A FEW SOLDIERS OF OLD TALLAPOOSA:

 Confederates and Doughboys

     During the American Civil War, the small farming communities of Tallapoosa County, Alabama contributed nearly 3,000 men to the Southern war effort - at least 828 of these men perished.  Farmers, tradesmen, ministers, physicians and lawyers - few of anything other than modest or desperate financial means, these men came together and formed military companies that fought in the war's early engagements as well as the last ditch encounters of 1865.  They manned heavy artillery along the Mississippi River at Island 10 and Port Hudson and fought the 20th Maine at Little Round Top. Tallapoosa Countians gave their lives at Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Williamsburg, Frazier's Farm, Cedar Mountain, Salem Church, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Port Hudson, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, The Wilderness and in dozens of forgotten skirmishes all over the war torn South.  Their fallen still lie in unknown graves that mark the advance and retreat of the Confederate Armies.  Northern prison camps took the lives and health of many but those who lived and returned home picked up the pieces to take their places in communities crippled by the greatest human and economic loss endured in their time.

     Some moved to Texas and other points west seeking a better life in the vast lands of the frontier and others, their fates or wanderings unrecorded, simply vanished from history.  Beaten but not bowed, the rest lived out their lives in a familiar land. Scattered across Tallapoosa County in church cemeteries and old family burial plots are the last resting places of  these men and their families.  Long gone from the land of the living, they have left us with much more than a vision of worn marble markers and a family name; a desire for answers to questions from a time in which common people produced the stuff of uncommon legends.

     Unfortunately, only a few were able to document their wartime activities, triumphs, and tragedies.  Fewer still were those whose fragile documents survived the ravages of time to the present day.  Wanting to be remembered by the folks at home some did pause long enough to have their "likeness" taken by a photographer.  Although many were unable to sign their own name they certainly left their mark on the wood and iron of Federal gunboats and marched, camped and fought from the sandy beaches of the Gulf of Mexico to the rock strewn hills of southern Pennsylvania.

Pvt. Pleasant Lawson Black, Co. H, 14th Alabama Volunteers, wounded on April 27, 1862 during the Yorktown Campaign.

COMPANIES RAISED IN AND AROUND TALLAPOOSA COUNTY, ALABAMA FOR STATE AND CONFEDERATE SERVICE, 1861 - 1865

Regular Army of Alabama - Twenty-nine volunteers recruited from across the county in March, 1861. Later served with the 1st Battalion, Alabama Artillery

at Forts Morgan and Gaines on Mobile Bay.

Company F/A, 1st Alabama Infantry – “Tallapoosa Rifles” originally an Alabama Volunteer Corps company known as the "Andrew Jackson Guards."

Company C, 1st Alabama Cavalry -  “Pearson Dragoons”

Company F, 13th Alabama Infantry – “Tallassee Guards” originally an A.V.C. company known as the "Southern Guards."

Company G, 14th Alabama Infantry – “Hillabee Blues”

Company H, 14th Alabama Infantry - "Jackson Avengers"

Company K, 38th Tennessee Infantry - "Tallapoosa Thrashers"

Company C, 50th Tennessee Infantry - "Wilson Greys"

 Companies A & B, 1st Battalion, Alabama Mounted Men (Major Thaddeus S. Beall's Battalion) - Co. A referred to themselves as the "Emuckfau Rangers" and became Co. H, 8th Confederate Cavalry in May, 1862.  Co. B became Co. I, 8th Confederate Cavalry in May, 1862.

Companies D, E, F, & G, 34th Alabama Infantry

Company B, 37th Alabama Infantry

Companies A, B, C, D, F, H, & K, 47th Alabama Infantry - Co. B was known as the "Tallapoosa Light Infantry" as well as the "Tallapoosa Tigers".  Co. C was known as the "Jeff Holley Guards".  Co. H was recruited from both Chambers and Tallapoosa Counties.  Co. K was known as the "Goldthwaite Greys".    A photograph of a flag attributed to the 47th Alabama that was captured at the Battle of Sharpsburg by a New York regiment in 1862.

