63rd Georgia Combat History

A short history and compilation of the Civil War engagements involving the 63rd Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment. The regiment fought in 36 engagements during 77 days of combat. 

 

To this history I have added larger significant events and the contemporary WHH letters to help you better understand his story and demonstrate the interrelatedness of small events with the sweep of history. (Five letters before this period and 17 after are not listed below.)

 

Besides WHH and the countless unknown heroes of the 63rd, one notable brother-in-arms was James Maurice Thompson (1844-1901), the author and poet. Thompson's best known work is Alice of Old Vincennes. Maurice (pronounced 'Morris') also wrote about his Civil War experience. For more on his military service see The Literary Career of Maurice Thompson by Otis T. Wheeler. Thompson is also considered the father of American archery. 

 

Four of WHH's letters were written at Hanleiter's Battery. Cornelius R. Hanleiter married Ann E. Shaw in 1849 in DeKalb County. In Macon, he edited the Southern Miscellany. Then he moved to Atlanta in 1847 and published the National American, known as the Gate City Guardian at the start of the Civil War, then renamed the Southern Confederacy. In partnership with John H. Rice, he owned the Franklin Printing House. He became a Confederate in September 1861 in the Jo Thompson Artillery of Wright's Legion, 38th Georgia Regiment, and was elected Captain. His company remained in the Savannah and Charleston coastal areas. After the war, he started the first successful daily newspaper in Atlanta, The Atlanta Intelligencer. See "War Diary of Cornelius R. Hanleiter," edited by Elma S. Kurtz, in the Atlanta Historical Bulletin XIV, no. 3; and XV, nos. 1-3 in the Special Collections of Emory University Library.

History of the 63rd Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment

Georgia seceded from the Union on March 16, 1861.

 April 7, 1861 WHH poem to EFJ (Magnolia. GA)

Capt. George A. Gordon’s company existed from May 30, 1861 to April 26, 1862 in Col. Charles H. Olmstead's 1st Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment. During this time, on January 24, 1862 in Griffin, Georgia, Lt. Council enlisted William Harmon Harden as a private for 3 years or the duration of the war.

On April 26, the 1st Regiment was divided into three companies and designated the 13th Battalion, Georgia Volunteer Infantry, also known as the Phoenix Battalion, under the command of now Maj. George A. Gordon. The Company commanders are Capt. George R. Black (A), Capt. John R. Giles (B), and Capt. James T. Buckner (C).

In October, 1861 Thunderbolt Battery has one 8-inch gun and three 28-pounders.

October 6, 1861 TWK letter to WHH (Fayette County, WV)

March 1, 1862 AMG letter to WHH (Pike County, GA)

August 18, 1862 WHH letter to NJH (Savannah, GA)

August 21, 1862 WHH letter to NJH (Savannah, GA)

August 24, 1862 WHH letter to NJH (Ruby, GA)

September 2, 1862 WHH letter to NJH (Beulah, GA)

September 14, 1862 WHH letter to NJH (Tallulah, GA)

undated1 WHH letter to NJH

September 19, 1862 WHH letter to NJH (Moss Cabins, GA)

September 21, 1862 NJH letter to WHH (Pike County, GA)

undated2 WHH letter to NJH

September 23, 1862 WHH letter to NJH (Beulah, GA)

September 24, 1862 WHH letter to NJH (Moss Cabin, GA)

undated3 WHH letter to NJH

November 2, 1862 PL letter to WHH

In Savannah, Georgia on December 23, 1862, the 63rd Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment was formed by consolidation of the 13th Battalion, the 12th Artillery Battalion (including the Oglethorpe Artillery), and four other infantry companies from the region, with a total strength exceeding 1,100 men, commanded by Col. George A. Gordon. They were also called the Phoenix Regiment, Georgia Volunteers, or Phoenix Volunteers. Company G is commanded by Capt. D. N. Martin.

The 63rd Georgia provided artillery batteries at Fort McAllister, Thunderbolt, and Rosedew Island in the defense of Savannah. Later in the war, in May of 1864, it joined the Army of Tennessee in Brig. Gen. Mercer's Brigade and functioned as an infantry regiment.

