May 17

In Savannah, Georgia’s Laurel Grove Cemetery there is a section for Confederate soldiers. This area has been variously called “Confederate Field” or “Gettysburg Field.” Of the approximately 700 Confederates buried in this section of the cemetery, comparatively very few are Gettysburg casualties. Most of the Gettysburg dead are buried near the “Silence” monument. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 10:30 AM on Friday, April 22, 2011.

The Gettysburg Daily took a journey to the Savannah, Georgia area this month. One of our purposes for the visit was to find Civil War events/personalities associated with Gettysburg.

In our first Savannah post we showed the monument and the grave of Confederate Major General Lafayette McLaws.

In our second Savannah at Gettysburg post, we showed the monument and the grave of Colonel Francis S. Bartow. They are very similar to the monument and grave of Lafayette McLaws.

In the third Savannah at Gettysburg post, we gave an overall view of “Gettysburg Field” in Laurel Grove Cemetery and concentrate on the statue “Silence” in the midst of Confederates removed from Gettysburg to Savannah.

In today’s Savannah at Gettysburg post, we look at how difficult it is to match one of the soldiers buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery with his unit that fought at Gettysburg.

This map shows the two areas in Savannah featured in these posts. #1 is the area of the Confederate Monument in Forsyth Park. #2 is Laurel Grove Cemetery. This view was taken facing north at approximately 8:30 PM on Friday, April 29, 2011.

This is the brochure given out to those who visit Laurel Grove Cemetery is which southwest of Savannah’s Historic District. It is a handy size and points out some of the important people buried in the cemetery. There is another map which we were given that lists each burial plot, but that was too big for our scanner. In our previous Savannah posts we walked from the Circle surrounded by Cypress, Cedar, Willow and Elm Streets to the McLaws grave in the northeast quadrant, with the red star and the “M.” In our second post we continued our walk to the grave of Francis Bartow, which is the red star with a “B.” In today’s post we walked to the most well known Confederate section of Laurel Grove Cemetery which is marked with a “C.” This view was taken facing west at approximately 5:30 PM on Saturday, May 7, 2011.

The Savannah Morning News for August 22, 1871 has the following article: “The hearts of our people were deeply stirred yesterday, by the arrival on the steamship America of the remains of thirty-two Confederate soldiers, exhumed from the memorable field of Gettysburg to be consigned to their last resting place, beneath the soil of their native Georgia. A committee appointed for the reception of the remains, with two hearses met them at the wharf, and escorted them to the Exchange, where they were placed in state in the council chamber during the entire morning. A very large number of citizens called during the day.” This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 10:30 AM on Friday, April 22, 2011.

The Savannah Morning News article listed the military units that were pallbearers for the remains, and then continued: “At 4 o’clock the committee, accompanied by the twenty-four pall bearers, met at the Exchange. The remains were carried down the street and in the presence of a vast crowd of citizens, and a detachment of the Police Force, placed in two hearses, and proceeded to the Cemetery. Arriving at the Cemetery they proceeded to the place allotted to the burial of the Confederate dead. Three graves were prepared for the reception of the caskets and after the reading of the burial service by Rev. Mr. Benedict, the police detachment fired a military salute. A hymn, ‘Rock of Ages’ was sung by Mrs. M. A. Blois, Mrs. J. Spivey, Mrs. Robert Erwin, Major Withers, Mr. D.C. Bacon, mr. W.B. Mell and Lieutenant Robert Falligant during the interment.” So please note that the aricle states that there were only two hearses and only three graves. It is very possible that many of these stones, then, are commemorative stones, and do not mark the actual location of the remains. This view was taken facing east at approximately 10:30 AM on Friday, April 22, 2011.

