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42nd Georgia

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Regimental History

From

The Soldier's Handbook

42nd Regiment - Georgia Volunteer Infantry

By - Mike "Doc" Kinstler

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History of the 42nd Regít Ga. Vols., Infíy,

Confederate States of America

 

The new year of 1862 opened with the grim realization that the war to repel the Northern invaders was going to involve a long struggle. To quote from Captain W.L. Calhoun (as official historian) "The people of the South believed that the United States Government was a compact between sovereign States, embodied in the fundamental law known as the Constitution, and that it was the duty of the States, as well as the people, to sacredly observe and keep its requirements. For years they realized that unwelcome fact that the North, either through a spirit of envy and hatred, or of aggrandizement, had violated its terms and was seeking to oppress the South and destroy its institutions directly in conflict with the provisions of the Constitution. For this, and for the preservation of the Constitution, they took up arms, not as traitors or to destroy, but to preserve the Government-a principle which is not dead, but must live if the American Government is maintained." Many of the early Regiments raised in the initial enthusiasm of the spring of 1861 volunteered for 90 days, 6 months or at the most 1 year and their enlistments had or were shortly to expire. President Davis called for more troops and the Secretary of War requisitioned 12 new regiments from the state of Georgia on February 2nd, 1862.

 

Quotas were assigned by the state to various counties with smaller counties such as Glynn or Pierce assigned as few as 15 and the larger counties 200-340. Gwinnett County was among those with 203 troops, these men were to form Companies A and B of the Forty-second Regiment Georgia Volunteers.

 

The Regiment was organized and enlisted (for 3 years or the Duration of the war) on the 4th of March 1862, and assembled at Camp McDonald with Companies A and B from Gwinnett; C from Milton; D from DeKalb; E and F from Newton; G and H from Walton; and I and K from Fulton County. They were mostly young farmers with the exception of Company K raised by Captain W.L. Calhoun in the city of Atlanta.

 

The organization was completed with the election on March 20th of Robert J. Henderson, Colonel; R.F. Maddox, Lieut. Col.; William H. Hulsey, Major; Hugh M. Wylie, Adjutant; B.W. Adams, Quartermaster; Joseph R. Simmons, Commissary; John S. Wilson, Surgeon; John A. Dunn, Assít Surgeon; Egbert B. Rosser, Sergeant Major; T.D. Goodson, Color Sergeant; W.G. Cockerell, Musician; and J.J. Frederick, Teamster. Lovick Pierce Thomas as election Captain of Company A; Benjamin Putnam Weaver, Co. B; Henry W. Paris, Co. C; Nathan Clay, Co. D; Thomas J. Mercer, Co. E; James M. Summers, Co. F; Enoch E. McCollum, Co. G; J.T. Mitchell, Co. H; John H. Barrett, Sr., Co. I; and Robert F. Maddox (elected Lt. Col. and replaced by William L. Calhoun on March 20) Co. K.

 

The companies soon acquired their nicknames: Co. A-"Gwinnett Beauregards"; Co. B-"Independent Rebels"; Co. C-"Milton Tigers"; Co. D-"DeKalb Rangers"; Co. E-"Harper Guards"; Co. F-"Newton Rifles or Newton Rangers"; Co. G-"Walton Blues"; Co. H-"Walton Tigers"; Co. I-"Fulton Blues" and Co. K-"Calhoun Guards".

 

The men trained at Camp McDonald, located at Big Shanty (Kennesaw) for approximately five weeks and were issued uniforms, arms and equipment. As is common with men crowded together for the first time, sickness broke out and there were many deaths. Captain Weaver of Co. B requested and received on March 24, 2 wall tents with flies and pins, 15 axes, 9 camp kettles, 9 buckets, 19 mess pans, 4 spades, 2 hatchets, 9 ovens on spiders with lids, 95 tin cups, and 6 frying pans. He also requested 19 common tents but none were available.

 

General Robert E. Lee, on March 28, from his Richmond headquarters, telegraphed Major General Edmund Kirby Smith, Commander of the Department of the East Tennessee, Confederate States Army, Knoxville, that he had ordered six newly formed Georgia volunteer infantry regiments Ė the 39thh, 40th, 41st, 42nd, 43rd, and 52nd Ė and one battalion, the 9th, to report to him at once. The 42nd Regiment, Georgia Volunteers, was officially mustered into the Confederate Army on April 11, 1862 and left Big Shanty on April 16, 1862 to join Brig. General Carter L. Stevensonís Second Brigade in the Department of East Tennessee. Union Troops of the Seventh Division of the Army of Ohio were massing at Cumberland Ford under Brigadier General George W. Morgan with orders from Gen. Buell to take Cumberland Gap. The 42nd GA was sent to Knoxville, Tennessee and from there marched to Cumberland Gap where they were first under fire. Colonel James E. Rains was then in command of the 2nd Brigade.

