David Dailey Ford was the second of the Ford boys to join the Confederate cause. William Follett Ford, the youngest at 17, had run off and joined the 6th Georgia Infantry. He was sent to Virginia before the First Battle of Bull Run. (Bill’s story can also be found on this web site.) There would be three more Ford boys to serve. (See the 35th Georgia and 27th AL Infantry and 12th Alabama Cavalry.) Two of the Fords would die and two would be captured. And then the father would join the 18th Georgia Infantry Regiment, looking for what happened to two of his boys.
David was 21 when, in June of 1861, he joined Company K, of Colonel Wofford's First Regiment Infantry, Fourth Brigade, Georgia State Volunteers. His unit was known as “Rowland Infantry.” Ben T. Richey had joined the week before. Ben would later become David’s brother-in-law after the War. David joined Ben at Camp McDonald at Marietta, Georgia for instruction and training. The would be mess-mates and tent together.
In the mean time, news of the Confederate victory in Virginia at Bull Run in late July of 1861 lifted the men's spirits and they were anxious to put their training to work. Training last about six weeks, conducted by experienced Officers. Roll call was conducted each morning and drill was a daily affair. They learned the commands that would tell them what to do in battle. They marched and marched and marched and finally got to shoot their guns in target practice.
They took turns learning how to cook for their tent-mates. It was hot in their new uniforms, but spirits were high. It was a great time to be alive. They enjoyed the comradery, the building friendships and becoming a cohesive fighting unit. Gambling was prohibited and attendance of church services was encouraged. It was not difficult to get to sleep each night in their tents, for they were very tired, until they got in good shape. By then it was August.
Three men had deserted in July, two from Company E, and one from Company G. He was caught and brought back. Isaish McKinney of Company D was the first of many to die of sickness. He died in camp on July 29.
On August 3, while Colonel Wofford went ahead to Richmond to make arrangements, the Regiment shipped out. As they prepared to leave, Governor and others made speeches. There was a parade, and a sham battle. Then as they marched to the train station, they were cheered along the way with flags waving over most every house, and the ladies crowded around the men. They boarded a train for the trip to Virginia filled with high excitement. Laughing and joking, they boasted how quick they would “beat those Yankees.”
Governor Brown wanted to send an all Georgia Brigade under the command of Colonel Phillips, but President Jefferson Davis wanted to name all officers above the rank of colonel. Brown won most battles with Davis, but he lost this one. (In the fall of 1862, Davis attempted to form brigades by the various states; but by then, it was much too late.)
Upon arriving in Richmond, the Regiment debarked and was marched to Camp Scott about three miles from town for further training under combat conditions. But it proved to be an unhealthy place to train with so many getting sick. Several died of which Lt. W. G. Smith of Company K was the second to die, but the first in Virginia. Several others died, including M.D. Franklin, Co. C; Coswell S. Goodman, Co. E; Benjamin F. Herring and John H. Peacock, Co. I. Two men from Company G deserted. On August 9, the regiment was mustered into Confederate service and designated the 18th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
Wofford moved his Regiment to Camp Oregon on August 31, for more training. In October the Regiment was moved to Camp Winder about a mile northwest of Richmond to guard prisoners-of-war. A Georgian shot and killed one prisoner who was shouting insults. Twenty-two men died in September, and were buried in Hollywood Cemetery. They were: S.S. Henderson of Co. A; Robert E. Ficauette, A.R. Thompson, and Jndrew J. Hardy of Co. B; W. A. Adair, Obediah N. Estes, S.A. Freeman, James Lindsay and J. Thomas Pettijohn of Co. C; Spencer R. Penick and James R. Royal of Co. D; Josiah J. Ballentine (who's brother would die a month later), J.J. Brooks, T.J. Phillips and W.S. Pitts of Co. E; James A. Burt of Co. G; William Young, Co. H; Dixon L. Collins, Harris P. Bell, and William T. Cone, Co. I; D.R. Floyd and James N. Brewster of Co. K.
