumatism; he reenlisted in 1863. On May 29, 1862 Cpl. R. M. Hancock, Thomas Volunteers, died of typhoid fever at Causton’s Bluff. James N. Winn, Ocklochnee Light Infantry was sick at hospital in Savannah; the following month he furnished John E. Bryan as a substitute and received a discharge. Jasper M. Luke, Berrien Minute Men, was discharged about this time with chronic rheumatism. Matthew Godwin, Thomas Volunteers was discharged on account of tuberculosis on May 31, 1862 – the regimental assistant surgeon was of the opinion Godwin suffered from “a hereditary taint in his blood” since his mother also had tuberculosis.

On May 11, 1862, the Federals made another showing on Whitemarsh Island opposite Causton’s Bluff:

Savannah Republican

More Prisoners. – Our pickets on the marsh opposite Causton’s Bluff captured another respectable batch of Yankee Prisoners yesterday afternoon [May 11, 1862], and without firing a gun.
         It seems two detachments were sent out from the 13th Georgia, and stationed in the marsh near Augustine creek. During the afternoon a boat was heard coming from towards Wilmington, when the nearest party threw themselves down in the marsh and awaited its arrival opposite them. Unconscious of danger, the Federals rowed up to within a few yards of the pickets, when the latter suddenly sprang to their feet and ordered a surrender. Taken by surprise, and unarmed, the entire party, numbering fifteen, gave up and came ashore. They were taken in custody by Colonel [Marcellus] Douglass and brought to town for safe keeping.
         The prisoners are fifteen in number – six officers, good looking, well dressed men, and the remainder seamen, all from the steamer Sumter, stationed off Wilmington. They were doubtless reconnoitering, but say they were bound for Fort Pulaski, on a trip of pleasure. The capturing party consisted of only four.

Federal gunboats periodically challenged the Confederate batteries, trying to navigate through the marshes into St. Augustine Creek. Cannon fire from the batteries overlooking Whitemarsh Island was easily heard by the men of the Berrien Light Infantry, Company I, 50th Georgia Regiment encamped some three miles west near Fort Brown. On May 18, 1862 Sergeant Ezekiel Parrish of the Berrien Light Infantry wrote of hearing the cannonade of Thunderbolt Battery:

May 18, 1862, Savannah, GA

We heard some heavy firing of cannon last night about 9 o’clock. There was ten or fifteen fired in quick succession and then at intervals of ten or fifteen minutes I heard some four of five of the heaviest guns I ever heard in my life. Some thought the fight had commenced but up to this time all is quiet here as far as regards a general engagement with the common enemy. I heard that the shooting we heard was at Thunderbolt battery firing at one of the enemy’s gunboats that was trying to poke by our batteries and reports say she made the best of her way back to her own quarter.

Confederate Picket Station.  The Berrien Minute Men, and the 29th Georgia Regiment were stationed at the post on Causton's Bluff  and did picket duty on Whitemarsh Island and at Caper's Battery.

Confederate Picket Station.  The Berrien Minute Men, and the 29th Georgia Regiment were stationed at the post on Causton’s Bluff  and did picket duty on Whitemarsh Island and at Caper’s Battery.

Men from Causton’s bluff were constantly rotated on picket duty or patrolling on Oatland and Whitemarsh Island and the surrounding creeks.  A ferry was kept at a dock below the bluff to move the men across St. Augustine Creek. In June, 1862, Pvt Harmon N. Baldree, Berrien Minute Men, and Pvt Mitchell Griffin, Thomas Volunteers, were among the men on detached duty as ferrymen. Lieutenant Thomas J. Perry of the Berry Light Infantry wrote on May 20,

Causton’s Bluff, Near Savannah, Ga.