The first commanding officer of the 63rd was Col. George A. Gordon. Later commanders included Lt. Col. George R. Black, Maj. Joseph V. H. Allen, Maj. John R. Giles, Capt. James T. Buckner, and Capt. Elijah J. Craven.

Initially, the 63rd was an unattached regiment in Brig. Gen. Hugh Weedon Mercer's District of Georgia. [The movie "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" features his restored Savannah home and stars a charismatic cinema canine, UGA V, late mascot of my alma mater and better known locally for nearly devouring an Auburn football player - we won that game...but I digress.] Mercer reported to the Department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, commanded by Gen. Pierre Gustave Toutant de Beauregard.

The Union navy bombards Fort McAllister on January 27, 1863.

February 2, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Camp Gordon, GA)

February 10, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Camp Gordon, GA)

February 13-14, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Camp Gordon, GA)

undated4 letter WHH to NJH

February 21, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Camp Gordon, GA)

February 23, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Camp Gordon, GA)

January-February 1863 Company G Muster Roll

March 6, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Camp Gordon, GA)

March 11-13, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Camp Gordon, GA)

March 20, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Camp Gordon, GA)

undated5 letter WHH to NJH

undated6 letter WHH to SJ

March 26-28, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Camp Gordon, GA)

March 30-31, 1863 letter WHH to NJH, CCH, SRH, EJ (Camp Gordon, GA)

undated7 letter WHH to NJH

April 5-6, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Fort Mercer, GA)

April 10-11, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Camp Gordon, GA)

April 18-20, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Camp Gordon, GA)

April 22-23, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Camp Gordon, GA)

March-April 1863 Company G Muster Roll

May 3, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Thunderbolt Battery, GA)

May 6-8, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Thunderbolt Battery, GA)

May 9-12, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Thunderbolt Battery, GA)

May 16-17, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Thunderbolt Battery, GA)

May 21, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Thunderbolt Battery, GA)

May 23, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Thunderbolt Battery, GA)

May 24-27, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Thunderbolt Battery, GA)

May 28, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Thunderbolt Battery, GA)

undated8 letter WHH to NJH

May 29, 1863 letter WHH to NJH

May 30, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Thunderbolt Battery, GA)

June 1-2, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Thunderbolt Battery, GA)

June 8, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Thunderbolt Battery, GA)

June 11, 1863 letter WHH to NJH

June 13, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Thunderbolt Battery, GA)

June 15-16, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Thunderbolt Battery, GA)

June 18, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Thunderbolt Battery, GA)

June 19, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Thunderbolt Battery, GA)

June 24-25, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Thunderbolt Battery, GA)

May-June 1863 Company G Muster Roll

June 30-July 1, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Thunderbolt Battery, GA)

July 2, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Thunderbolt Battery, GA)

July 7, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Thunderbolt Battery, GA)

On July 10, 1863, Company B (Capt. Buckner) and Company K (Capt. Dixon) from the 63rd, under the command of Maj. Joseph V. H. Allen, joined the 1st, 2nd, and 18th Georgia Infantry Regiments along with the 21st South Carolina and Nelson's Battalion to defend Charleston at Battery (Fort) Wagner under the command of Col. Charles H. Olmstead. The Union naval bombardment began at dawn the following day. At 7:45 AM, the main infantry assault on Battery Wagner (now commanded by Brig. Gen. William Booth Taliaferro) was launched by the 54th Massachusetts Infantry under the command of Col. Robert Gould Shaw and repulsed, with terrific Union losses. This doomed attack, made famous by the movie "Glory," marked the first Civil War combat for Negro soldiers. Gen. Taliaferro reported 9,000 incoming shells that day. The 63rd Georgia defenders of Company B and Company K suffered five killed and nine wounded.

July 15, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Savannah, GA)

July 18, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Savannah, GA)

During the night of July 19, Allen’s detachment departed for Fort Johnson on James Island. The two companies formed Buckner’s Battery under Brig. Gen. Hagood. They were ordered back to Savannah on August 2, 1863.

July 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Savannah, GA)

July 26, 1863 letter SJB to SVB (Savannah, GA)

July 26, 1863 letter NJH to SRH (Savannah, GA)

The 63rd continued to guard the coast and did not see combat again until 1864.

August 3, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Macon, GA)

August 3, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Macon, GA)

August 4, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Macon, GA)

August 8, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Macon, GA)

April 6, 1863 newspaper clipping TJS to ?

