3rd Alabama Infantry Regiment

"The Glorious Third" Alabama's first volunteers

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George H. Ellison: “The bravest man in my Corps”

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Sometime in late 1864, Major General Ewell, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia’s 2d Corps, heard of a remarkable exploit. He had the soldier involved brought to him––heard the story again––and took him to meet his commanding general, Robert E. Lee. Introducing George Ellison, of Co E of the 3d Alabama Regiment, to Lee, Ewell said: “This is the bravest man in my Corps.” Few who knew the man would disagree.

George Ellison was the eldest son (possibly the adopted son) of Thomas Ellison of Mobile, a “master plasterer” of that city. Before the war, Ellison (then 19) was earning a living as a bricklayer. In April 1861 he volunteered with the Washington Light Guards (Captain Arch Gracie), which, a shortly after became Co E, of the 3d Alabama. The 3rd was the first regiment to reach Virginia from any Confederate state, mustered into service at Lynchburg, May 4, 1861.

After spending a year in garrison at Norfolk, 3d Alabama saw their first action in May ’62 at Drewry’s Bluff (overlooking the James River), repulsing an assault led by the Monitor. Their first battle was three weeks later at Seven Pines. The Third sustained 200 casualties (about 33%) on the morning of June 1, 1862. Ellison was not engaged, his company was held in reserve. He was in line of battle the next month, however, for another bloodbath: Malvern Hill.

The details are unknown, but Corporal George Ellison first came to the notice of his commanders at the Battle of South Mountain, near Boonsboro, Maryland on Sept. 14, 1862. He is mentioned in D.H. Hill’s Official Report. In that action Rodes’ Brigade (of which 3rd Alabama was a part) had to buy time for Lee’s army to coalesce at Sharpsburg. The thin grey line of Rodes’ Brigade (consisting of about 1500 men), held off the advance of McClellan’s right wing for a full day.

The first story directly attributed to Ellison occurred after the Battle of Fredericksburg. He single-handedly brought in 40 prisoners. When asked how he had managed this, he replied: “I surrounded ’em, and captured ’em.”

Over that winter Brigadier Robert Rodes created the first Corps of Sharpshooters in the Army of Northern Virginia, under command of Maj. Eugene Blackford. The new Corps took one man in twelve from each regiment. Those that didn’t measure up were sent back. Maj. Blackford demanded each company forward its best men. Ellison was one of the original 200 sharpshooters. By the Spring, Ellison had been promoted to sergeant. At Chancellorsville 3d Alabama was the vanguard regiment in Jackson’s famous flank march, and the front line of battle in the ensuing rout of the Union’s XI Corps. After the battle, Lee mandated each company in his army select one individual to include on the battle’s Roll of Honor. Ellison was the selection of Co E. Robert Rodes was promoted to Major General.

Two months later, Rodes’ Brigade (now under command of Col. O’Neal) was among the first arriving at Gettysburg. As usual, the sharpshooters were in front as a thin line of skirmishers. Approaching the area now known as Reynold’s Woods, the sharpshooters were advancing on the enemy with the main body of Ramseur’s and Daniel’s brigades firing through them at the Yankees. As related by another sharpshooter, Dick Stinson, a mounted Federal officer making his escape nearly ran down Ellison from behind. Recovering, Ellison yelled for the officer to surrender. The officer yelled over his shoulder: “Only to a General officer!” “Just as you choose,” said Ellison. “It makes no difference to me.” He fired, bringing the man down, “in a mud hole, sadly wounded.”

He was recommended for promotion to 2nd Lieutenant in March of ’64, but was captured at Spotsylvania in May, while probably holding brevet rank. He falsely gave his rank as captain and was thereby included with the other Confederate officers. In August 1864, he was included in the group of officers that became known as the “Immortal 600,” the group used by the Federals as human shields in the bombardment of Charleston. Ellison should have been there but wasn’t. He was one of only two escapees from the group. While on board the POW’s steamer, en route to the port, he took a life preserver and went overboard, floating/swimming eleven miles to shore. Instead of heading home, he returned to his unit. He was back with the army by Sept. 2. (Receiving the pay of a 1SGT on Sept 4).

