George Right Smith
George Right Smith
|File:George right smith-sm.jpg|
|Born||May 1, 1837|
|Died||April 29, 1903 (aged 65)|
East of Calhoun, Georgia
Bethlehem Baptist Church Cemetery, Sonoraville, Gordon County, Georgia, (Now called Sonoraville Baptist Church)(
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|Allegiance||Confederate States of America|
|Service/||Confederate States Army|
|Years of service||1861–1865|
|Unit|| 18th Georgia Volunteer Infantry – Company H|
The Rowland Highlanders
|Spouse(s)||Frances Elizabeth Barilla (nee. Spencer)|
George Right Smith (May 1, 1837 – April 29, 1903) elevated from Private to the rank of 1st Lieutenant in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War, later farmer and notable citizen of Georgia.
- 1 Early life
- 2 The Rowland Highlanders
- 3 The Peninsula Campaign
- 4 Campaign of Northern Virginia
- 5 The Maryland Campaign
- 6 The Chancellorsville Campaign
- 7 The Gettysburg Campaign
- 8 The Tennessee Campaign
- 9 The Wilderness Campaign
- 10 War's End
- 11 Post War
- 12 Death
- 13 See also
- 14 References
- 15 Bibliography
- 16 External links
George grew up with his 21 brothers and sisters on his father's farm in northwest Georgia. John J. Smith, his father, owned a farm on "411 highway near Mrs Rebecca Latimer Felton's at Cartersville". John obtained the land for his farm from a Land Lottery in the 1830s. With only the help of those 22 children and his wife, Nancy ("Adlaide" née. Spurlock), raised cotton, corn, hay, wheat and oats, and owned a cotton gin, and a mill to grind wheat and corn that they farmed. His place was fenced to keep in the hogs and cattle that were driven down on his place by what was known then as the Old Federal Road. As the 9th of 22 children, and with such a large place, George was one busy young man.
The Rowland Highlanders
After tensions had heightened between the north and south, and news of secession had spread, W.T. Wofford, a businessman, raised a confederate company in Cass County, Georgia (now Bartow County) northwest of Atlanta on April 10, 1861. George enlisted just before his 24th birthday into Company H of what soon became Wofford's 18th Georgia Regiment on June 13, 1861. Later, Company H became known as the "Rowland Highlanders." Company H was assigned to the 18th Georgia Regiment on April 26, only two months before George Smith signed on. Right after the company was reassigned, W.T. Wofford was elevated to the rank of Colonel and given command of the regiment. Shortly thereafter, the 18th was assigned to the 4th Brigade of Georgia Volunteers and moved to Camp McDonald at Big Shanty, GA. (now Kennesaw) for training.
On July 31, 1861, just six weeks after George enlisted, a public "Grand Review" of the brigade was held in Big Shanty. This parade of the troops, in fresh uniforms and good shoes, full of fanfare and bravado was shortly followed by the 4th Brigade being assigned to the command of General William Philips on September 9, 1861. The brigade moved to Lynchburg, VA. to set up camp, awaiting orders to defend the area.
After two long, dull months of patrolling in the Lynchburg area that fall season, the Georgia Volunteers moved to Goldsboro, NC in anticipation of an attack on the North Carolina coast. The attack, however, never came...
November 18, 1861, the 18th Georgia Regiment reported to General William H.C. Whiting at Dumfries, VA, north of Fredericksburg, to guard against a possible attack on Richmond. While here on bivouac, the 18th was reassigned to the now infamous Texas Brigade under the command of General Louis Wigfall on Jan 14, 1862. The Texas Brigade at that time consisted of the 1st, 4th, and 5th Texas Regiments, the 5th Alabama Regiment, and now the 18th Georgia Regiment. For the remainder of the winter of 1861 the 18th patrolled and scouted the Dumfries area.
Then, coincidentally the same day as the great Naval Battle of Hampton Roads between the Monitor and the Virginia (aka. the Merrimack), March 9, 1862, Whiting's command joined General Holmes's command at Fredericksburg. This was part of a general withdrawal of troops to south of the Rappahannock River. In April, General John B. Hood succeeded Gen. Wigfall as Commander of the Texas Brigade at Dumfries. The official designation of George Right's unit was now Company H, 18th Georgia Regiment, Hood's Texas Brigade, Whiting's Division, Army of Northern Virginia.
Little known to anyone, the war was about to heat up significantly for everyone. Company H, along with the rest of Hood's Texas brigade, would go on to become one of the most engaged units in the war.
The Peninsula Campaign
(See also Wikipedia's Peninsula Campaign article)
Battle of Seven Pines – From May 7 through June 11, 1862, the Texas Brigade received their first real test in battle around the Richmond area. Their first taste of action was in a small engagement around West Point, Virginia on May 7 in what was later called the Battle of Eltham's Landing. This small holding action was considered a success as a newly landed Union division under General William Franklin was held in check by only three Confederate brigades, including the Texas Brigade and a young Private George R Smith.
