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Frequently Asked Questions about Military Resarch

Organization of Georgia Military
The first thing the researcher must confront is the bewildering array of nomenclature used to describe Georgia soldiers. This may not be totally accurate, but it is close and we welcome commentary.

First, Georgia, like most states, had a militia since colonial times. The state was, and remains, organized into "Militia Districts." If you live in Georgia, that "GMD" on your property tax bill stands for "Georgia Militia District." While most had only met to show off new, and usually very fancy, uniforms at a dress ball and to fire a 4th of July cannon, by 1860 many were actually, seriously drilling in "modern" infantry tactics.  As war became likely, the State was divided into 13 Military Districts.

With the impending election of a Republican president, Governor Joe E. Brown began to seriously organize a state army, albeit somewhat surreptitiously. The "Secession Convention," which essentially was a provisional government for the sovereign republic of Georgia, authorized Brown to raise a force of 10,000 men for Georgia's defense and appropriated $1,000,000 to equip and support it. The first units were called the Georgia Army, which organization was released to Confederate States command on 20 Mar 61. The famous Phillips Legion arose from this organization. Brown first tried to turn it over to the CS as a combined arms legion under Bg. Gen. William Phillips. This immediately caused what may have been the first of many disputes between Brown and President Davis as it would have allowed Brown to appoint a General officer of the Provisional Army of the Confederate States (P.A.C.S). Brown relented and the legion went to the PACS with Phillips at a Colonel's rank where he and the unit gave distinguished service.

Brown also raised a three brigade division of 8000 troops under Mj. Gen. Henry Jackson to meet the threat to Savannah under a six month enlistment. Most were turned over to PACS command subsequent to the Confederate States conscription act in April of 1862.

In his ongoing attempt to maintain a body of troops under Georgia command, Brown then organized the Georgia State Guards and the Georgia State Reserves, both commanded by Mj. Gen. Howell Cobb. The State Guards were short-lived had been disbanded by early 1864 due to pressure from the CS government and changes in the conscription law.

Shortly after disbanding the Guards, Gov. Brown and Gen. Cobb organized the Reserve. Though technically these men were on six month enlistments, many served for the duration of The War.  Many served as POW guards at Andersonville and Macon. Both units were comprised of men otherwise exempt from CS conscription.

And finally, among the State troops, were the two regiments of  the Georgia State Line which served from February 1863 till the surrender of Georgia in May 1865.  The "Line" grew out of Governor Brown's railroad Bridge Guard companies raised to protect the State owned Western and Atlantic Railroad.  During Sherman's invasion it was attached to the Army of the Tennessee.   The Line was a source of great contention both within Georgia, where they were referred to as "Joe Brown's Pets," and with the Confederate Government which considered them subject to CS conscription.  Nevertheless, most remained in Georgia service until the capitulation.  These few words attempt to describe a very complex military organization and an even more complex political situation.

In addition to the Georgia Troops, i.e., those who remained under Georgia command, Georgia provided somewhere in the neighborhood of 75,000 to 100,000 troops to the Provisional Army of the Confederate States. These were organized into numbered Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiments (though they weren't all volunteers) from the 1st GVIR to the 66th GVIR.  (There was no 33rd GVIR)  Additionally, Georgia contributed some several thousand Cavalry and Artillery troops to the PACS.   Overall Georgia contribution to the PACS is estimated to have been around 125,000 troops from a 1860 white military age population of around 300,000.  P.A.C.S.  units chose their officers and NCOs up to the regimental level, i.e., up to the rank of Colonel. They were brigaded together with other regiments usually, but not always, from the same state under the command of a Brigadier General appointed by the CS government.

The brigades were organized into divisions under a Major General. The divisions were organized into Corps under a Lieutenant General. The Corps were organized into Armies under a full General.

Only in the last days of the war was there an overall military commander, Gen. R.E. Lee. Heretofore, the Armies had been independent, reporting to the President as Commander in Chief.

There were variations on this scheme from area to area, but this is the general structure. Consequently, your soldier could have been in any one, or more than one, of these types of units. An additional complexity is the fact that the Georgia unit nomenclature overlaps the PACS nomenclature, particularly early in the war. If you believe your ancestor to have served in a low numbered unit, it is important, and difficult, to ascertain whether the unit description is a Georgia or PACS description. As most went on from Georgia to CS service, this is not as difficult as it might appear, but it can cause consternation.
Basic Organizations

Company:  Usually raised from a single county, comprised of 60 - 100 men.
Commanded by an elected Captain.  Companies were designated by a capital letter, but usually had a local name.  All sorts of fearsome sounding "Invincibles,"  Yankee Killers," and the like were common.  They were most commonly referred to by the name of the Captain.

Battalion:  An infantry unit of less than ten companies commanded by a Major,
Lt. Colonel, or Colonel.  Late in the war, this designation was commonly used
 for units of sharpshooters often deployed as skirmishers.

Legion: A combined arms unit comprising Infantry, Artillery, and Cavalry.
Usually, but not always smaller than a regiment.  Normally commanded by a
Colonel, but sometimes by a Bg. Gen. if he were particularly well connected,e.g. Cobb's Legion.  T.R.R. Cobb died at Fredericksburg before his nomination to Brigadier was approved by the CS Congress.

Regiment: Normally, ten, but sometimes more or less, companies usually from the same
geographical area, but there are exceptions.  Commanded by an elected Colonel.

Brigade:  An organization of three or four, sometimes more or less, Regiments.
Almost always from the same state, at least after the Fall of '62, under the
command of a Brigadier General, commonly though not always from that state, but appointed by
the CS government.  Brigades were numbered, but were commonly referred to by the Brigadier General's name.

Division: An organization of Brigades, the number of which varied by theater and
by the period of The War, with three or four brigades being about average.
Commanded by a Major General appointed by the CS government.  Divisions were numbered, but were commonly referred to by the Major General's name.

Corps: An organization of divisions under command of a Lieutenant General
appointed by the CS government.  This was the structure from late '62 on in the
Army of Northern Virginia.  There were three corps in the ANV; I, II, and III, but, as with subordinate units, were commonly referred to by the Corps commander's name.

Army:  An organization of Corps under command of a full General appointed by the
CS government.  There were three:  The Army of Northern Virginia, the Army of Tennessee,
 and the Army of the Trans-Mississippi.

Bragg, William H., Joe Brown's Army, Mercer U.P., Macon, 1987.
Bryan, T. Conn, Confederate Georgia, Georgia U.P., Athens, 1953.
Smetlund, William, Campfires of Georgia Troops, Self published, 1995
Contributed by Art Chance: 


I can't find my Ancestor's name in Henderson's volumes of Rosters, but I know he fought
Henderson's only lists Confederate Volunteer Regiments Infantry and contains both errors and omissions.

My ancestor was a Cavalryman. How can I find rosters? I know of no formally compiled roster of Cavalrymen, but there are quite a few authoritative privately compiled ones, many accessible on the net. If you haven't already, check the Ga. Military page linked to this site and see if it has a roster or contact person.
Also, if you haven't already, request his Confederate Service Record from the Archives.

 My ancestor's record mentions "6 months service". I SPECULATE this about his service. I may be wrong, but it will give you a place to start. A "6 months troop" designation is a Georgia enlistment prior to the CS Conscription Act of 1862. He probably enlisted in the 15th, a very early unit. Six month enlistments were allowed to expire and all soldiers either volunteered or were conscripted after April 62 "for three years or the war." At some point after his six-month service, he acquired a mount or found a Cavalry regiment that wanted him and joined the 7th Ga. Cav. an Army of Northern Virginia unit.

Contributed by Art Chance.

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