August 10, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Macon, GA)

August 12, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Macon, GA)

July-August 1863 Company G Muster Roll

Casualty reports of the 63rd from July 10 to September 7, 1863 showed 4 men KIA, two officers and eight men WIA.

September 14, 1863 letter RJJ to WAJ

September 17, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Macon, GA)

September 23, 1863 Register of Floyd House and Ocmulgee Hospitals (Macon, GA)

September 24, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Macon, GA)

October 2, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Macon, GA)

October 6, 1863 letter NJH to WHH (Pike County, GA)

October 10, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Macon, GA)

September-October 1863 Company G Muster Roll

November 3, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Macon, GA)

December 6-7, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Thunderbolt Battery, GA)

December 17-18, 1863 letter WHH to NJH (Thunderbolt Battery, GA)

November-December 1863 Company G Muster Roll

January 6, 1864 letter WHH to NJH (Thunderbolt Battery, GA)

January 14, 1864 letter WHH to NJH (Thunderbolt Battery, GA)

January 20-21, 1864 letter WHH to NJH

January 23, 1864 letter WHH to NJH (Thunderbolt Battery, GA)

The 63rd Georgia strength on January 23, 1864 was 1,105 men in ten companies.

January 28, 1864 letter WHH to NJH (Fort McAllister, GA)

January 31, 1864 letter WHH to NJH (Fort McAllister, GA)

February 8-9, 1864 letter WHH to NJH (Fort McAllister, GA)

February 14, 1864 letter WHH to NJH (Fort McAllister, GA)

February 15, 1864 letter WHH to NJH (Fort McAllister, GA)

February 26, 1864 letter WHH to NJH (Fort McAllister, GA)

January-February 1864 Company G Muster Roll

March 2, 1864 Receipt Roll for clothing

March 2, 1864 letter WHH to NJH (Fort McAllister, GA)

March 10-11, 1864 letter WHH to NJH (Fort McAllister, GA)

 March 19-21, 1864 letter WHH to NJH (Fort McAllister, GA)

 March 26, 1864 letter EMM to NJH (Savannah, GA)

 March 31, 1864 letter WHH to NJH (Thunderbolt Battery, GA)

April 1-2, 1864 letter WHH to NJH (Thunderbolt Battery, GA)

April 10, 1864 letter WHH to NJH (Beulah, GA)

April 12, 1864 letter WHH to NJH (Hanleiter's Battery, GA)

On April 16, 1864, Gen. Robert E. Lee ordered Col. Gordon and the 63rd Georgia to report by rail to his Army of Northern Virginia for assignment to Brig. Gen. A. R. Wright’s Brigade. 

April 17, 1864 letter WHH to NJH (Beaulieu Battery, GA)

April 19, 1864 letter WHH to NJH

undated9 letter WHH to NJH (Milner, GA)

But on April 27, the 64th Georgia was ordered to the Army of Northern Virginia instead, and the 63rd went to join Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s Army of Tennessee in Dalton, Georgia for the defense of Atlanta. 

April 30- May 1, 1864 letter WHH to NJH (Dalton, GA)

On May 2 they joined Brig. Gen. James Argyle Smith’s Brigade (composed of the 63rd, 54th, and 1st Georgia Infantry Regiments) in Maj. Gen. John C. Brown’s Division, Lt. Gen. William Joseph Hardee’s Corps.

The Atlanta Campaign unfolded on May 4, 1864. McPherson left Chickamauga and headed south to attack the Confederates at Resaca, Georgia. That day, Polk’s Corps returned from Alabama to join Johnston at Resaca. There the Army of Tennessee waited.

Two days later, Walker’s Division (with Mercer's Brigade of four regiments, including the 814 men of the 63rd Georgia) de-trained in Dalton, Georgia. On May 9, the 63rd engaged the enemy, and moved to Resaca the following day. McPherson found Resaca fortified and could not advance. Walker’s Division held the ground at Tilton, GA, between Dalton and Resaca. 

With McPherson stalled, Johnston abandoned Dalton on May 13 and reinforced Resaca before Sherman arrived. The Confederates held their position at Resaca during continuous fighting on May 14, 1864. The 63rd Georgia fought in the Battle of Resaca from 13-15 May.

