Causton’s Bluff Part 2:  Challenge from Tybee

Causton’s Bluff Part 2:  Challenge from Tybee

In the spring and summer of 1862, the Berrien Minute Men, Company D (Company K after reorganization) were garrisoned at stations defending Savannah, GA.  Since mustering into service a year earlier, the Campfires of the Berrien Minute Men  had been made along the Georgia coast, with the 13th Regiment at Brunswick,  then at Sapelo Island, and Darien, GA.  By early 1862 The Berrien Minute Men,  having gotten “regulated” into the 29th Georgia Infantry Regiment  were sent to the Savannah, GA area to garrison Camp Wilson and Camp Tattnall.

On February 21, 1862 Berrien Minute Men, Company C, were detached to serve on the Savannah River Batteries. In early April 1862 Federal incursions on Whitemarsh Island below Causton’s Bluff would precipitate the transfer of Berrien Minute Men, Company D and the rest of the  29th Georgia Regiment from Camp Tattnall to the bluff to reinforce the Confederate position there.

  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 Georgia Regiment

Prior to the arrival of the Berrien Minute Men at Causton’s Bluff, the position was garrisoned by the 13th Georgia Regiment which experienced frequent night-time alerts.  Some of these were false alarms, but many were in response to Federal incursions on the creeks and islands below the bluff.

Commanding officers of the 46th NY Regiment garrisoned on Tybee Island east of Savannah were well aware that Confederate gun batteries were being placed around the city.

Officers of the 46th New York Infantry Regiment

Officers of the 46th New York Infantry Regiment.  The 46th NY garrisoned Tybee Island, GA in 1862. Image Source: New York State Military Museum

The 46th New York volunteers made the Tybee Light Station their Headquarters and it was “the base of operations for the seige of Fort Pulaski… Temporary barracks were built on the lighthouse grounds and defensive positions were taken up around the Martello Tower, which was refortified with earthwork batteries.” – Tybee Island: The Long Branch of the South.

Tybee Island Light Station circa 1862

Tybee Island Light Station circa 1862

By February, 1862 the 46th NY Regiment was joined on Tybee by seven companies of the 7th Connecticut Regiment, a detachment of New York engineers and two companies of Rhode Island artillery.

Soldiers of the 1st New York Engineers

Soldiers of the 1st New York Engineers

Company F, 1st New York Engineers participated in the bombardment of Fort Pulaski

Company F, 1st New York Engineers participated in the bombardment of Fort Pulaski

Federal soldiers at the Martello Tower, Tybee Island, GA

Federal soldiers at the Martello Tower, Tybee Island, GA. Image source: Boston Athenaeum

The landing of [Federal] troops on Tybee Island greatly excited the Georgians. In a printed address sent out to the people of the State, signed by Howell Cobb, Robert Toombs, Thomass R. R. Cobb and M. J. Crawford, we find the following language:

“The foot of the oppressor is on the soil of Georgia. He comes with lust in his eye, poverty in his purse, and hell in his heart. He comes a robber and a murderer. How shall you meet him? With the sword at the threshold! With death for him and yourself! But more than this – let every woman have a torch, every child a fire-brand – let the loved homes of youth be made ashes, and the fields of our heritage be made desolate. Let blackness and ruin mark your departing steps if depart you must, and let a desert more terrible the Sahara welcome the vandals. Let every city be leveled by the flames and every village be lost in ashes. Let your faithful slaves share your fortune and your crust. Trust wife and children to the sure refuge and protection of God – preferring even for these loved ones the charrnel-house as a home that loathsome vassalage to a nation already sunk below the contempt of the civilized world. This may be your terrible choice, and determine at once and without dissent, as honor and patriotism and duty to God require.

For the Berrien Minute Men, the strengthening Federal positions on Tybee Island would mean re-deployment from their present positions. Captain Wylly’s company of Berrien Minute Men (Company C) on the night of February 21, 1862  were ordered from Camp Wilson to Fort Jackson to relieve the Savannah Republican Blues, and were soon ordered to Lawton Battery on Smith’s Island in the Savannah River.  Berrien Minute Men Company D, under command of Captain Lamb, remained at Camp Tattnall with Major Levi J. Knight, Sr. and the rest of the 29th Georgia Regiment until April of 1862.

On Tybee Island, the Federals prepared gun emplacements to bombard Fort Pulaski, and simultaneously they worked to cut off all supplies to the fort. The last remaining supply route to the fort was by way of Lazaretto Creek, which the Federals blockaded with the USS Montezuma.   The US Navy purchased Montezuma, a former whaling ship, at New London, CT on  November 29, 1861 originally intending to sink her as part of the second “stone fleet” of harbor obstructions on the Confederate coast.  Instead the Navy placed her in Lazaretto Creek, Georgia, in February 1862.

The fleet anchored the old wreck, Montezuma, at a point of three miles south of the fort [Pulaski] in the Lazaretto Creek. The Montezuma had been intended as a barrier to keep out steam ships. But when the traffic continued with small boats, Captain Anton Hinckel received orders to occupy the wreck with three guns and two companies of the 46th New York Infantry. The Montezuma was loaded with stones and had originally been intended to be sunk in the river along with 25 other worn-out ships to block the way to Savannah. Captain Hinckel and his troops spent the next eight weeks on the Montezuma. Regular patrols with row boats guarded the entrances and many of the nightly smugglers were caught. One of them was a slave who showed the Federal soldiers many secret connections to the fort, and thus it was possible to catch three more Rebels on the island of Wilmington. Ernst Mettendorf,  Zwischen Triumph und Desaster : Ein deutshes Regiment im amerikanischen Burgerkrieg.

A Federal map created December 31, 1861 showing the relative positions of the USS Montezuma (labeled "Hulk Scow" on Lazaretto Creek, Wilmington Island, Federal batteries on Tybee Island, and Fort Pulaski. To the west of Wilmington Islands are Whitemarsh Island, Oatland Island and Causton's Bluff [not shown].

An 1862 Federal map showing the relative positions of the USS Montezuma (labeled “Hulk Scow” on Lazaretto Creek, Wilmington Island, Federal batteries on Tybee Island, and Fort Pulaski. To the west of Wilmington Islands are Whitemarsh Island, Oatland Island and Causton’s Bluff [not shown].

The obstruction of Lazaretto Creek by the hulk USS Montezuma on February 22, 1862 had completely isolated the Confederate garrison at  Fort Pulaski, cutting off the last possible resupply route.  Coincidentally,  February 22, 1862 was the date that the Constitution of the Confederate States of America went into effect, assuring to white southern citizens the “right of property in negro slaves”.

Fort Pulaski was expected to hold out for quite some time against a Federal siege, but the Confederates were immediately prompted  to further strengthen the remaining Savannah defenses. The battery at Causton’s Bluff was manned as critical link in the inner chain of Savannah defensive works immediately around the city.

Work on construction of fortifications at Causton’s Bluff Battery began in earnest that same month, along with construction of breastworks and batteries near Fort Jackson. At the behest of General Robert E. Lee, the Savannah City Council furnished “from two to three hundred negro laborers ‘for the purpose of throwing up breastworks.'”  Over the summer of 1862, military leaders would call for thousands more slaves to build defensive works around Savannah.

