16th GA Infantry – A Brief Regimental History

Welcome! If you have arrived here, you are probably looking for information about your ancestor’s Civil War service. If you have been looking for very long, you have probably already discovered that there is very little compiled information available.

My connection to the 16th Georgia is through my husband. His gg grandfather, Pvt. William Walker Fitts, served in Company D “Danielsville Guard” and was killed at the Bloody Angle at the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse. When I attempted to gather information on my husbands ancestor, I realized that the resources are few.

Basic Regimental Information:

On December 8, 1860, Howell Cobb wrote to President James Buchanan resigning his position as US Secretary of the Treasury to return to Georgia: “If, as I believe, history will have to record yours as the last administration of our present Union, it will also place it side by side with the purest and ablest of those that precede it.”

Just over a month later, on January 19, 1861, the Georgia Secession Act passed by a vote of 208 to 89, due largely to the influence of Howell Cobb and his brother, Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb. On February 4, 1861, Howell Cobb was elected President of the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States at Montgomery AL and, at 1pm on February 18, 1861, he administered the oath of office to Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens at the State Capitol in Montgomery AL.

By June 26, 1861, the Southern Banner reported, “Hon. Howell Cobb has also been to Virginia for the purpose of making arrangements to raise a regiment. We learn that he has been commissioned and will be here very soon to perfect the organization. His clarion voice will soon be heard in the mountains of the Old Sixth (Congressional District), where ‘One blast from his bugle-horn, Is worth a thousand men.’” And certainly, it was. The ten companies were quickly filled and the 880 men were encamped in Richmond by August 11, 1861.

Today, the history of the gallant regiment organized by Howell Cobb is largely forgotten. I hope to share some of the information I have gathered in this blog.

Brief Regimental History

During the early summer of 1861, the ten companies of the 16th Regiment Georgia Volunteer Infantry (sometimes referenced as the Sallie Twiggs Regiment) were organized for service in Howell Cobb’s regiment. The companies were raised in the counties of Madison, Jackson, Gwinnett, Hart, Habersham, Columbia, and Walton, (although there were members from other counties and even a few from other states.)

The newly enlisted recruits boarded “the cars” at Athens and traveled to Richmond, Virginia in June and July. By August 11, 1861, all ten companies were encamped at Richmond. There they were assigned to the command of General Howell Cobb, and remained until Oct 18, 1861 when they were ordered to Yorktown. The Regiment fought with Magruder at Dam No. 1 and in the Seven Days battles around Richmond.

Assigned to McLaws Division of the Army of Northern Virginia, the 16th Georgia traveled into Maryland. At Crampton’s Gap (on South Mountain, near Burkittsville, MD,) the 16th Georgia would face its greatest challenge up to that point. Just three days after being badly overrun at Crampton’s Gap, the remnants of the Regiment took part in the Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam.)

From there, it seems the 16th Georgia found itself in all the worst places. At Fredericksburg, they would lose their beloved General TRR Cobb at the stone wall. They were engaged again at Chancellorsville and, at Gettysburg, they battled in the  Peach Orchard and the Wheatfield. The 16th Georgia served mostly in the east, but also traveled with Longstreet to serve in the west at Chattanooga and in East TN. At Fort Sanders in Knoxville, bad weather, poor reconnaissance, and impenetrable earthworks resulted in devastating losses.

Returning to Virginia, the Regiment arrived in time to take part in the Battle of the Wilderness, and a few days later, at Spotsylvania, the 16th was called upon to fill a hole in the line at the Bloody Angle. From there, they march to North Anna and Cold Harbor where they were engaged yet again. They were part of the Confederate defense at the Siege of Petersburg and later, were part of Early’s operations in the Shenandoah Valley at Front Royal/Guard Hill and Cedar Creek, among others. They returned to the Army of Northern Virginia in the defenses around Richmond and, took part in the final battles of Sailor’s Creek and Appomattox Court House.

