Presented by the Laurens County Historical Society, Dublin, Georgia. For questions and information, please contact Scott B. Thompson, Sr. at

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


A Higher Calling

In a place and time when seeking and holding high public office was seen more as a duty than a way to line one's pockets or further one's own personal goals, Herschel Vespian Johnson, of Jefferson County, Georgia, did it all.  In his nearly four-decade-long political career, Johnson served as a United States Senator, Governor of Georgia, Confederate States Senator, and Superior Court Judge.  One of the few people in the history of Georgia to have a county named for them while they were alive, Herschel V. Johnson is the only person in the history of our state to sit on bench of the Superior Court of the very county which was named for the judge.

Herschel Johnson was born on September 18, 1812 in Burke County, Georgia. Johnson graduated from the University of Georgia in 1834 with classmates, Howell Cobb and Henry Benning.   While a practicing attorney, Johnson appeared in the Laurens County Superior Court in 1843 on behalf of the Central Bank of Georgia.  That same year, Johnson successfully defended Jacob T. Linder in a suit by Dr. Nathan Tucker to recover damages for taking a slave woman, Celia.  The case continued in the courts for several years.  Johnson also represented John L. Martin in minor contract cases.

After an unsuccessful campaign for Congress later that year, Johnson moved from  Louisville, Georgia, which had formerly been the state's capital, some twenty-five miles to the west to the capital city of Milledgeville to better position himself for high political office.  He jumped right in and served as a Presidential Elector in 1844, committed to James K. Polk, a close relative of his wife, Mary Ann Polk. 

Johnson positioned himself as a strong opponent to Mexican War.  When he called Alexander Hamilton Stephens a liar, the little political giant challenged Johnson to a dual.  Although the men would later become friends and political allies, the feud between them lasted nearly an entire decade.  

Johnson lost his first campaign for governor in 1847, but in the process, earned the favor of Gov. George W. Towns, who appointed him to fill the remaining term of United States Senator, Walter T. Colquitt, who had resigned from office in early 1848.  It was in those days when Georgia was politically divided, when Towns, the victorious Democratic candidate, won the election by a mere 1278 votes over Duncan Clinch, the Whig candidate, who was more highly favored by the voters of East-Central Georgia, especially in Laurens where the Democratic candidate received less than five percent of the vote.  Senator Johnson served the remaining term of thirteen months.  While in Washington, the Senator served with political icons, Jefferson Davis of Mississippi, Stephen Douglas of Illinois, Sam Houston of Texas and Daniel Webster of Massachusetts.  

On November 13, 1849, Herschel Johnson became Judge Johnson, presiding on the bench of the Ocmulgee Superior Court Circuit, centered in Baldwin County.  He served in that position in 1853 when he launched another political campaign.

As the rift over the issue of slavery, state rights and secession paralyzed the country in the early 1850s, so did it divide the state of Georgia.  In the gubernatorial election of 1853, Johnson was chosen by the State Rights Party to run against Charles J. Jenkins, of the Constitutional Union Party, which was in favor of remaining in the Union, although it was not opposed to slavery itself.

Johnson won the election by 510 votes and a scant one half percent of the total votes cast.  In Laurens, the strongest bastion of the  Constitutional Union Party,  in the state,  Johnson received only 51 of 569 votes cast.  Most of the other counties in East Central Georgia also supported the Union party.  Two years later, the vote tabulation  was substantially the same with  Johnson winning the election despite the overwhelming support from Laurens and East Central Georgia counties  for American party candidate Garnett Andrews. 

As a salute to their party leader, the Democrats honored Johnson by naming Georgia's newest  County in his honor on December 11, 1858.  

As war became more eminent in the latter years of the decade, Johnson modified his position and became an opponent of secession.  At the 1860 Democratic Convention in Baltimore, Johnson accepted the invitation of his former senate colleague, Stephen Douglas as his vice-president.  In that divisive election, the fractured Democratic party could not defeat the solid Republican party led by Abraham Lincoln.  In Laurens County, Johnson's place on the ticket drew little support from local voters.

In the 1861 Secession Convention in Milledgeville, Johnson vehemently opposed secession along with his former enemy Alexander Hamilton Stephens and former court opponent, Dr. Nathan Tucker of Laurens County.  Like many of those Georgia leaders opposed to secession, Johnson relented and vowed to support his state when Georgia officially voted to leave the Union.  