The War in America: Negroes at Work on the Fortifications at Savannah.--From a Sketch by Our Special Artist.; Illustrated London News. vol.42, no.1199, p. 433. April 18, 1863

The War in America: Negroes at Work on the Fortifications at Savannah.–From a Sketch by Our Special Artist.; Illustrated London News. vol.42, no.1199, p. 433. April 18, 1863

“But some close, narrow-minded planters,” wrote Captain Mercer,  “evinced great opposition to this necessary order, denouncing it as tyrannical &c, they would rather subject our white Georgians to hard work in this terrible weather than spare a few of their slaves.”  Mercer, a native of Savannah, was a son of General Hugh Weedon Mercer and great grandson of Cyrus Griffin, who in 1788 was President of the Continental Congress.  Lt. Mercer was educated at Russell Military Academy, New Haven, CT;  took preparatory study under Dr. William T. Feay, a professor of Chemistry and Pharmacy at Oglethorpe Medical College; received a Master of Arts from Princeton College; and studied law at the University of Virginia.  Mercer’s  diary of Civil War experiences also relates his  disgust with profiteering by Confederate civilians: “A greedy desire to get rich seems to pervade all. One of the most agravated cases I have heard of consist in the charge of $3.50 per day for the use of an old Flat not worth $300; this Flat is used by the picket at Causton’s Bluff as a means of crossing the river, and belongs to Dickerson.”

The construction of Confederate batteries at Causton’s Bluff and placement of obstructions on St. Augustine Creek,  was assigned by General Robert E. Lee to Captain Josiah Tattnall, senior flag officer of the Navy of Georgia.  At the bluff, the gun battery was in a position to protect the back of Fort Lee which was across the marsh on the south bank of the Savannah River. The headquarters at the bluff was in a house that had served as the home of the overseer  of Habersham family’s rice plantation at Causton’s Bluff.  At the time the overseer’s home was built, about 1852, Robert Habersham owned at least 89 slaves who worked the plantation. “The overseer had objected to living all year at the plantation, because the miasma made the summer months unhealthful on rice plantations; so a new house was built for the overseer on the southern extremity of the plantation, some distance from the rice fields under cultivation.”

On February 28, 1862 units of 13th Georgia Regiment from Causton’s Bluff  encountered sentries from the Montezuma  who were patrolling the creeks around Wilmington Island in a small boat.

 A wild shootout followed in which one of the Rebels was killed along with two Union soldiers Johann Müller and Louis Herweg. Corporal Anton Mayer and his entire crew of 18 men were taken prisoner by the Rebels. Some of them had been wounded and Franz Etzold, a soldier, died a week later from his injuries. 

A second Federal patrol boat went undetected by the Confederates.

First Lieutenant Alphons Servière was with the second boat. He and his entire crew had to conceal themselves in the thick underbrush of the island. After two days they managed to return to the Montezuma – Ernst Mettendorf,  Zwischen Triumph und Desaster : Ein deutshes Regiment im amerikanischen Burgerkrieg.

 

Another night alert occurred on Tuesday, March 11, 1862 when the Confederate pickets on Whitemarch Island made contact with Federal Scouts. At Battery Beaulieu (pronounced “Bewly”) twelve miles below Savannah on the sea-island cotton plantation of John Schley,  “...at 1 Oclock in the knight we was ordered out on the perade ground and we loded our guns to go to Whitmarsh Island [where] the Yanks made an attack on our men,” wrote Isaiah Smith, a private of Company K, 31st Georgia Regiment, “but we did not get to go before the fight was over so we went to bed again.

Two weeks later, on Tuesday, March 25, 1862 a Federal detail from the Montezuma made another raid on Wilmington Island, taking one civilian prisoner and returning to their base without making any contact with Confederate forces. The captured Georgian was Jacob Dannenfelser who, like the soldiers of the 46th NY Regiment, was a German immigrant.

Dannenfelser told Captain Hinckel of a force of Germans stationed at Fort Pulaski. He noted later that it was a full company of the 1st Georgia Regiment under the command of Captain John H. Stegin. “At that time we were very interested to learn something about the situation over there at the fort,” recalled Captain Horace Porter. “One of our men suggested that the regimental band should play German music. When the Germans at Fort Pulaski hear this, they may want to come over to us. The proposal was quickly accepted. And indeed, on a particularly dark night, the first one came rowing across on a tree trunk. We received a lot of very important information from him.” Colonel Rosa reported this incident to General Sherman. In his letter to the general he wrote, “The defector from Fort Pulaski was named John Hirth. He immediately became a member of the 46th New York Regiment.” – Ernst Mettendorf,  Zwischen Triumph und Desaster : Ein deutshes Regiment im amerikanischen Burgerkrieg.

About March 27, Confederate pickets from Causton’s Bluff while patrolling Whitemarsh Island encountered the Montezuma anchored in Lazaretto Creek  and fired on Captain Hinckel’s men, forcing them to briefly abandon the guns. But the Federals quickly rallied their forces and in the face of superior numbers, the Confederate pickets backed away and withdrew across Whitemarsh Island. The Federals pursued in an armed barge, but were unable to catch up with the Confederate soldiers.

The Confederate German Jacob Dannenfelser, after a week at the USS Montezuma, appealed to the commanding officer to allow him to check on his family back on Wilmington Island. Perhaps seeking Dannenfelser’s collaboration, the Union officer consented; on Sunday morning, March 30, 1862, two union soldiers were detailed to escort Dannenfelser by boat to visit his home.  But a patrol of Confederate scouts from Causton’s Bluff discovered the Federal party upon the return trip and effected a capture.

The affair was recorded in the official report of Colonel Rudolph Rosa:

MARCH 30-31, 1862.—Affairs on Wilmington and Whitemarsh Islands, Ga.

Report of Col. Rudolph Rosa, Forty-sixth New York Infantry.

Tybee Island, Ga., April 3, 1862.
General: In accordance with your orders I arrived at the swimming battery, Montezuma, near Decent Island, on the evening of March 29, 1862, with a detachment of two commissioned officers and thirty men of the Forty-sixth New York. Shortly after my arrival Lieutenant Serviere, having effected the relief of the men in the guard boat near Hunter’s farm, reported that he had been shot at repeatedly by about thirty rebels near Gibson’s farm, without the shot taking effect. On the following day, with four commissioned officers and seventy-five men, I made a reconnaissance on Whitemarsh Island, landing at Gibson’s and marching thence on land to Turner’s farm. From there we were recalled by shots, and found that the small stern wheel steamer [probably CSS Ida] had shown herself near to our boats in Oatland Creek, and had returned after being fired at by the boat’s guard. I then went again across the island to MacDonald’s farm, and returned without meeting the enemy. The topographical results will be embodied in a little sketch.

In returning I heard that by the lieutenant left in command of the Montezuma, leave had been given to Dannenfelser and two men to go with a boat to Wilmington Island, that they had been last seen going into Turner’s Creek, and were now missing. The guard boat was left at the usual place opposite Hunter’s farm over night.

At dawn on the 31st the guard were revised and partly relieved by Captain Hinckel, who then made a patrol to Dannenfelser’s house, and was told that Dannenfelser and the two men had been there for half an hour the previous day, and then had departed. Captain Hinckel also captured a negro in the act of entertaining communication between the fort and Savannah. The guard was instructed to keep a sharp lookout along the shore for our missing men. At noon Lieutenant Serviere was sent to relieve the guard, and with the instruction to search at the same time Gibson’s and Screven’s farms for the missing and for interlopers, but not to proceed farther. At 4 o’clock Captain Hinckel went with the captured negro for verifying his description at the cuts used for smuggling. He came back at 8 o’clock and reported that no trace of the guard and relief boats was to be found….