Overnight Johnston learned a Union force was headed south of Resaca toward the Western and Atlantic railroad. Walker’s Division left the center of the front line to intercept the Federals. At noon the next day, Walker reported no sight of the enemy, but by mid-afternoon Walker found McPherson’s force. That night Johnston withdrew his army from Resaca.

On May 17, 1964 at 3 PM, Walker’s Division skirmished with the enemy at Adairsville.

On May 19, 1964, Walker’s Division formed a line of battle in at the center of Hardee’s Corps on a wooded ridge southeast of Cassville. Johnston and Hardee joined them later that afternoon. For the rest of the day, both sides exchanged artillery fire across the town in the valley below. That night the Army of Tennessee retreated to their strongest position so far, the railroad at Allatoona Pass south of Cartersville.

Sherman’s army rested for three days, then moved west of Allatoona between Rome and Stilesboro, intending to attack Dallas, Georgia and then move east to Johnston’s supplies at Marietta.

However, Johnston moved first to Dallas, establishing a strong battle line from Dallas to New Hope Church with Hardee’s Corps (including Walker’s Division and the 63rd Georgia) at Dallas, Hood’s Corps at New Hope, and Polk in between.

Hooker made the first attack at New Hope Church on May 25, 1864. It ended late in the day during a severe thunderstorm with heavy losses on both sides. Two days later, the Federals attacked again at 4 PM with great daring, moving within 30 feet of Cleburne’s Division (detached to Hardee’s right), with the same result. Union losses were at least 5,000; Rebels over 500.

Mercer’s Brigade reported four KIA and 41 WIA in engagements from Dalton to Etowah River during May 7-20, 1864. By the end of May, Federal casualties numbered 9,299 and Confederate casualties numbered 8,500.

On the night of June 4, 1864, Johnston established a new defensive line from Lost Mountain (Hardee) to Pine Mountain (Polk) to Brush Mountain (Hood). Behind them was Kennesaw Mountain, where the 63rd Georgia would write their history.

Incessant rain began on June 11, 1864, lasting for three days.

Sherman consolidated his position during the second week of June and did not engage. Johnston did the same, concentrating Hardee at Gilgal Church, Hood at the rail line, and the cavalry and sharpshooters at the mountains on each end of the line, while the 1st Georgia Battalion remained on Lost Mountain.

On the morning of June 14, 1864, Generals Johnston, Hardee, and Polk rode to the center of the line at the top of Pine Mountain to assess their position. In plain view of the enemy, Polk was killed instantly. W. W. Loring replaced Polk, Pine Mountain was abandoned, and the Confederate line tightened.

On June 16, 1864, Sherman decided to attack Johnston frontally, but Johnston had already moved to a battle line eight miles long curved toward the enemy and centered on Big Kennesaw Mountain. Loring was on the mountain; Hood on the railroad to the right; Hardee (with Walker and the 63rd) on the left blocking the road to Atlanta. Federal artillery concentrated on Big Kennesaw and Little Kennesaw Mountains while Schofield probed for weaknesses to the southwest.

On June 18, 1864, six companies of the 63rd Georgia engaged in skirmishes near Ackworth. Four days later, Hood found Schofield near Kolb’s farm and attacked impetuously, sustaining over 1,000 casualties, three times the enemy. But Schofield declined to pursue the advantage.

Unable to turn either flank and unwilling to relinquish the railroad, Sherman made a surprise frontal assault on June 27, 1864. The ensuing battle became brutal, literally a hell on earth as the temperature exceeded 100 degrees. Two hundred Federal guns erupted at 8 AM. Then McPherson led the infantry assault. Four Federal divisions were repulsed.

The fiercest fighting was centered on Hardee’s Corps southwest of Little Kennesaw Mountain, a place the soldiers called the “Dead Angle.” Walker’s Division, including the 63rd commanded by Col. Gordon, was positioned in rifle pits at the outer edge of the woods between the base of the mountain and the Dead Angle. Facing south, they served as skirmishers, 250 yards in front of the main defensive line at the base of Little Kennesaw and left of Burnt Hickory Road.

Effective artillery fire from batteries on Little Kennesaw withered the Federal assault, holding Confederate losses to a minimum.