In April of 1862, the 16th Georgia regiment reported a force of 488 effectives. It lost 13 killed, 2 mortally wounded, and at least 52 wounded at Malvern Hill. In the Maryland campaign, the regiment lost at least 130 men killed, wounded, and captured.  The regiment sustained 77 casualties at Fredericksburg and 133 at Chancellorsville. It is estimated by some that the casualties sustained by the 16th Georgia in the Peach Orchard and the Wheatfield at Gettysburg may have been as high as 39% (121 of the 303 effectives.) The 16th lost at least 79 killed, wounded, and captured in the failed assault on Fort Sanders at Knoxville and 81 at the Wilderness and Spotsylvania. In the Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1864, the regiment sustained the loss of another 112 casualties (82 at Guard Hill and 30 at Cedar Creek.) At Cold Harbor, at least 40 men were killed, wounded and captured. Many were captured at Sailor’s Creek, including Brigadier General Dudley Dubose and Division Commander Maj Gen Joseph B Kershaw.  The 16th Georgia surrendered 2 officers and 56 men at Appomattox Courthouse under the command of 21 year old 1st Lieutenant William Washington Montgomery (Company E), who was the highest ranking officer present.

Up Next – The Captains and their Companies

18 thoughts on “16th GA Infantry – A Brief Regimental History

  1. I don’t see any information on H.J.Cox on any of these pages. I’ve seen many of his records. I’ll add some information on him soon. H.J.Cox full name was Hiram James Adolphus Washington Bushrod Cox but all his records show his signature as H.J.mostly. He was promoted in rank after certain battles. He’s buried supposedly at House Cemetery,Barrow Co Ga. No marker. My goal is to apply for his marker.

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  2. H.J.Cox’s grave has been located at House Cemetery. Barrow Co. Georgia. His memorial is on findagrave. He was in the Civil War for the entirety. He deserves some recognition and to be acknowledged by 16 th Ga Infantry. Long overdue. Sincerely,Tania Thompson

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    • Hi Tania. Thanks for your comment. According to the carded records available from the National Archives, Hiram J (H J) Cox was enlisted into Company B 16th Georgia Infantry at Centre Hill Jackson County Ga. Each of the 10 companies originally had about 100 men each so there were originally 1000+ members of the regiment. Many more enlisted later and conscripts were added so the total number of men who served in the regiment throughout the war was probably well over 1200 +/-.

      Company B was named the Centre Hill Guards and its first Captain was Abner Monroe Reynolds. They traveled to Richmond July 17-23 and Cox received reimbursement for Commutation of Rations during the journey. He was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant March 27, 1862. He was “wounded slightly in the foot” at the battle of Fredericksburg. The 16th Georgia participated in two distinct engagements at Fredericksburg – on Dec 11, 1862 in the town and Dec 13, 1862 behind the stone wall beneath Marye’s Heights. Lt Cox was listed in an article in the Athens Southern Banner, Dec 24, 1862 page 2 among those wounded on December 11th as wounded by “contusion of shell in heel.”

      His capture actually occurred at Front Royal Virginia on August 16, 1864 during the Battle of Guard Hill. It was a nasty affair where Wofford’s brigade (of which the 16th Georgia was part) was sent across Crooked Run to try and flank the enemy. They were intercepted and engaged by Custer’s Cavalry. Custer’s Cavalry was armed with Spencer repeaters and it was a mess. Many men of Wofford’s brigade were killed in the engagement. The 16th Georgia lost 7 killed; 17 wounded; and 55 men taken prisoner – including a number of Company Officers such as Lt Cox. General Wofford was nearly captured in the melee that ensued.

      After his capture, Lt Cox and the other Confederate prisoners were sent by General Sheridan to Washington DC Aug 20, 1864. Lt Cox was confined at Old Capital Prison in Washington DC Aug 21, 1864 and then transferred to Fort Delaware August 27, 1864 where he remained for about 10 months until he was released on “Oath of Allegiance.” His name appears as a signature (H. J. Cox 1st Lt 16th Regt Ga) to the Oath of Allegiance to the United States, subscribed at Fort Delaware
      Place of residence: Jackson Ga.
      Complexion: Dk
      Hair Dk
      Eyes: Blue
      Height: 5 ft 11 in
      Remarks: Released June 17, 1865

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  3. Thank you so much!!! Deeply grateful for the great information and histor!!!. Barrow Co Ga was and still is a tiny town basically. He was forgotten by that region but I’ve been slowly but surely persistent he’s not forgotten. Long journey.