Then, on May 24, 1862, there were several skirmishes at Seven Pines, Savage Station, and Chickahominy. These led up to the much larger Battle of Seven Pines, May 31, also known as Battle of Fair Oaks to Union soldiers. Seven Pines is the name of an intersection 7 miles (11 km) east of Richmond where the Williamsburg "Old Stage" road intersected with the Nine Mile Road. About one mile (1.6 km) from Seven Pines, where the Nine Mile Road crossed the Richmond and York River Railroad, there is a station called Fair Oaks.
It was in this area that confederate General Gustavus Smith said:
|“||...was fought the first great contest between the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Federal Army of the Potomac.||”|
It was indeed one of the bloodiest to that day.
The Texas Brigade, and the 18th Georgia Regiment with George Smith, was now assigned to General D. H. Hill's Division. They were stationed on the Williamsburg road awaiting support troops from Generals Longstreet, Whiting and Huger. However, for many reasons support did not arrive at the appointed time or place.
The night before, a terrific storm lashed the entire area badly. Prior to the battle, Gen. Hill, seeing the rough terrain of the area as a hazard, had his men place a white cloth around their hats as a precaution to serve as a battle-badge. As it turned out, this was a great idea that may have aided immensely in the outcome. All were in dense marshy woods, or on the terribly muddy road wading through water two to three feet deep and through thick underbrush.
At the beginning of the battle, George Smith found himself positioned about 1,000 yards (910 m) west and in front of the Federal picket-line. The Federals, novices of Silas Casey's division, were hunkered down in flooded rifle pits. At 1:00 in the afternoon, the impatient Gen. Hill's signal guns were fired to begin the attack, and Hill's division immediately moved forward unsupported. The union line shuddered under Hill's initial blow. Some units broke and ran. On seeing this, the Union put forward one regiment to support the picket-line.
After two hours of close and bloody fighting, Hill's division, unaided, had overrun the entire Federal first line of defense and was closely pressing upon their second line. However, the next day, all of the land gained in the first day's battle was lost. 6100 Confederates and 5000 Federals were killed, wounded, or missing during the 2 day battle.
Of note, here, it was during the Battle of Seven Pines that General Robert E. Lee took command of the Army of Northern Virginia after General Joseph Johnston fell wounded on June 1. Lee officially assumed command June 1, 1862.
Gaines Mill and the Battle of Cold Harbor – On June 11, 1862, the Texas Brigade left the Richmond area near Seven Pines to join General Stonewall Jackson's command in the Blue Ridge Gap east of Port Republic. Lee knew that, in order to defend Richmond he MUST attack. Jackson's command was ordered immediately back to Richmond to join in the Peninsula Campaign and what came to be known as the Seven Days Battles, June 25 to July 1.
The Texas Brigade, arriving well ahead of Jackson but a day later than planned, was used as a shock troop unit to break the Federal center at Cold Harbor, northeast of Richmond near the Chickahominy River. It was the second day of battle when Gen. John Hood reported to Gen. Longstreet who was already engaged in battle. With the 18th Georgia Regiment leading the charge, George Smith's unit broke the line.
The 18th was the first unit through the gap, and suffered 146 killed or wounded. George R. Smith was hit in the knee, wounded by a Minié ball. Together, the two armies lost 15,000 men in a single afternoon. According to an article written later by General Longstreet, the Confederates...
|“||...captured many thousand stand of arms, 52 pieces of artillery, large quantities of supplies, and General Reynolds.||”|
Lee's men continued to pursue the Union soldiers southward.
From June 28 to June 30, the 18th Georgia Regiment found itself once again engaged in skirmishes and movements around the White Oak Swamp near Fair Oaks and Seven Pines. When they arrived at the swamp, finding the bridge they were to cross destroyed and Federal troops on the south bank, Jackson deployed his artillery. They opened fire on the south bank in a terrific bombardment, the sudden furosity of which wreaked havoc on the Union forces there. An artillery duel ensued, and continued through the day. A Vermont soldier wrote:
|“||It was as if a nest of earthquakes had suddenly exploded under our feet.||”|
Battle of Malvern Hill – A Union "victory" finally came on July 1 after a successful general withdrawal of Union forces to Malvern Hill. General McClellan was forced to settle his union soldiers into a battle at Malvern instead of his choice of Harrison's Landing to "give the enemy a blow that would check his further pursuit." He deployed his forces in a U-shaped defense on the hill with more than two dozen cannon overlooking wheat fields to the front. Hood's men, with George Smith, was deployed to the extreme left of the Confederate lines, east of Willis Church Road near Poindexter.