Johnson served as a Senator from Georgia in  the Second Confederate Congress,  from 1862  to  1865. Senator Johnson, still not in favor of prosecuting the war, opposed Governor Brown's plan of conscription and the suspension of the sacred right of habeas corpus. 

When the war was over, Johnson along his friend and fellow Unionist, Alexander Hamilton Stephens were elected by the Reconstruction government to represent Georgia in the United State Senate. The  Republican dominated senate declined to seat Johnson and Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederate States of America, because of their roles in the Confederate government during the war.

No longer a factor in Georgia politics, Johnson, then sixty years old, returned to the bench of the Superior Court as Judge of the Middle District of Georgia.   His most celebrated case came in the summer of 1875, when he presided over the trials of several Negro defendants charged with insurrection.  The former slaves allegedly plan to reek havoc between Sandersville, Wrightsville, Irwinton and Dublin by pillaging the farms of white landowners.  Interestingly, the defendants were acquitted or the charges were dismissed in a still racially volatile atmosphere.  

Two of Johnson's children would call Dublin home.  In 1878 in Jefferson County, his daughter Gertrude married Col. John M. Stubbs, attorney and businessman with ardent interest in transportation, journalism and agriculture. His son, Dr. Herschel V. Johnson, Jr., who bore a striking resemblance to his father,  practiced medicine in Dublin in the late 1880s until his death there in 1891.

Johnson remained on the bench until his death on August 18, 1880 in his home in Jefferson County.  He is buried in the Old Cemetery in Louisville beside his wife.

On this 200th anniversary of his birth, Senator, Governor and Judge Herschel Johnson was a man who sought out a higher calling, a man who strived to serve his state with honor and a man who helped shaped our state and our nation.  Had his change of beliefs been successful and his desire to keep Georgia in the Union had held firm, the face of our country would have changed forever.

Monday, September 17, 2012



"Before the sunlight faded, I walked over the narrow field. All around lay the Confederate dead, clad in butternut. As I looked down on the poor pinched faces,  all enmity died out. There was no secession  in those rigid forms nor in those fixed eyes staring at the sky. Clearly it was not their war," So recalled Pvt. David L. Thompson, Company G, 9th New York Volunteer Zouaves, at Antietam Creek, Sharpsburg, Maryland, September 17, 1862. 

That day, that single, sickeningly horrific day, was the deadliest day in the history of the United States.  When Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia slammed into George B. McLellan’s Army of the Potomac, the resulting carnage amounted to the deaths of nearly 3700 men (CSA-1546, USA-2108), coupled with 17,300 men wounded (CSA-7752, USA-9540) and nearly 2000 missing or captured (CSA-1018, USA-753.) In all, 23,000 of the 113,000 effectives became casualties in a single day.  Imagine if you can, the entire populations of all  the incorporated towns and cities of Laurens County being wiped out in a single day. It was the day when the hilly grounds of Maryland turned red. 

Although the battle was a tactical draw, President Abraham Lincoln claimed victory and began to accelerate his plans to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.  For General Lee, the battle proved that an invasion of the North and the capture of Washington, D.C. was within his war-ending grasp.

But, back in East Central Georgia, the words of Private David Thompson had a deeper, more personal meaning.  To understand what Private Thompson meant, you must turn back the clock a dozen years to the year 1850.   

As the issue of slavery came to the national forefront in the 1850s, a division arose among those in the South over the issue of secession or remaining in the Union.  The vast majority of the residents of East Central Georgia, where the  slave population was in the 30 percent range in the smaller counties, were not opposed to the institution of slavery, but were somewhat  against secession.  In Montgomery County, in the popular vote on the issue of secession, white male voters voted for the Unionist position by a landslide margin of nearly  nine to one.   Even after Georgia narrowly approved secession from the Union, Montgomery County’s two delegates to the General Assembly consistently voted no on all issues dealing with the Confederacy.  

Montgomery County, which today  also includes parts of Treutlen, Wheeler, and Toombs County, was primarily settled in the early 1800s by Scots from the Carolinas.  The Wiregrass region of Georgia along the lower regions of the Oconee and Ocmulgee Rivers at the point where they form the Great Altamaha River was covered with wild natural grasses and pine tree meadows, ideal for the grazing of cattle.  

