CHAPTER I - THE GENERALS
William Tatum Wofford
The regimental commander who helped organize, train and first led the 18th Georgia Volunteer Infantry was William Tatum Wofford. “One of the most daring of men” is what Dr. Gerald J. Smith called Wofford in his book by the same title. The future general was born June 28, 1824, in Habersham County, Georgia. His ancestors were an old Virginia family. William was part Cherokee and spoke the language. His father died when he was young. His grandfather was a Revolutionary War colonel from South Carolina. His family was influential in the cultural, economic and political life of the area.
General William T. Wofford died May 22, 1884, at his residence near Cass Station. He is buried in the Cassville, Georgia cemetery. The epitaph on his tombstone reads, “A Captain of Cavalry in the war with Mexico: Colonel and General in the War Between the States, Soldier, Patriot and Gentleman.” He is buried next to his first wife, their three infant daughters and his mother.
William was educated at private schools in Habersham County and attended high school at Lawrenceville until he entered Franklin College and Athens Georgia where he graduated in 1840. By 1845 he was admitted to the bar and located in Cassville, Cass County Georgia at age 24.
During the War with Mexico (1845-1847), Wofford was asked by the Governor in 1847 to raise a company of cavalry. He was commissioned a Captain of his Company E, First Battalion, Georgia Mounted Volunteers. The Battalion was sent to join Zachary Scott at Vera Cruz, Mexico. They then went with General Winfield Scott from Vera Cruz, Mexico to Mexico City in his campaign. Captain Wofford and his men saw action only twice.
In November Wofford led his men in an attack on the “Castilian Lancers.” When an enemy soldier killed one of his men, the Captain grabbed the lance from the Castilian and killed him with it. After the treaty was signed, Mexican guerrillas ambushed Wofford’s Company at the Village of Matersordera. Although outnumbered, Wofford led his men to safety with only five of his men killed.
Wofford returned home from the war in 1848, and enter politics in 1849. At that time Cass County included nearly all of Gordon County. He was elected for two terms (1849-1853) from Cass County to the lower house of the Georgia General Assembly after which he served as clerk of the House–1853\54 term. In 1850 the Georgia House of Representatives passed a resolution express the gratitude of the State for his valiant service in Mexico. The Resolution said in part, “... for service rendered in a battle with a very superior number of guerrillas at Matesordera.”
Governor Towns appointed Wofford a delegate to the Southern Commercial Congress at Montgomery, Alabama. He began writing articles for a local newspaper, which led him to purchase The Standard newspaper in February 1852.
Becoming financially secure, Wofford married Julia Dwight, August 16, 1859. She was the daughter of Dr. Samuel B. Dwight of Hopedale in Murray County. Three of eldest of Wofford four daughters died in infancy and one daughter, Lela Dwight Wofford, grew to adulthood. Julia Wofford died September 9, 1878.
While practicing law in Cassville, he continued to write articles for the paper about business and political matters of the area. This would lead to his becoming a delegate to the National Democratic Convention in 1860 in Charleston, South Carolina. Even though Wofford was opposed to the election of Abraham Lincoln, he did not favor disunion. He was very much opposed to secession.
In the secession furor that followed Lincoln’s election, Wofford, with Perley and George W. Ford, made a canvass of Cass County and surrounding area. They spoke in favor of remaining in the Union, and campaigned for Wofford’s election as a delegate to the upcoming Secession Convention.
The memorial to Wofford given in 1887, at a reunion of the 18th Georgia Infantry Regiment, read in part, “The fiery fervor of that day cannot be described. Public feeling was at a white heat. The blinding adumbration of war was over the land. Men lived in a flaming excitement. The contagious and irresistible fever of revolution, inspired by a believed wrong, was seizing a people. It was a wild time, growing wilder, and in the delirious influences men threw themselves into the rushing current with frenzied enthusiasm. Opposition, remonstrance, protest, were unavailing.”
“It was suggestively characteristic of General Wofford in this feverish passion that he coolly and resolute set his head against the popular current. He opposed secession and took the field as an anti-secession candidate to the secession convention. He was a decided union man form first to last during the whole war, though fighting with conspicuous gallantry to the end of the struggle, for the South. He was elected by about one hundred majority, the county voting about 3,000.”
In January 1861 William Wofford was one of the county’s three delegates to the Secession convention where they worked strongly against secession. All three Cass County delegates voted with him. The irony of the situation is that Cass County suffered more than any other north Georgia County in 1864-65. The fervor of the day carried the convention to vote secession on January 16, 1861. Once the State, through its chosen representatives, spoke Wofford accepted the inevitable.
When Wofford say the honor of the State of Georgia was at stake, he returned home and immediately offered his volunteered his services to her defense. He was among one of the first to do so, and “...no more brave and gallant officer ever led a regiment or brigade into deadly conflict.”