May 20, 1862

Since my last letter we have lost, by death, two more member of our company – Daniel M. Banks and W. N. Farris, the former died in the city at St. John’s Hospital, the latter in the Augusta Hospital. This makes four we have lost. The entire company deeply sympathise with the friends and relatives of each, although they did not die on the battlefield, in the defense of their homes and firesides, yet they fill a soldier’s grave and are justly entitled to the Honor as tho’ they did, for they have been found in the line of battle more than once, for the purpose of meeting the enemy in a deadly conflict. When sickness did not prevent, they were true and trusty.
There is but few on the sick list at present, none seriously so. Our duties are laborious at present. Our company have to go on the Island every four days, in addition to working on the fortifications.
While on the island today we saw a large balloon go up from Fort Pulaski, several times, and remain up several minutes at a time.
There does not seem to be any prospect of a fight here soon, if ever. If there is any it will doubtless be a river fight, and if we don’t whip the fight, it will not be because we had not time to prepare for it.
Recruits are coming in rapidly to the different companies, swelling their ranks to a respectable size.
Floyd.

 

In June, 1862, sickness at Causton’s Bluff continued to take a toll on the effectiveness of the 29th Georgia Regiment.  Jacob Marks and John T. Barker of the Berrien Minute Men were among many who were absent sick.  Isaac Baldree, Berrien Minute Men, was at the general hospital at Guyton and J.S. Massey, Thomasville Guards, was “absent sick in hospital”; both were discharged by civil authority in August. William W. Spencer, Captain of the Ocklochnee Light Infantry, who had been on station at Camp Mackey went on sick furlough. Abel A. Braswell, Seventeenth Patriots, went on sick furlough and was discharged by civil authority in September. John W. Callahan, Berry Infantry, was furloughed on sick leave and was absent sick for seven months. William Shores, Berry Infantry, was absent sick in June and July. John Johnston, 1st Lt of the Stephens Volunteers was sick at Causton’s Bluff, then under arrest for two months before going back on the sick roll; in December, 1862, he was detailed as an enrolling officer. Isaac H. Carter, 17th Patriots, went on sick leave in June and died of disease October 10, 1862. Council Singletary, 17th Patriots, was on sick furlough. Benjamin P. Singletary, Thomas Volunteers, was absent sick, then detailed to work in the regimental hospital. Asa C. Crowe, Stephens Volunteers, discharged with disability at Causton’s Bluff, June 3, 1862 because of an old accidental gunshot wound to his left hand.  On June 9, 1862, Corporal John A. Money, an over-age soldier of the Berrien Minute Men, was discharged at Causton’s Bluff, being disabled by frequent attacks of intermittent fever. Lt Robert Thomas Johnson, Thomas Volunteers, went home sick from Causton’s Bluff on June 10 and Lt. John Green Lindsey, Seventeenth Patriots, died of disease that same day.  Sgt Sherod S. Little, Ocklochnee Light Infantry, was discharged for disability on June 22, 1862 after suffering an acute attack of rheumatism and pericarditis. William G. Price Ocklochnee Light Infantry, reported as a substitute for Michael H. Young, but was detailed June 26, 1862 as a tailor. William Cowart, Berrien Minute Men, enlisted November 18, 1861 and was discharged for disability on June 26, 1862; Captain J. D. Knight said he has “been unfit for duty two thirds of the time since he has been in the service, has had measles, tonciliatus, mumps, fever, and seems to have indication of dropsey.” Tim G. Whiddon, Thomas Volunteers went to St. John’s Hospital, Savannah and died of typhoid fever on June 26, 1862. Daniel B. Lammons, Ocklochnee Light Infantry, went on sick leave in June and died of typhoid fever in Thomas County on the 4th of July, 1862. On June 30, 1862, Samuel Staten, Alapaha Guards, was reported sick in an Augusta, GA hospital.