Lee's men were forced to advance across open fields and climb steep slopes to reach the federal positions. The Federal cannons rained terror on the advancing Confederates with cruel efficiency. They were further supported by fire from the gunboats Galena and Mahaska in the James River, which lobbed huge shells toward the battlefield. Still, wave after wave of Confederates moved onto the field. One Federal later mused,
|“||...grim and silent as death itself.||”|
The killing stopped only after the sun fell below the horizon, revealing a horrific sight; hundreds of dead, and thousands of wounded. A Union cavalry officer remarked that the sight gave the field "a gruesome crawling appearance." Even with its sublime position, the federals lost 3000 men at Malvern Hill, while the Confederates lost 5000.
Of note, the Union Army bugle call "Taps" was first played July 1862 by bugler Oliver Willcox Norton. The melody was written at Harrison's Landing, Berkely plantation's old wharf, by Norton and then General Daniel Butterfield.
Total losses during the Seven Days Battle included 15,849 Union losses killed, wounded, or missing compared to the Confederate's 19,749 killed, wounded, or missing. At a cost of nearly 20,000 lives, Lee had defended Richmond, pushing the Union Army of the Potomac back to the James River. Less than a month later, in August, the Army of the Potomac withdrew from the Peninsula completely, ending the Peninsula Campaign and the Battle of Seven Days.
Campaign of Northern Virginia
(See also Wikipedia's Northern Virginia Campaign)
Second Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) – (See also Wikipedia's 2nd Battle of Bull Run) After July 1, 1862 the Texas Brigade remained encamped on Mechanicsville Road, just 3 miles (4.8 km) above Richmond until mid-August, giving George Smith time to mend his wounded knee. On August 13, the brigade marched about 50 miles (80 km) northwest to Gordonsville to join Gen. Longstreet's Corps, the First Corps, Army of Northern Virginia. On August 22, 1862, the brigade was held in reserve during a series of skirmishes that drove the Union forces back across the Rappahannock River, and resulted in the death of General Henry Bohlen, a Union general.
Four days later, on August 26, Hood's Texas Brigade in the center of General Longstreet's attack at Second Manassas (also known as Bull Run), went to the relief of Stonewall Jackson. Between August 26 and 30, the 18th Georgia Regiment lost 19 killed and 114 wounded. Longstreet's flank assault, combined with Jackson's counterattacks, drove the northerners back in a rout to Washington, D.C.. The northerners lost a total of 16,054 men out of a force of 70,000 (23%), while the Confederates lost only 9,197 out of a total 55,000 (16%).
The Maryland Campaign
(See also Wikipedia's Maryland Campaign)
Battles of South Mountain and Antietam – Lee's forces surged northward into Maryland after the resounding defeat of the Union soldiers at Manassas. On September 14, 1862, Gen. Hood led his division under Gen. Longstreet's Corps into the Battle of South Mountain, in central Maryland, between Frederick and Hagerstown. He was sent to assist Gen. D.H. Hill who was heavily outnumbered. After intercepting an order from Gen. Lee to Gen. Hill, the union soldiers under Gen. McClellan inflicted 2,863 casualties upon the Confederates while there were only 1,831 Union casualties.
The next day, September 15, the 1,862 remaining confederate troops fell back to a cramped position along Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Maryland. By this time, Hood's troops were subsisting on green corn picked right out of the local corn fields and most of his force was barefoot. On the morning of September 17, the entire division went into reserve status to cook their first hot meal in four days. But, at sunrise, they were thrown back into the front line to assist Gen. D.H. Hill again in the Battle of Dunker Church (also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg or Battle of Antietam) against Gen. Meade supporting Hill's left flank. It was the bloodiest single-day of battle in the entire war to that point. The battle lasted until the evening when "an eerie silence fell on the battlefield."
Total casualties at Sharpsburg; Confederates 13,609 men, Union 12,410 men. The 18th Georgia Regiment earned the dubious honor of having the highest proportion of casualties of any civil war unit at any major engagement. They went into battle with 176 men and lost 101 of those (57%) killed, wounded, or missing. Gen. Lee had won a tactical victory, but strategically was compelled to move quickly back to Virginia. Gen. McClellan's forces were so beaten, he was unable to pursue.
The Chancellorsville Campaign
(See also Wikipedia's Category:Chancellorsville Campaign)
Battle of Fredericksburg – Now consisting of 160 barefoot men the 18th Georgia Regiment was transferred to Cobb's Brigade, McLaws' Division, remaining in Longstreet's Corps. Cobb's Brigade was composed of the 16th, 24th, and 18th Georgia Regiments, Cobb's Legion, and Phillips' Legion. (The 18th Georgia Regiment remained assigned to Longstreet's Corps until the end of the war.) From October 26 to November 10, 1862, George Smith's unit was involved in patrols of the region around Loudon, Faquier, and Rappahannock counties in Virginia.