However, six Yankee regiments (the 30th Ohio, 47th Ohio, 37th Ohio 53rd Ohio, 54th Ohio and 83rd Indiana) attacked the 63rd Georgia, attempting to reach the main Confederate works beyond. The 63rd fired volleys that staggered the initial attack wave, but unknown to them, Gen. French’s skirmishers on their right had vacated their positions, opening the right flank of the 63rd. With no time to reload, the Union forces penetrated their line on the right. Though completely surrounded and cut off, the Georgians broke through to their main works.

The 63rd Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment fought valiantly. 

Lt. Col. R. A. Fulton, commander of the 53rd Ohio, reported the battle to Captain A. C. Fisk, assistant adjutant-general, 2nd Brigade, United States Army. In this report, he relates the activities of his regiment on June 27, 1864 as follows:

“At 8:00 AM the signal was given and we moved forward over the works, charged through an open field, under a galling fire from the enemy’s musketry and artillery, reached the edge of the woods and crossed the ravine. We were halted and reformed the line, the enemy keeping up a continuous fire of musketry and artillery from their works. In about 15 minutes the bugle sounded “Forward.” In an instant the line moved forward with a yell through the woods and underbrush, over logs and ravines, and mounted the enemy’s rifle pits, situated at the outer edge of the woods, occupied by the 63rd Georgia regiment. After a desperate hand-to-hand fight, in which the bayonet and butts of muskets were used, we succeeded in capturing their works. We captured about 40 prisoners, killing and wounding more than that number. The rebels fought with a desperation worthy of a better cause.”

In a communiqué from Maj. Gen. Walker to Maj. Gen. French on June 27, 1864:

“They (63rd Georgia) met a line of battle which they gallantly fought with today, being clubbed and bayoneted in the pits, owing, they say, to the enemy having passed on their right flank, where your skirmishers were suppose to be.”

By midday on  June 27, 1864, the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain was over. The Union victory cost them 2,041 men; the Confederates only 552. The two and one half hour battle won Sherman no strategic advantage.

After two days in stalemate, both sides agreed to a truce for burial of the dead.  Even though Union losses exceeded the Confederate, one in four Confederate soldiers marching south from Dalton had been killed, wounded, or captured, compared to one in seven for the Federals.

Walker's Division reported 492 officers and 5,075 men present for duty on June 30, 1864.

A few days later the Confederates abandoned Kennesaw. 

Union forces occupied Marietta on July 3, 1864 while Johnston prepared a defensive position five miles beyond at Smyrna.

On July 4, 1864, Federal artillery tried to destroy Johnston’s left flank. Before the next day’s attack, Johnston retreated. Sherman described what he found as the best entrenched works he ever encountered. The Yankees were in sight of Atlanta, eight miles away.

Sherman’s three armies started their final advance upon Atlanta on July 6. McPherson went north along the Chattahoochee to Roswell; Thomas against Johnston at Vinings; Schofield between them.  

By July 10, 1864, Schofield had a bridgehead at Soap Creek and McPherson at Shallowford, near Roswell.

Flanked once again, Johnston fell back to his final line north of Atlanta. Thomas’ army crossed the Chattahoochee River at Powers Ferry.  Sherman’s engineers rebuilt the Chattahoochee Bridge to bring his rail supplies within a mile of the front lines on the north bank of Peachtree Creek. 

Order of Battle on Jul 10, 1864

CSA Army of Tennessee (General Joseph Eggleston  Johnston)

      Hardee's Corps (Lt. Gen. William Joseph Hardee)

            Walker's Division (Maj. Gen. William Henry Talbot Walker)

                  Mercer's Brigade (Brig. Gen. Hugh Weedon Mercer)

                        63rd Georgia Regiment (Col. George A. Gordon, Maj. Joseph V. H. Allen)

Walker's Division reported 492 officers and 5,075 men present for duty.

On July 17, 1864, Gen. Johnston received a telegram from President Davis relieving him of command for his failure to halt the Federal advance. John Bell Hood, known for aggressiveness but not as capable as Johnston, reluctantly replaced Johnston.

Johnston’s subordinate commanders, including Hood, urged him to ignore the telegram and proceed to attack the enemy as it crossed Peachtree Creek. Johnston declined.