On June 11th, 1862 the Chatham Artillery joined the garrison at Causton’s Bluff, having moved from their previous station at Camp Hardee on Cedar Hammock. (A detachment of the Chatham Artillery had been captured at the fall of Fort Pulaski.) The camp of the Chatham Artillery at Causton’s bluff was named Camp Stonewall Jackson.  A Historical Sketch of the Chatham Artillery provides a complete roster of the company on arrival at the bluff and describes the conditions of the encampment:

Situated as was the camp in the vicinity of the rice fields, low grounds, and brackish marshes of the Savannah river, and therefore in the midst of a truly malarial region, the men suffered so generally and so severely from fevers, that at one time there were scarcely cannoneers enough in camp to perform guard duty, or drivers to attend to stable duties. Several deaths occurred…

Junior 1st Lieutenant John E. Wheaton wrote:

June 11th – Vacated the camp at Cedar Hammock and camped at Causton’s Bluff, in company with a brigade of infantry in command of Col. C.C. Wilson. The guard and picket duty there was severe, and the situation one of the most unhealthy in Chatham county. A large number of the men were made sick. Privates Wylly J. Cash and James Rafferty died in hospital at Savannah, August 7th, and Private W. H. Elliot at Cartersville, Ga., August 12th.  – Reminiscences of the Chatham Artillery during the war 1861-1865 

Regimental returns for July 1862 from the Berrien Minute Men Company D are sparse, but it seems the health of the company suffered as much as any at Causton’s Bluff. On July 27, 1862 Sergeant John W. Hagan wrote, “The company is very sickly & dose not seem to improve. The health of the troops at this post is very bad. We have had 3 deaths in 24 hours & others expecting to die evry day.”  That month, Stephen Roberts and Guilford Tomlinson, Alapaha Guards, were at a convalescent camp; Roberts died of pneumonia the following month at the Springfield convalescent camp. Lt. Thomas J. Perry, Berry Infantry, was absent sick, but returned in August. James Rhodes, Berry Infantry, went to hospital and was furloughed home to recover; he was back in November, detailed as a ferryman. James W. Ferris, Berry Infantry, was sent to Springfield convalescent camp, then to hospital and eventually deserted. Thomas Allen and  George W. Kirk, Stephens Volunteers, were at convalescent camp; Allen spent the rest of the year in the hospital or furloughed sick.  Merritt A. Chandler, Stephens Volunteers, was sent to the hospital at Whitesville, GA then was in and out of hospitals until February, 1863, when he was diagnosed with “Tertian Fever,” a type of malaria in which the fever spikes every three days. Calvin H. Kytle, Stephens Volunteers, went to the hospital in Savannah. Nathaniel Bryan, Seventeenth Patriots, went on sick furlough. John D. Hires, Wiliam F. Southwell, Lt William Pendarvis, Moses W. Spence, James H. Hodges John T. Strickland, William Thornton and William F. Southwell, Georgia Foresters, were sick in the hospital. Hodges would be out for four months, Strickland six months, Southwell and Thornton never returned. Spence was detailed as a nurse. Randall Phinnie, Thomas Volunteers, was absent sick. F. M. Rawls and J. S. Rawls went to the convalescent camp. F.M. Rawls headed home without leave and died December 9 in Thomas County. J. S. Rawls was sent to Springfield and never returned. James W. Farris, Berry Infantry, went to a convalescent camp and was out five months. Toliver Trapp, Berry Infantry, was at convalescent camp; he had been working as a nurse in the Savannah hospital. Reuben R. Pyles, 17th Patriots, was at the Convalescent camp. Barry Scoggins, 17th Patriots was under arrest at Oglethorpe Barracks, Savannah; he escaped in November 1862. On July 2, 1862, John Muller reported as a substitute for John G. Fondren and deserted the same day. Hayes Singletary, who had enlisted in the 17th Patriots in May, died of pneumonia on July 3, 1862 at Causton’s Bluff. On the 4th of July, 1862, James Sellars, 17th Patriots, died of pneumonia at Guyton Hospital. On July 10, John Tomlinson, Alapaha Guards, furnished a substitute to serve in his place. J. Peacock, 17th Patriots, died of fever, July 10, 1862. On July ll, 1862, Lewis Ebbinger, who worked in the company commissary of the Ocklochnee Light infantry, died of congestive chill. J. Kilby Carroll was discharged at Causton’s Bluff on July 16, 1862 as “incapable of performing the duties of a soldier because of chronic ulceration of the leg“; he later was sent to Ocmulgee Hospital, Macon, GA and worked in the Confederate States Laboratory, the center of Confederate States Ordnance testing and production. Patrick W. McKinnon, Ocklochnee Light Infantry, died of typhoid fever July 18, 1862. William J. McKinnon, Ocklochnee Light Infantry, went to a hospital at Whitesville, GA; he died August 28th, 1862. B.F. Fudge, Thomasville Guards, was at a convalescent camp; he was discharged in August for being over age. Thirty-six-year-old Jarrod Johnson, who joined at Darrien, GA, had been incapacitated by rheumatism every single day of his enlistment and was discharged on certificate of disability on July 19, 1862. On July 22, 1862 Dempsey Griffin, Thomas Volunteers, died of pneumonia at Causton’s Bluff. G. W. Martin, Thomasville Guards, caught Typhoid pneumonia and received a certificate of disability for discharge at Causton’s Bluff, July 23, 1862. That same day, July 23, Cpl. William T. Connally and Wilber W. Williams, Stephens Volunteers, and Duncan R. McIntosh, 17th Patriots, died of fever in Savannah. James C. Smith, corporal of the Ochlockonee Light Infantry got sick and was sent to Guyton Hospital at Whitesville, GA where he died of intermittent fever on July 25, 1862. Greenberry Holt, 17th Patriots, enlisted at Causton’s Bluff on May 16 and died of jaundice and fever on July 28, 1862. William Harper and James H. Lester, Thomasville Guards, got sick in July. Harper spent four months in the hospital but eventually returned to the regiment and served until the end of the war. Lester went home and on July 28, 1862 died of typhoid fever.