General Ambrose Burnside replaced McClellan on the Union side, and delayed for a number of weeks near Warrenton, VA waiting for pontoon builders before marching his reinforced army of 120,281 men to Falmouth, north of the Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg. Gen. Lee had massed his troops in and around the Fredericksburg area. What followed was not so much a battle as a military tragedy for the Union.
On December 11, 1862 construction began of pontoon bridges to help in the Federal crossing. While they were placing the pontoons, General William Barksdale's Mississippi Brigade, heavily barricaded in buildings on the shore, sharpshooters inflicted heavy damage on the engineers. When the engineers would no longer work, Burnside ordered a brigade to float across the river on loose pontoons, and attack the Confederate positions. This plan eventually worked, but stalled Burnside's movement across the river to his great consternation. The bulk of his force moved across the completed pontoons the next day on December 12 during another punishing river crossing. Once across, they marched through Fredericksburg under heavy fire taking many more losses from Barksdale's hidden sharpshooters.
Once the city was cleared, Burnside took time to consult and plan with his officers. That evening, the officers lost control of their men as they looted homes and stores. They smashed mirrors, broke furniture, and dragged pianos into the street. "The soldiers seemed to delight in destroying everything", wrote one witness. Virtually every home and business saw Union looters who stuffed their bags and knapsacks with anything worth a dollar. Burnside's provost marshall finally arrived later, lashing at troops with his riding crop. He arrested platoons of prisoners as well as some mounted officers, plunder still hanging from their saddles.
Burnside rose early the morning of the December 13th and ordered a series of 16 hopelessly piecemeal frontal assaults across open ground. Lee's 78,513 troops were drawn up in an impregnable position atop high ground and behind a stone wall west of the city. McLaws' division was on Marye's Heights immediately south of the city. Cobb's Georgia Brigade, with the 18th Georgia Regiment, was in a sunken road during this battle hidden from view until the attackers were surprised. The main Federal attack was directed at Cobb's Brigade.
General Lafayette McLaws had this to say in an article written after the war about the battle:
|“||My line of defense was a broken one, running from the left along the sunken road, near the foot of Marye's Hill, where General Cobb's brigade was stationed. During the 12th the defenses of this line had been extended beyond the hill by an embankment thrown up to protect the right from sharpshooters, as also to resist assaults that might be made from that direction, and then the line was retired a hundred or more yards to the foot of the hills in the rear, along which was extended Kershaw's brigade of South Carolina troops, and General Barksdale's Mississippians, from left to right, the brigade of General Semmes being held in reserve. The Washington Artillery, under Colonel Walton, were in the position on the crest of Marye's Hill over the heads of Cobb's men, and two brigades under General Ransom were held here in reserve. ...The troops could not be well seen by the enemy, and the artillery on my rear line was mostly concealed, some covered with brush. The enemy from their position could not see the sunken road near the foot of Marye's Hill, nor do I think they were aware, until it was made known to them by our fire, that there was an infantry force anywhere except on top of the hill, as Ransom's troops could be seen there, in reserve, and the men in the sunken road were visible at a short distance only.
Soon after 11 a.m. the enemy approached the left of my line by the Telegraph Road, and, deploying to my right, came forward and planted guidons or standards, (whether to mark their advance or to aid in the alignment I do not know) and commenced firing; but the fire from our artillery, and especially the infantry fire from Cobb's brigade, so thinned their ranks that the line retreated without advancing, leaving their guidons planted. Soon another force, heavier than the first, advanced, and were driven back with great slaughter. They were met on retiring by reinforcements, and advanced again, but were again repulsed, with great loss. This continued until about 1 p.m.... The enemy, then deploying in a ravine about three hundred yards from the stone wall, advanced with fresh lines of attack at short intervals, but were always driven back with great loss. This was kept up until about 4:30 p.m., when the assaults ceased for a time; but the enemy, posting artillery on the left of the Telegraph Road, opened on our position; however they did no damage worth particularizing.
The enemy in the meanwhile formed a strong column of lines to attack, and advancing under cover of their own artillery, and no longer impeded by ours, came forward along our whole front in the most determined manner; but by this time, as just explained, I had lines four deep throughout the whole sunken road, and beyond the right flank. The front rank, firing, stepping back, and the next in the rear took its place and, after firing was replaced by the next, and so on in rotation. In this way, the volley of fire was made nearly continuous, and the file firing very destructive. The enemy were repulsed at all points.