 

On the Confederate side, Lieutenant George Anderson Mercer, Assistant Adjutant General, 1st Georgia Infantry, was impressed with the action:

Pickets from the 13th Regt captured two German soldiers who were carrying off a German Gardener from his place on Wilmington Island. The Yankees were in a boat 700 yards distant; our men fired seven shots with enfield rifles; three passed through the boat and two struck the unfortunate man the enemy were taking off. This was good shooting. – George A Mercer

Excerpt from the Civil War diary of George Anderson Mercer describing actions of 13th GA Infantry Regiment stationed at Causton's Bluff near Savannah, GA

Excerpt from the Civil War diary of George Anderson Mercer describing actions of 13th GA Infantry Regiment stationed at Causton’s Bluff near Savannah, GA

The return of the victorious scouts to Causton’s Bluff with their prisoners and the liberated Dannenfelser in tow was also noted by Private Jenkins  in his diary,

…17 scouts under Adutant [Adjutant] Hill Sent to Whitemarsh Island, who have returned 3, oclock  with two captured prisners yankees and a dutchman citizan of Wilmington Island, who had previously been taken by the yanks, Companies B. C. & G. ordered to prepare immediately under command of Capt Crawford of Co G. -Pvt Cyrus Jenkins

Word of the capture quickly reached Savannah, and the following day a report of events to this point was published in The Savannah Republican of March 31, 1862:

Capture of Yankees.
         Two Yankees, belonging to the Forty-sixth New York Regiment were captured by our pickets yesterday [Sunday, March 30, 1862] under the following circumstances:
        Tuesday last [March 25, 1862] Jacob Dannenfelser, a German, residing on Wilmington Island was at work in his garden, when some thirty Yankees suddenly leaped the fence. He hailed them and asked who they were and what they were about. They replied that they were friends. They had with them a negro man named Sam, the property of Mr. Pinder, whom they released and then laid violent hands on Dannenfelser. They took him to an old hulk lying near Decent Island and there kept him until yesterday. The hulk is armed with a long rifle gun, which the Yankees call their “Field Snake.”
        Yesterday morning Dannenfelser prevailed on his captors to allow him to visit his family with a guard, for the purpose of seeing them and procuring some clothing. He was despatched to Wilmington in a boat with two men. Having procured his clothing, the boat was returning to to the hulk when our pickets on Whitmarsh opened a heavy fire upon the party. The Yankees were unhurt, though their prisoner did not come off so well. He was shot in three places, through the hand, one through the arm above the elbow, and a third across the bridge of the nose, the last mentioned being a very slight one.
         The Yankees, finding the fire rather warm, gave up and rowed to the island in the direction of our pickets, who took them in charge and forwarded them, together with Dannenfelser, to our camp at Causton Bluff. The latter was immediately brought to town to receive medical attention. The prisoners will be brought to town this morning.
        Dannenfelser said that whilst he was on the hulk, a party of Federals were fired upon by our pickets, when they retired and in a short time brought a force of some one hundred men in a barge with a heavy gun in the bow, to attack the pickets. The party were under command of Colonel Rose [Rudolph Rosa], of the 46th New York Regiment. No engagement occurred. The Pickets had retired from Whitmarsh. Being disappointed and not a little aggravated by the annoyance of our pickets, they threatened to burn the houses on Colonel Gibson’s plantation, but retired without executing the threat.

Being alarmed of the presence of Federal patrols on Whitemarsh Island, on that same Sunday afternoon, March 30, 1862, three companies of men were dispatched from Causton’s Bluff; Private Jenkins was among them.

We left the camp about dark, crossed Augustine creek upon oakland Island [Oatland Island], at Caustin Bluff battery. While passing a cross this Island along a narrow path enclosed by thick underwood, all at once all were silent & still as death.! a moment more & the gunlocks began to rattle like fire in a cainbrake! Two seconds & all was again still! A human form was seen! The Capt demanded his countersign. There were two who proved to be pickets for a squad of the 13th left by Adutant Hill [John Dawson Hill] in the evening.

We passed along to the old bridge 2 1/2 miles from Caustins Bluff & crossed the creek on Whitemarsh Island. While here waiting for the other two companies that we had left crossing Augustine creek, A noise was heard in the marsh, mistaken for the tread of human footsteps. All was again hushed. The Capt ordered us to divide on either side of the path that led through the marsh to the high land, & He with two others advanced to the wood. All were now in suspense. I did not like our position. I went to the wood, but before I got there I was releaved by the hissing, & familiar noise of an Alligator.

We now became tired waiting for the rear party & determined to wait no longer. After leaving a picket at our little boat, we proceeded a mile to an old house, but found nothing here. Then from thence to the Gibson place 1 1/2 miles farther with like success, & from thence to the Turner place 2 miles farther. On nearing this place. (It being now 2, oc [o’clock] at night) we perceived that a brillant light in one of the cabins.

The advance guard (of which I was one) had surrounded the house before the party came up. The men on seeing the light smelt a mice, or a yank and began backing scattering out, & cocking their guns. I could not imagine for a time the cause. I first thought they had seen some one in the diriction they were going then I saw their faces & guns all turn to the cabins. I then knew they expected danger from there, I now felt rather in a critical position, for I was near the house & in their full view. I knew I was no yankee but did they know it. I was afraid to speak or move for fear of being fired upon, for a yankee. I stood for a moment & stept cautiously behind the house.

The occupants of the house were negroes left upon the Island. We found no boats here to pass across to Wilmington, & returned to the Gibson Place.

As we neared the place, low depressed coughing was heard. We expected our rear scout, but crept up noiselessly within full view, when Capt demanded who comes there.  A reply came, Friend with the counter sign (all else was perfect silence).  Capt: Advance and give the countersign. All again still for a moment, then rapid cocking of firelocks was heard in every direction, in two seconds more all again silent. Capt again in his usual firm calm voice demanded the countersign. Then a trembling voice: Capt McCallay [James McCauley]. I know your voice, Lieut [William R] Redding Co E [13] th.

We here lay in ambush around the landing untill day (It being now 3, oc [o’clock] ). An hour by sun we, with exception of a small scout party under Adutant  [John Dawson] Hill. went to the Turner place to take our boats for Wilmington, (they were to meet us there).  Just as the boats came Hill sent a messenger for us to go to his assistance, They are coming. We now quicked it back but found when we got there they had turned back.

17 were left under command of Lieut [Bolling H.] Robinson to guard this & the remainder of us went over up on Wilmington. We then started out into two parties, Capt McCallay with, co B, were to go to the Hunter place & from there to the Scriven place & attack the yanks first, while the other party were to go to the Scriven place & there lay in at ambush untill the commencement & then come up in thier rear. But before we had got to the Scriven place we heard sharp firing in the direction. We went double quick (a mile) untill we came in sight, when we saw co G. quickening towards us. Capt [Joel T.] Crawford with his co G. were ordered by Hill back to our fleet of skiffs to prevent being cut off.

He now told Capt McCallay that Hill had ordered him McCalley back. The firing we heard was upon Whitemarsh, between our pickets there & the yanks. After a warm contest wounding one of our m[en] of Co G. they put to water & oarred toward Wilmington near the Scriven place. Company B now doubled quickening back to the boats. We soon after this heard sharp shooting at Scriven place. A few moments more & another volley & all was over. The enemy surrendered 16 in number. One killed three wounded with but two scattering shots from them.

An eight oared barge boat with a six pound field Piece upon its bow, together with their small arms, the prisners were sent on immediately. But some of us were here delayed untill about ten OC  at night when we started for Thunderbolt and after very heavy oaring against the tide we arrived at 3 oc in the morning of Tuesday. (some of the boats however reached Thunderbolt several hours in advance of us).  Here we remained untill morning where I lay upon the ground & Slept untill sun rise, when we again put out for camps and reached them at 9 oc in the morning

The Union account of the engagement was continued in Col. Rosa’s report of the actions of the 46th NY Regiment:

On the evening of the 1st of April we received promptly a re-enforcement of two officers and thirty men of the Forty-sixth New York, and one 6 pounder at the Montezuma. At 10 o’clock in the same night Lieutenants Serviere and Rettig and fifteen men in the relief boat returned and reported as follows: When the relief boat met the guard boat at Hunter’s farm they both proceeded to Gibson’s house, the relief boat in advance, the guard boat (with the small old iron 6-pounder, private property of the subscriber) bringing up the rear. At Gibson’s they saw two men; then Lieutenant Serviere with fifteen men landed and found himself soon engaged in a skirmishing fight with about thirty rebels, whom he successfully drove out of the houses and the farm, killing at least one of them. When the guard boat neared the landing Lieutenant Rettig also jumped ashore, but the helmsman, a canal boatman promoted to a sergeant’s position since two days, suddenly lost his self-possession entirely, backed the boat off, and dropped back with the tide. Lieutenant Serviere then took to the relief boat, which during the time had filled with water, and had to be bailed out, and set afloat again under cover of a chain of skirmishers. They left without any loss, though fired at repeatedly, and then saw in the distance that the guard boat had drifted on the flats between Screven’s and Hunter’s Place; that a fire was opened against it at about fifty paces distance, by, at the least estimation, about sixty men; that the men laid themselves flat on the bottom of the boat and waved their caps as sign of surrender. The relief boat then took to the small creek and swamps between Oatland Creek and Wilmington Narrows, was fast aground over night, and succeeded in coming back late the next evening by way of the narrows and the stockade. The total loss, therefore, consists of eighteen enlisted men, the man Dannenfelser, and about twelve rounds of ammunition. Two boats and one small iron 6-pounder were also lost, being prizes of the Forty-sixth Regiment New York State Volunteers, and not belonging to the United States. There seems to be a determination to keep up at all events the communication to the fort by way of Whitemarsh and Wilmington Islands and the very numerous creeks running through McQueen’s marshes. I most respectfully propose to keep a small armed steam-boat there.
Your most obedient servant,
RUDOLPH ROSA,
Colonel, Comdg. Forty-sixth Regiment New York State Vols.
General Q. A. Gillmore, Commanding.

 

Again, Lt. Mercer was impressed with the work of the Georgian’s at Causton’s Bluff.

These Georgians of the 13th are rough fellows, but full of fight and reckless of life; after the taking of the fifteen Yankees volunteers were called for for Picket duty; the whole regiment volunteered. There is no disposition to avoid a fight among our troops; they covet one only too anxiously — sick and all turn out for it. – George A Mercer

By March 31, 1862 the battery at Causton’s Bluff had been re-fortified.  “There was ferry dock on the river below the fort [Fort Bartow, Causton’s Bluff], since troops crossed the river at this point. This may have been the point where the Confederate ironclads Atlanta and Savannah, and the steamer Ida tied up when they came to Causton’s Bluff.” Also at the bluff was the steamer Leesburg, kept at the disposition of the commanding officer.

Finally, on April 10, 1862 the anticipated Federal bombardment of Fort Pulaski commenced.  At Lawton Battery and Camp Tattnall, the Berrien Minute Men were about seven or eight miles from Pulaski, more than close enough for a front row view of the artillery barrage.  Witnessing the thunderous, up close barrage, did the Berrien Minute Men hark back to their time the previous fall on Sapelo Island, when atmospheric conditions caused them to hear the cannons bombarding Port Royal from a distance of 60 miles?  From one tenth the distance, how hellish the shelling of Pulaski must have seemed in comparison

Assistant Adjutant General  George A. Mercer observing the bombardment from Skidaway Island about six miles distant, reported the scene.

“The earth shakes with a tremendous cannonade. The bombardment of Fort Pulaski commenced early yesterday morning, and still continues with unabated fury. At half past nine oclock yesterday morning I roade over to Skidaway to witness the grand but terrible scene; I remained until after twelve; again in the afternoon I rode over and returned some time after dark. We were six miles off, but we could distinctly see the heavy columns of white smoke shooting up from the mortars on Tybee, and then see the immense shells bursting over the Fort. The enemy fired four and five times every minute, while the Fort replied slowly and coolly. The flag staff was shot away about noon. At the night the sight was grand. The tongue of flame was seen to leap from the mortars and then the flash of the bursting shell appeared just above the Fort.

During the bombardment all lines of direct communication were cut off with the Confederate garrison stationed  at Pulaski.  But Fort Pulaski was within line of sight of Causton’s Bluff. On the morning of Friday, April 11, the fort tried to get a message out; Commanding officer Colonel Charles H. Olmstead:

attempted to signalize to Causton’s Bluff…but such was the fire that no human being could stand on the ramparts for even a moment. Nearly a thousand shell, of the largest size, were thrown into the fort from the Federal batteries.” -Savannah Republican, April 12, 1862

After the fall of Fort Pulaski,  Savannah became more vulnerable to an approach to across Whitemarsh Island and St. Augustine Creek, and an assault on Causton’s Bluff.  Historian Craig Swain observed“St. Augustine Creek, which connects the Wilmington and Savannah Rivers… also lead back east to the waters behind Tybee Island, in close proximity to Fort Pulaski.” 

Soon the 29th Georgia Regiment would be sent to reinforce the 13th Regiment at Causton’s Bluff.

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Campfires of the Berrien Minute Men

Berrien Minute Men

Berrien County, Georgia sent forth in the Civil War two companies of men known as the Berrien Minute Men.

The first company, organized  in the summer of 1861 by Captain Levi J. Knight , was designated at various times as Captain Knight’s Company, Captain Wylly’s Company, Company A Berrien Minute Men,  (old) Company C 29th GA Regiment, (new) Company G 29th GA Regiment.

The second company, organized in the fall of 1861 was successively known as Company B Berrien Minute Men, Captain Lamb’s Company, Company D, and Company K 29th GA Regiment.

For the most part, both companies of Berrien Minute Men traveled with the 29th Georgia Regiment and kept the same campfires, although occasionally they had different stations.

1862 August 29 Capt Levi J. Knight, Jr stationed at Camp Anderson, but absent sick in Savannah

1862 Sept Regimental station at Camp Troup, but Major Lamb absent on temporary “detached service on Savannah River” 1862 October 20Major Lamb transfered from Savannah River Batteries apparently returning to station near Savannah

Company D, Berrien Minute Men at Camp Tattnall, near Savannah, GA; Receipt of supplies, Capt. J. C. Lamb

At Camp Spaulding, Sapelo Island, GA; Levi J. Knight, Jr. elected 2nd Lieutenant, Company C

Date…………………….. Event
1860 November 28 Muster Roll of Levi J. Knight’s Company, the Berrien Minute Men
1860 December 10 Organization of the Berrien Minute Men, Nashville, GA
1861 January 19 Georgia Ordinance of Secession passed ~ John C. Lamb, a signer
1861 May Grand Rally at Milltown for the Berrien Minute Men
1861 May 23 Berrien Minute Men in camp and drilling at Nashville, GA
1861 July Berrien Minute Men encamped with other companies at Brunswick, GA
1861 Summer Berrien Minute Men muster in at Savannah, GA
1861 July 30 Berrien Minute Men and other companies of the 13th Regiment arrive at Savannah, GA via the Albany & Gulf Railroad; Company C issued equipment received by Capt L.J. Knight
1861 August Berrien Minute Men, Company C, 29th GA Regt at Savannah, GA
1861 August 1 Levi J. Knight elected Captain of Company C
1861 August 19 Berrien Minute Men and other companies formally mustered in to the 13th Georgia Regiment, Colonel Cary W. Styles, Commanding
1861 August 20 Berrien Minute Men transported via Brunswick & Florida Railroad (South Georgia & Florida R.R.)  from station No. 9 at Tebeauville (now Waycross), GA some 60 miles to Brunswick, GA
1861 August 28, or abt Berrien Minute Men & 13th Regiment encamped “in the neighborhood of Brunswick”
1861 Fall A second company of Berrien Minute Men was organized – successively known as Company B Berrien Minute Men, Captain Lamb’s Company, Company D, and Company K 29th GA Regiment.
1861 October 2
1861 October 2 Levi J. Knight elected Major of the 29th GA Regiment
1861 October 5 Berrien Minute Men Company D arrived Savannah, GA, mustered in as Company D, 29th GA Regiment. This company was later known as Company K.
1861 October 6 Berrien Minute Men Companies C & D (G & K) embarked late evening aboard steamer at Savannah
1861 October 7 Both companies landed at Sapelo Island, GA
1861 October 11 Berrien Minute Men, Company C, 29th GA Regt at Sapelo Battery, GA
1861 October 12
1861 October 14 John C. Lamb elected captain of Berrien Minute Men “Company B” (Company D, later Company K)
1861 October 16 At post of Sapelo Island Battery, GA; 2nd Lt. Levi J. Knight arrived at this post
1861 October 22 At Camp Spaulding, Sapelo Island, GA
1861 Winter Captain Knight’s Berrien Minute Men company at battery on southern end of Blackbeard Island, GA
1861 Nov 6 Levi J. Knight,Sr takes commission as Major of the Regiment
1861 Nov 28 Col. Randolph Spalding with companies of the 29th GA regt at Camp Lawton near Savannah. It appears the Berrien Minute Men and two other companies remain near Darien, GA
1861 December 1 Near Darien, GA
1861 December 18 At Camp Security, GA
1862 January Darien, GA; Company C (later G) officer’s purchase of “subsistence stores…for their own use and the use of their families”
1862 January 22 At Masonboro Sound, six miles east of Wilmington, NC
1862 February 4 At Darien, GA; John Knight discharged with hepatitis
1862 February 17 At Darien, GA Company B (later D, then K); commutation of beef ration, Capt. J. C. Lamb
1862 February 20 Camp Wilson, GA; Company C & Company D, receipt of firewood by Major Levi J. Knight, Sr; Company D, receipt of fuel, Capt J. C. Lamb