 

On the 6th + 7th of June Gen. Buell (U.S.) caused a diversion to be made by an advance part of Gen. O. M. Mitchellís Federal command from N. Alabama to the river opposite Chattanooga and Gen. E. Kirby Smith hastened to its rescue with two Brigades weakening the defenses in East Tennessee. General Carter L. Stevenson was left in command of the Cumberland Gap area and Gen. Smith ordered its evacuation. Col. J.E. Rains Brigade, on June 17th, was sent by Gen. Stevenson to cover the withdrawal of Cumberland Gap. Union Forces advanced as far as Tazewell where the 42nd was second under fire but the Union forces then withdrew to the Cumberland Gap where they entrenched for the summer under siege.

 

In August, Generals Bragg and Kirby, leading separate columns, began the invasion of Kentucky. Gen. Smith moved northward from Knoxville via Clinton and Richmond to Frankfort, Ky. With an engagement occurring at Richmond, Ky. On August 30 1862, Gen. Stevensonís Division did not join forces with General Braggís combined forces until after the Battle of Perryville on Oct 8 but participated in the withdrawal from Perryville to London, Kentucky from Oct 10-22. The five Georgia Regiments: 40th, 41st, 42nd, 43rd, and 52nd were formed into the First Brigade under Brigade General Seth M. Barton and in mid-December, together with other units of Stevensonís Division were ordered to report to Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton at Vicksburg, Miss. where Federal forces under Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman were preparing to mount an amphibious assault. The assault began on December 26 and Bartonís Brigade distinguished itself in action at Chickasaw Bayou on December 27 + 28 and the assault on Chickasaw Bluff on Dec 29. During these four days Bartonís Brigade lost 13 men and 2 officers killed and 34 men and 5 officers wounded for a total of 54 casualties.

 

The 42nd Georgia is praised in both General Pembertonís and General S.D. Leeís report regarding the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou. The 42nd Georgia and the 28th Louisiana were stationed to the far left of the Confederate line on the 28th of December when a strong force of the enemy with heavy artillery support attempted to break the left flank and were repulsed with heavy casualties. Col. Henderson was also given favorable notice in the official report.

Iron tablet located outside of Vicksburg National Military Park on former park property in the City of Vicksburg, on the east side of Confederate Avenue approximately .6 mile south of All Saints School. This unit was attached to Brig. Gen. Seth M. Bartonís 1st Brigade of Maj. Gen. Carter L. Stevensonís Division, Lt. Gen. John C. Pembertonís Army of Vicksburg and was commanded by Col. R. J. Henderson.

Bartonís Brigade was then transferred south of Vicksburg into the swamps below the city where they experienced horrible conditions before being moved back into the city. Later they were again returned to the swamps. They were involved in the Battle of Champion Hill (Bakerís Creek) on May 16, 1863 where it was noted they fought bravely when there was a massive early morning surprise attack by Grant and in fact brought up the rear of the retreating army across the Big Black River on May 17. The army retreated into Vicksburg and the formal siege began.

 

Bartonís Brigade suffered 42% losses including killed, wounded, missing and captured. General Barton in his June 18 report praised his soldiers for their "marked and distinguished gallantry". The 42nd GA then endured 47 days and nights in the trenches, where half starved and poorly armed, it resisted the assaults of the enemy.

 

Vicksburg surrendered on July 4, 1863 and Bartonís Brigade was paroled July 6th and sent home via Mobile, Alabama. After a 30 day furlough, the 42nd GA reorganized at Decatur, GA. When exchanged, they were assigned to Northwest Georgia. General Barton was transferred to the Army of Northern Virginia and he was replaced by Brigadier General Marcellus A. Stovall and the Brigade was placed in Major General Alexander P. Stewartís Division., Major-General John C. Breckenridgeís Corps. Army of Tennessee.

 

The Regiment next saw action at the Battle of Missionary Ridge on November 24, 1863 (official records state that Major W.H. Hulsey was in command of the 42nd during this battle). The Army of Tennessee then wintered near Dalton, Georgia and General Bragg resigned on December 1, 1863 and was replaced by General Joseph E. Johnson on December 27. General Johnson immediately undertook to rebuild the demoralized Army of Tennessee. He established cordial relations with Governor Joseph E. Brown of Georgia (which controlled the Western and Atlanta Railroad) and saw to it that his men were resupplied and re-outfitted with shoes, clothing, arms and adequately fed.