In August, 1862  Josiah Goode, Stephens Volunteers, went sick to the Savannah hospital and after several months of illness was furloughed home; he died September 14, 1863 of chronic diarrhea. In Stephens Volunteers, Sgt William J.
Poole left camp in August and died of fever in Franklin County, GA on September 16, the same day Sgt Lowrey G. Patterson died of fever at Causton’s Bluff. S. R. Taylor was assigned to duty as a hospital steward; the following month he was discharged, overage.

The Chatham Artillery vacated Causton’s Bluff on August 13, 1862, moving to White Bluff.  The Berrien Minute Men, Company D, 29th Georgia Regiment would remain at Causton’s Bluff through the first week of October.

Albert Douglass: Soldier Grey and Sailor Blue

Special thanks to Wm Lloyd Harris for sharing research and contributing portions of this post.

Albert Benjamin Douglass

In 1862, Albert Benjamin Douglass appeared as one of the deserters from the Berrien Minute Men, 29th Georgia Infantry. He actually had a quite colorful record of service, prompting reader Wm Lloyd Harris to write with additional details relating  “the rest of the story.”   Harris is a great great grandson of Albert B. Douglass.

Military service was something of a tradition in the Douglass family.  Albert’s father and four brothers served in the Indians Wars in Florida. Albert and all four of his brothers served in the Civil War.  Before the Civil War was over Albert B. Douglass enlisted with at least four different units, was discharged once, and deserted three times. He fought for both the North and the South, and served in the Army and the Navy.

At the start of the Civil War, Albert Benjamin Douglass joined a company of Berrien county men going forth to be mustered into the 29th GA Regiment at Savannah, GA. In fact, according to Harris, his grandfather may have enlisted even earlier in another militia unit.

“A. B. Douglass appears as a 2nd Lieutenant in Company H, 25th Battalion Provincial Guard Georgia Infantry Regiment a local militia unit. The fact that the unit is termed ‘provincial’ typified early temporary military formations awaiting formal recognition or organization.”