From the beginning of the battle through the end not a single Union soldier made it to within 100 feet (30 m) of the wall on the Sunken Road. Gen. Cobb bled to death from a hip wound within sight of the house where his parents had married, and was succeeded by General Joseph Kershaw. The 18th Georgia Regiment lost 58 of its 160 soldiers and, on the night of December 15, was relieved. That same night, the Federals withdrew with staggering losses, and Kershaw's Brigade, with George Smith, reoccupied the city. Burnside's entire 6-mile (9.7 km) long front was riddled with appalling failure. He lost 12,653 Union men, compared to Lee's total loss of only 5,309 Confederates. Both armies went into winter quarters around Fredericksburg during the winter of '62–'63. George Right Smith was elected to the rank of Junior Second Lieutenant in January 1863 shortly after the Battle of Fredericksburg.
Battle of Chancellorsville – April 29, 1863, General Joseph Hooker (who replaced Burnside on January 25, 1863) moved the bulk of his force up the Rappahannock, west of Fredericksburg, in an attempt to flank Lee's army. He was astonished on May 1 when the Confederate commander suddenly moved most of his army directly against Hooker in what came to be known as the Battle of Chancellorsville.
May 1, W.T. Wofford assumed command of the Texas Brigade. (See also Confederate Order of Battle) Jackson's Corps, with McLaws' Division on the left flank, remained on the Fredericksburg front until the night of May 1. On that night, Jackson's force (with Lt George Right Smith) left Fredericksburg to outflank the outflanking Federal army. May 2, McLaws' Division joined with Lee's forces on Plank Road between Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. The rest of Jackson's force started the flanking movement against Hooker's exposed right flank in the wilderness around Chancellorsville. Jackson crushed the Union's 11th Corps late in the afternoon. However, while continuing his advance, Jackson was accidentally wounded fatally by the fire of his own men when he crossed in front of the firing line of General William Pender's North Carolina Brigade.
As he knelt to help a recruit load his rifle during the Battle of Chancellorsville on Plank Road, George Right Smith was also struck in the back by a Minié ball. He sat down and leaned back against a tree thinking he "would surely die." But, after a few minutes he found that the bullet had been spent after passing through his bed-roll leaving only a minor wound. According to the memoirs of Rev James Arthur Smith:
|“||A minnee ball hit his knee and burst his knee cap. He was wounded again in the battle of Chancellorsville. He wasn't running, but he was shot in the back. He was a Lieutenant and was trying to help a new recruit to learn to use his gun and with his back to the enemy, he was hit in the back. The bullet making 32 holes in a new blanket, going through his coat and shirt, but not breaking the skin. It was very painful.||”|
Lee continued to press the attack on May 3, and Hooker gave up the contest on May 5, retreating to his old position north of the Rappahannock. The Federal soldiers suffered 17,278 casualties at Chancellorsville, while the Confederates suffered 12,764. The 18th Georgia Regiment's casualties totaled 86; 14 killed and 72 wounded, including George Smith. Shortly thereafter, during May 1863, George Smith was promoted to Second Lieutenant.
The Gettysburg Campaign
(See also Wikipedia's Gettysburg Campaign)
In June, 1863, Gen. Lee launched his second invasion of the north. He advanced down the Shenandoah Valley toward Harpers Ferry, brushing aside smaller Union forces near Winchester June 13 and 14. Marching through Maryland into Pennsylvania, the Confederates reached Chambersburg and turned east. They occupied York, east of Gettysburg near the Susquehanna River, and harassed Carlisle and Harrisburg to the north.
Learning to his surprise that General George Meade (who replaced Hooker) had moved Union forces north of the Potomac River, Gen. Lee hastened to concentrate his far-flung forces. The two hostile armies came together unexpectedly at the important crossroads town of Gettysburg.
Attacking from the north and west into the city of Gettysburg, on July 1, 1863, over 28,000 Confederate soldiers finally prevailed after nine hours of desperate fighting with 18,000 Union soldiers. The weight of the Confederates forced General Abner Doubleday's Union troops back through the streets of Gettysburg, to the strategic Cemetery Ridge south of town. Here, General Meade assembled the rest of his force that night.
On the second day of the battle Meade's now 88,000 troops were heavily shored up in a strong fish-hook shaped defensive position. Union lines ran north from the Round Tops hills, along Cemetery Ridge, turning eastward to Culp's Hill. Lee ordered Longstreet's Corps to attack diagonally from Little Round Top northward, while General Richard Ewell's units attacked Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill. The Confederate attack, coming late in the afternoon, saw Longstreet capture the positions west of Little Round Top known as Peach Orchard, Wheat Field, and Devil's Den on the Federal left. But, he failed to seize the vital Little Round Top. Gen. Kershaw had the following to say about the actions of W.T. Wofford's men of the Texas Brigade (with Lt George Smith) in the thick of battle:
|“||...I feared the brave men around me would be surrounded by the large force of the enemy constantly increasing in numbers, and all the while gradually enveloping us. In order to avoid such a catastrophe, I ordered a retreat to the buildings at Rose's. On emerging from the wood as I followed the retreat, I saw Wofford riding in the head of his fine brigade, then coming in, his left being in the Peach Orchard, which was then clear of the enemy. His movement was such as to strike the stony hill on the left, and thus turn the flank of the troops that had driven us from that position. On his approach the enemy retreated across the wheat field, where, with the regiments of my left wing, Wofford attacked with great effect, driving the Federals upon and near to Little Round Top. I now ascertained that Barksdale had advanced upon the Peach Orchard after I had become engaged; thus he had cleared that position with the assistance of my 8th South Carolina regiment, driving all before him, and having advanced far beyond that point, until enveloped by superior forces, had fallen mortally wounded, and been left in the Federals hands. He had passed too far to my left to afford me any relief except in silencing the batteries that had so cruelly punished my left. When Barksdale passed to the left, the regiments of my left wing moved up into the wood on the left of the stony hill, and maintained that position against heavy odds until the advance of Wofford's brigade.
