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Reminiscences of Service with the First Volunteer Regiment of Georgia, Charleston Harbor, in 1863 An address delivered before the Georgia Historical Society, March 3, 1879   By:

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REMINISCENCES OF SERVICE WITH THE FIRST VOLUNTEER REGIMENT OF GEORGIA,

CHARLESTON HARBOR, IN 1863.

AN ADDRESS DELIVERED BEFORE THE GEORGIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY,

MARCH 3, 1879.

BY COLONEL CHARLES H. OLMSTEAD.

SAVANNAH, GA.: PRINTED AND PRESENTED BY J. H. ESTILL, PROPRIETOR MORNING NEWS, 1879.

ANNALS OF THE WAR.

In preparing the following paper, it has been my desire only to record what its title suggests personal reminiscences.

Leaving to other and abler pens the task of writing an accurate history of the scenes and events to which reference is now about to be made, I shall confine myself simply to the task of setting down such things as came under my personal observation, or within the scope of my individual knowledge.

I do this the more confidently, remembering the marked interest that invariably attaches to the testimony of an eyewitness, and also bearing in mind (for my own comfort) that this interest will always incline his hearers to leniency in judging literary demerits. It is probable, too, that some of my old comrades will be pleased at this recurrence to an eventful period in their lives, while a younger generation in the ranks may be glad to have placed before them a record, not of the "pomp and circumstance of glorious war," but of its privations, its hardships, its perils, and, it may be added, its lessons of self abnegation and of devotion to duty.

Early in the month of July, 1863, while stationed very comfortably at the Isle of Hope, a courier, "spurring in hot haste," brought orders from Department headquarters that set our camp at once in a turmoil of eager and excited preparation. The 32d Georgia, Col. George P. Harrison, Jr., the 12th and 18th Georgia Battalions, Lieut. Col. H. D. Capers and Major W. S. Basinger, and a battalion from the First Volunteer Regiment of Georgia, were ordered to proceed with the least possible delay to Savannah, there to take cars for Charleston.

A private note at the same time brought the intelligence that that city, so long threatened, and, indeed, once already assailed by sea, was now to undergo a vigorous and combined attack from both land and naval forces. The day was an eventful one to us without this additional stimulant. In the morning we had received the sad news of the fall of Vicksburg and the consequent opening of the Mississippi river to the Federal fleet, from the mountains to the sea, a disaster that secured to the enemy the grand object of his most strenuous exertions, while it severed the young Confederacy in twain and deprived our armies east of the river of all the aid and comfort in the way of material supplies and gallant recruits, that had been so long and so freely drawn from the west bank. We had just learned, too, of the check received by General Lee at the battle of Gettysburg, and now came the summons to tell that our turn had come for a little squeeze in the folds of the traditional "Anaconda," that the New York Herald had so graphically depicted as encircling the South.

The men received the orders with enthusiasm indeed, when was it otherwise with the Southern soldier. Thoroughly conversant, as they all were, with the details of the war, they could not but be depressed by the news of such grave reverses to our arms as the morning's mail had brought them, and they gladly welcomed the relief that active service promised from the tedium of camp life, and the necessity of thinking upon melancholy subjects.

Our march began in the midst of a terrific thunder storm that had the effect, not only of cooling down any overplus of excitement, but also of rendering the road to the city almost a quagmire throughout its entire length.

There are pleasanter ways of spending a summer's evening than in trudging for eight miles, through mud and rain, in heavy marching order; but upon this, as on similar occasions during the war, I was deeply impressed by the uncomplaining patience and cheerfulness with which the men endured hardships that few would care to face now, but which, then, were regarded as mere matters of course distasteful, certainly but not worth talking about... Continue reading book >>




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