Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The 50th Georgia Infantry Impression for the Maryland Campaign

At South Mountain State Battlefield, one of my favorite impressions to portray to the public is that of a Confederate soldier from Company F of the 50th Georgia Infantry. The 50th Georgia Infantry Regiment was organized on March 4, 1862, at Savannah, Georgia. Upon mustering into service they drilled at Camp Davis, and served around the defenses of Savannah, Georgia until July of 1862 when they were ordered to Richmond.

At Richmond, Virginia, the 50th Georgia was attached to General Thomas Drayton’s Brigade and was present at Manassas during the late afternoon hours. As General Lee advanced his army toward Maryland in September of 1862, this would prove to be the bloodiest campaign for the 50th Georgia Infantry Regiment. While defending Fox’s Gap upon South Mountain, General Drayton ordered the 51st and the 50th Georgia Infantry into a sunken road, this decision proved to have a devastatingly deadly consequence. Company F was the last in line and was shot down by Union soldiers from the front, flank and rear, they were in a fire fight that surrounded them on all sides. Out of the 230 rifles that went into battle, the 50th Georgia suffered about sixty percent casualties, as they tried to run out of the sunken lane at Fox’s Gap.

During the Battle of Antietam the 50th Georgia was detached to aide Toomb’s Brigade near the Burnside Brigade. In November, two months after the Maryland Campaign, Drayton’s Brigade was ordered to be broken up and the 50th Georgia was ordered to Semmes’ Brigade of McLaws’ Division. The 50th Georgia participated in Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. By the fall of 1863, it was engaged at the Siege of Knoxville and returned to Lee’s Army in Virginia where they fought bravely during the Siege of Petersburg, the Battle of Cedar Creek, and the Battle of Sayler's Creek.

A great deal of research went into creating this jacket since there are no known examples that survive. The jacket, from what pictures show in research books, is a basic pattern that consists of a six piece body and two piece sleeve. You'll see several living historians wearing these jackets, but very rarely will you see a reenactor that portrays a Georgia soldier wearing the Georgia jacket, which is a shame because this jacket is very handsome, and a great piece for an early war uniform.

This enlistee is wearing what is interpreted as an early war uniform. His militia style kepi and his jacket are a Georgia issue; his trousers are of the Richmond Depot style. If you notice, the Georgia jacket that this enlistee is wearing is made from jeans cloth and features a black collar, black shoulder epaulets, and black facing on the sleeves, and is decorated with three 1/4 inch Georgia buttons, while the jacket itself features six Georgia State Seal buttons. He supports his accouterments on a leather Georgia frame belt which holds his cartridge box, cap box and bayonet scabbard. To reflect the recent English import, he carries an Enfield rifle. Personal items are carried in his knapsack, rations in his haversack, and he carries a tin canteen.

For references, please consider reading the following books relating to Georgia uniforms:
Cadet Gray and Butternut Brown Notes on Confederate Uniforms– Thomas Arliskas
Supplier to the Confederacy, S. Isaac Campbell and Co. London – David Burt and Craig Barry
Uniforms of the Civil War – Robin Smith and Ron Field
Remembering Georgia's Confederates - Dr. David N. Wiggins

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