Camp Tattnall, Company C, receipt of shoes, Capt T.S. Wylly

1862 February 21 Captain Wylly’s Company of Berrien Minute Men ordered from Camp Wilson on the night of the 21st to Fort Jackson to relieve the Savannah Republican Blues
1862 March 7 Company C – “the old Berrien Company” “Captain Wylly’s Company” on Smith’s Island (Battery Lawton) supporting Fort Jackson
1862 March Berrien Minute Men at Camp Tatnall, GA
1862 March 13 Camp Tatnall, GA; Company D,receipt of firewood, Capt. Lamb
1862 March 15 Company D,Camp Tatnall, GA; receipt of coffin, Capt. Lamb
1862 March 18 Camp Tatnall, GA
1862 March 20 Camp Tatnall, GA
1862 March 24 Camp Tatnall, GA, Company D; receipt of lumber and shoes, Capt J.C. Lamb
1862 March 26 Camp Tatnall, GA; Company D, receipt of coffin, Capt J. C. Lamb
1862 April 1 At Camp Tatnall, GA; receipt of coffin, firewood, Maj. Lamb; forage
1862 April 17 At Camp Tatnall, GA
1862 April 18 At Causton’s Bluff, GA
1862 April 23 At Causton’s Bluff, GA; Company D,receipt of supplies,Capt J. C. Lamb.  “Captain Lamb’s Company has moved from Camp Tatnall to a place on the river below fort Jackson and about one mile and a half from our camps [Camps of the 50th Georgia Regiment] -Ezekiel Parrish, letter of April 23, 1862
1862 May Company C at Battery Lawton, Smiths Island
Company D at Causton’s Bluff near Savannah, GA, receipt of supplies, Capt Lamb
1862 May 1 At Causton’s Bluff, GA; receipt of coffin, firewood, Maj. Lamb; forage
1862 May 7 Company C – Levi J. Knight,Jr. elected Captain
– Barzilla Knight elected 2nd Lieutenant
 Company D -Jonathan D. Knight, elected Lieutenant
1862 May Company C & Capt Levi J. Knight, Jr. at Smith’s Island
1862 May 8 29th regiment at Causton’s Bluff, GA; regiment on picket duty on Oatland and Whitemarsh islands
1862 May 10 Company D (later K) at Camp Debtford Major Levi J. Knight resigns; John C. Lamb elected major of the Regiment;Major Lamb reported for duty at Advanced Batteries, Savannah River, Ga, in place of Major Knight resigned, not willing to be re-elected.
1862 May At Camp Debtford Thomas S. Wylly elected captain of the Berrien Minute Men
Col. W. J. Young at Causton’s Bluff
1862 May 17 at Causton’s Bluff; Receipt of supplies by Capt J. D. Knight
1862 May 19 Major Lamb absent at “Detached service on duty on Savannah River near Fort Jackson since 19th May, 1862 by verbal order Gen. W. D. Smith”
1862 May 22 at Causton’s Bluff; Wiley E. Baxter elected 2nd Lieut. Co. K; Receipt of supplies by Capt J. D. Knight; receipt of supplies, Maj.
1862 May 26 at Causton’s Bluff; receipt of supplies, Maj. J. C. Lamb
1862 June Major Lamb in command Camp Mackey, Advanced Savannah River Batteries; Captain Levi J. Knight, Jr in command of  Company C at Lawton Battery, Smith’s Island; Col.W.J. Young at Causton’s Bluff
1862 June 1 Company D (later K) At Causton’s Bluff, near Savannah, GA; Receipt of fuel by Capt J. D. Knight
1862 June 2 Company D (later K) at Causton’s Bluff, near Savannah, GA (at this time Causton’s Bluff is an open battery)
1862 June Company D (later K)  Berrien Minute Men at Camp Mackey, near Savannah, GA
1862 June 12 Company D (later K) At Causton’s Bluff, near Savannah, GA
1862 June 19 Company D (later K) At Causton’s Bluff, near Savannah, GA
1862 June 26 Company D (later K) At Causton’s Bluff, near Savannah, GA
1862 June 27 Company D (later K) At Causton’s Bluff, near Savannah, GA
1862 July Company D (later K) At Causton’s Bluff, near Savannah, GA; Receipt of fuel by Capt J. D. Knight; Col. W. J. Young present
1862 July 5 At Causton’s Bluff, near Savannah, GA
1862 July Major Lamb stationed at Camp Troup, but absent on temporary “detached service on Savannah River” ; Captain Levi J. Knight, Jr. at Camp Debtford
1862 July Examination of Officers acting since election of May 7, 1862
1862 July 17 at Causton’s Bluff; receipt of picket tents by Capt J. D. Knight
1862 July 19 at Causton’s Bluff; receipt of supplies by Maj. L. J. Knight
1862 July 27 Picket duty on Whitemarsh Island below Causton’s Bluff and at Capers? Battery
1862 July 30 At Causton’s Bluff, near Savannah, GA; receipt of coffin by Capt J. D. Knight
1862 August Regimental station at Camp Troup, but Major Lamb absent on temporary “detached service on Savannah River” GA
1862 August 27 At Causton’s Bluff, near Savannah, GA
1862 September 2 At a camp two miles from Savannah, GA on Thunderbolt shell road.
1862 September 5 At Causton’s Bluff; receipt of wall tent by Capt. J. D. Knight
1862 September 11 At a camp near Savannah, GA
1862 September 13 At Camp Troupe
1862 September At Causton’s Bluff; receipt of coffin by Capt J. D. Knight
1862 September 25 General Mercer reports seven companies 29th Georgia Regiment at Causton’s Bluff, along with Eight companies 25th Georgia Regiment and three unattached companies (apparently including Company F, 1st Georgia Reserves)
1862 October Company C (later G)  & Captain Levi J. Knight, Jr at Lawton Battery, Smith’s Island
1862 October 1 Pickets of Berrien Minute Men Company D, 29th Georgia Regiment fire on a Federal boat approaching Proctor’s Point.
1862 October 3 Causton’s Bluff, receipt of supplies, Maj. J. C. Lamb
1862 October 4 Company D (later K) In route by train from Savannah to Grooverville, Brooks County; marched to Monticello, FL
1862 October 5 Company D (later K) In route by train from Monticello to Lake City, FL
1862 October 6 Company D (later K) In route by train from Lake City to Camp near Baldwin, FL
1862 October 7 Company D (later K) Picket duty near Baldwin, FL
1862 October 10 Company D (later K) At Camp Finnegan FL; receipt of supplies by Capt J. D. Knight
1862 October 21 Company D (later K) Return from Jacksonville, FL
1862 October 22 At midnight the 29th and 30th Regiment to start by train for Pocotaglio to support Col. Walkers position
1862 October 25 Berrien Minute Men at “a camp near Savannah, GA”
1862 November Company C (later G) & Captain Levi J. Knight, Jr present at Smith’s Island, but “in arrest”
Col W J Young at Camp Young
1862 November 1 Company D (later K) at Causton’s Bluff; receipt of fuel by Capt J. D. Knight; receipt of forage, Maj J. C. Lamb
1862 November Major Lamb Stationed at Camp Young three miles from Savannah
1862 November 9 At a camp near Savannah, GA
1862 November 14 Camp Young, Near Savannah, GA; Receipt of supplies by Capt J. D. Knight
1862 November 14 Causton’s Bluff, receipt of hospital tent by Maj. J. C. Lamb
1862 November 21 Camp Young, Near Savannah, GA; receipt of tents by Capt J. D Knight
1862 November 25 Near Savannah, GA
1862 November 28 Savannah River Batteries
1862 December 1 Camp Young,receipt of forage, Major Young
1862 December 14 Embarked by train to Wilmington, NC
1862 December 16 Company D in Battle of Nashville
1862 December 18 Capt Levi J. Knight, Jr. present at Lawton Battery, but suspended from rank & commission by order Genl Beauregard
1862 December 20 At Kingsville, NC
1862 December ? Col W J Young & Major Lamb present at station Camp Clingman
1862 December 31 Returned by train to Savannah, GA
1862 December 31 Elbert J. Chapman, “Old Yaller” AWOL
1863 January Camp Young, GA; receipt of fuel, Major Lamb
1863 January 1 Camp Young, GA; receipt of forage, Company D; receipt of forage, Major Lamb
1863 January 3 Berrien Minute Men returned to Camp Young, near Savannah, GA
1863 January 7 at Camp Young; receipt of supplies by Capt J. D. Knight