This is probably when Ewell heard of him. Ellison never did receive his officer’s commission. His official records end in 1864. He was probably in Mobile for the end of the war (he was not a Petersburg for the evacuation or at Appomattox). He surrendered in May of 1865. After the war, he married a girl he had met at Norfolk, early in the war, moved to Texas, lived to a rip old age. He died in Texas, November 9, 1931.

Written by boothma

April 10, 2015 at 10:10 pm

The Mobile Cadets: Roster, April 24, 1861

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Struck by lightning, this bust is all that remains of the life size figure that topped the Mobile Cadets column at Magnolia Cemetery.

Struck by lightning, this bust is all that remains of the life size figure that topped the Mobile Cadets column at Magnolia Cemetery.

127 Volunteers, (age and rank), of the Mobile Cadets, Captain Robert M. Sands –– as of their departure from Mobile aboard the Steamship St Nicholas, bound for Montgomery –– April 24, 1861.

        “At the wharf a halt and a ‘rest’ were ordered, and then came the last leave-taking of mothers, sisters, sweethearts, wives; the handshaking of friends and companions, the blessings of old men, the final exhortation of father to son, the sobs and tears of agonized women. There was a feeling of relief when the command ‘Attention’ cut short the painful scene. A few minutes later, the two companies [the Cadets shipped out with  Captain Gracie’s Washington Light Infantry] had formed again on the upper deck of the steamer…the whole population of Mobile had assembled to bid ‘God speed’ to the brave young hearts…Now the shrill whistle of the steamer, the splash of revolving wheels, the booming of salute guns…”  – Henry Hotze

Allen, Thos. B.,  27, Bookkeeper, Saunders & Sons

Armistead, Edward Herbert,  22, Clerk: Moore, LeSeuer & Darden

Armistead, Robert B.,*  34, Attorney

Austill, William Henry,  21, Civil Engineer

Averill, William H.,  27, Merchant

Bacon, John P.,  22, Clerk

Baker, James/Joseph McC. Jr., 23, Clerk

Battle, Samuel G., 19, Clerk: Rives, Battle & Co.

Berry, Daniel P.,  26, Merchant

Brieglet, Julius,  26, Accountant

Broun, James Harleston 5SGT,  31, Cotton Weigher, A. Broun & Son

Brown, Thomas P. 3LT,  28, Clerk: O. Mazange & Co.

Burke, John A.,  25, Accountant: McDowell, Withers & Co.

Burns, John,  21, Clerk

Carter, William Cecil,  19, Student

Caulfield, William M.,  16, Clerk: Eckford & Weaver

Cavallero, J. Gasper S.,  23, Fireman’s Insurance Co.

Chidsey, Strong Minor,  28, Clerk: J. Hesse & Co.

Chighizola, John Batiste,  18, Clerk

Clarke, John or Joseph G. Jr.,  19, Student

Cleveland, Joseph A.,  22, Cotton Weigher

Cohen, Jacob H.,  26, Bookkeeper: S.I. & I.I. Jones

Colsson, Edward,  23, Clerk: J.B. Fellows & Co.

Coming, William A., 26, Clerk

Coster, Robert Dickson,  20, Bookkeeper: Coster & Co.

Cullum, Ambrose R.,  33, Clerk

Davis, Edward/Edgar William,  23, Clerk: Goodman & LeBaron

Deas, Henry A.,  33, Cotton Weigher

Dickinson, Dr. William B.,  24, Physician

Drummond, William L.,  35, Steamboat Clerk

Dunlevy, A.F.,  35, Merchant

Dunn, Columbus,   27, Clerk: John Reid & Co.

Easton, Edwin William,  21, Law student: Univ. of Virginia

Emanuel, Thomas King,  25, Clerk: H.O. Brewer & Co.

Eskridge, Joseph N.,  22, Clerk

Evans, Vivian Rutherford,  20, Clerk: Evans Cotton Press

Fearn, John Walker,  29, Yale ’51, soon transfers to the CSA Diplomatic Corps.

Forsyth, Charles M.  2LT,  25, son of Editor John Forsyth, Mobile Register

Fowler, William P.,  27, Clerk

Foy, Frederick D.,  23, Clerk: Mobile & Ohio R.R.

Foy, Henry H.,  17, Clerk

Fry, Thomas Slaughter,  23, Clerk: Walsh, Smith & Co.

