THE FORD BOYS IN THE FLOWER OF LEE'S ARMY
A History of the 18th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment
Ó By Robert W. Ford
After the Civil War, no definitive history was ever written of the 18th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Army of Northern Virginia. One writer after the War said the Brigade in which the 18th served was, "The Flower of Lee's Army." It is family tradition that my great grandfather, George W. Ford, served in the Regiment for a short time. Before the War was over, his father and two of his brothers also served in the Regiment.
A son of George W. Ford wrote a letter in 1918, giving as much family history as he remembered it. The letter gave several civil war stories about the family. In researching family history and the war, I uncovered the following facts and their stories which are presented here in a serialized story. This record is taken from family civil war stories, gleanings from official war records, from books written by those generals who commanded the battles in which the regiment participated, and other books and articles written on the War in Virginia have been reviewed.
Twelve generations of Ford family history was published in 1994, in the book, Dr. John Perley Ford (1794-1869), His Life, Times, Ancestors, Descendants, and Allied Families 1635-1993, by Robert W. Ford. Perley deserted his Northern family of a wife and five children in 1824 in Indiana. He went to Mississippi where he married and started his second or southern family. Perley moved to Georgia in 1828.
The Regiment was organized in the spring of 1861as the First Regiment Infantry with William T. Wofford as Colonel. When mustered into Federal service the Regiment was designated the 18th Georgia Regiment Volunteer Infantry. The various companies were recruited mostly from the counties of Cobb, Newton, Stephens, Jackson and Dooly. More than 750 men rushed to volunteer in the patriotic outpouring of emotions sweeping the South after the fall of Fort Sumpter. By April 1862, the regiment contained 634 effective men with more than 130 men lost to sickness before anyone ever saw combat. The Regiment served in every major battle in the War in the East accept for "The First Battle of Bull Run." By April 1865 when the Regiment was surrendered at the Courthouse at Appomattox, Virginia, only one officer and 52 enlisted men left to stack arms and to fold it's colors. They were paroled and walked home to Georgia.
The following is a true and accurate account of what happened to the Ford boys and their father, while serving in Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. But first, let us get to know two Generals, one who commanded the Regiment, and one who commanded the Division.