|SCV Camp #1860 Blue Ridge Rifles Dahlonega, Georgia
We are SCV Camp #1860 Blue Ridge Rifles CO E of the Phillips Legion. We constituted in 1999 and was chartered in January of 2000.
On this page we'll provide some history about our organization or our cause. For example, below is a former Captain of the Blue Ridge Rifles whose granddaughter still lives in Dahlonega, GA.
Captain Jesse Marion McDonald
In June of 1861, a small group of boys from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia formed a volunteer corps of soldiers formally known as Company E, Phillips Legion Georgia Infantry. To North Georgians, the group was far better known as the "Blue Ridge Rifles."The Dahlonega newspaper, The Mountain Signal, described them as a company numbering about eighty and made up of the best citizens: "No company from the state is better qualified for destructiveness, as they have been from their earliest boyhood used to the rifle and shut one eye when they shoot, and every time they pull the trigger a man will fall."
One of these boys was 3rd Lieut. Jesse Marion McDonald, who was promoted to Captain on June 29, 1864, of the Blue Ridge Rifles. McDonald wrote throughout the war to his sweetheart back in Dahlonega, Sarah Ann Thomas. His granddaughter Marion Boatfield of Dahlonega, still has many of these letters.
By the time of the 1862 Maryland Campaign, they had nothing to eat but apples and green corn, and like most of the Confederate army their clothes were tattered and many of them had no shoes, leading the soldiers to jokingly refer to their time in the state as the "Green Corn Campaign."
In September of 1862, General Robert E. Lee moved the Southern army into Maryland hoping to gain new recruits and fresh supplies on the way north. Lee split his army into three groups to get at 12,000 Union troops at Harpers Ferry. Lee did not know that General George McClellan's Union army was right behind him. During this campaign, the Blue Ridge Rifles (aka Company E, Phillips Legion Infantry Battalion) were a part of Thomas Drayton's Brigade, D R Jones Division of Longstreet's Corps.
On September 14, the Blue Ridge Rifles were in camp at Hagerstown, MD, when the call came to fall in and march south to help D H Hill block the South Mountain Passes at Turner's and Fox's Gaps. These gaps located just above the small hamlet of Boonsboro, MD, were under attack by two full Federal Corps (Reno's IX Corps and Hooker's I Corps) and failure to hold them would permit McClellan to split Lee's Army in two.
After a forced march of about 12 miles, the Blue Ridge Rifles arrived with their unit at Turner's Gap around noon and were personally escorted one mile south to Fox's Gap by General D H Hill who hoped to use them to stem the effects of the Federals rout of Garland's Gap. There was little time to set up a line of defense, and they (Drayton's Brigade) were forced to retreat behind the mountain.
During the night, the Confederates anxiously awaited a Union attack becasue they were too few in number to defend their position. On the morning of the 15th after a tense night, the Union soldiers prepared to attack again when they heard cheers rolling up the valley from Harper?erry. A Union solder jumped on a wall and yelled, "Hey, Johnny Reb, What's the cheering for?" A Confederate soldier replied, "Harpers Ferry has surrendered!" The Union army did not attack again that day. Shaken and exhaused with many of their company captured or killed, (Drayton's Brigade lost 622 men killed, wounded and captured in this fight, seven of these were from the Rifles) the Blue Ridge Rifles bivouacked the night of the 16th south of Sharpsburg, where General Lee regrouped his army.
On the morning of the 17th, Confederate forces were spread in a semi-circle along the east side of the Potomac River. The battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) started before 6 AM with the mist still rising off the ground. After a vicious battle, the entire Southern army recrossed the Potomac River back into Virginia to recover.
A letter dated Nov. 12 from Culpepper, Virginia, written by Private A. J. Reese of the Blue Ridge Rifles, said, "The too [sic] Blackwell boys are with us and James Robberts. They were taken prisoners at South Mountain, Marylan [sic], and was not killed as we thought they was." In 1864, the Blue Ridge Rifles would have ended their enlistment period, but chose not to disband and re-enlisted for the duration of the war.
In 1866, Captain Jess Marion McDonald married Sarah Ann Thomas and bought the Thomas farm, located behind the Consolidated Gold Mine.
Today the property belongs to their great-grandson Robert McDonald, who still farms the land. There are also many descendents of the brave men known as the Blue Ridge Rifles still living in Lumpkin County, Georgia.