Gazzam, George G., 3Cpl,  28, Iron foundry

George, Edward “Ned” V.,  34, Cotton Broker

George, Stephen “Jack” G.,  28, Cotton Broker

Goldthwaite, Henry,  19, Student: Princeton

Gunnison, Van Buren,  29, Clerk

Hamilton, William Patrick,  24, Clerk: Alabama Mutual Insurance

Harrison, James M.,  28, Cotton Merchant

Hartman, William “Zou,” Drum Major,  37, Silk Dyer

Hastings, Joseph S.,  23

Hearn, Robert W.,  27, Clerk

Herpin, Theodore J.,  32

Higley, John Hunt 1LT,  30

Holcombe, George C.,  21, Clerk

Holt, William Bolling,  24, Clerk

Hotze, A. Henry,  26, Associate Editor, Mobile Register

Huger, Daniel Elliott 1SGT,  26, Cotton Classer: Z.C. Deas & Co.

Hurxthal, John W.,  24, Clerk: Dade, Hurxthal & Co.

Ingraham, Charles LeBaron,  22, Accountant

Johnston, Archibald S.,  25, Accountant

Jones, T. Oscar,  26, Clerk: S.I. & I.I. Jones

Kelly, William Harrison Jr.,  24, Furniture Merchant

Keeler, Oliver L.,  29, Clerk

Krebbs Rene L. P.,  22, Accountant

LeBaron, Richard deCantlin 2Cpl,  21, Clerk: Bank of Mobile

Ledyard, Erwin,  20, Clerk: Ledyards & Schroeder Cotton Factors

Ledyard, William M.,  26, Merchant

Leslie, Franklin A.*, 42, Watchmaker, Jeweller

Lockwood, Paul S. Lee,  30, Bookkeeper: Harrison & Bostwick

Lyon, John,  28, Lawyer

Macartney, Thomas M.,  21, Law Student

Maguire, Henry A.,  20, Clerk

Manning, Reeder,  ?, Bookkeeper: J.O. Cummings & Co.

Mathews, Fletcher Few,  @16, Student

Mathews, Robert M.,  25, Clerk

McNeill, William Stoddard 3Cpl,  22, Clerk: Geo. Martin & Son

Moffatt, Robert M.,  23, Clerk

Mordecai, Jacob Granville,  21, Marker: A. Broun & Son

Moreland, William S., Sgt Major,  33, Bank Teller: Bank of Mobile

Mulden, James Michael Jr.,  25, Merchant: Muldon & Sons

Murray, Alfred R. 4SGT,  31, Clerk: Hinson & Holt

Neville, William Jr.,  24, Clerk

Nicholl, Thomas A.,  23, Clerk

Nott, Dr. James Deas,  24, Univ. of Pennsylvania; Heidelberg: Surgeon

Oliver, Starke Hunter,  23, Clerk

Pippin, John H.,  26, Clerk

Pollard, Joseph,  21, Student: Univ. of Alabama

Preston, Simon Franklin,  22, Clerk

Price, Jacob E.,  21, Clerk: Price Hardware

Prichard, Cleveland M.,  21

Quinn, Robert M.,  29, Bookkeeper: Roulston & Gardien

Redwood, John Marshall,  19, Student, Univ. of Virginia

Reynolds, Bejamin F. Jr.,  28, Accountant: Goodman & LeBaron Grocers

Reynolds, James C.,  23, Hardware Merchant

Richardson, Wilson E.,  24, Clerk

Roberts, James A.,  20, Clerk

Rohmer, William Bell,  19, Student, Springhill College

Roudet, Pierre “Pete” C.,  26

Sands, Robert Martin, Capt.,  35

Scott, Thomas James,  24, Lawyer

Sengstacks, Henry “Harry” Herman,  30, Cotton Buyer

Smith, J. Morgan,  19, Planter’s Son; Student, Univ. of Georgia

Soto, John A.,  28, Druggist

Spotts, Samuel W. B.,  22, Clerk: Rives, Battle & Co.

St. John, Alexander Pope,  21, Clerk: St John & Co. Exchange Brokers

Steedman, John Lemuel,  23, Clerk: Averill, Rice & Co.

