- The campaigns of 1864 -- battle of Olustee -- operations near Savannah -- the Wilderness to Cold Harbor -- Georgia troops engaged -- Early's valley campaign.
The first conflict to which Georgia troops were called outside the State in the momentous year 1864 was the famous battle of Olustee, in which the Federal column of invasion of middle Florida, designed in addition to important military ends to aid in the establishment of a friendly government in that State, was entirely defeated. The invasion was made by a force under the command of Gen. Truman Seymour, and included such able officers as Cols. J. R. Hawley and Guy V. Henry. General Colquitt's brigade was ordered from Charleston to repel the invasion, and the force organized near Lake City to meet the Federals was composed of two brigades. The First, including the Sixth, Nineteenth, Twenty-third, Twenty-seventh and Twenty-eighth Georgia regiments, the Sixth Florida and the Chatham artillery, was commanded by General Colquitt. The Second, composed of the Thirty-second and Sixty-fourth Georgia, First regulars, First Florida battalion, Bonaud's battalion and Guerard's battery, was commanded by Col. George P. Harrison, Thirty-second Georgia. The battle was brought on near Olustee by the advance of the Sixty-fourth Georgia, promptly supported in succession by Colquitt's brigade and Harrison's. General Colquitt commanded the line of battle, with Colonel Harrison in charge of the left. The battle began at 3 o'clock and continued until dark. From the first the Georgians  pushed back the enemy, and when ammunition gave out halted and held their line without replying to the enemy's fire, though some of the men had never before been in battle. When the ammunition was replenished, General Colquitt struck the enemy on the flank with the Sixth and Thirty-second regiments; the Twenty-seventh, under Colonel Zachry, pushed forward with great vigor upon the center, and the whole line went in with a yell, whereupon the enemy gave way in confusion. The Federal force retreated during the night, and middle Florida was no longer troubled. The forces engaged were about 5,500 on a side, but about 600 Confederate cavalry, counted in this, were not actively engaged. The Federal loss was 1,861 killed, wounded and captured. The Eighth United States, colored, lost in line of battle 300 out of 550, illustrating the effectiveness of the Confederate fire. Colquitt's brigade lost 43 killed and 441 wounded; Harrison's, 50 killed and 406 wounded; which, with a few missing, made a total of 946. In his report General Colquitt said:
The gallantry and steady courage of officers and men during this engagement are beyond all praise. For more than four hours they struggled with unflinching firmness against superior numbers, until they drove them in confusion and panic to seek safety in flight. Col. George P. Harrison, who commanded on the left, displayed skill, coolness and gallantry. The commanding officers of the various regiments did their duty nobly. Col. J. W. Evans, commanding Sixty-fourth Georgia, and Captain Crawford, commanding Twenty-eighth Georgia, both gallant officers, were wounded. Lieut.-Col. James Barrow, Sixty-fourth Georgia, a brave and gallant officer, received a fatal shot while gallantly attempting to rally his men. Captain Wheaton and the officers and men of his battery (Chatham artillery) are entitled to especial commendation for their courage, coolness and efficiency. [Captain Grattan, assistant adjutant-general; Lieut. Hugh H. Colquitt, aide-de-camp; Major Ely and Lieutenant Estill of the staff, and Lieutenant Thompson and Sterling Turner, volunteer aides, were also commended.] Colonel Harrison reported that a detachment of the Thirty-second regiment, Companies H and E, under Captain Mobley, won for itself much honor in charging and capturing three pieces of the enemy's artillery, and he particularly commended Colonel Lofton, of the Sixth regiment; Corporal Buchanan, Company E, Sixty-fourth, and Sergt. Thomas Battle, color-bearer First regulars. Of his staff, Lieut. R. F. Daney, ordnance officer, was instantly killed; Lieut. H. P. Clark had his horse shot under him; Lieut. George M. Blount, acting assistant adjutant-general, was shot from his horse while riding after ammunition. Capt. E. L. Guerard, acting brigade quartermaster, was distinguished as a staff officer. Among the killed and mortally wounded not previously mentioned were Lieut. R. J. Butler, Thirty-second; Capt. H. A. Cannon, commanding First regulars when killed; Lieut. P. A. Waller, Sixty-fourth; and among the wounded were Capt. W. D. Cornwell, Lieut. W. D. Moody, Lieut. W. L. Jenkins, Lieut. J. H. Pitman, Lieut. Morris Dawson, Thirty-second; Lieut. P. H. Morel, regulars; Maj. Walter