Augustus Longstreet Hull, one of Athens, Georgia’s most respected citizens, chronicled much of Athens and Clarke County history in his well-known book, Annals of Athens. His testimony of the Civil War years in the area is very valuable, because he himself witnessed these years and Reconstruction that followed.

   Trying to delineate the anger, grief and wracking Civil War changes in the lives of the residents of Athens and Clarke County is a difficult task. Almost every family had a member who fought, died, or was wounded in many of the most horrific battles fought between the North and the South.  Few men were left at home who did not see military service from 1861 to 1865.

   A compilation of the deaths of Clarke County troops shows they suffered heavy casualties fighting in many of the major battles fought. Lists of those killed in action in some major battles are as follows: Seven Days Battles, June 25-July 1, 1862, 23; Crampton’s Gap, September 14, 1862, 10; Sharpsburg, Sept. 17, 1862, 9; Fredericksburg, Dec. 13, 1862, 5; Chancellorsville, May 2-3, 1863, 12; Brandy Station, June 9, 1863, 3; Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863, 18; Knoxville, November 29, 1863, 3; The Wilderness, May 4-21, 1864, 14;  and Siege of Petersburg and The Crater, June, 1864-April, 1865, 20. This list is in Kenneth Coleman’s Confederate Athens.

    Athens and its county suffered no damage by military action, although there were a few close calls, as Union units operated near the town. Sherman’s march of devastation from Atlanta to Savannah and into the Carolinas missed Athens. But the loss of life in military action, the wounding of many others and the death by disease or imprisonment in Northern prisons left the majority of Athens and Clarke County families shattered.  On the home front, deprivation of supplies of food, goods and services took a severe toll on the population. And many well-off families sank into poverty. Not only did most of the county’s men serve in Confederate units, but their families made great sacrifices to supply the fighting forces with supplies, clothing, and food.

   Many books could be written solely about the war and its effects just on Athens and Clarke County, but this blog will deal with some questions commonly asked by those seeking to know the cost to those serving in various Athens area Confederate units—the numbers killed in battle or by disease, or wounded.

   Augustus Hull wrote in his Annals that listing the names of those killed or wounded might seem “not interesting” to some of his readers. But, as to most residents, it was a personalized war in which they knew well their fathers, sons, and brothers who sacrificed in a heart-felt cause, he said.

   “Many of those men I knew and the mention of their names bring up memories of other days which throw a halo about them. I recall how they looked as they marched, new uniformed, with alert step, full of life and vigor, and how they stopped to speak the good-bye word; how, afterwards, they toiled on the forced march tattered, half-shod, half starved; how they went bravely into battle and how some came out bloody and faint, and some lay dead,” Hull wrote.

  The casualty totals make it achingly clear to us even 150 years later the catastrophic losses of the Civil War. These numbers aren’t precise for the totals, but estimates are accurate enough to show the magnitude of battle.  It’s estimated that somewhat more than one million men fought for the Confederacy. Of these, about 94,000 died from wounds, while disease killed off an estimated 164,000 more. Those wounded came to approximately 100,000. The Union put more than 1.5 million men into battle. Of this number about 110,000 were mortally wounded; almost a quarter of a million died from disease, and more than 275,000 received non-fatal wounds. These figures come from the respected site at the University of Houston, http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/historyonline/us20.dfm.

   We can be somewhat more precise when we look at the fearsome cost involving troops from a specific area such as Athens and Clarke County, Georgia. Thorough rosters have been compiled of the units from this area seeing Civil War service. Military records, accounts in local newspapers and personal knowledge of the families have been used to keep track of the casualties from here. One of the most thorough casualty tabulations has been done by Joseph H. Kitchens, Jr., preparing the listing for Prof. Kenneth Coleman in his readable Confederate Athens, re-issued in a 2009 paperback edition by the University of Georgia Press.

   A total of 1,649 men were on the rosters of military units from Athens and Clarke County. Of these, 197, or 11.9 per cent, were killed in battle. Disease was even more deadly than battle, killing 214 or 13.0 per cent. Of the men serving from Athens and Clarke County 364 were wounded, or 22.1 per cent.  All told, approximately 46 per cent, or nearly half of those listed on the rosters were killed in battle, killed by disease or wounded.