The Savannah Morning News article for August 22, 1871 continued. “The names of those interred yesterday are:
W. F. Brown, Private, Co. B, 15th Georgia
W. F. Nash, Private, Co. G, 9th Georgia
T. H. Lawrence, Private, Co. G, 24th Georgia
W. L. Brewer, Sergeant, Co. K, 51st Georgia
J. B. Forrester, Private, 24th Georgia
W. R. Bracewell, Private, Co. G, 49th Georgia
Richard Jawet, Private, Co. E, 51st Georgia
J. S. Haden, Private, Co. E, 13th Georgia
James Corus, Private, Co. H, 8th Georgia
J. B. Willoughby, Private, Co. G, 38th Georgia
C. L. Walker, Lieutenant, Co. F, 26th Georgia
E. S. Johnston, Private, Co. I, 8th Georgia
E. A. Ward, Private, Co. C, 60th Georgia
C. Haughman, Private, Co. G, Georgia Legion of Cavalry
M. Lewis, Private, Co. D, 22nd Georgia
E. M. Ballard, Captain, Co. C, 8th Georgia
R. W. Dyas, Private, Company A _________
T. L. Guerry, Private ____________
James Carr, Private, Co. A, 21st Georgia
T. J. Simiton, Private, Co. G, 44th Georgia
S. Colter, Private, Co. E, 12th Georgia
J. H. Wright, Private, Co. K, 44th Georgia
John Brown, Private, Co. K, 44th Georgia
R. M. Boring, Private, Co. K, 44th Georgia
Francis Penny, Private, Co. F, 12th Georgia
E. F. Smith, Lieutenant, Co. E, Cobb’s Legion
G. C. Brooks, Lieutenant, Co. H, Cobb’s Legion
T. Houze, Lieutenant, Co. C, Cobb’s Legion
T. R. Barrett, Lieutenant, Co. H, Cobb’s Legion
N. Pugh, Cobb’s Legion
John Cheesborough, Cobb’s Legion
Noah C. Strickland, Cobb’s Legion.”
This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 10:30 AM on Friday, April 22, 2011.

We know that a couple more bodies were brought from Gettysburg at a later time. We would like to show you who some of these men were, and how difficult it is to match up their name and unit on the headstone with the scant unit records that are available. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 10:30 AM on Friday, April 22, 2011.

The first person we come across is J. H. B. Nickles of Cobbs Legion Infantry Battalion who died or was killed on July 3, 1863. When we look through the Compiled Service Records of Cobb’s Legion for J. H. B. Nickles, we cannot find him. He is mentioned in the Gettysburg Compiler on June 11, 1866 from a list compiled by Gettysburg physician, Dr. J.W.C. O’Neal. In O’Neal’s Diary it is mentioned that Nickles was buried with five other members of Wofford’s Brigade on the farm of John Cunningham, which O’Neal states was a hospital for Wofford’s Brigade. Nickles is not mentioned in the Gettysburg Death Roster compiled by Bob Krick. We looked in the Compiled Service Records of other units of Wofford’s Brigade. We find it interesting that there is a J. G. Nichols of Company E, 3rd Battalion Georgia Sharpshooters. The 3rd Georgia Battalion of Sharpshooters was at Gettysburg in Wofford’s Brigade, even though it does not show up as a unit in many of the Rosters of the Army of Northern Virginia. It is not listed on Wofford’s Brigade plaque at Gettysburg. It had been formed from May to June, 1863, mostly of men from units in Wofford’s Georgia Brigade. Records show that J. G. or J. D. Nichols entered the armed forces of the State of Georgia on August 29, 1861 and entered Confederate service on September 10, 1861 (the name of this initial unit is not listed). He was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant of Company E, 3rd Georgia Battalion Sharpshooters on June 5, 1863 and by June 17, 1863 his promotion had been approved by General Robert E. Lee and Secretary of War James Seddon. However, the records further state that Nichols “was absent when the command was organized, and afterwards on the 26th of June, 1863, declined to accept the appointment.” There is not further records of Nichols. Who knows if this is him or not, but with our little bit of searching we haven’t come close to anybody else matching this J. H. B. Nickles buried at Laurel Grove Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia. This view was taken facing east at approximately 10:30 AM on Friday, April 22, 2011.