Company C, 2nd Battalion, Hilliard's Legion - Became Company A, 59th Alabama Infantry. Members of this company were from Coosa and Tallapoosa counties.

Company C, 6th Alabama Cavalry - Made up of veterans and individuals previously exempt from military service for local and State defense.

Companies A, & B, 3rd Battalion Alabama Reserves - Men between 45 - 50 years old.  Company A was known as the "Ready Guards".

Company A, 63rd Alabama Infantry - 15 to 17 year old volunteers, fought during the Mobile Campaign at Spanish Fort and Blakely, Alabama.

Captain Young's Company of Cavalry, Alabama Reserves - Mounted infantry assigned to the Post of Cahaba.

Captain Barnett's Company of Home Guards, Tallassee Arsenal - A small group of government employees from the Confederate States Arsenal at Tallassee.

Other State and Confederate organizations with some Tallapoosa soldiers.

Companies B, & G, 5th Alabama Infantry Regiment - Co. B had 18 conscripts from Tallapoosa  County and Co. G had 6.

Companies G & L, 6th Alabama Infantry Regiment - Co. G, the "Autauga Rifles," had 11 conscripts from Tallapoosa County.  Co. L, the "Loachapoka Rifles," had 20 volunteers and conscripts from Tallapoosa County.

Hardaway's (Hurt's) Alabama Battery - Thirty volunteers from Tallapoosa County.

Robertson's (Dent's) Confederate Battery - Twelve volunteers from Tallapoosa County.

Croft's "Flying Artillery" Battery, Georgia Light Artillery - Twenty-four volunteers from Tallapoosa County.

53rd Alabama Cavalry Regiment, Partisan Rangers - Four men in Co. A, 2 in Co. C, 2 in Co. G and 1 in Co. K from Tallapoosa County. (This information is courtesy of Bob McClendon)

Company A, 24th Alabama Cavalry Battalion - Fifteen men recruited from Tallapoosa County in September, 1863 by Lieutenant Charles D. Worrell of Reeltown. The balance of the company was recruited from Autauga, Coosa, Dallas and Perry Counties and was originally designated as Company M, 53rd Alabama Cavalry. (This information is courtesy of Bob McClendon)

Lt. Echols Company of Conscripts - Twelve men from Tallapoosa County sent to other units.

61st Alabama Infantry - A total of 83 men from Tallapoosa County were enlisted into various companies of this regiment in 1863. Sent to the Army of Northern Virginia and fought in the major battles of 1864 and 1865.

Company C, 63rd Alabama Infantry - Fourteen 17 year old conscripts from Tallapoosa County. Fought at Spanish Fort and Blakely, Alabama.


Colonel Michael Jefferson Bulger, ca. 1880

Michael Jefferson Bulger was born February 13, 1806 in Columbia, South Carolina.  He moved to Alabama at a young age and was witness to the decline and removal of the Creek Nation in Alabama.  His occupations were varied as he made a living as a store keeper, planter, and news paper publisher.  He also found his way into politics as a state legislator.  In 1851 he was elected Brigadier General of the Chambers, Coosa, and Tallapoosa County militia.  Despite being a slave owner he was a noted leader of the Cooperationist faction in Tallapoosa County during the Secession Crisis.  As a result he found himself politically discredited by many staunch secessionists.  In 1861 General Braxton Bragg, commander of the Army of Pensacola, upon learning of a visitor’s home county was heard to exclaim, “What madam, are you from that Abolition county? Bulger’s county?”  Be that as it may and regardless of his age he was not about to be left out of the war and by the spring of 1862 was Captain of Co. A, 47th Alabama Infantry Regiment.  He was wounded twice at the Battle of Cedar Run, Virginia on August 9, 1862 and by July 2, 1863 Lieutenant Colonel Bulger found himself in command of the regiment as it ascended the hotly contested slope of Little Round Top at Gettysburg.  He was shot in the chest, left for dead and subsequently captured.   Remarkably he survived.  Paroled but still not fully recovered from the Gettysburg wound Bulger learned that he was to be promoted to Brigadier General.  He retired from active service however before the promotion was approved.  Colonel Bulger passed away at Dadeville, Alabama, December 14, 1900, beloved by veterans of the 47th Alabama Regiment and his community.