Capt. McDonald is the grandfather of Blanche McDonald
Source: The Dahlonega Nugget, Dahlonega, Georgia. June 26, 1997, "Blue Ridge Rifles of 1861 and the Maryland Campaign" Edited for clarity and accuracy by Kurt Graham
Phillips Georgia Legion-Infantry Battalion
The Phillips Legions Infantry Battalion formed the infantry component of this Georgia unit. As originally organized in 1861 the Legion contained six infantry companies (A-F) and four Cavalry companies. During the spring of 1862, three new infantry companies, (L,M, & O), were recruited in Cobb and Bartow counties and added to the infantry Battalion. These nine companies, retaining their original company designations, served throughout the remainder of the war. Like almost all Civil War Legions, the infantry and cavalry battalions of the unit were separated not long after the unit was accepted into active service.
As was the case with almost all Civil War units the Infantry Legion was frequently known by an alternate designation derived from the name of its commanding officer. Names of this type used by or for the unit are:
William Phillips Infantry
Seaborn Jones, Jr.s Infantry
Joseph Hamiltons Infantry
Robert T. Cooks Infantry
E. Sandy Barclays Infantry
John S. Norris Infantry
Shortly after being mustered into Confederate service the unit was ordered to the mountains of western Virginia (todays West Virginia) to serve in the Army of the Kanawha under General Floyd. The unit endured brutal winter weather and disease until December 16, 1861 when it was ordered to South Carolina. The unit, now expanded with the addition of companies L, M, and O, next served in the Department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. In July of 1862 the Battalion returned to Virginia as part of Thomas Draytons mixed Georgia, South Carolina brigade, joining the Army of Northern Virginia. It was reassigned to General T R R Cobbs Georgia brigade in November of 1862 and continued to serve with the ANV until the late summer of 1863 when it was moved west to Georgia along with two divisions of Longstreets Corps, serving in the Army of Tennessee at Chattanooga and later in the Department of East Tennessee during the Knoxville campaign. Returned to Virginia in April of 1864, the unit again served in the Army of Northern Virginia. In August of 1864, the unit joined the Army of the Valley District where it served in the Shenandoah Valley until November, 1864. Once again returned to the Army of Northern Virginia, the Battalion served in that army for the duration of the war.
Specific higher command assignments of the unit are:
Oct. 16, 1861-Floyds Brigade, Army of the Kanawha.
Nov. 12, 1861-First Brigade, Army of the Kanawha.
May 15, 1862-Attached, Sixth Military District of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
June 1, 1862-Attached, Fourth Military Dist. of South Carolina,Dept.of South Carolina,Georgia and Florida.
July 17, 1862-Draytons Brigade,D.R. Jones Div., Longstreets command, ANV.
Nov. 26,1862-Cobbs Brigade, McLaws Division, First Corps, ANV.
May 1, 1863-Woffords Brigade, McLaws Division, First Corps, ANV.
Dec. 31,1863-Woffords Brigade, McLaws Division, Department of East Tennessee.
May 1, 1864-Woffords Brigade, Kershaws Division, First Corps, ANV.
Aug.31,1864-Woffords Brigade, Kershaws Division, Second Corps, Army of the Valley District.
Apr. 1, 1865-DuBoses Brigade, Kershaws Division, First Corps, ANV.
Phillips Legion, Georgia Volunteers---Col. William Phillips in command.
Cavalry Battalion- Lt. Col. William Rich
Co. A-"DuBignon Cavalry" "Governors House Guards" Charles DuBignon, James H. Nichols-Cobb, Hall and Baldwin Counties.
Company B- "Johnsons Rangers" William W. Rich, John F. Milhollin, Thomas G. Wilkes-Cobb and Bartow Counties.
Company C- "Cherokee Dragoons" William B. C. Puckett, E. C. Hardin-Robert Leeper Young Long-Cherokee County.
Company D- "Coweta Rangers" John B. Willcoxon, Hugh Buchanon- Coweta, Carroll and Bibb Counties.
Company E- "Bibbs Cavalry" S.S. Dunlap, A. F. Hunter- Bibb County.
Company F- W.W. Thomas- Coweta, Henry, Newton, and Carroll Counties.
Company G- "Richmond Dragoons"- F.Edgeworth Eve- Richmond County.
Infantry Battalion-- Col. Robert Thomas Cook, Lt. Col. Joseph Hamilton, Lt. Col. E. Sandy Barclay, Jr.
Company A-"Green County Rifles" Phillip B. Robinson, Oliver P. Daniel, Frederick C. Fuller, Daniel B. Sanford- Green County.
