Christmas Eve 1863 with the 16th Georgia Infantry

Longstreet’s Dept of East Tennesee, Kershaw’s Division, Wofford’s Brigade
Camp, Jefferson County, TN
Christmas Eve, December 24, 1863

“I wrote home yesterday by Maj McMillen of the 24th Ga. Our mail line not yet opened. Last night the cold was intense, all the blankets I had did not keep me warm. Yesterday orders were received for the troops to build huts and make themselves as comfortable as possible. We expect to remain here for some time, at least until we burn all the wood around us. This morning the wind from the north, X’mas Eve & no egg nogg.”

~ Robert P Myers, Asst Surgeon, 16th Georgia Infantry

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas filled with the joys of the season.

Killed at Crampton’s Gap – September 14, 1862

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The Battle of Crampton’s Gap, fought on September 14, 1862, was part of the larger Battle of South Mountain preceding the Battle of Sharpsburg (aka Antietam.)

A small force of Confederate soldiers, including the 16th Georgia under Brig Gen Howell Cobb, were dispatched there to delay the advance of about 13,000 Union troops of Franklin’s VI Corps. The 16th Georgia, in support of Cobb’s Legion led by Lt Col Jefferson Mirabeau Lamar, advanced down the steep mountain and came upon fellow Confederates of Parham/Munford’s retreating up the mountainside. Lamar immediately saw troops of the Union VI corps advancing in pursuit and cried to the men to follow him in a counterattack. Lamar boldly charged his horse forward, but found the maneuver foolish, as the steep grade of the hillside caused horse and rider to fall to the ground. Unfazed, Lamar, leapt to his feet and continued the charge. He put his men into position on the flank of the Union attacking column and unleashed volley after volley into their ranks. But it was already too late.

“In this horrible predicament the Legion likely would have followed Munford’s men in panicked retreat up the mountain. But its lieutenant colonel, Jefferson M. Lamar, held them to their impossible work until he had been twice shot, once mortally.” (Sealed with Their Lives: Battle of Crampton’s Gap, Burkittsville, MD, Sept. 14, 1862, Timothy Reese, Butternut & Blue, October, 1998.)

Lt Col Jefferson M Lamar Cobbs Legion

Lt Col Jefferson Mirabeau Lamar

Slocum’s Division of the Union VI corps charged straight up the mountain, traversing almost vertical ground. Outnumbered nearly 15:1, the Confederates were forced up the mountain and through Crampton’s Pass. Although unsuccessful in holding the gap, the Union advance was delayed long enough to allow more time for Genl. Robt E Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia to become better organized.

The 16th Georgia suffered heavy casualties. Of the 368 members engaged at South Mountain (Crampton’s Gap), 52% were disabled (wounded, killed, captured, or missing.) The following members of the 16th Georgia Volunteer Infantry were killed in the Battle of Crampton’s Gap:

Killed at Crampton’s Gap 9/14/1862:

Wilson Carrington.jpg

Wilson Carrington; Co A Madison Greys

Lieut Nathan E Benton Co K Ramsey Vols
Pvt Wilson Carrington Co A Madison Greys (above)
Sgt James M David Co A Madison Greys
Pvt Young C K Gunn Co E Cobb Infantry
Pvt William H H Gunter Co F
Corp James J Harrison Co F
Pvt Reuben S Harrison Co F
Pvt Benjamin Franklin Herring Co A Madison Greys
Corp William Sealy McMillan Co B Centre Hill Guards
Pvt James O Miller Co F
Lieut John R North Co B Centre Hill Guards
Captain Nathaniel Reeder Co H Flint Hill Grays
Captain Abner Monroe Reynolds Co B Centre Hill Guards (see previous post)
Pvt Tolbert Strickland Co A Madison Grey
Pvt Alfred M Thompson Co G Jackson Rifles
Pvt Abner Wills Co B Centre Hill Guards

Mortally Wounded and died later as prisoners:

Pvt Benjamin F Gilmer Co G Jackson Rifles; d. 10/4/1862
Pvt Thomas B Hobbs Co K Ramsey Vols; d. 10/1/1862
Corp James M Light Co I Hutchins’ Guards; d. 10/7/1862
Pvt Benjamin Franklin Manning Co F; d. 9/28/1862
Pvt James William W McDowell Co C Hartwell Infantry; d. 9/20/1862
Pvt Thomas Reuben Moore Co F; d. 10/17/1862
Pvt Stephen A Treadwell Co F; d. 9/15/1862
Pvt Edmond Harris Vickers Co F; d. 9/21/1862
Pvt Shadrick Wilson Co G Jackson Rifles; d. 9/20/1862

The Confederate dead were initially buried around Burkittsville, MD at the foot of the mountain. Those who were killed on the battlefield were buried where they fell. Those who were wounded and captured, were transported to Union field hospitals which had been established at churches and farms in Burkittsville.

Washington Confed Cem marker

Later, the Confederate dead of South Mountain and Antietam were removed to Washington Confederate Cemetery in Hagerstown, MD. Washington Confederate Cemetery was dedicated June 15, 1877 and is a separate cemetery, located within the grounds of Rose Hill Cemetery.

Washington Confed Cem

Most of the the graves are of Confederate soldiers who died in the nearby battles of Antietam and South Mountain. More than 2000 soldiers are buried here but only 346 were identified. Only three of the graves have any markers, but an old map of the cemetery is mounted on a plaque at the site. The plaque shows the locations of some burials by name.

Bronze location marker at Washington Confederate Cemetery

Bronze location marker at Washington Confederate Cemetery

The Companies and the Captains

Company A – organized in Madison County, GA; also known as “Madison Greys” and “Madison County Greys.”