When the enemy fell back from the stony hill on General Wofford's advance, the 15th South Carolina and a portion of Semmes's brigade followed that and joined Wofford in his attack upon the retreating column. I rallied the remainder of my brigade and Semmes's at Rose's, with the assistance of Colonel Sorrel of Longstreet's staff, and advanced with them to the support of Wofford, taking position at the stone wall overlooking the forest to the right of Rose's house, some two hundred yards in front. Finding that Wofford's men were coming out, I retained them at that point to check any attempt of the enemy to follow. It was near nightfall, and the operations of the day were over. That night we occupied the ground over which we had fought, with my left at the Peach Orchard, on the hill, and gathered the dead and wounded—a long list of brave and efficient officers and men. Captain Cunningham's company of the 2d Regiment was reported to have gone into action with forty men, of whom only four remained unhurt to bury their fallen comrades. My losses exceeded 600 men killed and wounded—about one-half the force engaged...
The third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Lee ordered General George Pickett to lead a heroic frontal assault on the center line of Cemetery Ridge with some 15,000 soldiers. After a terrible two-hour artillery battle, and the heroic uphill charge of thousands, only a few hundred temporarily broke the Union lines. They were thrown back suffering nearly 60% casualties.
The Confederates suffered 28,063 dead or wounded, and the Union forces suffered 23,049 at Gettysburg. Meade was unable to counterattack, and Lee conducted an adroit retreat into Northern Virginia. George Smith's 18th Georgia Regiment retreated to an area near Manassas Gap, in Virginia. They fought a skirmish at Snickers Gap, Virginia on July 23, 1863, and did not see action again until October.
The Tennessee Campaign
(See also Wikipedia's Knoxville Campaign)
Battle of Chickamauga – In September 1863, Longstreet's Corps left the Army of Northern Virginia by rail to join the Battle of Chickamauga in northwest Georgia, near Dalton. The corps bolstered the forces of General Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee. He used these reinforcements in a vicious two-day battle, September 19 and 20, gaining one of the few Confederate victories in the southwest. But, the 18th Georgia Regiment did not participate since they arrived on the field the day after the battle. The Union forces, under the command of General William Rosencrans, fell back into Chattanooga, Tennessee. Instead of vigorously pursuing Rosencrans and pressing the siege of Chattanooga, Gen. Bragg encircled the city hoping to starve the Union commander into surrendering. But, by Oct 23rd, General Ulysses Grant had arrived and the river route to Bridgeport was opened, the threat of starvation ended. Longstreet wrote after the war,
|“||Our last opportunity was lost when we failed to follow the success at Chickamauga and capture or disperse the Union army.||”|
October 28 and 29, 1863 found the 18th Georgia Regiment engaged in battles around Wauhatchie, Tennessee.
Siege of Knoxville – Bragg sent Longstreet's Corps off in a futile attempt to capture Knoxville on November 5. The 18th Georgia Regiment found itself in a small skirmish on November 15 at Little River, Tennessee. On November 27 and 28, 1863, two brigades of cavalry from Virginia joined Longstreet and 3,500 men from Bragg's Army. On the 29th, Longstreet attacked Fort Sanders, but his troops were slaughtered in the ditches around the fort. He withdrew, and on December 3 started northward. By December 12, his forces arrived at Rogersville, and on the 15th he attempted to capture three brigades of Federal cavalry at the Battle of Bean's Station. The attempt failed.
January 16 and 17, the 18th Georgia was engaged in operations around Dandridge, Tennessee, east of Knoxville.
Mar 25, 1864, George Right Smith was promoted to the grade of 1st Lieutenant. On April 11, Longstreet received orders to return to the Army of Northern Virginia just before the violent Atlanta Campaign by the Union began. By May 5, he was back in the lines with Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.