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  4. I thank you so very much for this information. My husband’s great grandfather was Capt. Henry C Nash in CO A. I am trying to find out more on him. As I sat here reading about his CO we are having a storm and the thunder sounds like the battle is getting closer. I can almost see the battles as you go through each one. I have loved learning about the Civil War for many years, as my great grandfather also served in CO H 38th from Elbert Co. I have been to several of these battle fields so I can see this in my minds eye. Now to find where Capt. Henry is buried so we can pay our respect and to let him know he is not forgotten.

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    • Oh wow! Hi Linda. So nice to hear from you. I have read so much about Captain Nash, I feel like I know him. As you probably already know Capt Nash was killed during the assault on Fort Sanders and probably buried in an unmarked grave. I have created a memorial for him on Find A Grave. Ill send you an email with further information. Thanks for posting!

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  5. Thank you so much for gathering this information. I know it has to be a MASSIVE undertaking! My great uncle, William A Epps was killed at the battle of Malvern HIll. Now that I have found your blog, I will need to start reading all of it! Again, thank you for all your hard work.

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    • Hi Jamie. Thank you for your kind words. Joe Byrd and I are writing a regimental history of the 16th Georgia. Since announcing the project, we have been extremely pleased with the enthusiastic support from descendants such as yourself. Please check your email as I have sent you a message. Thanks again for your kind words.

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  6. My great grandpa was pvt. Thomas M. Vandiver, company E, 16th ga. He was lucky enough to make thru and back home. He is buried at chattohochee Methodist church, Robertstown ,Ga.

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    • Hello Mr. Vandiver. Thank you for your message and for the information about Thomas M Vandiver’s burial location. In case you don’t know his complete record – Thomas enlisted July 24, 1861 into Co E Cobb Infantry; he was wounded in the thigh at Malvern Hill July 1, 1862; treated August 27-30, 1862 for rheumatism at Gen Hospital No. 18 Richmond, VA; admitted to Gen Hosp No. 16 and Winder Hosp Dec-Jan 1863; captured Feb 29, 1864 at New Market TN (left behind sick w/smallpox in CS hospital after the battle of Fort Sanders/Knoxville); imprisoned at Camp Chase, Ohio; sent to City Point Va for exchange Feb 28, 1865. No further record. Thanks again for your interest in the project and for sharing Pvt. Vandiver’s burial info. We appreciate the support of all the descendants of members of the regiment.

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  7. My ggg grandfather; Robert Walker Sammon enlisted in the Georgia 16th Infantry Regiment Company I. He enlisted in May 15th 1863. Mustered out on March 15th 1864. He died Mar 19th from his injuries. The information was hard to read. Any help would be appreciated. DanG

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    • Hi Dan. Thanks for your message. Company I was organized in Gwinnett County and was known as “Hutchins’ Guards.” I’m not finding any carded records for him in the NARA file for the 16th GA. Let me take a look at some more records and get back to you.

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  8. Hello. I love your research on the 16th GA. An interesting trivia, Oliver Hardy served with company K and was wounded at the Battle of Sharpsburg on Sept. 17th 1862. Oliver Hardy is the father of Norvell Oliver Hardy from Laurel & Hardy.

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    • Hi Brad. Thanks for visiting this page! Appreciate your kind comments. Are you a descendant of any of the Coxes who served in the regiment? Again, welcome and thanks for visiting.

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      • No, I am not. I’m just another hopeless civil war buff. I had 8 ancestors who fought for the union side. 4 on my mother’s side and 4 on my father’s side. I am a member of the Scottsdale Civil War Round table. I serve on the board, write the newsletter, maintain the website and am chairman of the genealogy committee. Brad Cox

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  9. Thanks for the information. My great grandfather WH Bond was in Co D. Danielsville Guard. He was wounded at Cold Harbor. He is buried in the Methodist cemetery across from Zebs BBQ near Danielsville Ga. He lived many years and had numerous children. My grandfather O L Bond was his youngest son. Born 1892, himself wounded in WW1.

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  10. Hi there, just ran across the grave stone of William J. Robinson near my house here in Gwinnett County. Co I veteran, originally enlisted in the 38th TN, Co. F. Have a photo if interested, any more details you can share on him?

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    • Hi John. Thank you so much for your post! William Jasper Robinson (b. 8 Jan 1845) enlisted into Company I, 16th GA as a Private on 14 April 1864 at Gordonsville, VA for the war. He was wounded slightly in the hand in an engagement at Guard Hill near Front Royal VA on 16 August 1864.

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