WORLD WAR I

1917-1918

 

Co. H, 4th Alabama National Guard in downtown Alexander City about 1916 -1917. 

Note "Old Baldy's Daylight Corner," now Carlisle Drugs, in the background.

Company H, 167th U. S. Infantry, 42nd “Rainbow” Division In The First World War.

     Company H of the 4th Alabama National Guard was headquartered in Alexander City during the years before World War One.  This infantry company, commanded by Marion Institute graduate Captain Herman Winkler Thompson, drew its members from Tallapoosa and surrounding counties.  During the 1880's local citizens expressed an interest in organizing a militia company known as the "Alexander City Rifles" which apparently suffered from a lack of volunteers.  America’s experience during the Spanish-American War and Philippine Insurrection however spurred an increase in Federal support and public interest in the new National Guard; by the outbreak of war in Europe in 1914 Alexander City would boast its own National Guard company.     

     In 1916, the Alabama National Guard along with Captain Thompson’s company were sent to Nogales, Arizona to help keep the warring factions of the Mexican Revolution on their side of the border.  Months of drilling and marching in the dry American southwest followed while half way around the world the nations of Europe were locked in a death embrace on the muddy fields of France and Belgium.  When the United States declared war on Germany in 1917, the 4th Alabama Infantry was Federalized and the Alexander City detachment became the nucleus of Co. H, 167th United States Infantry.

     The new 167th U.S. Infantry Regiment received additional recruits from other Alabama National Guard Regiments as well as draftees from all over the United States.  The 167th U.S. Infantry left Montgomery on August 28, 1917 and detrained at Camp Mills at Long Island, New York a few days later.  At Camp Mills, the 167th U.S. Infantry along with other former National Guard units from across the nation became a part of the 42nd "Rainbow" Division. 

     For the young Alabama soldiers Camp Mills brought an overexposure to bright city lights and Northern social habits which apparently caused some acute cases of culture shock.  Subsequently the Alabama boys had problems getting accustomed to the Yankee way of doing things and the regiment became known for causing fights in camp.  Melees were rumored to have broken out in the company streets between groups of Alabamians and African-Americans of the New York National Guard and Father Duffee's beloved 69th New York (165th U.S. Infantry, 42nd "Rainbow" Division).  Fact or myth, there must have been some small sense of relief for all the regimental commanders of the Rainbow Division when they received orders to embark their troops on ships for France in November of 1917.

     The old sectional squabbles didn't matter much in the trenches as the aggressive tactics of the Alabamians soon earned the respect and admiration of all of the American Expeditionary Forces (A.E.F.).  Lt. Col. "Wild Bill" Donovan of the 165th U.S. Infantry (a hell raiser in his own right who later commanded the Office of Strategic Services during WW2) called the Alabamians, "..a wild bunch, not knowing fear .... wandering all over the landscape, shooting everything."  There is record of an incident which gives us a clear impression of the combative attitude the Alabamians carried to the trenches of France. One dark night, shortly after taking over a long quiet sector from the war-weary French, a small patrol from the 167th Infantry was ordered out into No Man's Land to inspect the German barbed wire.  Not satisfied with mere observation of the enemy defenses, the Alabama boys decided to leave their German counterparts with a little heads up on their new adversaries.  Before the patrol left No Man's Land a sign was placed on the German wire where the enemy could see it the following morning.  It read: "Germans, Give Your Souls To God Because Your *** Belongs To Alabam". (From ALABAMA'S OWN IN FRANCE, War Stories of the 167th U.S. Infantry, William H. Amerine, Eaton & Gettinger, New York, 1919)