William Wofford entered state service as a Captain of a company. Governor Brown and the State of Georgia wasted no time in preparing for war. The governor began ordering supplies and equipment and establishing training camps. The first shipload of supplies arrived three days before secession was voted. By March Wofford completed plans to raise an infantry regiment from his home area.
Captain Wofford helped to organize the First Regiment of Infantry which became the 18th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Recruitment of volunteers began in earnest in April 1861. The men joining the newly forming regiment were sent to Camp Brown where Wofford was elected colonel. Camp Brown was located five miles below Marietta on the Smyrna campgrounds. In June 1861, Colonel Wofford with his regiment went to the newly formed training area called Camp McDonald, where the camp was organized on June 11. The regiment is shown in a drawing the new training camp as the “First Reg. Infantry” with W. T. Wofford as Colonel and S. Z. Ruff as Lt. Colonel. Camp McDonald was located west of the Big Shanty (Kennesaw) railroad depot. The regiment was a part of General Phillips’ 4th Brigade until was turned over the Confederacy by Governor Brown in August 1861.
Wofford’s regiment would see further training service near Savannah, Georgia and Richmond, Virginia before being assigned to the Texas Brigade near Dumfries, Virginia in December 1861,
Wofford served with General John Bell Hood in 1861-62. After the Battle of Antietam, and the passage of a new Confederate law which required CSA troops to serve with troops from their own state, General Robert E. Lee moved Colonel Wofford and the 18th Georgia Infantry Regiment to Georgia General T. R. R. Cobb’s Brigade in McLaw’s Division.
Later in January 1863, Colonel William Wofford became a brigadier general and took over command of the Brigade after General T R. R. Cobb was killed at the Battle of Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862. Wofford himself was wounded three times. Both Wofford and Hood were wounded at the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863.
General Wofford was wounded twice in May 1864. The first time was during the Battle of the Wilderness on May 8. He was watching the placement of an artillery piece when he was struck in the rib by a minie ball, which bounced off his coat button and fell into his vest pocket. On the 16th at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, he received his most serious wound where he was struck in the breast. He went to Hospital in Richmond. When he could travel, the General went home to Cassville to recuperate, but only after Union General William T. Sherman had left the area and move on to capture Atlanta before making his famous ‘March to the Sea’.
General Wofford, seeing the conditions in north Georgia while recovering from his wounds, requested he be allowed to bring to Georgia his beloved Brigade, which included the 18th Georgia Infantry Regiment. General Lee would not agree. Governor Brown of Georgia requested Wofford to remain in Georgia and not return to his regiment in Virginia. On January 23, 1865, Wofford was appointed department commander for North Georgia by Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America.
Lawlessness prevailed in the region. Contending armies fought over the land and devastated the economy. It was an excellent hiding place for guerrillas of both Armies, and for many confederate deserters. Roving bands of robbers conducted a predatory and murderous reign of terror. There was no local government; no schools and churches were empty. Those able to flee had fled. Those unable to get away, such as George Ford, lost almost everything and remained home unarmed and in ever-present peril. Into this confusion General Wofford stepped and took command. He organized 7,000 men into an effective unit called ‘Wofford’s Scouts’. A large number of them were deserters and stragglers.
General Wofford established his headquarters at Kingston. “His cool and resolute tact was the very quality needed for handling the turbulent lawlessness of the section.” His Scouts protected citizens from “bushwhackers” and “guerrillas”. General Wofford and his Scouts was the last confederate unit to surrender east of the Mississippi River. This they sadly did in May 1865 and were among 18,000 men paroled at Kingston, Georgia. After surrender, Wofford was successful in getting the Union commander to allow the people to roundup stray Union stock to help them start farming again. By his skill and determination, he acquired 30,000 bushels of corn from the Union commander and distributed it to the starving citizens.
While Wofford did not become one of the major lights of the Confederate General Staff, He did serve the Confederate very well. His most distinguishing feature was a keen military bearing. He had a conspicuous baldhead. General McLaws said of him, “...very ambitious of military fame and one of the most daring of men.” A statement was made by B. G. Humphreys, “...we all know that he was but too prone to go forward . . . even into disaster.” General James Longstreet, in his recommendation of promotion of Wofford to major general, said that General Wofford “was distinguished by the energy and rapidity of his attack, and the skill and gallantry which he handled his brigade.” General Robert E. Lee said that General Wofford had “always acted with boldness and judgment, displaying great zeal and promptness”. A Confederate State senator wrote him, “The president esteems you very highly. Your career has impressed him very favorably toward you as a brave energetic and skillful general, and I am proud of you as a Georgian”.