The Scots were a hardy lot, believing in the power of the individual and a strong work ethic.   In 1860, there were 977 slaves in Montgomery County  representing 32.6% of the total population and owned by 119 slave owners.  Nearly 53 percent of those Montgomery County slave owners owned five slaves or less.  Seventy two percent owned less than 10 slaves.  

Despite their aversion to seceding from the Union, several hundred Montgomery men enlisted in the various infantry, reserves, and militia units of the Confederate Army.  The main company, the Montgomery Sharpshooters, was first organized in Montgomery County in the summer of 1861.  In May 1862, the Sharpshooters were designated as Company E of the 61st Georgia Infantry Regiment.  About two dozen men enlisted in other companies in the regiment. 

The regiment traveled to Virginia just in time to be engaged in the Battles of the Seven Days on the Virginia Peninsula in June 1862.  The Sharpshooters, attached to the Army of Northern Virginia, moved north with General Lee, stopping to fight at Cedar Mountain and Second Manassas.  

Then came that day, that vicious September day in western Maryland, 150 years ago this week.  

One man, Henry C. Mozo, was killed that day.  Twelve Sharpshooters were wounded, including flag bearer F.G. Williams. 

        The dying continued.  Three months later at Fredericksburg, Virginia and just two weeks before Christmas, four were killed, one was captured and fifteen were wounded. R.D. Wooten was listed as missing in action.  It was duly noted that Hillary Wright, a native of Laurens County, had “part of his cheek bone gone.”  The Sharpshooters were with Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorsville, but suffered no casualties.  They were with John B. Gordon at Gettysburg and carried the Southern flag further north than anyone.  Nine men were wounded and four more died in the killing fields at High Tide of the Confederacy.

Regimental Commander Col. Charles McArthur, a former captain of the Sharpshooters, was killed when a random shell exploded while his regiment was on reserve duty at Spotsylvania.  Before the dying day ended, one man was killed, one man was wounded and eight infantrymen were captured.  

The hardy, independent Montomery Scots, most of whom were determined to remain in the Union,  put up a valiant fight for Georgia.  After the slaughters of Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, The Wilderness and Spotsylvania Courthouse when a lull in the fighting came during Grant’s siege of Petersburg, the 61st saw more fighting in the valley of Virginia in the autumn of 1864.  

When the 6lst first arrived in Petersburg, VA on June 22, 1862, they numbered 1,000 men strong. When they left the trenches of Petersburg on April 2, 1865, they tallied only eighty-one men, with only one officer in command, Captain Thomas M. McRae of Montgomery County, who was killed shortly afterwards.  Only 49 were able to stand or kneel when General Lee surrendered his army at Appomattox.

When the remnants of the Sharpshooters limped,  crawled, or simply collapsed onto the rolling countryside surrounding Appomattox Courthouse on April 8, 1865,   thirteen lucky survivors, at least four of whom had survived severe wounds, answered present.  
Brothers Hector and John McSwain  cousins Lucius and J.S. Nash and former Laurens County kinsmen, L.L. Clark and  John Franklin Clark, made it home.  So did Private James O’Connor, who was wounded at Second Manassas, Sharpsburg and Gettysburg.  In command of the Sharpshooters at Appomattox was 2nd Sgt. Daniel M. McRae, a tall fair- complected, blue-eyed, thirty-two-year old Scotsman who survived his wounds at Sharpsburg.  He was the company’s  only surviving non-commissioned officer.  

Of the 133 Montgomery County men who went off to war with the 61st, an unlucky 13 percent or 17 men were killed.  Twenty one, or nearly one in six, were wounded.  The leading cause of death, as it would be with the entire Southern army, was death from disease.  Forty one men, almost  a third of the force, died from communicable diseases or unsanitary conditions.   Roughly one fifth of the men were captured and spent utterly miserable, starving, sickly  months  in Union prison camps equally abhorrent to the supremely  atrocious Confederate  camp at Andersonville.  Eight men were sent home because of their disabilities.  Two officers, somewhat unfit, unable or unwilling for command, resigned their commissions and went home.  In the end, 112 of the 133, or 84 percent, were casualties.  Sixty percent of the men died or were wounded.   Malcolm Peterson lost his chance at becoming a casualty when he was discharged for killing a comrade early in the war. 

 Only one in ten made it to the so, so sad, indeed pitiful and most merciful end. They fought for liberty, with treasure, blood and toil, suffering and dying for  a cause. Turns out it was  a lost cause.  Alas, there was no secession in their Bonnie Blue  eyes.   Clearly, it was not their war. 