Albert Benjamin Douglass was born in 1833, probably in Hamilton County, FL. His father, Seaborn Douglass, was born in Montgomery County, GA about 1800 and came to  Hamilton County, FL in the late 1820s. Seaborn Douglass and his family appear in the 1830 census of  Hamilton County.  The Douglass place in Hamilton County, FL was apparently located about eight miles from the home of Captain Archibald McRae.

Abert Douglass’  four brothers, Allen D. Douglass, Burrell Douglass, William Douglass, and Robert Douglass, and his father, Seaborn Douglass,  all served in  the  Indian Wars 1835-1858.

By 1838, Seaborn Douglass had moved his family to Lowndes County, GA. County tax records show Seaborn Douglass was late to pay his poll tax that year, although no taxes were assessed for any land holdings or slaves in Lowndes County. Seaborn Douglass appeared in the 1840 Lowndes County census with his children;   an unknown daughter (b. 1821), Allen Dickerson Douglass (1822 – 1919), Burrell Douglass (1825 – September 8, 1884), William Riley Douglass (1830 – ca. 1895), Robert Douglas (1833-1862), Albert Douglas (1835 – ), Rose or Rosean  Douglass (1839 – 1905), and an unknown daughter (b. 1840), although no spouse is found in his household.  Seaborn Douglass is believed to have died about 1843 in Lowndes County, Georgia.

About 1851, Albert Douglass, then a young man of 19,  married Abigail Shaw. She was a daughter of Martin Shaw, Sr., who was a pioneer settler of Lowndes County.  Martin Shaw had been one of a handful of  residents  at old Franklinville, GA, first seat of government of Lowndes County, and had  served as Lowndes’ first Sheriff.

Albert and Abigail Douglass appear in the 1860 census of  Berrien County, Georgia.  Albert was enumerated as 28 years old, Abigail as 35.  Their daughter Francenia  Douglass listed  as age 6.  Also in the Douglass household was the seven-year-old boy William W Turner.  The Douglas place was near that of Abigail’s  father, Martin Shaw. Nearby were the farms of  Jonathan A. Knight, Thomas Giddens and of William R. Brodgon, where William H. Outlaw was residing.

CIVIL WAR SERVICE OF THE DOUGLASS BROTHERS

All five sons of Seaborn Douglass served in the Confederate States Army.

  • Allen D. Douglass
    Served in the 1st Battalion, Florida Special Cavalry, Company B.  This unit was part of Lieutenant Colonel Charles James Munnerlyn’s famous “Cow Cavalry,” which was detailed to protect the supply of Florida cattle to feed the Confederate Army.
  • William R. Douglass
    Served with the 1st Battalion Florida Special Cavalry, also known as the “Cow Cavalry,” alongside his brother, Allen Dickerson Douglas, during the Civil War.
  • Burrell Douglass
    Enlisted September 22, 1862 at Camp Fort, Waynesville, GA, with Company A , 24th Battalion, Georgia Cavalry, under the command of Captain T.S. Hopkins ( This unit  later merged with the 7th Georgia Cavalry, Company G). While the Battalion was stationed at Camp Lee, Bryan County, GA, Burrell and a number of other soldiers became dissatisfied with the leadership of Colonel Edward C. Anderson.  Burrell Douglass  deserted on May 21, 1863  and returned to his home and family in Wayne County, GA.  Descendants believe he deserted and returned home because his wife was about to give birth, and his company had received orders to go to Virginia. About a year later in March or April, 1864 he enlisted with another company,  Captain Mann’s “Satilla Rifles.”    As soon as his name hit the war department he was arrested  for his earlier desertion and placed in Olglethorpe Barracks in Savannah. On April 11, 1864 he was court-martialed and found guilty.  He was sentenced to be shot “by musketry.” However, the execution was suspended on May 30, 1864, by order of Major General Samuel Cooper (Cooper is credited for the preservation of Confederate service records after the war).  Douglass remained in custody until Jefferson Davis issued a pardon for Confederate deserters who resumed service.  Burrell’s records noted on November 19, 1864, “pardon and released to duty.” That was about the time Sherman was arriving in Savannah.  Burrell fought as an irregular in the Confederate Army (wherein an undisclosed injury was received) until the end of the war.  Buried at Mount Plesant Cemetery, Ware County, GA.
  • Robert Douglass
    Enlisted in the 7th Florida Infantry, Company B, on March 19, 1862. Died of “disease” in Knoxville, Tennessee, August 15, 1862. His wife, Elizabeth, received a widow’s pension as attested by Florida Confederate Pension Records. Buried in the Bethel Confederate Cemetery, Knoxville, Tennessee.