 

As the winter progressed the strength of the Army was increased by the return of several thousand absentees-straggles and quasi-deserts, due to his general amnesty and the feeling the men had in a commander they could trust. They were also to be reinforced by Polkís Corp. with 10,000 infantry and 4,000 cavalry, due to join Johnsonís Army in late spring. Sherman meanwhile was massing troops and supplies for the drive to Atlanta.

 

On February 26, 1864, the Army of Tennessee was thrown into line of battle and the enemy advanced with a strong reconnoitering force. The 42nd Georgia Regiment was placed on advance skirmish line; said line running from Mill Creek along a low foot hill to the base of a high ridge known as "Rocky Face" and then along the crest of said highridge. Col. Henderson deployed Companies G and H on the foothill, and all other companies on the high ridge, except C and I, which were held in reserve. A charge commanded by Brigadier General C.J. Dickerson of Michigan was stubbornly repulsed and driven back by a countercharge led by Lt. Stubbs with several Federal officers being killed and several captured, among the latter being General Dickerson, whose sword was worn by Lt. Stubbs until the close of the war. The only casualties were Captain Mitchell wounded in the arm and private J.H. Lee, Co. I, killed. With the failure of the other federal forces of the Army of the Cumberland in attacks on Dug Gap and Crow reek Valley, Sherman withdrew to Chattanooga to wait for spring.

 

On May 7, Sherman moved out of Chattanooga and while Thomas and Schofieldís Armies demonstrated in front of Rock Face Ridge where the Army of Tennessee was entrenched. Thomasí men assaulted Buzzard Roost Gap (Mill Creek Gap) tree times with heavy losses on May 8, 1864. The 42nd GA. as part of Hoodís Corps., Participated in this at New Hope Church where they were involved as skirmishers under the command of Captain J. M. Summers (of Co. F). They received great praise for fighting in open woods without the slightest protection of breastwork and stubbornly contesting every inch of ground against overwhelming numbers. The Regiment lost two killed, twenty wounded and three missing; light casualties that Capt. Thomas attributed to the confusion caused by their first volley that surprised the enemy, being followed by wild shooting on their part. Col. Abda Johnson, then commanding Stovallís Brigade, praised Captain Summers in his official report of the battle and states he "held his ground until the skirmishers on his right had been driven to the rear; in fact he hold a portion of this ground (on the left) during the action and rendered important service in protecting the left flank for the brigade".

 

Shermanís relentless progress by flanking marches pushed him closer to the city of Atlanta that he regarded as the key to the Confederacy. The 42nd Georgia was involved in his bloody repulse when he abandoned this strategy and attempted to attack Joe Johnsonís Army headon at Kennesaw. Sherman again sidestepped and was able to cross the Chattahoochee River and Gen. Johnson was forced to retreat to the defenses of Atlanta. On July 17, 1864, President Davis, upset by Shermanís advances, replaced Gen. Johnson with Gen. John B. Hood, who promised action.

 

The 42nd was involved in the siege of Atlanta, home territory for much of the regiment, which included the Atlanta men. They were the men who stood in the trenches and sallied forth to drive back the advancing foe in the Battle of Peachtree Creek on the 19th and 20th of July 1864 and the one, which followed on the 22nd. On that fateful day of the 22nd, it was the 42nd Georgia under Colonel L. P. Thomas, and the 1st Georgia State troops under Colonel Albert Howell, who won mention of bravery for daring and intrepid conduct. It was their capture of De Gressí battery which was the startling and desperate event of the 22nd of July. Sherman with 100,000 men and 200 pieces of artillery was met by Gen. Hood with only 30,000 men. The 42nd Georgia marched one and a half miles through whistling shells and balls until Shermanís line was broken by their solid front and De Gressí battery of four 20 pound Parrott guns was captured. Colonel Thomas led the Regiment in this desperate charge. He won great praise for conspicuous gallantry and heroism for the capture of that great battery. This Regiment was the first to carry the enemiesí works, fighting hand to hand against fearful odds-one man killing a Federal with a shovel. De Gressí battery, beside many prisoners and accouterments were captured and held for nearly two hours, and until then they were left along when a retreat was ordered.

 

Mr. H.Y. Snow and Mr. W.M. Durham, residents of Atlanta, who were witnesses to the battle, related after the war the remarkable instances of bravery they saw that day. They said "Some of the soldiers used their bayonets on the enemy. Others clubbed their guns and mowed everything down in their way. One sergeant broke his gun when right on top of the breastworks. He dropped it, seized a spade, and killed and disabled several of the enemy. Nearly every man lost on that fatal day by the 42nd Georgia fell on top of the enemyís entrenchments or in front of them."