Walker's Division passed Johnston's Headquarters on July 18, saluting and taking off their hats.

After reviewing the overall tactical situation with Hood, Johnston left for home in Macon by train.

By July 19, McPherson had his supply wagons in Decatur and Schofield was approaching Atlanta from the northeast.

On July 20, Hood ordered an assault on a two-mile gap in the Federal line. Hardee’s Corps began the attack. Walker’s Division (and the 63rd Georgia) moved north along Peachtree Road and struck a Federal division just south of the Peachtree Creek bridge, but were repulsed. The Battle of Peachtree Creek failed to help the defense of Atlanta, adding 2,500 casualties to the Confederates.

On July 21, the Army of Tennessee retreated within the city’s prepared defenses. Hood sent Walker’s Division on a grueling overnight march six miles south to Cobb’s Mill, then northeast on the Fayetteville Road to a position between Atlanta and Decatur on the left flank of McPherson’s army to attack at dawn.

Walker’s Division advanced up the Fayetteville Road, then mistakenly left the road to follow the east bank of Sugar Creek. Walker and Bate stalled at the large pond at Terry’s Mill and did not attack until after noon.

Walker and Bate formed the right of Hardee’s line on July 22, 1864. Dodge’s Corps met Walker’s Division as it emerged from the pines along Sugar Creek. Maj. Gen. William Henry Talbot Walker was one of the first killed in action.

McPherson, while assessing the situation, mistakenly rode into a Confederate company and was killed.

The battle raged all day unresolved. By nightfall, however, the Union lines were largely intact and Hood’s plan had failed at the cost of over 8,000 Confederate casualties and only 3,700 Federal.

In the days after Walker’s death, his three brigades were reassigned to other Hardee divisions.  

Order of Battle on Jul 31, 1864

CSA Army of Tennessee (General John Bell Hood)

      Hardee's Corps (Lt. Gen. William Joseph Hardee)

            Cleburne's Division (Maj. Gen. Patrick Ronayne Cleburne)

                  Mercer's Brigade (Brig. Gen. Hugh Weedon Mercer)

                        63rd Georgia Regiment (Capt. Elijah J. Craven)

Celburne's Division reported 410 officers and 3,945 men present for duty on July 31.

The Battle of Ezra Church further depleted Hood’s Army of Tennessee: 2,500 Confederates died to only 700 Federals.

Olmstead took command of Mercer's Brigade on August 2.

When Union forces stalled at Utoy Creek on August 5, Sherman began shelling Atlanta daily. 

August 16, 1864 Register of Patients in Ocmulgee Hospital (Macon, GA)

August 24, 1864 letter WHH to NJH (Americus, GA)

August 28, 1864 letter NJH to WHH (Pike County, GA)

On August 30, 1864, Hardee moved his forces (including the 63rd Georgia) to Jonesboro. The next day’s Battle of Jonesboro nearly destroyed the Army of Tennessee. The 63rd Georgia reported 61 killed, wounded, or captured. 

Hardee’s defeat forced Hood to evacuate Atlanta and cleared the path for Sherman’s infamous March to the Sea. 

On August 31, 1864, the 63rd Georgia was commanded by Capt. James T. Buckner, now under Cleburne.

From September 2-5, 1864, the 63rd Georgia fought at Lovejoy Station, remaining with Hood's operations in northern Georgia and Alabama.

The penultimate fighting occured in late November and December of 1864 as Hood, joined by Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalry, led his barefoot and undernourished Army of Tennessee against Thomas at Spring Hill, Franklin, and Nashville in Tennessee. At Franklin on November 30, 1864, five Confederate generals were killed, including one of the best, Division Commander Maj. Gen. Patrick Ronayne Cleburne. The 63rd Georgia was at the battle, but did not see combat.

Order of Battle on December 10, 1864

CSA Army of Tennessee (General John Bell Hood)

      Cheatham's Corps (Maj. Gen. Benjamin Franklin Cheatham)

            Cleburne's Division (Brig. Gen. James Argyle Smith)

                  Smith's Brigade (Col. Charles Hart Olmstead)

                        63rd Georgia Regiment (Capt. Elijah J. Craven)

On December 15, 1864, Thomas defeated the Army of Tennessee at Nashville and the Confederates retreated into Mississippi. Again the 63rd Georgia was on the field, but not involved in the fighting.