Stewart, Frederick G.,  28, Cotton Broker

Stewart, James G.,  28, Steamboat Captain

Stockley, William H.,  21, Bookkeeper

Stuart, Charles C.,  23, Clerk

Toomer, Wiley Gaither,  21, Clerk: Richards, McGinnis & Co.

Toulmin, Harry Theophilus,  26, Univ. of Virginia; Lawyer

Vass, Douglas,  2SGT,  30, Merchant

Walsh, George Washington,  32, Clerk

Waring, S. Bartlett,  24, Clerk

Waterhouse, Edward K.,  24, Jeweller/Watchmaker

Waters, William,  24

Weeks, Nicholas Jr.,  18

Wetherby, Thomas O.,  20, Clerk

Wheeler, Daniel Jr.,  19, Clerk

Willis, William Byrd,  25 (joined at Lynchburg, 5-7-61)

Witherspoon, Thomas Casey  3SGT,  25, Accountant

Woodcock, Andrew B.,  23, Druggist

Wylie, John H.,  31, Shipping Merchant

Yniestra, Brunaugh F.  4SGT,  26, Jeweller: Pearce & Co.

Yniestra, Moses Gonzalez,  24, Jeweller

* Omitted from the roster at Lynchburg, 5-4-61 due to size restriction of companies in the Confederate army.

3rd Alabama Volunteers

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The 3d Alabama Regiment of Volunteers was organized at the Montgomery Fairgrounds, north of the Capitol, April 27, 1861.  It was assembled from existing militias of the Alabama Volunteer Corps (AVC) and despite the designation “Third Alabama” it was actually the first regiment deployed outside the state and the lowest numbered regiment to exist intact for the duration of the war. The 1st Alabama and 2d Alabama Regiments were designations of relatively short duration. Many of the men in these regiments were sent to Tennessee and were surrendered at Fort Pillow in February 1862. Those repatriated were absorbed into other units.

The organization of 3d Alabama at Montgomery was:  Jones Withers of Mobile, elected Colonel; Tennent Lomax of Montgomery, elected Lieutenant Colonel; Cullen A. Battle of Tuskegee, elected Major. This distribution of Field Officers, from various parts of the state, satisfied the major voting blocs within the regiment. The largest bloc (of four militias), was from Mobile; Mongomery was represented by two (The True Blues, and The Metropolitan Guards) and were allied with the Lowndes-Beauregards and the Wetumpka Light Guards. Major Battle represented the more rural Macon County interests: The Tuskegee Light Infantry and the Southern Rifles (of Union Springs––located in Macon County at that time).

The gloriously named militias were now consigned to the alphabet:

Co A: The Mobile Cadets, under Capt. Robert M. Sands, age 36

Co B: The Gulf City Guards (Mobile), Capt. William Hartwell, 41

Co C: The Tuskegee Light Infantry (Macon Co.), Capt. William Swanson, 45

Co D: The Southern Rifles (Macon Co.), Capt. Richard H. Powell, 39

Co E:  The Washington Light Infantry (Mobile), Capt. Archibald Gracie, 28

Co F: The Metropolitan Guards (Montgomery), Capt.F. Winston Hunter, 42

Co G: The Montgomery True Blues, Capt. William G. Andrews, 35

Co H: The Beauregard-Lowndes, Capt. M. Ford Bonham, 33

Co I:  The Wetumpka Light Guards, Capt. Edward S. Ready, 27

Co K: The Mobile Rifles, Lewis T. Woodruff, 45

To avoid confusion in written orders, there was no Company “J” in either army.

Early on there was great rivalry between the militias: before the war city-wide and annual state-wide competitions recognized the best drilled, best marksmen, best equipped, etc. In Montgomery, at the organization of the regiment, the militias were assigned to guard various points around the city. The Mobile Rifles were given the plum assignment of guarding the Capitol. Governor Moore made them his personal pet. When he asked Captain Woodruff  “What do you wish for your Company?” he assumed the old merchant would request some item the volunteers were in need of. Instead, Woodruff merely replied “Marching Orders.”
“What…” the Governor said, “Do you want nothing in the way of arms, accouterments, etc.?”
“Nothing but marching orders,” repeated the captain.    
“Would that all could say as much…you shall have them.”