Albert B. Douglass in the Civil War

Records indicate Albert Douglass was enlisted in Berrien Minute Men, Company K, 29th Georgia Regiment.   This was the second company of Berrien Minute Men to come forth from Berrien County, GA. This second company, organized in the fall of 1861, was successively known as Company B Berrien Minute Men,  Captain Lamb’s Company,  Company D 29th GA Regiment, and Company K 29th GA Regiment.  The company mustered into the 29th Georgia Regiment at Savannah, GA.   Months passed as  the regiment trained and served picket duty on the Georgia coast.  The Berrien Minute Men were stationed at a number of camps  on the coastal islands and marshes, first at Sapelo Battery, off the coast of Darien, GA, then in Chatham County, GA at Camp Tatnall, Camp Causton’s Bluff, Camp Debtford, Camp Mackey, and Camp Young.

Albert Douglass must have been among those men who chaffed at the defensive nature of these assignments. The only Regimental return on file for Albert Douglass, Company K, 29th Georgia Regiment, shows that by December, 1862,  he was “absent without leave.”  In the following months. the 29th Georgia Regiment advertised a reward for his capture as a Confederate deserter.  Wanted notices were run in the Savannah, Georgia newspapers offering $30 dollars for his apprehension and giving his physical description as “32 years of age, 6 feet high, fair complexion, grey eyes, auburn hair.”   Among his fellow deserters were Elbert J. Chapman, who would be executed for desertion, and Benjamin S. Garrett, who was shot for being a Union spy.

  

Albert Douglas' regimental return for December 1862 shows him absent without leave;

Albert Douglas’ regimental return for December 1862 shows him absent without leave;

It appears that Albert Douglass must have left the Berrien Minute Men by the summer of 1862.  The research of Wm Lloyd Harris reveals that Albert Douglas(s) had actually deserted the 29th Georgia and enlisted in the 26th Georgia Infantry subsequently fighting with Army of Northern Virginia in Virginia. As early as June 1862 he appeared with the 26th Regiment, Company A, the Glynn Guards, in Richmond, Virginia.

Douglass was no doubt familiar with many men of the Glynn Guards and of the 26th Regiment. The  26th Regiment [originally called 13th Regiment] had mustered in at Brunswick, Georgia in the summer of 1861, completing its organization in October, 1861. Its companies were recruited in the counties of Charlton, Berrien, Glynn, Twiggs, Clinch, Ware, Coffee, and Wayne.  In fact, several companies of the 26th Regiment  had camped with the Berrien Minute Men  in July, 1861 at Brunswick, including the Glynn Guards, Piscola Volunteers, Seaboard Guards and Wiregrass Minute Men. The surgeon of the 26th was Edwin A. Jelks, who had been with the Brooks County company, the Piscola Volunteers, at Brunswick in 1861 during the same time the Berrien Minute Men were there.

After serving in the Department of Georgia at St. Simons Island and Savannah, the 26th GA Regiment moved to Virginia where it was brigaded under Generals A. R. Lawton, John B. Gordon, and C.A. Evans.

The 26th Georgia Regiment  and the rest of Lawton’s Brigade  experienced their first engagement at the Battle of Gaines’ Mill, sometimes known as the First Battle of Cold Harbor or the Battle of Chickahominy River. This battle took place on June 27, 1862, in Hanover County, Virginia, as the third of the Seven Days Battles.  John Jefferson Beagles was also at this battle, serving with the 61st Georgia Regiment in Lawton’s Brigade.