Federal naval forces were threatening the coast of North Carolina with amphibious operations. On October 25, Colonel Wofford was ordered to take his regiment to North Carolina to reinforce Confederate efforts to repel an expected Federal attach. When the attack failed to materialize, the Regiment was ordered back to Richmond. A North Carolina newspaper pleaded with Jefferson Davis to return the 18th Georgia to help protect them, but to no avail. Other plans had been made for the 18th Georgia, the blockade of Washington, DC.
October was another deadly month for the 18th Georgia. One man deserted from Company K, and ten more men died. Those who died were: P.E Graham, and John S. Kehely of Company A; R.L. Nixon of Co. B; W.T. Anglin and J.N. Williams of Co. C; John S. Wickett of Co. D; W.H. Ballentine (who's brother died the month before) of Co. E; Thomas Ballard of Co. I; M.A. Smith and A. M. Cook of Co. K.
November was a little better. Three men deserted, two from Co. I at Goldsboro, North Carolina, and one of Co. B after his brother died of sickness. Four men died. They were: R.D. Copeland of Co. A; N.M. Jarrett of Co. C; Neil C. McCullough of Co. I; and J.T. Chadwick of Co. K.
The 18th Georgia was to be brigaded with the 4th Texas, under the command of John Bell Hood, and the 5th Texas Regiment, under the command of James Archer. They all would join the 1st Texas, who was already on the Potomac Line. Also joining the Brigade was the 5th Alabama Infantry. Together they would be known as the “Wigfall's Brigade.” War Department General Order 15 created the Brigade on October 22, 1861, and appointed Brig. Gen. Louis T. Wigfall Brigade commander.. Before spring of 1862, the 18th Georgia would be referred to affectionately as “The Third Texas."
After returning to Richmond from North Carolina and being assigned to the Brigade, the 18th Georgia, was ordered to ship excess baggage to Georgia. They were sent north by the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad to Brooke Station a few miles north of Fredericksburg. They marched overnight, 18 miles to Dumfries on the mouth of the Quantico Creek on the Potomac River. From there, they marched to Camp Fisher three miles northeast of Dumfries near the Potomac River where they were soon joined by the 4th Texas where they all encamped between Powell's Run and the Neabsco Creek.
The 18th Georgia was encamped on the west side of Telegraph Road while the 4th Texas was on the east side. The 5th Texas was about a mile south at "Camp Neabsco." Hampton Legions were south of the 5th Texas.
They became a part of the Confederate effort to blockade Washington, D.C. by threatening traffic on the river. Brigadier General Louis T Wigfall commanded the Brigade, and was apart of Major General William Whiting's Division. The men were put to work conducting routine patrols, digging artillery position along the Potomac. The men also were building log cabins for winter quarters.
Two new gun positions were completed and revealed December 15, between Cockpit and Shipping Point just below Camp Texas. With the two new gun positions, even the speediest Federal ship would be under Confederate guns for almost an hour, if they attempted to run the blockade.
The new battery contained four canon and a captured rifled Parrott guns which dueled with the Federals almost every day. Three wooden Quaker guns were also put up to fool the Union forces across the River on the Maryland side, who watched them from a observation balloon that rose to a height of 700 feet. The balloon was named the "Constitution," and a draftsman made a detail map of the Virginia positions on December 8. The Union campfires could be seen a night. The two sides frequently would talk to each other. Every day each would shoot at the other. While little or no serious damage was done, it did relieve the monotony of camp life.
Several false alarms call out the Brigade. General Wigfall was a political soldier and not a professional military man. He was easily panicked and afraid the Federal would cross the River and attack. In November he was elected by the Texas Legislature to the Confederate Senate and would leave his post by the end of February.
Except for the false alarms raised from time-to-time by General Wigfall, the had men settled down into a routine by the end of December. During the month, six men died in camp. They were: W.M. Dabbs of Co. A; Trustin P. Polsom of Co. B; M.A. Cohen of Co. C; James E. Stuckey of Co. D; E.S. Tapp of Co. G; and James Payne of Co. H.