H. Weems, Capt. R. W. Craven, Lieut. J. S. Thrasher; Lieut. M. L. Raines; Capt. J. K. Redd, Lieut. T. M. Beasley, Capt. R. A. Brown, Lieut. J. F. Burch, Sixty-fourth; Lieuts. J. W. Hall and Cader Pierce, Bonaud's battalion. During these operations in Florida a demonstration was made on Whitemarsh island, near Savannah, by a considerable Federal force, which landed on the morning of February 22d. The enemy was repulsed after a brisk skirmish by a detachment of the Fifty-seventh Georgia under Captains Tucker and Turner, and a section of Maxwell's battery under Lieutenant Richardson. The Confederate naval forces afloat at Savannah during 1864 were under the command of Capt. W. W. Hunter, a native of Philadelphia, who had espoused the cause of the South, and had been on duty on the Texas coast and in Virginia. Commodore Tattnall remained at the  head of the naval forces. During the year the Savannah; an armored ship, was completed, and the Milledgeville was launched. After the abandonment of the attacks on Fort McAllister, Ossabaw sound was usually guarded alone by the Federal gunboat Waterwitch, a famous side-wheel steamer which had taken part in the Paraguay war of 1855, and fought against Commodore Hollins in the Mississippi passes. Captain Hunter detailed 7 boats, 5 officers and 11 7 men to attempt the capture of this vessel, under Lieut. Thomas P. Pelot, on May 31st. They could not find the Waterwitch that night, but hearing the next day of her presence in Little Ogeechee river, they renewed the search and came alongside in the midst of a thunderstorm on the night of June 3d. On being hailed, Lieutenant Pelot answered, ‘We are rebels,’ and immediately gave the command, ‘Board her!’ Though the Waterwitch had steamed up and was at once put in motion, the port and starboard columns of attack, headed by Lieutenant Pelot and Lieut. Joseph Price, got on board, and a desperate fight with pistols and cutlasses at once ensued, which lasted for some ten minutes. The enemy's fire with small-arms was very effective while the boats were coming alongside, and while the boarding netting was being cut through. Lieutenant Pelot was the first to gain the deck, and was engaged in a combat with swords with Lieutenant Pendergrast. The latter was laid upon the deck by his antagonist, but at that moment the paymaster of the Waterwitch, catching a glimpse of Pelot by the glare of lightning, fired upon and instantly killed him. Then Lieutenant Price took command and the boarders pressed forward with such vigor that the ship was soon surrendered. Besides Lieutenant Pelot the Confederates lost in killed Moses Dallas (colored), Quarter-gunner Patrick Lotin, Seamen W. R. Jones, James Stapleton and Crosby, Lieutenant Price, Midshipman Minor and Boatswain Seymour; and Steward  Harley and nine seamen were wounded. Of the Federals, 2 were killed, 12 wounded and 77 captured. A negro escaped and gave the alarm to other Federal vessels, so that Price was compelled to abandon his intention to make further captures, and to take his prize back under the guns of Beaulieu battery, where Lieut. W. W. Carnes took command of the Waterwitch, which was added to the Confederate flotilla. According to the report of Maj.-Gen. Lafayette McLaws, in command on the Georgia coast, the following was the strength of the Confederate posts and garrisons in that department in August:
At Thunderbolt, 85 men. At Fort Bartow, 51 men. At Whitmarsh island, one company Twenty-second Georgia, in charge of heavy battery; three companies Twenty-seventh battalion, two companies reserves, one company Bonaud's battalion, one company light artillery, effective total 382. At river batteries, Forts Jackson and Lee, Battery Cleves and Battery Lawton, three companies Twenty-second battalion, and Mercer artillery, effective total 253; at Isle of Hope, three light batteries, 176 men; at Rosedew, two companies Cobb guards, 135 men; at Beaulieu, Hanleiter's light artillery and two companies Twenty-seventh battalion, 218 effective; at Fort McAllister, Brooks' light battery and Company A, Twenty-seventh battalion, 93 men, and the First Georgia regulars, 238 effective, in charge of Federal officers imprisoned; at Oglethorpe barracks, three companies reserves, 145 men; at White Bluff, Guerard's light artillery, 93 effective. Colonel Arthur Hood's Twenty-ninth Georgia battalion, 302 strong, and three companies South Carolina cavalry, 134 men, were on coast guard from the Ogeechee to St. Mary's.General McLaws stated that to be relieved from guard duty for an entire day was an uncommon occurrence with any soldier of his little command. On August 17th, one of the companies of South Carolina cavalry was surprised and mostly captured by a Federal force near South Newport. In October, 1864, after the close of the Atlanta and  Richmond campaigns, there were still on duty in South Carolina the following Georgia troops: The Thirty-second infantry, Bonaud's artillery battalion, Forty-seventh infantry, Chatham artillery. Col. George P. Harrison was in command at Florence, where the Fifth regiment, Col. Charles P. Daniel, was also stationed; and in Florida were two companies of the Twenty-second battalion. On October 31st the Georgia troops under command of Major-General McLaws on the coast, including the Fifth district of South Carolina, were as follows:
First regulars, six companies Second battalion and Barnwell's battery, under Col. R. A. Wayne; Twenty-seventh battalion, Capt. Charles Daniell; Twenty-ninth battalion cavalry, Capt. A. W. Hunter; Bonaud's artillery, Capt. M. T. McGregor; Capt. J. W. Brooks' battery; Cobb guards, Maj. A. L. Hartridge; Daniel's, Guerard's and Maxwell's batteries, under Capt. J. A. Maxwell; Hanleiter's battery; Mercer artillery, Maj. T. D. Bertody, and McAlpine's engineers. In addition there were the Third South Carolina cavalry, ten companies South Carolina reserves, and six South Carolina batteries.Although the year 1863 had closed in despondency, before the spring campaigns opened in Georgia and Virginia the hopes of the Southern people had been revived by a series of brilliant successes. Olustee, the first of these, has been described. Two days later Forrest gained a decisive victory in Mississippi, followed by one brilliant victory after another. Then came the defeat of Banks in Louisiana and of Steele in Arkansas, and the recovery of much lost territory. So when the armies in Virginia and Georgia stood up for battle in the early days of May, 1864, they entered upon their campaigns with the confidence of victory. The army of Tennessee fully believed that under Joseph E. Johnston they would recover all that had been lost, while the army of Northern Virginia had implicit confidence in Robert E. Lee. In each of these grand armies Georgia was well represented  in the number and quality of her troops in every arm of the service. The campaign of the spring and summer in Virginia affords one of the most remarkable instances on record of a successful defense against tremendous odds and skillful combinations. Lee's conduct of the campaign excited the wonder of the world, and would have secured his fame if it had nothing else on which to rest. We will give a sketch of the part played by Georgia commands in this wonderful campaign, in which Lee with 64,000 men met and baffled Grant's 118,000, with all their bounteous resources and desperate efforts. In the army of Northern Virginia, four of the nine brigades of Longstreet's corps were Georgians—the brigades of William T. Wofford, Goode Bryan, George T. Anderson and Henry L. Benning. In Ewell's corps, John B. Gordon's brigade was a third of Early's division, and one of the five brigades of Rodes' division was George Doles' Georgians. In A. P. Hill's corps were the brigade of Ambrose R. Wright, Anderson's division, and the brigade of Edward L. Thomas, Wilcox's division. Callaway's and Carlton's Georgia batteries were in the artillery of Longstreet's corps, commanded by a Georgian, Gen. E. P. Alexander. Milledge's battery was with the Second corps, and an entire artillery battalion from Georgia under Col. A. S. Cutts was with A. P. Hill. In the cavalry, Georgia was represented by a brigade under Gen. P. M. B. Young, containing the Seventh regiment, Col. W. P. White; Cobb's legion, Col. G. J. Wright; Phillips' legion; Twentieth battalion, Lieut.-Col. J. M. Millen; and, after July, by one Georgia company with the Jeff Davis legion. After Grant crossed the Rapidan, Lee marched to strike his column in the Wilderness. The battle of that day was desperate, each side holding its ground. The Georgians of Doles' and Gordon's brigades were the first to win success, regaining the ground lost upon the first  Federal attack; Gordon, by a dashing charge, capturing several hundred prisoners and relieving Doles, who though hard pressed had held his ground. On the 6th of May it was upon the suggestion of Gordon that the attack was made upon the Federal right, and his brigade, supported by Johnston's North Carolinians and Hays' Louisianians, charged with such vehemence as to take a mile of the Federal works, and capture 600 prisoners, including Generals Seymour and Shaler. General Ewell in his report says that General Gordon sent word to him by General Early at 9 o'clock that morning, urging this very attack. Early did not think it safe, and Ewell did not order it until he had examined the ground himself. As soon as he had examined the ground, he ordered Gordon to make the attack; but it was