In memory of Pvt. Benjamin H. Brantley, Pvt. 28th Georgia, and  my great, great grandmother Braswell’s first husband, who was  wounded in Miller’s Cornfield near the Sunken Road and died three weeks later.  Had he survived, you would have never read what you just read. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Today is September 11, 2012.  Not a soul alive eleven years ago will ever forget the horror of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Nor, will they ever forget the waves of patriotism from patriotic Americans which swept across the country. 

For centuries, Laurens County and Dublin have had more than their normal share of patriots.  On this Patriot's Day, let us go back in time to recognize some of our nation's patriots, for whom some of our city streets  are named. 

We all know that Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe and Jackson streets were named for our early southern presidents.  And,  Franklin, Lawrence (Laurens) and Marion Streets were named  for one Yankee and two South Carolina patriots of the American Revolution.

Truxton, Bainbridge, Rodgers and Decatur are not really household names.  These Dublin streets were named for naval heroes of the early 19th century.  Commodore Thomas Truxton brought the American navy on a par with the French and the British navies during the naval battles with the French in the Caribbean around the turn of the 19th century.  Truxton, commanding the "Constellation," captured the French frigates "Insurgente" and "La Vengance" and won the hearts of the American people.  William Bainbridge was a one time commander of the frigate "Constitution."  Bainbridge gained fame for his bravery and gallantry in the war with Tripoli.  Commodore John Rodgers served as executive officer of the "Constellation" under Truxton.  He captained a ship in the War of 1812.   Stephen Decatur, a commodore in the navy, was a hero of the War of 1812 and became even more famous after his death in a duel with a fellow officer.  Schley St., which runs into West Moore St., was named for Admiral Winfield Scott Schley, hero of the Spanish-American War.  Dewey St., was named in honor of Adm. George Dewey, another hero of Spanish-American War.

In September 1943, engineers began laying out the streets on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Hospital.  The streets were named for medical department personnel killed in action during World War II.   

Gendreau Circle was named for Capt. Elphege A.M. Gendreau of San Francisco, who was killed in combat in the South Pacific. Gendreau was an officer of the United States Navy during both World Wars. A native of Canada, he was commissioned an Assistant Surgeon, Medical Reserve Corps, with the rank of Lieutenant JG .

Captain Gendreau served as the chief surgeon on the staff of Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet. In the summer of 1943, he was on temporary duty in the South Pacific inspecting medical facilities to improve treatment and care of battle casualties. Captain Gendreau voluntarily boarded the  LST-343 to assist in the evacuation of the sick and wounded from Rendova. The doctor was killed in a dive-bomb  attack on the LST on July 21, 1943.  Gendreau's dedicated service prompted Admiral Nimitz to recommend that a destroyer be named for him.

Blackwood Drive was named in memory of James D. Blackwood, of Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania and senior medical officer of the U.S.S. Vincennes.  Blackwood, of  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, enrolled in the Naval Coast Defense Reserve as an Assistant Surgeon in 1917.  Dr. Blackwood  served aboard transport ships in the Atlantic during World War I.  When the U.S.S. President Lincoln was attacked, Blackwood's heroic actions earned him a Navy Cross. 

Blackwood was appointed Medical Inspector with the rank of Commander in 1938 and reported to the Vincennes, on which he served  during the early months of World War II. During the Battle of Savo Island on August 9, 1942 in the Solomon Islands campaign, an American naval force was struck in a surprise night attack.  Blackwood was killed when the Vincennes sunk into the Pacific Ocean. 

Johnson Drive and Alexander Drive were named in memory of Cmdr. Samuel E. Johnson, of Clinton, Alabama, and Lt. Cmdr. Hugh R. Alexander, of Belleville, Pennsylvania. Alexander was killed aboard  the U.S.S. Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor. 

Lt. Cmdr. Edward Crowley, of San Francisco, had Crowley Avenue named in his memory after he was killed in the Solomon Islands.  

Neff Place was named in honor of Lt. Cmdr. James Neff, Senior Medical Officer of the cruiser U.S.S. Juneau.

Trojakowski Avenue was named in honor of Commander W.C. Trojakowski, of Schenectady, N.Y..   Trojakowski, a senior dental officer,  was killed in the blast from a bomb while carrying on his duties in a splendid manner on the main deck.  