The table below, based on Kitchens’ work, shows the figures for those from Athens area units killed in battle, dying from disease or wounded.  It doesn’t include 10 men who were termed “missing.” He based his work on Athens newspapers, The Watchman and The Banner 1861-65 issues, and rosters in a manuscript, “Roster of Companies Furnished by Clarke County Georgia, to the Confederate Army in the War Between the States, 1861-1865,” compiled by Albert L. Mitchell by authority of Clarke County Commissioners T. P. Vincent, W. H. Morton and S. M. Herrington, in 1903. A similar list is used by Hull in his Annals.

Military Unit                             Total Killed in Battle                 Dying from Disease                  Wounded

Athens Guards (143)                                30                                       30                                            63

Troup Artillery (287)                                 15                                       34                                             59

Clarke Rifles (150)                                  28                                        35                                             77

Johnson Guards (145)                           27                                        19                                             69

Cobb’s Legion Cav. (316)                    30                                         30                                             28

Mell Rifles (136)                                     31                                         25                                             42

Highland Guards* (136)                      15                                             9                                             23

Other Units **(75)                                 20                                             9                                             28

Factory Guards*** (110)                        1                                             4                                               3

Lumpkin Artillery*** (151)                     0                                             0                                               0

Grand Totals             1649            197 214              364

* The Highland Guards had troops from Athens, Northeast Georgia and Western North Carolina. Casualties may have been heavier, but were not all reported in local Athens newspapers.

** Athens area men serving in Confederate units other than those from the immediate area.

*** The Factory Guards and Lumpkin Artillery were “home guard” units and did not participate in any major fighting.

   Although it’s difficult to believe,  Athens area residents apparently only learned of the April  9 surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee  on April 26, 1865. Issues of The Watchman and The Banner for that date carried details of Lee’s surrender and of the assassination of President Lincoln. If residents knew earlier, there is no public record of it that we can find.

   Union troops from the 13th Tennessee Regiment raided the town on May 3. Brigadier General William J. Palmer and his troops stopped the raiding and stayed in Athens for several days in May as they hunted for Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy. The official occupation of Athens by a small number of Union troops began on May 29—the 22nd Iowa Volunteers under the command of Capt. A. B. Cree.

   Kenneth Coleman puts it quite bluntly in his book: “Henceforth Confederate Athens existed only in the memories of her people.”

                        

Picture
Benjamin of Mell suffered mortal wounds at the Battle of Crampton's Gap, Maryland. This photo shows him as a Corporal, but later he was promoted to First Sergeant.
 