1863 January 7 In route to Wilmington, NC
1863 January 12 At Wilmington, NC; receipt of salt by Capt J. D. Knight
1863 January 15 at Camp Holmes; Receipt of supplies by Capt J. D. Knight
1863 January 21 On station at Wilmington, NC
1863 January 22 Receipt of supplies by Capt J. D. Knight at Camp Holmes
1863 January 31 Receipt of supplies by Capt J. D. Knight at Camp Holmes
1863 February On station at Wilmington, NC
1863 Feb 11 Camp Young, near Savannah, GA; receipt of forage, Major Lamb
1863 Feb 12 Camp Young, near Savannah, GA; receipt of stationary by Capt J. D. Knight
1863 February 20 At General Review of Infantry and Cavalry at Savannah, GA
1863 Feb 24 At Camp Young, near Savannah, GA; receipt of stationary supplies, Major Lamb
1863 Feb 25 At Camp Young, near Savannah, GA
1863 March 3 At Genesis Point [later named Fort McAllister], Near Savannah, GA
1863 March 6 At Camp Young, near Savannah, GA
1863 March At Camp Young, receipt of forage, Major Lamb
1863 March 12 Reward offered for deserters from Camp Young, near Savannah, GA
1863 March 13 At Camp Young, near Savannah, GA
1863 March 14 Inspection of 29th GA Regiment at Camp Young, near Savannah, GA
1863 March 17 At Camp Young, near Savannah, GA
1863 March 19 At Camp Young, near Savannah, GA
1863 March 27 At Camp Young, near Savannah, GA
1863 April 1 At Camp Young, near Savannah, GA; Receipt of fuel by Capt J. D. Knight; Receipt for supplies, Major Lamb
1863 April 2 At Camp Young, near Savannah, GA
1863 April 9 Berrien Minute Men & brigade dispatched to Charleston
1863 April 19 Returned to Savannah, GA
1863 April 27 Dispatched to Pocotaligo, SC
1863 April 29 at Coosawhatchie, SC; receipt of supplies by Captain J. D. Knight
1863 May 4 Returned to Savannah, GA
1863 May Berrien Minute Men and the 29th GA Regt departed Savannah for Jackson, MS
1863 May 1 At Vaughan Station, MS about 32 miles east of Yazoo City and 1 mile west of Big Black River ; receipt of forage, Company D; Receipt of forage for private horses, Major Lamb
1863 May 12 At McDowell’s Landing, MS
1863 May 13 Arrived at Meridian, MS
1863 May 14 In route by train toward Jackson, MS
1863 May 15 At Forest City, MS
1863 May 17 “fought all day…the battle was awful
1863 May 28 At Deaconsville, MS about 20 miles east of Yazoo City, “six miles west of Vanus Station”; Deserter Elbert J. Chapman captured
1863 May 29 Departed Camp near Deaconsville, MS;
1863 May 30 On the march
1863 June 3 Camp near Yazoo City, MS
1863 June 4 moved to Camp three miles south of Yazoo City, MS
1863 June 5 Camp near Yazoo City, MS (three miles south)
1863 June 18 At Vernon City, MS
1863 June 24 Camp near Vernon, MS; Captain J.D. Knight receives supplies
1863 July 2 At a camp in the field, 25 miles from Vicksburg, MS
1863 July 5 At Big Black River, MS
1863 July 6 Withdrawn from Big Black River, MS
1863 July 7 Marching in retreat toward Jackson, MS
1863 July 8 Arrived at Jackson, MS
1863 July 9 A day of rest
1863 July 10 Ordered to the line of battle near Jackson, MS
1863 July 11 Supporting artillery batteries
1863 July 12 Supporting artillery batteries on the left of Walker’s Division
1863 July 13 Supporting artillery batteries on the left of Walker’s Division;
1863 July 13 Major Lamb killed in retreat from Vicksburg, MS;
1863 July 13 Retreated to a position “across railroad bank”; supporting artillery
1863 July 14 Supporting artillery at railroad bank near Jackson, MS
1863 July 15 Supporting artillery at railroad bank near Jackson, MS
1863 July 16 Supporting artillery at railroad bank near Jackson, MS
1863 July 17 Retreating from Jackson, MS
1863 July 19 At a camp in the field; receipt of clothes; receipt by Capt J. D. Knight of equipment replacements for articles lost in retreat from Jackson
1863 July 20 At a camp in the field near Forest City, MS
1863 July 21 Deserter Elbert J. Chapman executed
1863 July 22 At Scott County, MS
1863 July 23 Camp near Forrest City, Scott County MS;
1863 August 10 Camp near Morton, MS; “Camp in Field” Expense Voucher of Capt J, D. Knight
1863 August 21 Receipt of supplies at Morton MS
1863 August 23 Embarked train in MS bound for Atlanta
1863 September 5 Company K (formerly D) at camp in the field; receipt of shoes, William W. Knight, 2nd Sgt commanding
1863 September 7 Duty at Battery Cheves
1863 September 15 James Island, SC; Magazine explosion kills Seaborn J. Lastinger
1863 September 19 In battle at Chickamauga; Col.Young lost right arm & resigned.
1863 October 18 Camp Near Chattanooga, TN
1863 October 22 Camp Near Chattanooga, TN
1863 October 31 Company K (formerly D)In the field; receipt of clothing “the men being in a destitute condition” Sgt William W. Knight commanding
1863 November 24 Near Missionary Ridge
1863 November 25 Near Missionary Ridge
1863 December 6 Company K (formerly D) Dalton, GA; receipt of clothing, on account of “the destitution of the men,” 2nd Sgt William Washington Knight, commanding
1863 December 31 Dalton, GA; Capt J. D. Knight purchased new uniform
1864 January In winter quarters at camp near Dalton, GA
1864 January 12 Dalton, GA; Capt J. D. Knight purchased new shoes
1864 February 29 near Dalton, GA
1864 March 12 Dalton, GA
1864 March 30 near Dalton, GA
1864 April 30 provost duty inDalton, GA
1864 May Retreating from Dalton, GA
1864, May 11 In battle at Resaca, GA
1864 May 16 Camp near Calhoon, GA
1864, May 17 In battle at Adairsville, GA
1864 May 18 Camp in the field near Cassville, GA
1864 May 21 Camp in the field near Etowah Iron Works.
1864 May 29 Forsyth, GA
1864 June 1 Camp near Dallas, GA
1864 June 5 Camp in the field near Acworth, GA
1864 June 15 In line of battle; near Pine Mountain, GA
1864 June 16 In line of battle near Marietta, GA
1864 June 17 Camp near Marietta, GA
1864 June 19 In line of battle near Marietta, GA
1864 June 20 In line of battle near Marietta, GA
1864 June 21 In line of battle near Marietta, GA
1864 June 21 In line of battle near Marietta, GA
1864, June 23 Battlefield near Marietta, GA
1864 June 24 Battlefield near Marietta, GA
1864 June 26 Supporting General Hindman’s Division
1864 June 27 At Kennesaw Mountain, GA
1864 June 28 Camp near Marietta, GA
1864 July 2 In line of battle near Marietta, GA
1864 July 3 In line of battle near Marietta, GA
1864 July 4 In line of battle, four miles below Marietta
1864 July 5 Withdrawn to works near Chattahoochee River, GA
1864 July 7 Battlefield near Chattahoochee River, GA
1864 July 9 Fell back to pickets south of Chattahoochee River
1864 July 11 Camp in the field, near Atlanta, GA
1864 July 19 In Line of battle near Chattahoochee River
1864 July 20 In line of battle at Battle of Peachtree Creek
1864 July 21 In line of battle near Atlanta
1864 July 22 At the Battle of Atlanta; near Decatur, GA
1864 July 29 Camp near Atlanta, GA
1864 August 7 Near Atlanta, GA; “fought the Yankees”
1864 August 8 Camp in the field near Atlanta, GA
1864 August 12 Camp in the field near Atlanta, GA
1864 August 26 Camp in the field near Atlanta, GA
1864 August 31 Battle of Jonesboro, GA
1864 September 2 Lovejoy Station, GA
1864 October 19 Skirmish at Little River, AL
1864 November 29 Springhill, TN
1864 November 30 Franklin, TN
1864 December 4 Overall’s Creek, TN
1864 December 7 In battle at Murphreesboro
1864 December 16 In battle at Nashville, TN; 29th regiment surrounded and captured