The Wilderness Campaign
(See also Wikipedia's Overland Campaign)
Battle of the Wilderness – On May 5, 1864, Gen. Longstreet's corps was hit by the Federals on Old Turnpike and Orange Plank Road in the Battle of the Wilderness. But, Lee reacted immediately, attacking from the west, and two days of bitter, indecisive fighting ensued. Gen. Grant (who had replaced General Halleck as Commanding General of the United States Army) found both of his flanks endangered, and quickly retreated from the wilderness battlefield.
He attempted to hasten southeast to the crossroads at Spotsylvania Courthouse just southwest of Fredericksburg, but found the Confederates, including the 18th Georgia, had arrived first. In extremely savage action, including hand-to-hand fighting at the famous Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, Bloody Angle with Longstreet's men in the left flank, May 8 to May 19, Grant was thrown back. He lost over 17,000 Union men compared to only 8,000 Confederate losses at the Battle of the Wilderness. And he lost another 18,000 at Spotsylvania compared to Lee's 9,000 man loss.
Again, at North Anna River, May 22 – May 26, the Pamunky River, May 26–28, and at the Totopotomy Creek, May 28–31, he found Lee too much to handle. Finally, at the Battle of Cold Harbor, June 1–12, northeast of Richmond, Grant launched several very heavy attacks against Lee's army, which included the 18th Georgia Regiment. All of these attacks, including a near suicidal one on June 3, were repelled with grievous losses totalling over 12,738 Union soldiers. Lee's losses, 5,287 total, were much lighter.
After the battles east of Richmond, Lee moved his forces into Richmond and Petersburg. June 16, 1863, the Union forces, under Grant, lay siege on Petersburg in an attempt to gain control of the vital railways to Richmond. The 18th Georgia Regiment is listed as being engaged in the assault on Petersburg, June 18, 1864. The siege lasted until March 1865.
The Shenandoah Battles (also called Valley Campaigns of 1864) – 1st Lt George Right Smith was hospitalized August 1864 in Petersburg for serious diarrhea combined with high fever. However, August 7, was in the unit once again as they were reassigned to operations against Sheridan's Campaign in the Shenandoah Valley where the 18th Georgia saw many small battles. August 16, they were engaged at Cedarville, and Guard Hill (Front Royal), Virginia. They next saw action at Bunker Hill, West Virginia September 2 and 3rd. On September 19, they saw action in the battles of Opequan and Winchester, Virginia (Third Battle of Winchester). Three days later, on the 22nd, George Smith's unit saw action at the battles of Fisher's Hill and Woodstock, Virginia. And lastly, on October 19, 1864, the unit saw action in the battles of Cedar Creek, Middletown, and Belle Grove, Virginia.
Siege of Petersburg and Richmond – November 30, 1864, the unit was reassigned to the Army of Northern Virginia, and moved back to Richmond where Grant's forces continued to lay siege to the city. Conditions were intolerably poor in Richmond and disease was rampant. On December 26, 1Lt George Smith was again hospitalized and moved to Stuart Hospital in Richmond due to continuing diarrhea, and again in January, 1865 for the same problem. By January, Tennessee and Georgia were firmly in Federal hands. February 27, 1Lt George Smith was placed on medical disability furlough in Richmond for 20 days, and is shown in the records back on duty March 23, 1865.
The siege on Petersburg and Richmond continued until Lee's lines were pierced, and he was forced to evacuate both cities April 2 and 3rd. An 88 miles (142 km) chase ensued down the Appomattox River to the southwest. Confederate forces were detained at Amelia Courthouse, waiting for delayed food supplies, and were badly cut up at Five Forks on April 1 and at the Battle of Sayler's Creek (where the 18th Georgia Regiment was stationed) on April 6.
George Smith was furloughed sometime immediately before war's end due to continued illness, and returned home to Georgia. After Lee's surrender at Appomattox, April 9, 1865, Smith surrendered at Kingston, Georgia. His unit, Company H, "The Rowland Highlanders", of the 18th Georgia Regiment, assigned to Gen. Kershaw's Division, under the command of Brigadier General Dudley M. DuBose, of General Longstreet's First Corps, Army of Northern Virginia was represented at the surrender of Confederate Forces at Appomattox Court House by just five privates. The entire 18th Georgia Infantry Regiment surrendered with less than 60 members, the highest ranking of which was one Lieutenant.
After returning home, George sold two bales of hay he left behind before the war for $2,000 each ($30,316 each in 2018 USD). He then bought a farm near the old home place of his father, John J. Smith. On Dec 20, 1866, Reverend Mr. Tatum married George Smith to Elizabeth Francis Barella "Fannie" (née. Spencer) who was born in 1842.
Later, he sold the farm, and bought another farm in Gordon County about 6 miles east of Calhoun. It was called Dry Valley (2 miles south of Red Bud), because no one had a well in the area. They had to use cisterns to catch the rainwater. They had their first child there, John Thomas (Tom) in Oct 1867. Tom was followed by the births of Lemuel Eugene (Jun 1870), Mary Henrietta (Sep 1872), Ruth Anne (Oct 1874), Robert Warren (Jul 1877), James Arthur (Feb 1880) and Frances Elizabeth (May 1882).