James S. Gholston was elected Captain effective July 11, 1861. He was elected Major February 21, 1862; promoted to Lieutenant Colonel August 16, 1864; retired to invalid corps Aug 24, 1864. He was captured and paroled at Athens, GA May 8, 1865. He died March 14, 1892 and is buried in Shelby County, TX.

Company B – organized in Jackson County, GA; also known as “Center Hill Guards.” The men were recruited by Abner Monroe Reynolds. Reynolds was the Master of the local Masonic Lodge and the whole lodge joined the army one night and went off to war. Reynolds was elected Captain July 17, 1861 and Henry Hosch, a 50 year old farmer, became his Lieutenant.

Abner Maddison Monroe Reynolds Cleaned upCaptain Abner Monroe Reynolds

Reynolds would command Company B until Sept 14, 1862 when he was killed at Cramptons Gap (South Mountain) near Burkittsville, Md. He was succeeded by Capt John M. Venable.

Company C – organized in Hart County, GA; also known as “Hartwell Infantry.”

John Hamilton Skelton was elected Captain July 13, 1861. He was elected Major October 1, 1863; captured at Guard Hill, Front Royal, Va. Aug. 20, 1864; released from Fort Delaware prison July 24, 1865. He would return to Georgia, and on March 26, 1867 marry Mary Lavinia Richardson in Hart County, Georgia. Together, the couple would have at least ten children. He died Sept 21, 1893 and is buried in Hart County, GA.

Company D – organized at Madison County, GA; also known as “Danielsville Guards.”

John Newton Montgomery was elected Captain August 5, 1861. He was captured at Gettysburg July 2, 1863. He would remain imprisoned until his release at Cox’s Wharf, James River, Va., March 22, 1865. After his release, Montgomery would return to his wife and family in Georgia. He died April 14, 1887 and was buried in Ila, Madison County, GA.

Company E – organized at Habersham County, GA; also known as “Cobb Infantry.”

Benjamin Edward Stiles was elected Captain July 24, 1861. He was elected Major May 18, 1863 and Lieutenant Colonel November 29, 1863. He was killed in action at the Battle of Guard Hill near Front Royal, VA August 16, 1864. A marker for Stiles is located in the Stonewall Confederate Cemetery, Winchester, VA.

LTC Benjamin Edward Stiles

Company F – organized at Walton County, GA; also known as “Joe Brown Rough and Ready” and “McRae’s Rough and Ready.

John Henry Duncan McRae elected Captain July 19, 1861. Promoted to Colonel of the Regiment in 1864; captured at Saylor’s Creek, VA on April 6, 1865 and imprisoned at Johnson’s Island Ohio until his release June 19, 1865.

J H D McRae Captain John Henry Duncan McRae

After the war, JHD McRae was a Methodist minister. He died Nov 5, 1911 and is buried in Jacksonville, Duval County, FL.

Company G – organized in Jackson County, GA; also known as “Oconee Vols” and “Jackson Rifles.”

Augustus Columbus Thompson was elected Captain July 20, 1861. He was wounded at Crampton’s Gap, MD (near Burkittsville) Sept. 14, 1862. He resigned as a result of his wounds effective August 1, 1863; approved Sept. 9, 1863. He was succeeded by Thomas LaFayette Ross.

Augustus Columbus ThompsonCaptain A C Thompson

On September 14, 1862, Thompson was shot through the left hip during the Battle of Crampton’s Gap. The ball was cut out of his left groin. Thompson was “discharged at Crampton’s Gap, Maryland and went home to recover.” Source: Confederate Widows Pension Application. Application number A12385.

Between 1880 and 1881 the family  moved to Lakeland, Polk County, Florida. On February 1, 1882, A. C. Thompson was employed to take charge of Polk County’s first poor farm. He died Aug 9, 1905 and is buried in Polk County, FL.

Company H – organized at Gwinnett County, GA. Also known as “Flint Hill Greys.”

Moses Richardson was elected Captain August 11, 1861. He resigned September 3, 1861 due to illness. He was succeeded by J M Liddell. Richardson would later receive a medical appointment and serve as a surgeon for the Confederacy for the rest of the war. He returned to Georgia and resumed his medical practice. He died March 15, 1905 and is buried in Gwinnett County, Georgia.

Company I – organized at Gwinnett County, GA. Also known as “Hutchins Guards.”

Nathaniel Louis Hutchins, Jr. elected Captain March 6, 1861. The Company was uniformed and equipped by his father, the elder Judge Hutchins. Captain Hutchins was elected Lieutenant Colonel of the 3rd Battalion Georgia Sharpshooters on April 1863 (upon the formation of the Sharpshooter Regiment.) Succeeded by William E Simmons as Captain; Simmons would also transfer to the Sharpshooter Regiment as a Captain June 8, 1863. Hutchins was Captured at Saylor’s Creek, VA on April 6, 1865. He was imprisoned at Johnson’s Island, Ohio until his release July 25, 1865.

Nathan Louis Hutchins, IICaptain Nathaniel Louis Hutchins

Hutchins returned to Georgia where he resumed the practice of law and married Carrie Orr in 1866. Together they reared a number of children. He was elected to the general assembly and, in 1882, became a Judge. He died June 8, 1905 and is buried in Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, GA.

Company K – organized at Columbia County GA; also known as “Ramsey Vols.

Robert Joshua Boyd was elected Captain July 25, 1861.  Captain Robert J Boyd was killed at Malvern Hill, VA on July 1, 1862. According to a letter from the officers and men of Company K, he was killed “while gallantly leading his company in the charge of the first instant (July 1, 1862), and encouraging them by his noble and fearless example.” He was succeeded by R. A. Lansdell July 28, 1861.

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