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Reward Offered for Confederate Deserters

The first commercial activity at Ray City arose during the Civil War when Levi J. Knight and his son-in-law Thomas M. Ray constructed  a millpond and grist mill on Beaverdam Creek in Berrien County, GA. Captain Levi J. Knight, an old Indian fighter, raised the first company of Confederate soldiers to go forth from Berrien County, the Berrien Minute Men.

After enlisting at Nashville, GA in 1861 the Berrien Minute Men mustered in near Savannah, GA as a company of the 29th Georgia Infantry Regiment.  Following this organization, Captain Knight resigned and the company came under the command of John C. Lamb.   In the first months after mustering in, the regiment trained and served picket duty on the Georgia coast.  The campfires of the Berrien Minute Men were made   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.

At times the conditions in the Confederate camps of Chatham county were nearly intolerable. The weather was cold in the winter and hot and muggy in the summer.  Men were apt to become irritable. One soldier of the 29th Georgia Regiment killed another over a game of marbles. Some men were bored with picket duty. Some were frustrated and longed for action. Others just longed to go home to their farms and families. At Camp Young the harsh realities of Army life in the field would test the commitment of volunteer soldiers in the 29th Georgia Regiment.

The likely location of Camp Young was on Wylly Island about eight miles southeast of Savannah , on a tract of 110 acres which had been acquired  by Judge  Levi Sheftall D’Lyon at some time prior to 1860.  Judge D’Lyon was a prominent citizen and city court judge of Savannah. He was also the father of Isaac Mordecai DeLyon and Leonorean DeLyon, who edited and published the South Georgia Watchman newspaper at Troupville, GA and later at Valdosta, GA.  Lenorean DeLyon is credited with giving Valdosta its name.    Judge D’Lyon himself was an enigma. He took great interest in supporting the Chatham Dispensary, “a free medical clinic and pharmacy for the poor.” He devoted much of his professional legal career to assisting free African-Americans in acquiring their own property, but he also profited from the business of buying and selling slaves.  In 1859 he called for a “vigilance committee for the better preservation of Southern Rights.” In 1861 he was acting as guardian for 48 “free persons of color” in Savannah, while at the same time working to establish a district court system in the new Confederate States of America.  In his will D’Lyon directed that five of his slaves be freed, but another 21 were sold in 1863 to liquidate his estate.

Wylly Island is a river island formed by a bifurcation of the Herb River.  According to a Civil War map of the defenses of Savannah,  Wylly Island was between Thunderbolt Battery, a Confederate artillery emplacement on St. Augustine Creek, and  Battery Daniels at Parkersburg on the Skidaway River.  Battery Daniels had several supporting batteries on the Herb River and Grimball’s Creek.

There is no remaining trace of these Confederate locations or of Camp Young. Some descriptions of Camp Young are found in the Civil War letters of William Washington Knight, son of Levi J. Knight.

At first, the Berrien Minute Men found fresh food was in short supply at Camp Young. Soldiers supplemented their camp diet either with food purchased in Savannah with their own money, or had food sent from home. William W. Knight’s  letter of January 4, 1863 written from Camp Young and addressed to his wife, Mary,  mentioned that fellow soldier J. P. Ponder had delivered a box of potatoes sent by her father. Knight wrote of being deployed without rations and of spoiled provisions – “blue beef that will stick to your hands equal to adhesive plaster.”  He asked her to send more potatoes, and pork if the weather was cold enough. Knight remarked on the high prices being gotten in Savannah for peanuts, corn, and bacon, and the shortage of bread. He also requested Mary send his mattress bed cover, iron shoe heels, “vial oil”, and carpet bag.

Deadly infectious diseases of all kinds were rampant in the crowded Confederate camps. The river delta land was low lying and prone to malaria. On February 28, 1862 Knight wrote, “We have a good many sick now with cold or pneumonia. Nineteen of our company on the sick list  this morning…” In early March, Knight himself was incapacitated by fever.

By mid-March soldiers’ letters home indicated that the supply of food at Camp Young was much improved.  But by the end of March Knight wrote of worsening weather conditions; “It is the worst time we have had this winter. The wind and rain from the North East. There is very little timber in that direct. It has all been cut down in front of the Batteries for over a mile.”

At Camp Young, the 29th Georgia Regiment  became part of a Brigade which also included the 25th and 30th Georgia Regiments, First Battalion Georgia Sharpshooters, and 4th Louisiana Battalion. In a Brief History of the Thirtieth Georgia Regiment, August Pitt Adamson, 1st Sergeant, Company E wrote about Camp Young:

Camp life at Savannah was far from being dull and was not at all monotonous.  Many little incident of a humorous nature occurred.  Sports of various kinds were engaged in, which were shared by both officers and men. Occasionally some of the boys would “run the blockade,” as it was called, and go to Savannah without leave, thus running the risk of being put upon double duty, or digging stumps, which were the usual punishments inflicted. One man of Company E [30th Regiment] could so well imitate the signature of the commanding officer, that he frequently gave himself and others leave to go to the city.  In such cases they always returned in time for drill, and but few knew of it. On one occasion at night, soon after we went to Savannah, a false alarm was given, the men were hastily aroused and called into line with their old flintlock guns; much confusion followed; some could not find their companies, some ran over stumps and against each other, and two or three of Company B fell into and old well, which was, however, very shallow, but they yelled loudly for help.  It was soon found to be a false alarm, gotten up by some of the officers to try the men and have some fun. We were provided good tents and, for the most part comfortably cared for, with plenty to eat, but some of the boys wanted a change of diet, and, discovering a flock of goats belonging to Judge De Lyon, a wealthy old gentleman who had a farm near the camps, the result was nearly all the goats disappeared, leaving the owner quite angry.  The boys would say the goats tried to run over them, and they had to act in self-defense.