George's family had to obtain affidavits from people with whom he had served to prove he had not deserted, in order to qualify for his pension. His pension was eventually given to his wife Fannie after his death.
Obituary – The Calhoun Times, Calhoun, Ga., Thursday, April 30, 1903
|“||Mr Geo. R. Smith died at his home Wednesday night at 10 o'clock after an illness of two weeks with pneumonia. It had been evident for several days that the end was near, still the announcement of his death caused a pall of gloom to overspread this section of country where he was loved and esteemed by all. He bore his sufferings with a cheerful and uncomplaining spirit. Mr. Smith was sixty-six years of age, and, until recently had enjoyed excellent health nearly all his life. He was a consistent member of the Baptist church. He is survived by a wife and three children, two boys and a girl. He was laid to rest at Bethlehem cemetery. Rev. Hudson conducted the funeral services. Dear friends, we know it's hard to give him up, but be of good cheer and prepare to meet him in that bright beyond where parting is no more, but all will be bliss. Is not that a comforting thought?||”|
George Right Smith is buried next to his wife Fanny, and her parents Thomas Spencer and Ruth Spencer (née. Lewis) in Sonoraville, GA just northeast of the old post office at the cemetery of what is now called Sonoraville Baptist Church.
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- List of Confederate Regular Army officers
- Dates from cemetery headstone.
- 1850 Cass Co., GA census: Georgia Smith, M, age 13, Farmer, attended school.
- Letter from James Arthur Smith to James Ralph Smith
- Holton, Glenda. "RootsWeb site of Glenda Ingram Holton". RootsWeb (Genealogy Site).
- Notes by Mildred Lee Anderson Brown, daughter of Joe Anderson and Ethel Smith, grand-daughter of George R. Smith
- Henderson, Lillian (1959). Roster of the Confederate soldiers of Georgia, 1861–1865, Vol 2. Hapeville, Ga.: Longina & Porter. ISBN 0-87152-360-4. Search this book on
- "General/Colonel William Phillips". AngleFire (History Site). Retrieved July 15, 2018.
- "Oliver Willcox Norton". TapsBugler (History Site). Retrieved July 20, 2018.
- Capps, Melanie (February 11, 2012). "Descendants of John J. Smith, Bartow Co., GA". RootsWeb (Genealogy Site). Retrieved July 20, 2018.
- "Civil War Richmond – Stuart Hospital". Civil War Richmond (History Site). 2015. Retrieved July 18, 2018.
- Amount of Currency in 2013 Dollars website
- 1870 Gordon Co., GA Census (Calhoun): George R. Smith, age 33, Farmer, Value of Real Estate: 120, Personal Estate Value: 300, born in Georgia.
- 1880 Gordon Co., GA census: George R. Smith, age 41, Farmer, born in GA.
- Obituary extracted 7 Aug 1998, Calhoun, GA
References used, but not properly cited in article, used as general resources throughout:
- Encyclopædia Britannica, 15th Edition, © 1988
- The Century War Book, reprint edition of 1978 by Arno Press, Inc., ISBN 0-405-11123-1 Search this book on ., "A condensation of The Century War Series, published from November 1884 to November 1887 in The Century Magazine".
- Never Call Retreat, Bruce Catton, © 1965 Doubleday and Company, Inc., ISBN 0-8488-1266-2 Search this book on .
- Gettysburg: The Final Fury, Bruce Catton, © 1974 Doubleday and Company, Inc., ISBN 0-3850-2060-0 Search this book on .
- A Battlefield Atlas of the Civil War, Craig Symonds, © 1983 Nautical and Aviation Publishing Co. of America, ISBN 0-9338-5249-5 Search this book on .
- Capsule History of the Eighteenth Georgia Infantry, The Harold B. Simpson Hill College Confederate Research Center and Museum, Hillsboro, Texas
- Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia, 1861–1865, Index, Brightwell, pg. 425 (also see Vol 2, pg. 678), ISBN 0-87152-360-4 Search this book on .
- The Battle of Fredericksburg Civil War Series, William Marvel, © 1993 Eastern National Park and Monument Association, ISBN 0-9159-9283-3 Search this book on .
- The Battles for Richmond Civil War Series, William J. Miller, © 1996 Eastern National Park and Monument Association
- The Battle of Gettysburg Civil War Series, Harry W. Pfanz, © 1994 Eastern National Park and Monument Association, ISBN 0-9159-9263-9 Search this book on .
- Richmond Battlefields, A history and Guide to Richmond National Battlefield Park, Joseph P. Cullen, © 1992 Division of Publications, National Park Service
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