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INFANTRY BATTALION of SMITH'S LEGION
'Georgia Partisan Rangers'
redesignated in March 1863 as
GEORGIA VOLUNTEER INFANTRY
ARMY OF TENNESSEE, C. S. A.
Home Counties of Company Units
Beginning as the 'First Georgia Partisan Rangers,' on May 21, 1862, this unit's name was changed on July 1, 1862, to 'Smith's Legion, Georgia Partisan Rangers.' The unit consisted of a Cavalry and Infantry Battalion. For a time, it was under the command of Col. Sumner J. Smith (1823-1869). (Click on Col. Smith's name to see a copy of his commission)
The Cavalry Battalion, consisting of six companies, raised some of its members from Union, Polk, Floyd, Gilmer and Towns counties. It was attached to the Department of East Tennessee and was involved in the Kentucky Champaign. In the spring of 1863, the Cavalry Battalion merged with the 6th Georgia Cavalry Regiment. Its commanders were LtColonel John R. Hart and Major Benjamin F. Brown.
The Infantry Battalion recruited many of its men from Gilmer, Fannin, Floyd, Lumpkin, Union, Pickens, White, Towns, and Habersham counties. Assigned to the Department of East Tennessee, it served in Kentucky and later was stationed in Cumberland Gap and Loudon, Tennessee. During the spring of 1863, the Infantry Battalion merged into the 65th Georgia Infantry Regiment.
Unit Muster Records
Field, Staff and Band
Company A, Gilmer & Pickens Co. 'Gilmer Light Guards'
- Col. Robert H. Moore, photo
Company B, Fannin County
Company C, White County 'Dixie Rangers'
- Captain Andrew H. Morris, photo
- letter dated July 27, 1863
- 2nd Lt. Larkin German, photo
- Pvt. John German, see Jauken, Arlene Feldman. THE MOCCASIN SPEAKS: Living the Captives of the Dog Soldier Warriors - Red River War 1874-1875, Danforth Publishing, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1998. The post-Civil War story of this soldier, his family, and their hardships. A worthwhile read.
- letter dated July 27, 1863
- Pvt. Garner Davenport, photo
- Pvt. William W. Craig, photo
- Pvt. John C. Logan, photo
- Pvt. Conrad Woody, photo
This 35"x72" flag was captured near Barnesville, GA, in mid-April 1965, by a detachment of the 4th Indiana Cavalry. It is a cotton First National pattern, twelve stars, yellow silk fringe with the unit name painted in black on the reverse. The flag currently resides in the collection of the Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, Va. (WD487). For a larger image click here.
- 4th Cpl. Merritt London, Photo
Company D, Floyd County 'Freemen of Floyd County'
For more information on Co D, 65th GA's battle flag, see Pvt. John Davis, below. Currently, the flag is located at the Southern Museum of the Civil War in Kennesaw, GA.
Company E, Fannin County
- Pvt. Colman Watson (1890), photo
- Pvt. Thomas Watson (1865), in Union uniform, photo
Company F, Lumpkin & White County
Company G, Towns County
Company H, Gilmer County
- Pvt. Luke Kimbrell, photo
- Pvt. A J Cole, photo
- Pvt. Benjamin Harbin. To learn more about the Harbin family, click here.
- Pvt. W F Hill, photo
Company I, Habersham County
Company K, Habersham County
Miscellaneous Men, Company not identified
Engagement Summary - 1 May 1862 ~ May 1865
After serving in East Tennessee, the 65th Georgia Volunteer Infantry was attached to the Army of Tennessee's Brigades of J. H. Kelly, J.K. Jackson, and S. R. Gist. The 65th fought with the Army from Chickamauga through Nashville. In December 1863, it consisted of 291 men and 226 arms. Its strength was further reduced until it surrendered at the end of the war in North Carolina. The field officers were Colonels John S. Fain, Robert H. Moore, and William G. Foster; Lt Colonel Jacob W. Pearcy, and Major Samuel F. Williams.