     Following three months of training in defensive sectors under French supervision, the Rainbow Division was called into action during the Battle of Château-Thierry in July of 1918 during the last major German offensive of the war.  On July 15, 1918, during a heavy German attack on the trenches in front of Butte de Souain, Pvt. Sanford N. Adams, Co. H, 167th U.S. Infantry of Dadeville was killed in action and Privates Homer Brown and Odis Morrison from Alexander City were wounded. Company H took a number of casualties on July 28, 1918 when the Rainbow Division forced a crossing of the Ourcq River under heavy machine gun and artillery fire.  Captain Thompson and Sgt. Richard T. Sandlin of Alexander City were severely wounded along with five other local Doughboys. The experienced leadership of Captain Thompson was lost to the company due to the wounds he received at the Ourcq River. 

     Company H lost another long serving member on September 13, 1918 when the 167th Infantry went over the top at St. Mihiel and Sgt. Henry Lorenzo Dabbs of Alexander City was killed in action.  The old American Legion Post in downtown Alexander City is named in his honor.  In the 4th Alabama photograph above Dabbs is in the front rank kneeling third from the left.

     Soldiers who went "over the top" during the First World War must have possessed all the courage and fortitude any nation in that time or this could have possibly sought in its fighting men.  Filthy water logged trenches, the rotting carnage of No Man's Land, sudden artillery bombardments raining cascades of death day or night, relentless machine gun fire and the suffocating horror of gas warfare were unspeakable nightmares come reality.  That human beings could survive, let alone endure such a holocaust is nothing short of remarkable.  Future generations would do well to remember people such as these.

     Company H had its share of heroes. Sergeant Jack W. Milner of Alexander City was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for valor in combat.  His DSC citation reads as follows:

Milner, Jack W., Sergeant, U. S. Army, Company H, 167th Infantry Regiment, 42nd Division, American Expeditionary Forces.  Hometown: Alexander City, Alabama.  Date of action October 15, 1918. 

Citation: The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Jack W. Milner, Sergeant, U. S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action near Landres-et-St. Georges, France, October 15, 1918.  After his company had sustained heavy losses in a severe engagement with the enemy, and he himself had been seriously wounded, Sergeant Milner, realizing that he was the only sergeant left in the company, refused to be evacuated and remained on duty for 12 hours, reorganizing his company under heavy enemy artillery and machine-gun fire, thereby showing entire disregard for danger and setting an excellent example of courage and heroism under fire to his men.  General Orders No. 131, War Department, 1918. (Citation courtesy of Warren Whitby III, Montgomery, Alabama.)

     Pvt. Cumbie Yarbrough of Dadeville was a "bomber" in Co. H and was mentioned in the regimental orders of the day for his actions in combat.  My grandmother once told me that cousin Cumbie had gotten a medal for throwing "bombs".  In the WW1 terminology of the A.E.F., "bombers" were specially trained infantry squads equipped with grenades who were expected to "bomb" the enemy out of their trenches and fortifications.  One squad in each infantry platoon were trained as bombers.

Wartime letters of Pvt. Edgar E. Owen,

Co. H, 167th Infantry, 42nd Rainbow Division, A.E.F.

Pvt. Owen joined Company H after it reached France.  He survived being gassed and later became Superintendent of the Tallapoosa County Board of Education.

August 2, 1918

September 3, 1918

September 24, 1918

November 9, 1918


Pvt. Reuben Baker of Alexander City, Alabama.  Served as a private in 3rd Platoon, Co. B, 306th Engineers, 81st “Wildcat” Division from May 1918 until June 1919.  He had also been on the Mexican border with Co. H, 4th Alabama National Guard from June 23, 1916 until discharged in April 1917. 

     Five members of the 306th Engineer Regiment of the 81st “Wildcat” Division were from Tallapoosa County and vicinity.  As Engineers they constructed trenches and dugouts, erected barbed wire entanglements, camouflaged important positions, kept the roads open and generally supported division operations in any way necessary which sometimes included infantry combat.  The Wildcats reached France in August of 1918 and served in the St. Die and Sommedieu Sectors.  The Division went "over the top" at Sommedieu during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive on November 9, 1918.