Company B-"Dalton Guards" Robert T. Cook, Thomas Hamilton- Whitfield County.
Company C- Habersham County
Company D-"Polk Rifles" Captain H. Frank Wimberly, John L. Dodd- Lt. Julius A. Peek- Polk County
Company E-"Blue Ridge Rifles" Joseph Hamilton, William H. Barber, Hardy D. Price, Capt. Jesse M. McDonald- Lumpkin County
Company F-"Lochrane Guards" Jackson Barnes, Patrick McGovern- Bibb County
Company L-"Blackwell Volunteers" James M. Johnson, James F. Lowry- Cobb County
Company M- James McClesky, Samuel Y. Harris- Cobb County
Company O-"Marietta Guards" Thomas K. Sproull, Henry J. Mc Cormack- Cobb and Bartow Counties.
Phillips Georgia Infantry Legion participated in more than fifty various engagements during its career:
August 5, 1862 Engagement, Malvern Hill, Virginia
August 30, 1862 2nd Manassas
September 6-22, 1862 Maryland Campaign
September 14, 1862 Foxs Gap (on South Mountain)
September 16-17, 1862 Battle, Antietam (Sharpsburg), Maryland
September 19-20, 1862 Skirmishes, Williamsport, Maryland
October 26-November 10, 1862 Operations against Loudon, Faquir and Rappahannock Counties, Virginia
December 12-15, 1862 Battle, Fredericksburg, Virginia
April 27-May 6, 1863 Chancellorsville Campaign
May 1-5, 1863 Battle Chancellorsville, Virginia
June 3-August 1, 1863 Gettysburg Campaign
July 1-3, 1863 Battle, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
July 5-24, 1863 Retreat to near Manassas Gap, Virginia
September 19-21, 1863 Battle, Chickamauga, Georgia
October 28-29, 1863 Engagement, Wauhatchie, Tennessee
November 14-December 23, 1863 Knoxville Campaign
November 15, 1863 Skirmish, Little River, Tennessee
November 17-December 4, 1863 Siege, Knoxville, Tennessee
November 29, 1863 Assault, Forts Saunders and Loudon, Knoxville, Tennessee
January 16-17, 1864 Operations about Dandridge, Tennessee
January 17, 1864 Action, Dandridge, Tennessee
January 26-28, 1864 Operations against Dandridge, Tennessee
January 27, 1864 Engagement near Fair Garden, Tennessee
May 4-June 12, 1864 Wilderness Campaign
May 507, 1864 Battle, Wilderness, Virginia
May 8, 1864 Battles, Spottsylvania Court House, Laurel Hill, Ny River, Fredericksburg Road, Virginia
May 12, 1864 Assault on the Salient, Spottsylvania Court House, Virginia
May 22-26, 1864 Operations on the line of the North Anna River, Virginia
May 26-28, 1864 Operations on the line of the Pamunkey River, Virginia
May 28-31, 1864 Operations on the line of the Totopotomoy River, Virginia
June 1-12, 1864 Battle about Cold Harbor, Virginia
June 16, 1864 Assault, Petersburg, Virginia
June 16-August, 1864 Siege Operations against Petersburg and Richmond, Virginia
June 18, 1864 Assault, Petersburg, Virginia
July 27-29, 1864 Demonstrations on the North Side of the James River and engagements at Deep Bottom, (Darbytown Road), Strawberry Plains and New Market Road, Virginia
July 28, 1864 Engagement, Malvern Hill, Virginia
August 7-November 28, 1864 Operations against Sheridans Campaign in the Shenandoah Valley
August 16,1864 Engagement, Cedarville, Guard Hill (Front Royal), Virginia
September 2-3, 1864 Action, Bunker Hill, West Virginia
September 19, 1864 Battle, Opequan, Winchester
September 22, 1864 Fishers Hill, Woodstock, Virginia
October 19,1864 Battle Cedar Creek, Middletown and Belle Grove, Virginia
December 1864- April 2, 1865 Siege Operations against Petersburg and Richmond, Virginia
March 28-April 9, 1865 Appomattox Campaign
April 9, 1865 Engagement, Clover Hill, Appomattox Court House, Virginia
April 9, 1865 Surrender, Appomattox Court House, Virginia
An examination of the paroles granted at Appomattox Court House show
that slightly more than ninety officers and enlisted men of Phillips
Georgia Legion were still with the unit when it surrendered.
Source: Confederate Research Center, Hillsboro, Texas
For information about Phillips Legion: Contact Kurt Graham