 

On General Shermanís first visit to Atlanta after the war, and while he was General of the Army, he rode with Colonel Evan P. Howell over his battlefield and told him personally that he watched the charge made by Stovallís Brigade and remarked "There was not more gallant charge made during the war than the one made on that occasion."

 

The 42nd participated in the Battle of Jonesborough before being forced with the rest of Hoodís Army to evacuate Atlanta and begin his disastrous invasion of Tennessee in the fall of 1864. At the bloody defeat at Franklin on Nov. 30, the 42nd Georgia again protected the rear of the retreating army, at which time Captain Weaver of Co. B and others were killed. December brought the decisive battle of Nashville on the 15th and 16th with the Federal forces under Gen. Thomas destroying the Army of Tennessee under Gen. Hood as a cohesive fighting unit.

The Army retreated southward towards the Tennessee River with Leeís Corps helping form the rearguard until he was wounded and General Stevenson assumed Corps Command.

The Army went into camp at Tupelo where General Hood resigned on January 13th and bade final farewell to the Army on January 23, 1865. Gen. Dick Taylor was briefly in command of the Army of Tennessee before the troops were ordered to South Carolina. Stevensonís Corp left first, followed by Cheathamís and Stewartís Corps. A circuitous route was followed on foot to West Point, Miss. And on railroad cars to Meridian, thence to Selma, Alabama through Demopolis. From Selma, by steamboat to Montgomery and from there by train to Columbus, GA. From Columbus they marched to Macon, to Milledgeville, to Mayfield where they once again took the cars for Augusta. From there they were marched to Newberry, South Carolina.

 

February brought the cheering news that Robert E. Lee, now Commander in Chief of all Confederate Forces, reappointed General Joseph E. Johnson to command the Army. "Old Joe" was back! He arrived in Charlotte on February 24th and took command of this scattered army. He later said that only 5,000 of the army he had turned over to Hood at Atlanta finally reached the Carolinas. The 42nd Georgia was consolidated at this time with the 36th Georgia and parts of the 34th and 56th Georgia and designated as the 42nd Georgia Consolidated Infantry under the command of Lt. Col. L. P. Thomas, in Hendersonís Brigade, S.D. Leeís Corps.

 

On the 19th, 20th and 21st of March 1865, near Bentonville, N.C. was fought one of the last battles of the war. The Confederate force engaged about fourteen thousand, infantry and artillery, the cavalry being employed on the enemyís flanks, and the Federal Army exceeding seventy thousand men. The Federal attacks were repulsed at all points, and the Confederates were highly elated at the results. The 42nd GA participated in this battle, and Col. Robert J. Henderson, then commanding a brigade, won great distinction for his skill and bravery, as well as promotion to General.

 

Col. L.P. Thomas writing after the war recounted the last great battle: "We were marching along the main road leading from Smithfield Station towards Bentonville, and had just crossed a small stream. Firing could be heard in the distance, and movements of couriers and aides rushing her and there indicated a battle on hand. We filed to the right of the road, and rapidly took position in line of battle: the 42nd GA being on the right, and constituting one half of Stovallís Brigade, which had been marched and fought down to an alarmingly small number, but those who were still in line were true and tried. Our position was taken only a short distance from the main road, and now we were on the battlefield of Bentonville, where we were to fight our last battle: no time to throw up breastworks, but the boys availed themselves of time to cut down small pine limbs, which, to some extent, hid them from view of the advancing enemy."

 

He continues "Here they came, our skirmish line gradually giving way and falling back into the line of battle. My orders had gone up and down the line repeatedly, instructing the men and officer to keep down-hold fire, and await a sign, or orders: even threatening those who should first disobey. ĎTis not strange, then, that men who had fought in twenty-one battles carried out my orders to the letter. Well, here they came. Our line absorbed our skirmishers, and the way was clear in front for the music of battle to commence-but not a gun was fired, and bravely onward the enemy marched in grand style-nearer and nearer they came. When not over forty or fifty paces from us, the order so anxiously awaited was given, and a sheet of fire blazed out from the hidden battle line of the Forty-Second Georgia that was demoralizing and fatal to the enemy. They halted, reeled and staggered, while we poured volley after volley into them, and great gaps were made in their line, as brave Federals fell everywhere-their colors would rise and fall just a few feet from us, and many a gallant boy in blue buried there in those pines who held "Old Glory" up for a brief moment. Their battle line was driven back in grand style that day, and the arms secured from the fallen foe immediately in our front equipped an entire regiment of North Carolina soldiers who had inferior guns. The enemy, repulsed and forced to retreat, reformed their battle line again, not far away."