For the final six months of the war, the Army of Tennessee was little more than a guerrilla army, maneuvering about Tennessee and North Carolina.

January 29, 1865 letter WHH to NJH (Americus, GA)

February 19, 1865 letter NJH to WHH (Americus, GA)

February 22-23, 1865 letter NJH to WHH (Americus, GA)

The last combat for the Army of Tennessee was in the Carolina Campaign from January 30 to April 26, 1865.

Sherman took Columbia, South Carolina, on February 17, 1865 and destroyed it by fire that night. 

Gen. Johnston was recalled by Davis February 22 to command the Army of Tennessee, oppose Sherman’s advance in North Carolina, and unite with Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.

On March 19, 1865, the 63rd Georgia with Johnston’s Army of Tennessee was repulsed by Sherman at the Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina. The army retreated toward Raleigh.  

The 63rd Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment consolidated with the 57th Georgia Volunteer Infantry in April of 1865 as the 1st Georgia Composite Infantry Regiment commanded by Col. Charles H. Olmstead in Brig. Gen. James Argyle Smith's Brigade, and fought on with the Army of Tennessee.

April 8, 1865 military pass FW to WHH (Macon, GA)

On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

April 30, 1865 Report of Prisoners Captured (Macon, GA)

Then on April 26, 1865, at Bennett’s House, Durham Station, North Carolina, Johnston accepted from Sherman the same surrender terms that Grant gave Lee at Appomattox on April 9. Johnston surrendered  29,924 men of the Army of Tennessee. (Lee had surrendered his 28,356 men in the Army of Northern Virginia.) The Order of Battle for the surrender:

CSA Army of Tennessee (General Joseph Eggleston Johnston)

      Cheatham's Corps (Maj. Gen. William Brimage Bate)

            Cleburne's Division (Brig. Gen. James Argyle Smith)

                  Smith's Brigade (Capt. J. R. Bonner)

                        1st Georgia Composite Infantry (Col. Charles Hart Olmstead)

Elsewhere, on Sunday, May 7, 1865, Governor Joseph E. Brown surrendered the Georgia State and Militia troops to General James H. Wilson. Five days later, Brig. Gen. William T. Wofford surrendered more than 3,000 Confederate soldiers in north Georgia to Brig. Gen. Henry M. Judah at Kingston.

It was over. The 63rd was history.

Epilogue

During the Civil War, a total of 1,636 men served in the 63rd Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment.  Of these 730 (44.6%) served to the surrender, 75 in Company G.

In the 63rd Georgia, 19 men were KIA, none in Company G.
In the 63rd Georgia, 3 men were MIA, none in Company G.
In the 63rd Georgia, 168 men became POWs, 10 in Company G.
In the 63rd Georgia, 100 men were WIA, 12 in Company G.
In the 63rd Georgia, 20 men died of wounds, 3 in Company G.
In the 63rd Georgia, 167 died of disease, 30 in Company G.
In the 63rd Georgia, 171 men were invalided out “sick,” 17 in Company G.
In the 63rd Georgia, 75 men were transferred or promoted out, 5 in Company G.
In the 63rd Georgia, 150 men were AWOL or deserters, 9 in Company G.
In the 63rd Georgia, 32 men were discharged for other reasons, 7 in Company G.

For this invaluable data summary, I am extremely grateful to Dr. Joseph F. Meany, Jr., State Historian of New York Emeritus and great-grandson of Pvt. Jeremiah Stokes who served in Company B of the 63rd at Thunderbolt Battery alongside my great-grandfather. He used the following sources: 

'Georgia Soldiers in the Civil War'

'Charlotte's Boys: The Civil War Letters of the Branch Family of Savannah' by Mauriel Joslyn, Rockbridge Publishing Company, Berryville, VA, 1996, ISBN 1883522129.

'Memories of '64' poem by Joseph Tyrone in the Georgia Historical Society.

'Camp Fires of Georgia's Troops, 1864 - 1865' by William S. Smedlund, Kennesaw Mountain Press, Lithonia, GA, 1994, ISBN 0963586122.

To quote Joe: “As an old colleague of mine once observed: ‘There are two kinds of historians; those who count – and those who guess.’ I’ve tried to count ever since.”