Another slight scare ran though out the camps on December 18 when the 105th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment made a reconnaissance-in-force south of the Pohick Church to check out a report that 200 Confederate Cavalry were in the area. The Union troops moved south of the church about a mile and a half, until they met six to eight pickets of an infantry regiment. It is not clear who were the pickets. If Hampton's Cavalry were not still in the area, the pickets could have been the 18th Georgia. After firing at the pickets, the Yankees stayed on the road all night, and left in the morning when the Confederates did not counter attack.
A newspaper was started in December by two members of Company A with an office at Number 4, Acworth Street. It was called "The Spirit of '61." The first issue, consisted of sixteen hand written pages, is the only one to have survived. The subscription rate was fifty cents per copy. It is doubtful that another issue was made because of sickness in the camp and fighting in spring.
The two editors were A. F. Burnet and W.W. White. Burnett deserted January 29, 1864. He was received at Louisville, KY as a Confederate deserter February 10, 1864. He took oath of allegiance to U. S. Govt. there and released February 17, 1864. It is not known if he returned to Georgia. White would be wounded in 1862 and would be captured at Burksville, VA on April 6, 1865.
Camp life was dull. To pass the time, one man built camp chairs that he sold for seventy five cents. Two other started a bakery for ginger cakes. Several men became skilled at "finding" chickens, hogs, honey and smoke house contents. The 4th Texas had a very good band which helped to make camp life more bearable. Other units also had bands
Foraging for supplies from local citizens by the Brigade got so bad that a local newspaper ran a series of stories as to how the citizens could not trust their own soldiers.
On December 16 a letter was written by a Mr. C.W.C. Dunnington which said, "I was informed yesterday that our troops were destroying my house on the river. There was a two-story, with attic, dwelling house, with shed-rooms on the north side and a covered porch to both stories on the south side the length of the house. There were six rooms, besides two in the shed, a large, well-built kitchen, a servants' house, a meat-house, a frame office, new, and a large stable. My tenant was removed from the property two months ago. I rode down to-day, and found every plank taken from the stable, the office removed, the kitchen and servant's house all gone but the brick chimneys, the shed portion of the dwelling entirely gone, the window-sash and doors and the weather boarding town off and carried away, a fencing gone, and what I expected to be my future home a complete wreck. The enemy have not destroyed any man's property on the Potomac so completely as the Georgia, Texas, and Captain Frobel's company [5th Alabama Battery] have destroyed mine. Is there no redress? Do we live under a military despotism? I found Captain Trobel at the Cockpit Point batteries, 2 miles off, erecting winters quarters out of my house. Other portions were taken by the Eighteenth Georgia Regiment and Second Texas Regiment. [There was no 2nd Texas Regiment there, It must have been the 4th or 5th Texas. The 4th Texas was across telegraph Road form the 18 and the 5th Texas was further southeast, closer to the 5th Alabama.] My wife grieves over the vandalism, because it was her father's, and the place where she was born. We have no courts of justice, or I would prosecute the ruffians. I am between the upper and nether millstones, robbed by the Yankees in Washington and by Southern troops here. I have paid taxes on this property to the State, and the courts of the State fail to give me any protection. The country around here is treated more like an enemy's country than the homes of loyal citizens. What right has a colonel or captain, without my leave, to take my property? I would not have had it destroyed for thrice its value. I shall never be able to rebuild, and the whole place will have to be deserted.
I should not trouble you, but I must give to my indignation. I give up all hope of saving any of my property except the soil and I have a wife and seven children to provide with bread.
Colonel Wofford would make his men take their booty back if and when caught. After the newspapers stories, Colonel Wofford would only let his men go outside the camp to be on picket and river watch duty, or policing the camp. In their cabins, they play cards, held religious services, visited with others, listened to the bands and sang for entertainment. Female companionship was missing. Suttlers selling their good and ladies of the evening did not began to follow the army in earnest until after the spring campaign.
The weather turned cold with a lot of snow. Because of the bad weather few drills or formations were held and there was a lot of sickness in camp. As J.B. Polley said in his book on Hood's Texas Brigade, "The one monotony was the staying in one place...the grievous lack of feminine society."
Christmas was a snowy day, but "every ness had its egg-nog, or a first-class substitute for it, the first thing in morning, and something better than common for dinner, while after supper, many became tangle-footed...."
Then it was 1862.