Albert Douglass  was admitted to Chimborazo Hospital, Richmond, Virginia, for dysentery, June 29, 1862.   Returned to duty, July 10, 1862.On August 14, 1862, he was admitted to Lovingston Hospital, Winchester, VA with a complaint of fever and convulsions.

Douglass returned to duty on August 27.  The following day, in the late afternoon and evening of August 28, 1862 the 26th Georgia Regiment suffered  horrific casualties at the Battle of Brawner’s Farm,  at Groveton, VA.    That same afternoon, The Berrien Light Infantry, Company I, 50th Georgia Regiment  was engaged just about ten miles west of Groveton driving federal forces out of  Thoroughfare Gap through the Bull Run mountains, and taking up and occupying position.  These actions were a prelude to the Second Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) August 29-20. During the battle, 0n August 29,  both  the 26th GA and the 50th GA regiments were in positions at Groveton. Among the men from the Ray City area serving with the 50th GA Regiment were Green Bullard, Fisher J. Gaskins, Lemuel Elam Gaskins, Joseph Gaskins,  John Jasper Cook and John Martin Griner.

Douglass’ regiment lost 37 killed and 87 wounded at Second Manassas.

On September 17, 1862 the 26th Regiment fought in the Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam), again suffering heavy casualties. The regiment reported 6 killed, 49 wounded, and 6 missing at Sharpsburg.

Douglass was admitted to 1st Division, General Hospital Camp Winder on October 19, 1862 and transferred to Hod Hospital on December 23. He was back on the morning report of Winder Hospital on December 24, and then transferred to Ridge Hospital.  He was admitted to Receiving and Wayside Hospital (General Hospital No. 9)  on June 4, 1863 and the following day he was discharged from the Confederate States Army.

At least one man of the 26th GA regiment, perhaps it was Douglass, called himself  a friend of Old “Yaller” Elbert J. Chapman. Chapman, like Douglass, left the Berrien Minute Men to go fight with other units, but Chapman was executed for his desertion.

After being discharged, Albert Douglass returned home. On July 18, 1863 he joined Captain Stewart’s Independent Company at Lake City, Florida; he was mustered into Company E, 9th Regiment, Florida Infantry. He was transferred to Company H, 9th Regiment on October 1, 1863. Albert Doulass appeared in a series of units. In August,  1863 he served as Provost Guard.  In October, 1863 he was detached to serve guard duty, Signal Corps. In November, he was detached from Captain Stewart’s Company and transferred to the Signal Corps. He was present for duty from December 1863 to April 1864.  On April 30, 1864 he was detached to the Pioneer Corps.  Two months later, he deserted to surrender to Union Army forces.

After his surrender, Albert Douglass was transferred to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he pledged the Oath of Allegiance to the United States on November 26, 1864.  On December 5, 1864 at the age of 32, he enlisted for a two-year term in the Union Navy, as an Ordinary Seaman.  At the time of enlistment he was residing in Washington, Davies County, Indiana.  His place of birth was given as Atlanta, GA; his occupation listed as “farmer.”  His Physical description was recorded as brown eyes, sandy blonde hair, florid complexion,  5’11” tall with a scar on his left arm.

albert-douglas-union-navy-record

Douglass was initially assigned to “R. S. Cairo.” This ship is sometimes thought to be the ironclad gunboat USS Cairo, but the USS Cairo was sunk in 1862 during a U.S. Navy excursion in support of the campaign for Vicksburg, MS.  Actually, R.S. Cairo refers to the Navy Receiving Ship at Cairo, IL, where new recruits were mustered into the navy. This ship was the sidewheel steamer USS Great Western.  There are no known images of the Great Western.

