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Chapter 12:

The operations on the south Atlantic coast during the summer of 1863 were mainly concentrated at Charleston, where General Colquitt and his brigade were on duty. Col. C. H. Olmstead's regiment (the First of Georgia), the Fifty-fourth and the Nineteenth were on duty at Battery Wagner previous to the assault of July 11th. On that day there were in the garrison, consisting of South Carolina and Georgia troops, four companies of the First volunteer regiment of Georgia, Col. C. H. Olmstead; four companies of the Twelfth Georgia battalion, Lieut.-Col. H. D. Capers, and three companies of the Eighteenth Georgia battalion, Maj. W. S. Basinger. The three detachments numbered about 500 men, all under the command of Colonel Olmstead. The assault of the enemy was quickly repulsed. Col. R. F. Graham, of the Twenty-first South Carolina, commanding, reported as follows: ‘My loss was 1 officer killed and 5 privates, 1 officer wounded and 5 privates, all from the Georgia troops. The whole garrison stood to their posts firmly and without flinching.’

On Saturday, July 18th, came the second and most determined assault of the enemy on Battery Wagner. The garrison for the day consisted of commands from North and South Carolina infantry and Georgia and South Carolina artillery, numbering in all about 1,000 men, all under the command of Brig.-Gen. W. B. Taliaferro. The artillery consisted of companies under Capts. W. T. Tatom and Warren Adams, Third South Carolina artil-236 [237] lery; J. T. Buckner and W. J. Dixon, Sixty-third Georgia, heavy artillery, and Captain De Pass, commanding light artillery—all under the general command of Lieut.-Col. J. C. Simkins, chief of artillery. The enemy subjected the fort to a furious bombardment by their land batteries, supported by their entire fleet, consisting of the Ironsides, five monitors and a large number of other warships. General Taliaferro said in his report: ‘With this immense circle of fire by land and sea, he poured for eleven hours without cessation or intermission a storm of shot and shell upon Fort Wagner which is perhaps unequaled in history. My estimate is that not less than 9,000 solid shot and shell of all sizes, from 15-inch downward, were hurled during this period at the work. About 2 o'clock p. m. the flag halyards were cut, and the Confederate flag blew over into the fort. Instantly Major Ramsay, Charleston battalion, Lieut. William E. Readick, Sixty-third Georgia artillery, Sergeant Shelton and Private Flinn, Charleston battalion, sprang forward and replaced it on the ramparts.’ At 7:45 p. m. the assault was made by more than 6,000 Federals, who suffered a disastrous repulse, losing more than 1,500 men.

Among those especially commended for gallantry were Captains Buckner and Dixon of the Sixty-third Georgia and Corporal Conneway of the Twenty-second Georgia battalion. General Taliaferro also commended the bravery and zeal of the Georgians under Col. C. H. Olmstead, Lieut.-Col. H. D. Capers, Maj. G. M. Hanvey and Maj. W. S. Basinger, which, together with several South Carolina commands, had formed the garrison during the first part of the week.

During a large part of August, Col. George P. Harrison, of the Thirty-second Georgia, commanded Battery Wagner, having in garrison, besides his own regiment, the Twelfth Georgia battalion. Other Georgia commands engaged at Charleston were the Sixth, Nineteenth, Twenty-third, Twenty-seventh, Twenty-eighth, Colquitt's [238] brigade; the Thirty-second and Fifty-fourth regiments, and Anderson's brigade, which arrived in September, including the Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Eleventh and Fifty-ninth. Capt. J. R. Haines, commanding the Twenty-eighth, was killed September 5th by a mortar shell, and General Colquitt's aide, Lieut. James Randle, was mortally wounded August 29th. Others killed were Capt. C. Werner, First volunteers, July 11th, and Capt. A. S. Roberts, August 24th. Two batteries of the Twenty-second artillery were also there, and the Chatham and Chestatee batteries, light artillery. The Fifth regiment and Twenty-first and Twenty-fourth battalions of cavalry were likewise on duty in the vicinity of Charleston during the active siege operations of 1863.