This map shows some Gettysburg areas related to Wofford’s Georgia Brigade. The star with the “W” shows Wofford’s position on Seminary Ridge before they began their attack. “P” is the Peach Orchard. “L” is for the Loop area at the Stony Hill. “WH” is for the Wheatfield. “LRT” is Little Round Top. “H” is for the hospital at the John Cunningham Farm near Marsh Creek. This map was created facing north at approximately 3:30 PM on Sunday, May 15, 2011.

On July 2, 1863, Wofford’s Brigade of McLaws Division was positioned on Seminary Ridge. They were in reserve behind Barksdale’s Mississippi Brigade west of the Peach Orchard. The Louisiana State Monument is on the right. The Sherfy Peach Orchard is approximately 500 yards away in the middle distance. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 9:00 AM on Saturday, May 14, 2011.

The previous picture was taken from in front of this plaque of Wofford’s Brigade, which is located on the west side of West Confefderate Avenue. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 9:00 AM on Saturday, May 14, 2011.

A closer view of the text on the Wofford Brigade plaque. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 9:00 AM on Saturday, May 14, 2011.

Notice how the 3rd Battalion Georgia Sharpshooters is not mentioned on this plaque. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 9:00 AM on Saturday, May 14, 2011.

Wofford’s Brigade would have advanced out of the woods to the right of the light colored Sheffler House towards the area of this plaque located near the Peach Orchard. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 6:00 PM on Saturday, May 14, 2011.

A closer view of the Wofford’s Brigade plaque near the Peach Orchard and the Emmitsburg Road. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 10:30 AM on Friday, April 22, 2011.

Wofford’s Brigade advanced at approximately 6:00 PM for 500 yards, then crossed the Emmitsburg Road into the Peach Orchard. The monument on the right is to the 68th Pennsylvania Infantry regiment. The monument to its left is to the 2nd New Hampshire. The monument in the right center is to the 3rd Maine Infantry. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 6:00 PM on Saturday, May 14, 2011.

It is not known if the 3rd Georgia Battalion of Sharpshooters was used as skirmishers and would have advanced before Wofford’s Brigade to the Peach Orchard or if they were used to protect the flanks of the brigade. Big Round Top is in the fog in the right background. The trees in the fog in the center background sit on Little Round Top. They are above the monument to the 3rd Michigan Infantry Regiment. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 6:00 PM on Saturday, May 14, 2011.

The plaque for Wofford’s Brigade stated that the unit advanced along the Wheatfield Road “and struck the Union line near the Loop…” The Loop/Stony Hill area is located in the trees in the right background. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 6:00 PM on Saturday, May 14, 2011.

The plaque states that Wofford’s Brigade “joined Kershaw’s Brigade in driving the Union forces through the Wheatfield…” Wofford’s Brigade would have advanced from right to left. The monument on the right of the group of three monuments is to the 61st New York. To its left is the monument to the 81st Pennsylvania. To its left, near the woods, is the monument to the 148th Pennsylvania. In the center of this view is the monument to the 27th Connecticut. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 6:00 PM on Saturday, May 14, 2011.

The plaque states that Wofford’s Brigade advanced “through the Wheatfield to the base of Little Round Top.” This view was taken facing south at approximately 6:00 PM on Saturday, May 14, 2011.

There is a slight controversy over how far Wofford’s Georgians actually advanced. Did they make it as far as Ayres Avenue? The monument on the left is to the 11th Pennsylvania Reserves (40th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment). This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 6:00 PM on Saturday, May 14, 2011.

Or did they really make it into Plum Run Valley at the base of Little Round Top? This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 6:00 PM on Saturday, May 14, 2011.