 

The Forty-Second was ordered to get ready to move forward and Col. Thomas further states "We were to Ďlead the chargeí. The order came, and the movement all along the lien of the brigade, confirming to the right, was in splendid order, and the first line of Federals was soon in view; over which we passed without a battle, sweeping all before us. It was grand to behold. Onward we moved for perhaps half a mile or so, carrying everything before us. At this point, where there were converging roads, we came to a halt, and were ordered to rearrange our lines, which were scattered by the charge just made." They were informed they had done enough for the day. The day was won, the last great battle of the Army of Tennessee.

 

General Johnson and Sherman agreed to a truce on the 18th of April with the final surrender at Bennettís home, near Durham Station, North Carolina on April 26, 1865. The army was encamped around Greensboro-our brigade at High Point where we stacked arms for the last time. Payrolls were furnished and our army paid from the specie saved. It had been run out from Richmond under guard, and was through the quartermaster of our regiment paid out to us, each receiving a Mexican silver dollar-officer and men alike.

 

The surrender terms allows officers to retain their sidearms and their private horses and baggage. The men in the ranks were also to keep their horses and private property and have the use of army wagons and horses "for their march to their houses and in subsequent industrial pursuits". Each returning body of soldiers was allows a number of rifles, equal to one-seventh of their numeral strength, for protection and hunting on the way. The men of the Forty-Second obtained on wagon and their old regimental ambulance and on May 2, 1865, they headed for home.

 

 

 

 

Engagements the Forty-Second Georgia was involved in during its existence:

 

** 1862 **

 

Campaign, Cumberland Gap, Tenn. May 31-June 18

Occupation, Cumberland Gap, Tenn. June 18

Battle, Richmond (Mount Zion Church), Ky. August 30

Engagement, Whiteís Farm, Richmond, Ky. August 30

Retreat from Perryville to London, Ky. October 10-22

Action, Chickasaw Bayou (Vicksburg, Miss.) December 27-28

Assault, Chickasaw Bluff, Miss. December 29

 

** 1863 **

Battle, Championís Hill, Bakerís Creek May 16

(Edwardí Depot), Miss.

Engagement, Big Black River Bridge, Miss. May 18-July 4

Siege, Vicksburg, Miss May 18-July 4

Assault, Vicksburg, Miss. May 19

Assault, Vicksburg, Miss. May 21

Surrender, Vicksburg, Miss. July 4

Siege, Chattanooga, Tenn. November ?-23

Campaign, Chattanooga, Tenn. & Ringgold, Ga. November 23-27

Actions, Tunnel Hill, Terminus of Missionary Ridge, Tenn. November 24

Assault and Capture, Missionary Ridge, Tenn. November 24-25

 

** 1864 **

Atlanta Campaign May 1-September 8

Demonstration against Rocky Faced Ridge, Ga. May 8-11

Combat, Buzzardís Roost Gap (Mill Creek), Ga. May 8-9

Battle, Resaca, Ga. May 14-15

Engagement, Adairsville, Ga. May 17

Combats near Cassville, Ga. May 18-19

Operations on the line of Pumpkin Vine Creek May 25-June 5

And Battles about Dallas, New Hope Church,

and Allatoona Hills, Ga.

Combat, New Hope Church, Ga. May 25

Operations about Marietta and June 10-July2

Against Kennesaw Mountain, Ga.

Combats about Pine Hill, Ga. June 11-14

Combats about Lost Mountain, Ga. June 15-17

Assault, Kennesaw Mountain, Ga. June 27

Operations on the line of Nickajack Creek, Ga. July 2-5

Operations on the line of Chattahoochee River, Ga. July 5-17

Battle, Peachtree Creek, Ga. July 19-20

Siege, Atlanta, Ga. July 23-August 25

Battle, Ezraís Chapel, Ga. July 28

Battle, Jonesborough, Ga. August 31-September 1

Hoodís Operations in Northern Ga. September 29-November 3

and N. Alabama

Battle, Franklin, Tenn. November 30

Battle, Nashville, Tenn. December 15-16

Retreat to the Tenn. River near Bridgeport, Al. December 17-28

Action, Hollow Tree Gap, Tenn. December 17

Action, West Haroeth River, Tenn. December 17

 

** 1865 **

Campaign of the Carolinas March ? Ė April 26

Actions, Edisto River, Binakerís Bridge, Orangeburg,

Winston

Battle, Averysborough (Taylorís Hole Creek), NC. March 16

Battle, Bentonville, NC. March 19-21

Surrender, Bennettís House April 26

(Durham Station), NC.

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(Revised Thursday, December 28, 2006)

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