then nearly sunset. If it had been made in the morning, much more decisive results would have followed. On the same day this marvelous army, under the immortal Lee, was not only pounding the enemy, over twice its number, on the front and right flank, but Longstreet, coming up, sent Anderson's and Wofford's Georgians with Mahone's Virginians to attack his left flank and rear, while Benning and Bryan fought in front. The movement was a complete success, and the Federal line was routed with heavy loss. It seemed at this moment that the defeat of Grant's army was within the grasp of the Confederates, but as Longstreet was preparing to follow up his success, he fell wounded from the fire of some of his own men in the flanking column, and in the respite thus gained the Federal officers were enabled to secure their line. On the 8th, Wofford's and Bryan's brigades fought their way to Spottsylvania Court House and occupied it. Gordon, temporarily in command of Early's division, after a distressing march through dust and smoke, reached there in the evening. On the intrenched line Doles occupied one of the salients, and suffered severely  from the assault on the 10th. But the remnant of Doles' brigade, supported by other commands, including Gordon's division, soon regained the works. Anderson at the same time repulsed a direct attack. On the 12th, when Edward Johnson's division was overwhelmed in the salient by Hancock's corps, Gordon's brigade, now commanded by Col. Clement A. Evans, was directly in the rear of the left of Johnson, and moved in at double-quick through the dense fog to the point of danger. Pegram's Virginians came up with them and the two brigades were ordered to attack. The situation was extremely critical. General Lee himself rode up and proposed to lead the advancing line. The two brigades, according to General Gordon's report, ‘charged with the greatest spirit, driving the enemy with heavy loss from nearly the whole of the captured works, from the left of Wilcox's division to the salient on General Johnson's line, and fully a fourth of a mile beyond.’ In the same terrible fight the Georgia brigades of Wofford and Doles were engaged with great credit. On the 20th, General Gordon was put in command of a division composed of his own brigade, under Evans, and the remnant of the Stonewall division. In the desperate attempt of Grant to break the Confederate lines at Cold Harbor, July 1st and 2d, the Georgians of Longstreet's corps took a prominent and valiant part. Assault after assault was repulsed at Kershaw's salient, with terrible loss to the enemy. The Sumter Eleventh artillery battalion, under Colonel Cutts and Major Lane, consisting of Ross', Patterson's and Wingfield's batteries, did excellent service during this Overland campaign. On the 10th of May, in conjunction with Pegram's battalion of artillery, it repulsed an infantry attack upon the Confederate right at Spottsylvania. Again at Cold Harbor, June 3d, the, Sumter battalion with others materially assisted in checking the enemy's advance. Cabell's battalion, embracing among  other batteries the Pulaski and the Troup artillery, also bore a gallant part in all these battles. At Hawe's shop the Georgia brigade of Gen. P. M. B. Young fought with great credit. Again at Trevilian Station Young's brigade made a splendid record. The loss in Hampton's division was 61 2, of whom 59 were killed. Among the killed, Hampton greatly regretted the loss of Lieutenant-Colonel McAllister of the Seventh Georgia, and Capt. Whiteford D. Russell of the same regiment, who at the time was acting major. Captain Russell had been in service from the beginning of the war, having been a lieutenant of the Walker light infantry of Augusta, Company I, of Ramsey's First Georgia. Early in May, Gen. A. H. Colquitt had been ordered to Richmond, and on May 15th the Fifty-sixth regiment was ordered up from Macon, and the Twelfth battalion and Forty-seventh and Fifty-fifth regiments from Savannah. Colquitt's Georgia brigade and Ransom's North Carolina brigade formed a division under General Colquitt, in Beauregard's forces for the defense of Petersburg. The brigade bore a creditable part in the battle near Drewry's Bluff, May 16th, which resulted in the bottling up of General Butler. Its loss was 11 killed and 146 wounded. In .the June battles before Petersburg, Colquitt's brigade fought in Hoke's division. Throughout the long siege which followed, the Georgians did their whole duty on the Petersburg lines and before Richmond. Toward the last of June, Hampton's cavalry utterly defeated the expedition of Wilson and Kautz to the south and west of Petersburg. Again the Georgians of Young's brigade, under Col. G. J. Wright, had their full share of hardships and glory. Hampton in his report says:
The pursuit of the enemy which ended near Peters' bridge closed the active operations which began on June 8th, when the movement against Sheridan commenced.  During that time, a period of twenty two days, the command had no rest, was badly supplied with rations and forage, marched upward of 400 miles, fought the greater portion of six days, and one entire night, captured upward of 2,000 prisoners, many guns, small-arms, wagons, horses and other materials of war, and was completely successful in defeating two of the most formidable and well-organized expeditions of the enemy. This was accomplished at a cost in my division of 719 killed, wounded and missing.After Grant's disastrous repulse at Cold Harbor, the Second corps under Early was detached to strike Hunter, who was moving upon Lynchburg; then to move down the valley, cross the Potomac and threaten Washington. Maj.-Gen. John B. Gordon commanded one of the divisions of this corps. His old brigade was now commanded by Brig.-Gen. Clement A. Evans. It embraced the Thirteenth, Twenty-sixth, Thirty-first, Thirty-eighth, Sixtieth and Sixty-first Georgia regiments and the Twelfth Georgia battalion. In Phil Cook's brigade of Rodes' division were the Fourth, Twelfth, Twenty-first and Forty-fourth Georgia regiments. Hastening to Lynchburg, Early chased Hunter for more than sixty miles, capturing prisoners and artillery. Then Early moved rapidly northward, crossed the Potomac and marched toward Washington. In the brilliant victory at the Monocacy, Gordon made a gallant charge which broke the Federal lines. In this charge Gen. C. A. Evans, who commanded the leading brigade, fell from his horse severely wounded through the body. The Georgians also shared in Early's victory at Kernstown, July 24th. These movements of Early had caused Grant to send two corps to Washington city and to keep them in that vicinity, and McCausland's cavalry expedition to Chambersburg caused him to send additional troops to Washington. In the battle of Winchester, September 19th, the Georgians maintained a good reputation. In addition to the Georgia commands already mentioned  as being with Early, there were at the battle of Cedar Creek: in Kershaw's division, Wofford's brigade, consisting of the Sixteenth, Eighteenth and Twenty-fourth Georgia regiments, and Third Georgia battalion, also Cobb's Georgia legion and. Phillips' legion; in Bryan's brigade, commanded by Col. James P. Simms, the Tenth Georgia, Col. W. C. Holt; Fiftieth Georgia, Col. P. McGlashan; Fifty-first Georgia, Col. E. Ball, and the Fifty-third Georgia. The division which included Gen. Phil Cook's. brigade was now commanded by General Ramseur, General Rodes having been killed at Winchester. At early dawn of October 19th, the divisions of Gordon, Ramseur and Pegram, under the command of Gordon, attacked the Federal rear; while Kershaw and Wharton, with all the artillery, attacked the front and flank. The Federal army was surprised and routed, losing much artillery and many prisoners. But late that afternoon, rallied by the example of Horatio Wright's corps and the cavalry, which had retreated in order, they returned under Sheridan, whose cavalry force alone outnumbered Early's infantry. The Confederates were routed in turn, losing the guns captured in the morning and twenty-three of their own. But they carried off with them 1,500 prisoners, who were sent to Richmond. Even after these defeats Early advanced again, and for two days, November 11th and 12th, confronted Sheridan's whole force north of Cedar creek without being attacked. He even sent out expeditions, which captured prisoners and guns. In all these movements of Early, Capt. John Milledge's battery, of Nelson's battalion, participated, doing with gallantry and fidelity whatever was required of them. In the engagement following the mine explosion at Petersburg, July 30, 1864, Wright's Georgia brigade was conspicuous. Corp. F. J. Herndon, Company F, Third Georgia, captured the regimental flag of the Fifty-eighth  Massachusetts in the charge by Mahone's division. Corporal Herndon's name was one of those inscribed upon the roll of honor read to every regiment in the service at the first dress parade after its receipt. Slaton's Macon artillery shared also in the honors of this fight. In all the fighting around Petersburg and Richmond, Georgia was nobly illustrated by her gallant sons. Had the Confederate, armies been as successful everywhere else as they were in Virginia through all the summer of 1864, that year would have witnessed the triumph of the Southern cause. Let us now see what was happening on other parts of the general field, in the same period as the important events just described in Virginia.