After completing receiving, Albert Douglass was assigned as an Ordinary Seaman to the tin-clad USS Gazelle, January 14, 1865.  The Gazelle, also a sidewheel steamer, patrolled between the mouth of the Red River and Morganza, Louisiana, and convoyed transports. She was armed with six 12-pound rifled cannons.  There are no known images of the USS Gazelle.

Apparently, Albert Douglass was on active duty aboard the USS Gazelle a scant two days before once again falling to illness.  Aboard the Gazelle, Albert Douglass received the usual treatment for chronic diarrhea – a cocktail of Opium,  Lead Acetate,  and Tannic Acid –  to no effect.  This was followed by a three-day course of  Opium, Silver Nitrate, and Powdered Acacia – also to no effect.  Douglass was finally given an enema of five grains of Silver Nitrate in three ounces of  aqua (distilled water) “without any apparent beneficial results.”

Douglass was  sent to Memphis Hospital, Memphis, TN.  Federal forces had occupied Memphis since 1862 and the city had become a major medical center.  “Wounded prisoners came by boat and wagon to be treated at hospitals that began to specialize as the war progressed.   Prior to the war the city had one hospital. By the end of the war, there were 15.  The Union used the hotels and warehouses of Memphis as a “hospital town” with over 5,000 wounded Union troops being brought for recovery.

According to the Records of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Department of the Navy, Douglass was transferred on February 7, 1865 with chronic diarrhea.   His sea bag contained his hammock, blanket, mattress, jacket, trousers, drawers, two flannel shirts, stockings, boots, handkerchief, and cap.

albert-douglas-union-navy-record-2-7-1865-hospital-ticket

Transcription of Hospital Ticket
7 Feb 1865
USS Gazelle
To W. Grier
Surgeon
You are hereby requested to receive Albert Douglass, Ordinary Seaman affected with chronic diarhea in the hospital under your direction and to provide for him accordingly according to the rules and regulations of the US Navy.
Receipt: 1 hammock, 1 blanket, 1 mattress, 1 jacket, 1 trousers, 1 drawers, 2 shirts flannel, 1 stockings, 1 boots, 1 handkerchief, 1 cap.
Respectfully, A.T.Crippen
Surgeon’s Steward in charge
Approved
Archy S. Palmer
Acting Ensign, Commanding

Albert Douglas hospital papers. Memphis Hospital, Memphis, TN

Albert Douglas hospital papers. Memphis Hospital, Memphis, TN

Transcription of Hospital Record describing his shipboard treatment prior to his admission to Memphis Hospital.
30 March 1865

Albert Douglass, Ordinary Seaman was born in the state of Georgia. Was admitted to sick list on the 21st of Jan 1865. Says he was affected with diarrhea two weeks before he reported to me. I do not know how he contracted the Disease as he was affected with it when he came aboard this Ship  Jan 19th. Ha been treated with plumbi acetas gr ii; Tannin gr iii; Opii Pulv gr SS; three times per day for three days.
Pulvi acaci gr iii; Opii gr i: Argenti nitros gr 1/12; every 24 hours for three days.
Enema argenti Nitras gr v to Agua 3i ounce without any apparent beneficial result.

A. T. Crippen
Surg’s Stew in charge
Have treated with stimulants ever since.

Federal military records show Albert Douglass deserted the Union Navy while in the hospital, on March 30, 1865.

albert-douglas-union-navy-record-3-30-1865-deserted

It appears that Albert never returned home to Abigail, and his whereabouts following his desertion from the US Navy in 1865 remain unknown. Abigail was last documented in the 1900 Lowndes County, Georgia, census in the household of John H. Godwin. second husband of her daughter Francine.  Francine’s first husband was Henry Clay Surrency. Abigail Shaw Douglass is believed to have died circa 1905. It appears that Abigail believed that Albert perished during the war as she identified herself as a widow for the remainder of her life.

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US Navy record also reflects that Albert was listed with an alternate name of Arthur Doyle, no doubt to deflect future trouble in the event he was captured by southern forces. (note that his initials AD remain a tie to his actual name).

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