 
   Thousands of books have been written about heroes of Civil War battles. In this the 150th anniversary year of the start of the Civil War, such books proliferate like rabbits—and some make good reading.
   But an Athens, Georgia, author, Gary Doster, has just published a book which tells us a lot about a different kind of hero in the war—the stubborn Confederate soldiers who kept to their duty, although their biggest enemies were boredom, often fatal illnesses, dumb officers, and lack of furloughs.
   Gary has produced a wonderful book about a bunch of Georgia Civil War troops, mainly from Oglethorpe County and Greene County, Georgia, near Athens and Clarke County, who found themselves almost forgotten, mainly in Florida during the war. Through hard work and a lot of good luck, Gary tells us their stories in Dear Sallie. . .: The Letters of Confederate Private James Jewell, Echols Light Artillery, Oglethorpe County, Georgia. This book, 360 pages long, is a marvelous collection of letters Private Jewell wrote to his family back home in Oglethorpe County, GA, and letters they wrote to him. So in a way, Private Jewel and his family members basically wrote the book themselves through their letters, although the letters were never meant for publication. Private Jewel was from a farm in rural Oglethorpe County.
   Culminating years of work, Gary ran down 120 letters from Pvt. Jewel or members of his family to him. Most of these Gary was lucky enough to obtain through a dealer, and some he tracked down at Emory University in Atlanta. Getting the letters and publishing this first-hand account of the Civil War, mainly in Florida, is a major contribution to Civil War history. 
   Gary's soft-cover book also has good maps showing where the Echols Artillery served, and he has located several hitherto unknown military sites from the letters indicating Confederate camps in Florida. The book also contains a photograph of the grave of his "Aunt Sallie Jewel" and a picture of a ruined chimney on the old Jewel property in Oglethorpe County. Unfortunately no photos of Private Jewel, his wife, Eliza, or of his sister Sallie, to whom he wrote the majority of his surviving letters, are available.
   Any veteran in our armed services knows well some of the difficulties Pvt. Jewel faced in his long service in Florida. They frequently suffered from the military's "hurry-up-and-wait" attitudes, poor decisions or lack of decisions by commanding officers, and the inability to get furlough time to see a wife and family at home. Pvt. Jewel's letters frequently graphically point out the administrative and supply problems, which modern veterans had a name for: SNAFU.  It's too graphic a term to translate for non-vets.
   The Echols Light  Artillery's main duty stations were in Florida until late in the war. You might say that Florida was considered "the back-door of the Confederacy," to be guarded but denied most of the resources given to more strategic areas. Main enemies for Private Jewel weren't Yankees. They were malaria, diarrhea, and a host of other illnesses, lack of attention by the Confederate government, and sheer boredom of routine.  Sometimes the Echols Artlillery members couldn't even figure out why they were in Florida. At other times, they were placed there to guard vital salt works, guard rivers against attack, and to stymie Union advances into the state.
   Florida was the site of some important Civil War conflicts, but only a few minor contacts characteriized activities of the Georgia unit to which Private Jewel belonged.The unit was formed in 1862.
   It wasn't until almost the end of the war that his outfitl moved out of Florida and did indeed fight some of the last battles in South and North Carolina shortly before Lee's surrender in April, 1865. His unit  served under Gen. William J. Hardee, who made a stand at Averasboro, North Carolina, on March 16, 1865. 
   The story of Private Jewel is unfinished. Sadly there was no closure for his wife and family—and for us. According to an article in the  Aug. 7, 1885, issue of the Oglethorpe Echo, Lexington, GA, newspaper, written by two veterans of the unit, C. M. Witcher and M. B. Amason,  Private Jewel disappeared, apparently missing in action.
   "How he met his end is unknown," Gary Doster writes, drawing on the veterans' recollections. "Nathan M. Eberhart was killed, and I. H. Webb and J. H. Tiller, Jr. wounded, and James Jewel missing and never afterwards heard from."
   His wife, Eliza, filing for a Confederate widow's pension in 1891, indicated her husband was sent to a hospital at Smithfield, North Carolina, "and that he has never been seen or heard from since that time."
  Lack of space precludes quotes from the letters and a description of Private Jewel's activities, mainly in Florida. Florida Civil War researchers will find a wealth of information about where Confederate units were stationed there and their activities.     
   Dear Sallie. . . should be a standard reference for anyone interested in either the war in Florida or its effects on many of the men serving in the Echols Artillery from Georgia.
   The book is available at $24.95 from AngleValleyPress.com, or from Amazon.com and many book stores at varying prices.
Dear Sallie: The Letters of Confederate Private James Jewel, Echols Light Artillery, Oglethorpe County, Georgia by Gary L. Doster              copyright 2011 foreword by Dr. William Warren Rogers.
6 x 9 softcover, 360 pages, 6 maps, 4 photos, appendices, genealogy information, [ECHOLS] bibliography, index.
FIRST LETTERS EVER PUBLISHED FROM THIS  BATTERY NOW AVAILABLE - PRICE $24.95 from AngleValley Press. Author signed 1st edition includes FREE Shipping/Handling and no tax for website and mail orders.
NOT AVAILABLE for Phone Orders! Internet & Mail Order Only!



   
   
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This ruined chimney is on the Jewel farm in Oglethorpe County, Georgia (Photo by Tom Gresham)
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Photo of infamous Andersonville Prison, where the Echols Light Artillery did a brief tour of duty. (National Archives)