65th Regiment Georgia Volunteer Infantry, CSA actions in East Tennessee from May 1862 through the Battle of Chickamauga, September 19-20, 1863, as recorded in the Official Records:
|Date||Commander||65th GVI Activities and Movements|
|1-May-62||Col. Sumner J. Smith|| Formed as Smith's Legion Ga Vol.|
|1-May-62|| LtCol JS Fain|| Loudon, TN, Fain's Battalion|
|19-Mar-63|| LtCol JS Fain|| Loudon, TN, Smith's (Ga) Legion|
|25-Mar-63||Col. JS Fain|| Reorganized as Co F, 65th GVI|
|25-Apr-63|| LtCol RH Moore|| Loudon, TN, Fain's (Ga) Reg.|
|17-Jun-63|| LtCol RH Moore|| Wartburg, TN, 65th GVI ordered to Jacksborough, TN|
|23-Jun-63|| Col. RH Moore|| Kingston, TN, 65th GVI|
|26-Jun-63|| Resist Federals at Travisville, fall back to Loudon|
|31-Jul-63|| Col. RH Moore|| Army of E TN, MG Buckner, 2nd Bdg, 65th GVI|
|3-Aug-63|| 65th ordered from Knoxville to Jacksborough|
|21-Aug-63|| 65th from Jacksborough to Cumberland Gap|
|21-Aug-63|| 65th to Big Creek Gap|
|24-Aug-63|| 65th from Turkey Creek to Loudon, TN|
|31-Oct-63||Col. RH Moore || Army of TN, Kelly Bdg, (thru Battle of Chickamauga)|
From the time the unit was formed in May 1862 through the Battle of Missionary Ridge in November 1863 (about 17 months), the unit had 'officially' lost almost 50% of its strength. When the unit surrendered in Greensboro, NC, in May 1865, the 'official' strength was about 20% of its original numbers.
Do NOT to confuse 'official' strength with 'effective' strength. At the Battle of Chickamauga the unit's 'official' strength on paper was about 70% (800 men). Col Moore's report in the ORs indicates he had about 300 men available for duty.
The following "attrition" diagram offers a way to assess the Muster Roll's "exit comments" for a particular member in terms of overall Regimental Attrition during the Regiment's 36 month active life (May 1862 -- May 1865).
Please keep in mind that CSA record keeping was NOT perfect. The conditions under which the original source author was working were far from ideal. Originally, all records were hand written (some long after the fact). Clear memory and penmanship play important roles in the creation of an accurate record. Much later they were transcribed and typed by someone whose skills and devotion to accuracy can not be verified. It is not only possible, but highly probable, mistakes were made. The possibility of mistakes need to be taken into account when one reads the record.
Also, in an attempt to prevent double-counting by the editor, the 'head count' (N=1144) does not include an individual who's name is referenced to another spelling of the name. Nor does it include a named individual who is fully described as a member of another unit of the 65th Georgia. Finally, if an individual is mentioned as being a member of the unit with no other comments; that is, 'present, but not otherwise accounted for,' then that person was placed in the 'Other' category.
Research Question: What reasons account for this unit's desertion rate?
Comments are welcome & will be greatly appreciated. Contact Michael Gay.
For insight into the impacts of desertion on the Confederate homefront see:
Dotson, Paul Randolph Jr. Sisson's Kingdom: Loyalty Divisions in Floyd County, Virginia, 1861-1865 Virginia Tech University. Master of Arts Thesis: History (1997). Document available on-line in Adobe Acrobat "PDF" format.
Fisher, Noel C. War At Every Door: Partisan Politics & Guerrilla Violence in East Tennessee 1860-1869. The University of North Carolina Press (1997). Available from Barnes & Noble.
Lonn, Ella. Desertion During The Civil War. University of Nebraska Press (1928, reprinted 1998). Available from Barnes & Noble.
The side bar shows the 1799 Georgia State Seal as portrayed on the 'unofficial' Georgia State Flag (pre-1879). Its inscription reads WISDOM - JUSTICE - MODERATION bridged by CONSTITUTION.
For additional information, suggestions, or other messages, please contact Michael Gay.
Copyright © 1997-2010 Michael Gay. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in any form, in part or in whole is prohibited without written permission.
Published on November 13, 1997.
Changes last made on March 15, 2010.