In 1865, William T. Wofford was chosen by the Constitutional convention to represent the area in the US Congress from North Georgia’s Seventh district. The Republican dominated Federal Congress refused to seat Wofford because under reconstruction, they wanted only elected blacks to be seated as congressmen from the states who had seceded and were in rebellion.
General Wofford attended a meeting of prominent citizens in March 1867, in Cartersville, to discuss the military occupation of the State. (The name of Cass County was changed in August 1861 to Bartow in recognition of the first Confederate General killed in action who died at the First Battle of Bull Run.) It was “Resolved by citizens of Bartow, that in view of the recent action of the 39th Congress, in the passage of the Military Bill, and the amendments thereto, that the citizens of Bartow county, hereby express their readiness to comply with the requirements of said Bill and its amendments in the formation of a new Constitution and in the adoption of the constitutional amendment.”
These citizens caused an editorial to be published in the county paper in 1869: “We do not have midnight marauding Ku Kluxes here. We boast of a better state of society that frowns down on such doings.”
General Wofford was an alternate delegate-at-large to the July 1868 State Democratic convention where he announced his candidacy for Congress but was urged to withdraw in favor of a younger man, which he did. The General was a member of the 1877 Constitutional convention from Bartow County.
After his wife died in 1878, he married Miss Margaret Langdon of Atlanta on October 2, 1880. They lived together for about three and one half year before the General died.
“General Wofford was gentle by nature and popular with his people. He was tactful and more charitable than he could afford to be. He died at his home near Cass Station on 22nd of May 1884, and was buried at his request with a simple Christian ceremony in the Cassville cemetery.” A Georgia State historical marker is there.
John Bell Hood
This future general was born Jun 29, 2841, in Owingsville, Kentucky, the son of Doctor John W. Hood and Theodosia French. John Bells grand parents were early Kentucky settlers from Virginia and associated with Daniel Boone. His grandfather Luke Hood was a famous Redcoats and Indian fighter.
Young John, while his father made a good living, was considered a wild child who had a fancy for the young ladies¾and they for him. His mother was a religious Baptist but he was a nonconformist. In his book on Hood, Dyer said, ”As a mater if fact it seems quite probable that he had too much money and too much freedom for his own good. He acquired in his home a taste for good living, which followed him all the days of his life. Even on the battle he carried a silver cup presented to him by the ladies of Richmond, and when his tent was pitched it was his own fine china and silver which was laid out on the camp table.”
At age seventeen in 1849, he received an appointment as a Cadet to the US Military Academy at West Point, New York. He entered July 1, the start of the academy’s fourth class. The campus was made up of a few scattered buildings overlooking the Hudson River. The barracks were primitive, draft and uncomfortable and the mess hall was condemned as unfit for use. The meals were not appreciated by the cadet corp. Spartan living condition and a simplistic life was the basis of training to build discipline. At the end of his first year he ranked fifty-second out of a class of seventy-four.
Hood had received eighteen demerits by the end of his first year.. At the end of his second year, Hood was still in the lower quarter of his class a the end of his second year and had sixty-six demerits. Little change was made for the third year. He ranked forty-one out of fifty-seven in his class. He was known as a “Jolly good fellow,” who had not expected the hard work at first. Based on his good behavior, he was promoted to color sergeant in 1852. In September Brevet Colonel Robert E. Lee took over as Superintendent of the Academy and three weeks later, Hood was made lieutenant of Cadets. In December he was arrested and deprived by Lee of his new rank because of “absenting himself from his quarters without authority….” By the end of his final year, he had received 196 demerits, only four less than that required for expulsion from the Academy. It was Lee’s way not to hold grudges and to forgive and forget, as he would do in 1862 when Hood was again under military arrest.
However, Hood relationship with Lee was generally very good. Lee liked him. Hood attempted to court one of Lee’s daughter, but Lee discourage her of any involvement. Hood always did have a way with the ladies.
The future Confederate General was graduated in 1853 and was appointed a Brevet Second Lieutenant in the Fourth Infantry. He sailed from New York to California via the Isthmus of Panama to joint his regiment. California impressed him only for it high prices and fog. Things were so slow in northern California that he and another officer planted a wheat field the sale of the crop brought him about one thousand dollars in gold.
In 1855 John Bell Hood was made a Second Lieutenant in the newly formed Second Cavalry Regiment, which was stationed in Missouri under the command of Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston with Robert E. Lee as Lieutenant Colonel. Philip Sheridan replaced him in California when Hood left for Missouri by boat, retracing his original trip to New York and then on to St. Lewis. His regiment under Johnston was ordered to Texas. On the trip, he and Robert E. Lee rode together. A “blue northern “ struck and Hood learned lessens of survival in winter conditions that would serve his will later¾only the fit survive. He fell in love with Texas.