While at Camp Young, William Knight reported the Berrien Minute Men  spent a great deal of the time in drill. They drilled in Company formation and as a Battalion and Brigade. When they weren’t drilling or on dress parade, they attended “Regimental School.” When they could get leave they went into Savannah to get personal provisions or to be entertained. When they couldn’t get leave some went absent without leave;  John W. Hagan wrote from Camp Young on March 19,  “I cannot get a pass to visit Savannah, and when I go I have to run the blockade and risk getting caught, but I will manage to slip the block.”

This is not to say the Berrien Minute Men and the 29th GA Regiment were idle.  Like the 30th Georgia Regiment and other units in their Brigade, they probably were engaged in the construction of fortifications, mounting artillery, and placing obstructions in the river channels.  They were certainly conducting picket duty, patrolling the islands below Savannah on the lookout for Federal scouts who might be probing the line of Confederate defenses around the city.  They made brief excursions by train into Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina to strengthen coastal defenses where Union forces threatened to attack.

The 29th Regiment remained at Camp Young through April; by May 12, 1863 they had rolled out to Jackson, MS in preparation for the Battle of Vicksburg. But before that departure, while stationed at Camp Young, twenty men of the 29th Georgia deserted the regiment. From the weeks and months the Special Order 15 was advertised, one can judge these were not men who just sneaked off to Savannah,  but were long gone.  Four of the deserters were from Company K, the Berrien Minute Men, including Elbert J. Chapman, Albert Douglas, Benjamin S. Garrett, and J. P. Ponder.

A reward of $30 was offered for each man  apprehended, $600 for the bunch.

Reward offered for capture of deserters from the 29th Georgia Regiment, Confederate States Army, including four deserters from the Berrien Minute Men, Company K. Advertised in the Savannah Republican newspaper.

Reward offered for capture of deserters from the 29th Georgia Regiment, Confederate States Army, including four deserters from the Berrien Minute Men, Company K. Advertised in the Savannah Republican newspaper.

$600 REWARD.
Headq’rs 29th Reg’t GA. Vols.,
Camp Young, near Savannah, March 12, 1863.
SPECIAL ORDERS,
No. 15.
Deserted from this Regiment at Camp near Savannah, the following named enlisted men:

      Private FREEMAN BRIDGES, Co. B, is 22 years of age, 5 feet 7 1/2 inches high, has dark complexion, black eyes and dark hair.   Enlisted in Franklin county, Ga.
      Private DAVID CLAY, Co. C, 28 years of age, 5 feet 6 inches high, has dark complexion, dark eyes, dark hair.  Enlisted in Thomas County, Ga.
Private JOSEPH W. SINGLETARY, Co. C., 38 years of age, 5 feet 10 inches high, sallow complexion, blue eyes, dark  hair. Enlisted at Thomas county, Ga.
Private PATRICK FITZGERALD, Co. E, 46 years of age, 5 feet 11 inches high, fair complexion, blue eyes and light hair.  Enlisted at Savannah, Ga.
Private EDWARD ROTCHFORD, Co. E, 45 years of age, 5 feet 9 inches high, fair complexion, blue eyes and light hair. Enlisted at Savannah, Ga.
Private JOHN MULLER, Co. E, 26 years of age, 5 feet 6 inches high, dark hair, dark complexion and dark eyes. Enlisted at Savannah, Ga.
Private DAVID WILLIAMS, Co, E, 40 years of age, 5 feet high, brown eyes, light brown hair, and reddish complexion. Enlisted at Savannah, Ga.

     Private S. A. HALL, Co. F. 20 years of age, 5 feet 8 inches high, dark complexion, blue eyes, and light hair.  Enlisted at Thomasville, Ga.
     Private WM. HARVEY, Co. F, 45 years of age, 5 feet 8 inches high, light complexion, blue eyes, gray hair. Enlisted at Savannah, Ga.
     SYRE CHRISTIAN, Co. F, 40 years of age, 5 feet 10 inches high, light complexion, blue eyes, light hair.  Enlisted at Savannah, Ga.
     JAMES M. TOHEL, Co. F, 85 years of age 5 feet 9 inches high, dark complexion, blue eyes, dark hair. Enlisted at Savannah, Ga.
     Private C. R. OLIVER, Co. H, 29 years of age, 5 feet 8 inches high, light complexion, blue eyes, dark hair.  Enlisted at Stockton, Ga.
      Private J. R. JACOBS, Co. H. 22 years of age, 5 feet 6 inches high, dark complexion, dark eyes, dark hair.  Enlisted at Stockton, Ga.
      Private F. F. F. GRIFFIN, Co. I, 40 years of age, 5 feet 10 1/2 inches high, dark complexion, black eyes, and dark hair.  Enlisted in Thomas County, Ga.
     Private N. P. GANDY, Co. I, 30 years of age, 5 feet 6 1/2 inches high, dark complexion, blue eyes, and light hair.  Enlisted in Thomas County, Ga.
     Private WM. BARWICK, Co. I, 38 years of age, 5 feet 8 inches high, light complexion, grey eyes.  Enlisted in Thomas County.
     Private ELBERT J. CHAPMAN, Co. K, 31 years of age, 5 feet 7 inches high, dark complexion, blue eyes, sandy hair.  Enlisted in Berrien county.
     Private ALBERT DOUGLAS, Co. K, 32 years of age, 6 feet high, fair complexion, grey eyes, auburn hair.  Enlisted in Berrien county.
     Private BENJAMIN S. GARRETT, Co. K, 25 years of age, 5 feet 10 inches high, fair complexion, blue eyes, black hair.  Enlisted in Berrien county.
     Private J. P. PONDER, Co. K, 31 years of age, 5 feet 7 inches high, sallow complexion, blue eyes, and sandy hair.  Enlisted at Savannah.

A reward of thirty dollars is offered for the apprehension of either of the above named men, delivered at these headquarters or confined in a safe jail.
By order of W. J. Young,
Col.Comd’g 29th Reg’t Ga. Vols.
Geo. P. McRee, AdjL

After deserting from the 29th Georgia Regiment:

  • Elbert J. Chapman fled to the west where he joined another unit and fought with determination. He was later charged with desertion from the 29th Georgia Regiment, court-martialed and executed by firing squad.  After the war, a pension for his indigent wife was denied.
  • Benjamin S. Garrett was later shot for being a spy.
  • Albert Douglas left the Berrien Minute Men “absent without leave” in December 1862 and was marked “deserted.”  There is no record that he ever returned to his unit.  In fact, there is no further record of him at all. He was not enumerated in the household of his wife and child in 1870, and in subsequent census records she is identified as a widow. There is no record she ever applied for a Confederate Widow’s Pension.  Although there is no record of his death or burial, it is presumed that Albert Douglas died while absent without leave.
  • J. P. Ponder left little historical record, other than the military muster rolls which document his enlistment and desertion. Even his name is confused, alternately given as Ponder or Powder  Both variations are listed in his Confederate military service records. The letters of William W. Knight indicate Ponder traveled back to Berrien county and returned to Camp Young in February 1863, and that Ponder was back in Berrien in March. In any case, it does not appear the man ever returned to the 29th Georgia Regiment.

Other Berrien County soldiers, such as N. M. McNabb who served with Company D, 12th Georgia Regiment, would be pressed into service to hunt fugitive deserters. According to a sworn statement by Mr. McNabb, “late in the year, perhaps September 1864, the Georgia Militia were  at Griffin, Ga Ordered by the Governor to stack arms and return home until further orders, which we did. After getting home, the Enrolling Officers here at home pressed us in to aid them in hunting Deserters.”

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