 Joe believes the arms carried by the 63rd were British Enfields, cargo from the last ship to reach Savannah before the Federal blockade, the English steamer "Fingale." (josephmeany@aol.com, April 22, 2005)

Much of my information on the 63rd Georgia originated with John A. Griffin's compilation from the O. R. found in his history at http://www.nwinfo.net/~jagriffin63rd.htmand from correspondence with him (jagriffin@nwinfo.netjagriffin@nwinfo.net). His ancestor, John Alonzo Tucker, served in Company D of the 63rd Georgia.

My primary source for troop movements, reports, and orders of battle is the O. R., the Official Record. The correct title is:

THE WAR OF THE REBELLION:  A COMPILATION OF THE OFFICIAL RECORDS OF THE UNION AND CONFEDERATE ARMIES PREPARED UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE SECRETARY OF WAR, BY BVT. LIEUT. COL. ROBERT N. SCOTT, THIRD U.S. ARTILLERY AND PUBLISHED PURSUANT TO ACT OF CONGRESS APPROVED JUNE 16, 1880.


Combat Engagements of 63rd Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment, C.S.A.
during the service of Cpl. William Harmon Harden, Company G
(24 Jan 1862 - 20 Apr 1865)

from ancestry.com
American Civil War Regiments database, 12 Feb 2005

Dates

Location

16 Feb 1862

Fort Donaldson, Dover, TN

15 Dec 1862

Thunderbolt, GA

9 Apr 1863

Wassaw Sound, GA

10 Jun 1863

16 Jul 1863-18 Jul 1863

Battery Wagner, Morris Island, SC

21 Jul 1863

Wassaw Sound, GA

11 Aug 1863

Huntsville, TN

15 Aug 1863


4 Feb 1864

Whitemarsh Island, GA

22 Feb 1864

Whitemarsh Island, GA

13 May 1864

Dalton, GA

15 May 1864-19 May 1864

Calhoun County, Resaca, Cass Station, Cassville, Kingston, GA

21 May 1864

Kingston, GA

25 May 1864

New Hope Church, GA

27 May 1864-28 May 1864

New Hope Church, Dallas, GA

5 Jun 1864-6 Jun 1864

Dallas, Dalton, GA

13 Jun 1864-20 Jun 1864

Golgatha, Marietta, Big Shanty, Kennesaw Mountain, Lost Mountain, Dalton, GA

22 Jun 1864-23 Jun 1864

Atlanta, Golgatha, Kennesaw Mountain, Lookout Valley, GA

27 Jun 1864-29 Jun 1864

Cartersville, Kennesaw Mountain, GA

3 Jul 1864-5 Jul 1864

Chattahoochee River, Kennesaw Mountain, Marietta, GA

15 Jul 1864

Kennesaw Mountain, Peachtree Creek, GA

18 Jul 1864

Atlanta, GA

20 Jul 1864

Peachtree Creek, GA

22 Jul 1864-23 Jul 1864

Atlanta, Stone Mountain, GA

5 Aug 1864

Macon, GA

22 Aug 1864

Lithonia, GA

31 Aug 1864-2 Sep 1864

Jonesboro, GA

4 Sep 1864-5 Sep 1864

Jonesboro, GA

15 Sep 1864

Lovejoy Station, GA

27 Sep 1864

Kennesaw Mountain, GA

9 Oct 1864

Decatur, GA

15 Oct 1864

Dalton, GA

19 Oct 1864

Strasburg, VA

22 Oct 1864

Resaca, GA

30 Oct 1864

Decatur, AL

15 Nov 1864

Atlanta, Henry County, GA

25 Nov 1864

Athens, GA

15 Dec 1864-16 Dec 1864

TN (Franklin, Pulaski, Murfreesboro, Nashville), GA (Kennesaw Mountain)

19 Dec 1864-22 Dec 1864

TN (Franklin, Murfreesboro, Triune, Nashville), GA (Marietta)

26 Dec 1864

Pulaski, TN

6 Jan 1865

Nashville, TN

18 Mar 1865-19 Mar 1865

Bentonville, NC

3 Apr 1865

Richmond, VA

12 Apr 1865

Salisbury, NC

15 Apr 1865

20 Apr 1865

Macon, GA