Hood returned to Kentucky in March 1856 because his father suffered a stroke that incapacitated him. Lt. Hood was given power of attorney to sell everything of his father and set up a fund to care for his parents. He did not return to the Army until early December when he reported to Lee at Camp Cooper on the Brazos River in Texas. Hood was described as “a splendid man … His 6 feet 2 inch 200 pound rawboned frame made a handsome appearance and help in his fondness for the ladies. He was tall, with brown hair and blue eyes. He was such a handsome devil that Colonel Lee was concerned that Hood might become attached to someone unworthy of him. So, Lee told Hood, “Never marry unless you can do so in a family which will enable your children to feel proud of both side of the house.
In Texas Hood fought a battle with Camanches and Lipans Indians in August 1857 in which his men stood their ground firing at the Indians who got to within a few feet of Hood’s cavalry unit. The Indians were painted and stripped to the waist. Hood was wounded severely. Killed were nineteen Indians killed and two of Hood’s men. It was his first fight, but he did not win a victory nor even drive the Indians away permanently. He did however show how he would conduct himself in the future. He was willing to take chances against overwhelming odds and he would lead his troops into combat with his eyes blazing and no regard for his own safety.
Hood was promoted to First Lieutenant in November 1857 and transferred to Camp Colorado. In 1858, Hood re-established Camp Wood on the Nueces River. In September 1860, his regiment was sent to Indianola where Hood requested a leave of absence for six months, but he was soon ordered to report for duty as Chief of Cavalry at West Point. Hood went to Washington to plead in person to the Adjutant General, Colonel Cooper, to be permitted to go on leave. He did not want to go to West Point. The Colonel Cooper could not understand why any officer did not want to serve at West Point, as that was a route to promotion. Hood told the Cooper he feared war would soon be declared between the states and he preferred to be in a position to act with entire freedom. He was granted leave.
While still on leave, he returned to Texas where he resigned his commission in April and bid his comrades a reluctant farewell. He went to Kentucky were he intended to offer his services in defense of the State. When Kentucky would not make a decision to secede, he made his way to Montgomery, Alabama where he offered his services as a Texan to the Confederate Government. He was sent to Richmond, Virginia in May 1861 and went to the office of Colonel Robert E. Lee, his old friend who was now a Major General.
Lee greeted Hood warmly and told him he needed his help. Hood said that is why he came and ask what he could do. Lee sent him to Yorktown to report to Colonel J B. Magruder. Hood left immediately by train. A high excitement fills the air. Magruder expected an attack from Fortress Monroe. Magruder put Hood in charge of several artillery batteries. Hood spent his first night in serving the Confederacy setting on his truck with his troops at the ready. The next morning there was not evidence of the enemy and the excitement subsided. It had all been that nonmilitary officers were just nervous.
Magruder then assigned Lieutenant Hood to the command and train the cavalry companies then at Yorktown. That was what Lee had sent him to do, and Hood immediately began his work. This became a problem for the companies were under the command of Captains and Hood was just a Lieutenant. He was promoted to Captain but the problem persisted because he was the junior officer by date of rank. Magruder solved the situation by making Hood a Major and left it up to Richmond to confirm the field promotion.
After the Union defeat of their attack on Big Bethel Church, Federal officials at Fort Monroe began sending out patrol almost daily. Hood decided to capture one of them. For several nights he lay-in-wait, hiding his small cavalry unit in a swamp between the James and York River roads. A force of seventy-five appeared on the James River Road. Discovering Hood before he could attack, the Union men ran into the near-by woods and opened fire. Hood and two captains dismounted and led the men on the attack into the dense thickets firing shotguns and Sharp’s carbines. For over an hour Hood’s men flushed out the Federals one-by-one. It was what would become a typical Hood attack¾to go in with guns blazing. Only two union men were killed and one wounded, but eleven prisoners were taken and sent to Yorktown. Magruder wrote Lee with much praise of Major Hood and the Cavalry. Lee was pleased and soon, Hood was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.
In Richmond troops from all over the Confederacy were pouring into the city with all kinds of equipment intending to take part in the one big battle that would destroy the Yankee army and end the war. Three regiments of Texans were arriving. The 1st Texas Regiment, under the command of a loud mouth former U. S. Senator Louis T. Wigfall, was not organized in time for the Battle of Bull Run. In fact men for this regiment would continue to arrive for over a year. The Regiment was assigned to outpost duty at Dumfries near Cockpit Point on the Potomac River, about twenty miles south of Alexandria.
The 4th and 5th Texas Regiments were told they were not needed since sufficient troops could be raised from Virginia. Additionally, they were told as a condition of acceptance, to their dismay, that Jefferson Davis and the Confederate Government would appoint their top officers. Colonel Hood was given the 4th and Colonel James J. Archer was put in charge of the 5th. This would be the start of what would become Hood’s Texas Brigade, “The Flower of Lee’s Army.”