In the memorable defense of Fort Sumter, which was maintained after the walls had been pounded into dust piles, defying the utmost capabilities of the powerful guns of the Federal fleet, Georgians had equal honors with South Carolinians, and the blood of the two States mingled on that historic spot. On the December day when the magazine exploded and a destructive fire raged in which many of the killed and wounded were burned, the Sixth, Nineteenth, Twenty-fifth and Twenty-seventh Georgia regiments furnished half the victims. On one occasion, when Fort Sumter was undergoing a heavy bombardment, the flagstaff was cut in two and the flag came down. Sergt. William M. Hitt and Private Bob Swain, both of the Twelfth Georgia battalion, witnessed the fall of the colors. At imminent risk of their lives, they restored the flag to its proper position, the sergeant standing by the pole while Swain mounted upon his shoulders in order to get a good start on his perilous climb. This exploit was mentioned in general orders. Another member of the Twelfth battalion, Private Hood Hitt, risked the fire of the enemy to get a little piece of the flag for a memento of his service in Fort Sumter. [239]

At the close of 1863 the following was the assignment of Georgia troops in the department of General BeauregardSouth Carolina, Georgia and Florida:

In Gen. R. S. Ripley's (First) district, South Carolina: Eighteenth battalion, Maj. W. S. Basinger; Chestatee artillery, Capt. Thomas H. Bomar. In Gen. B. H. Robertson's (Second) district, South Carolina, Fifth cavalry, Maj. R. J. Davant. In Gen. W. S. Walker's (Third) district, South Carolina: Twelfth battalion, Maj. G. M. Hanvey; Thirty-second regiment, Maj. W. T. Holland; Fifty-fourth regiment, Maj. William H. Mann. In Gen. J. H. Trapier's (Fourth) district, South Carolina, Twenty-first cavalry battalion, Maj. William P. White. In Gen. Johnson Hagood's sub-district, South Carolina: Twenty-second battalion, Company G, Capt. Joseph A. Beals; Twenty-seventh regiment,. Col. Charles T. Zachry; Twenty-ninth regiment, Company A, Capt. W. W. Bilopp; Chatham artillery, Capt. John F. Wheaton. In Gen. A. H. Colquitt's sub-district, South Carolina; Sixth Georgia, Col. John T. Lofton; Twelfth battalion, Company C, Capt. George W. Johnson, attached to siege train; Nineteenth regiment, Col. James H. Neal; Twenty-third regiment, Maj. M. R. Ballenger; Twenty-eighth regiment, Col. Tully Graybill.

In Gen. W. M. Gardner's (middle Florida) district; Sixty-fourth regiment, Col. John W. Evans; Echols (Georgia) artillery, Capt. J. H. Tiller; Georgia siege artillery, one company, Capt. C. G. Campbell, and in Col. William J. Magill's sub-district (middle Florida), the First regulars, Maj. R. A. Wayne; Twenty-eighth battalion, four companies, Maj. A. Bonaud, and three companies, Capt. J. A. Cotten.

In district of Georgia, Brig.-Gen. H. W. Mercer commanding—Second Confederate engineers, Company D, Capt. J. W. McAlpine; First Georgia, Col. C. H. Olmstead; Twenty-second battalion, Lieut.-Col. W. R.

Pritchard; Twenty-ninth regiment, Company G; Thirteenth regiment, Company K; Fifty-fourth, four companies, Maj. George L. Buist; Fifty-seventh, Col. W. Barkaloo; Sixty-third, Col. George A. Gordon, Jackson guards, Capt. John Tanner; Fourth cavalry, Col. Duncan L. Clinch; Twentieth cavalry battalion, Lieut.-Col. J. M. Millen; Twenty-fourth cavalry battalion, Maj. [240] E. C. Anderson, Jr.; Hardwick mounted rifles, Capt. J. L. McAllister; Joe Thompson artillery, Capt. C. R. Hanleiter; artillery company, Capt. N. B. Clinch; artillery company, Capt. John M. Guerard; Battery A, Capt. J. A. Maxwell; Battery B, Capt. Charles Daniell; Terrell artillery, Capt. John W. Brooks.


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