“Assailed by Union reinforcements and receiving orders to withdraw, the brigade fell back at sunset to the cover of the woods west of the Wheatfield.” The woods to the west of the Wheatfield are in the left background. On July 3, “One regiment was left on outpost duty in that grove. The others supported artillery on Peach Orchard Ridge (where this image was taken). All withdrew late in the afternoon.” This view was taken facing east at approximately 6:00 PM on Saturday, May 14, 2011.

When they withdrew they went back to Seminary Ridge, which is marked by the woodline. The Longstreet Tower is in the left background. Who knows when or where J. H. B. Nickles or Nichols was mortally wounded, but it was probably in one the areas that we just covered. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 6:00 PM on Saturday, May 14, 2011.

This map shows Marsh Creek in the middle. On the left of Marsh Creek is the John Cunningham Farm. On the right of Marsh Creek is the John S. Crawford Farm which at the time of the battle was occupied by tenant Basil Biggs. This map was made facing north at approximately 4:00 PM on Sunday, May 15, 2011.

There was a ford that connected the John Cunningham Farm (this side of Marsh Creek) with the John S. Crawford Farm on the other side of Marsh Creek. The John S. Crawford Farm contained wounded mostly from Barksdale’s and Semmes’ Brigades. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 6:00 PM on Saturday, May 14, 2011.

So it is possible that J.H.B. Nickles was taken across the ford, and down this driveway towards the Cunningham Farm, which was the hospital for Wofford’s Brigade. This view was taken facing west at approximately 6:00 PM on Saturday, May 14, 2011.

Dr. J. W. C. O’Neal stated that Nickles or Nichols was buried on the John Cunningham Farm. O’Neal wrote that Drs. Eldridge and Ransom were in charge of the hospital. He also stated that there were 17 graves on the Cunningham Farm. Confederate and Union wounded were treated here, including at least one member of the 4th Michigan Infantry. This view was taken facing west at approximately 6:00 PM on Saturday, May 14, 2011.

A granddaughter of John Cunningham, Mrs. Hugh Paxton Bingham, wrote the following account: “Towards evening of July 2nd a Confederate officer rode to the door and told father that the buildings would be required for hospital use. It being July, the big barn was almost empty and that was preferred rather than the house. All night long the wounded were carried in on stretchers. It was fully two miles from the wheatfield, where they had fallen and they were carried through pouring rain.” This view was taken facing west at approximately 6:00 PM on Saturday, May 14, 2011.

“Father… went out with a notebook, and took the names and addresses of all who were alive. Many had died before morning…Union wounded within the Confederate lines were brought in too. The Union wounded were laid down in the orchard, and Father found many of them lying in pools of water. Later, tents were put over these men, and on the whole, they recovered better than those housed in the barn.” This view was taken facing west at approximately 6:00 PM on Saturday, May 14, 2011.

Mrs. Hugh Paxton Bingham’s account continued: “Father had no means of knowing how the battle was going until an order came to ‘use no more chloroform on Union soldiers.’… on July 3rd, Mother and the children came home… for six weeks Cassie (a hired lady) baked all the bread the big brick oven would hold every day. Every wounded man who could walk found his way to the house when the odor of baking bread floated out from the oven.” The family used 25 barrels of flour to feed the wounded. This view was taken facing west at approximately 6:00 PM on Saturday, May 14, 2011.

“Mother was unable to keep the children away from the homesick soldiers. They would carve them toys… and play with them endlessly. The children would trot to the well with canteens strung around their necks, carrying cold water to the men. When Mother would go to the barn to take milk to the wounded, she would sometimes find a soldier asleep on the hay with a sleeping child on each arm.” This view was taken facing west at approximately 6:00 PM on Saturday, May 14, 2011.

148 years after these events, it is said that the main buildings on the farm are the same that were here at the time of the battle. It was here that J.H.B. Nickles’ or Nichols’ body was buried for eight years before it was taken to Savannah. This view was taken facing west at approximately 6:00 PM on Saturday, May 14, 2011.


About Us  •  Support  •  Archives  •  Subscribe  •  Creative Commons License