 

Private Millard G. Greer of Camp Hill, Alabama.  Served in 324th Infantry Regiment, 81st “Wildcat” Division from May, 1918 until July, 1918.  Served in Company A, 11th Infantry Regiment, 5th “Red Diamond” Division from October 1, 1918 until Armistice.  Courtesy of Pvt. Greer's son, Millard Greer Jr. of Cedartown, Georgia.

     Millard G. Greer was born at Camp Hill, Tallapoosa County, Alabama in June 1895.  The Greer family had lived in Tallapoosa County since before the Civil War.  Millard’s grandfather, John Wesley Greer, had served in the Army of Tennessee as a Private in Co. D, 34th Alabama Infantry, Manigault’s Brigade.  Hardship was left at the doorstep of the Greer family after John Wesley Greer was killed in action at Ezra Church, Georgia on July 28, 1864.

     Millard G. Greer was drafted May 27, 1918 and assigned to the 324th U.S. Infantry Regiment, 81st Wildcat Division at Camp Sevier, South Carolina.  Just prior to the Division's deployment to France, Pvt. Greer became ill and was left at the hospital at Camp Mills, New York.  Recovering from his illness, Greer was assigned to the 397th Overseas Casual Company and shipped out on the SS America and arrived in Brest, France on Sept. 20, 1918.  Eight days later Millard Greer was assigned to Company A, 11th U.S. Infantry Regiment, 5th “Red Diamond” Division.  From October 5, 1918 until November 11, 1918 the 11th Infantry, 5th Division was heavily engaged in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.  On November 10, 1918, the day before the Armistice, Millard Greer was seriously wounded in the right leg. He spent the following two months recuperating in various A.E.F. hospitals before being sent back to the States.

     Upon his return home in 1919 the Tallapoosa Record scarcely noted the event “Millard Greer, son of Mr. and Mrs. W. L. Greer, Rt 1, who has been overseas for a few months, returned Monday”.  Obviously the report left much unsaid about Pvt. Greer’s overseas experience with the A.E.F.  The 5th Division had suffered 1,976 battle deaths and 6,864 wounded during the war.  Having cheated death in the Argonne Forest, Millard Greer saw little need to impress anyone with his service and according to his son seldom spoke of the war. Millard Greer passed away at Cedartown, Georgia in 1973.  His family received a long overdue Purple Heart from the Federal Government on November 8, 1997.  This information is courtesy of Millard Greer Jr. of Cedartown, Georgia.


I am interested in obtaining copies of wartime correspondence and photographs

from any Confederate or WW1 soldiers from Tallapoosa County, Alabama. 

Email me at:

gwilson38801@yahoo.com

Last Update March 16, 2012       

Visitors to this site are welcome to utilize this information for historical and genealogical research.

© Copyright 2012


LINKS

Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System - A searchable online database for information regarding individual soldiers and sailors of the American Civil War. Alabama records are online. Administered and maintained by the United States National Park Service. A good place to start if you are unsure what regiment or even what side your ancestor may have served on.

Alabama Department of Archives and History Civil War Search Database - A searchable online database of information on Alabama Civil War soldiers which is under development by the ADAH.

Documenting the Civil War Period Flag Collection of the Alabama Department of Archives and History - An excellent online report by Bob Bradley, Curator of the ADAH, outlining the history and preservation of the numerous Confederate era flags in the holdings of the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

Alabama In The Civil War Message Board - An excellent site for your specific queries regarding Alabama Confederate soldiers and regiments!

The 46th Alabama Infantry Regiment - An excellent choice for beginning research on the 46th Alabama Infantry in which a number of Tallapoosa Countians served.  Maintained by Larry Thompson. Contains company rosters.

The Doughboy Center - An excellent start for researching the American Expeditionary Force of World War 1.

 

BACK TO THE HOME PAGE

1