Morrow Place was posthumously named for Lt. Junior Grade Edna O. Morrow, of Pasadena, Calf..    Nurse Morrow, diagnosed with terminal cancer,  was flying home from Pearl Harbor aboard Pan Am Flight 1104 in January 1943.  She was coming home to die when her plane crashed, killing all aboard. 

The last street, Evans Avenue, was named in honor of Lt. Cmdr. Edward E. Evans, of San Francisco, who was killed in the Solomon Islands in December of 1942. 

When Rod Peacock laid out Linda Vista Subdivision in the early 1970s, he wanted to salute many of the leaders of the United States Military who served in the Southeast Asian Theater of Operations during World War II.  

Merrill Street is named after General Frank Merrill, the leader of Merrill's Marauders.  Merrill's men defied all odds and triumphed over one adversity after another by tenaciously moving through the jungles of Southeast Asia.  Scott Drive is named for General Robert L. Scott of Macon.  Scott was a leading pilot of the famed "Flying Tigers." 

            Major-General Orde Charles Wingate was a British Army officer and creator of special military units in Palestine in the 1930s and in World War II. He is most famous for his creation of the Chindits, an airborne unit assigned to work behind Japanese lines in World War II.

        Lieutenant General Claire Lee Chennault was an American military aviator. A aggressive officer, Chennault  was a fierce advocate of fighters, when high altitude bombers were the predominant aircraft of the day.   Chennault retired in 1937 and went to work as an aviation trainer and adviser in China,.  The general  commanded the "Flying Tigers" during World War II, one of the Air Force's most acclaimed units. 

So when you drive  along these streets, don't just think of them as a way to get where you are going.  Think of those American Patriots who made so many unselfish and ultimate  sacrifices for all of us in America.   

Monday, September 03, 2012


It was a mild Monday  morning after another serene Sunday  in the railroad town of Adrian, Georgia when the Devil himself erupted  into a conflagration which engulfed nearly the entire business center of the town where two counties and two railroads came together.

Adrian, a town of some 1200 souls and yet to be incorporated as a town, was growing by leaps and bounds.  Located at the junction of the Bruton & Pineora Railroad and the Wadley & Mt. Vernon Railroad along the zig-zag boundary line dividing Emanuel and Johnson counties, Adrian enjoyed  significant progress, due in large part to the business empire of Captain Thomas Jefferson James.

James, a former Confederate soldier and  a wealthy railroad baron, set up a saw mill in the town, where he employed a gang of some 75 convicts to operate his many business interests.   At times, the number of his hired criminal hands reportedly totaled as many as a thousand. 

It was on the morning of  June 5, 1899, when in the soft light of a waning gibbous moon peeking from behind a layer of a gathering mass of cumulus clouds, someone  spotted a large voluminous plume of gray smoke billowing out of Miss Gertrude Peterson's millinery store.  Hardly a soul in Adrian was not awakened by the commotion which immediately ensued.  Those who heard the frantic cries, gathered their sleepy wits, put on  their  just worn clothes and dashed off in the direction of the burgeoning calamity to lend whatever hand they could.  

Several Samaritans did manage to salvage the entire general merchandise inventory of Sigmund Lichtenstein before the flames consumed his newly opened business. 

As the fire quickly spread eastward toward C. J. Watts' barber shop and the Telephone Exchange, the entire business block was in imminent peril. Citizens salvaged all that they could as the flames spread through the wooden structures like a dry cornfield on a windy March day.
That's when the convict gang of Capt. T.J. James showed up to fight the flames.  Without their assistance, it appeared that the whole town may have fell victim to the blaze. 

With convicts and citizens working side by side, the stores of E. Ricks, J.R. Porter and M.L. Bailey were saved by the valiant volunteers, whose tasks were made much easier by a barely perceptible westerly wind in the cool, calm, wee hours of the morning.  

A.L. Brown's drug store disappeared into a pile of ashes.  

With the telephone exchange destroyed and owing to the fact that there were no telegraph lines going in and out of town, the town was cut off to the entire world.  

Calhoun's Ice House was gone, its melted inventory being insufficient to douse the flames which consumed it.

The losses were made more devastating due to the fact that few of the property owners had insurance.  

Investigators immediately suspected arson as several small fires had erupted earlier in the day with no apparent cause.  Some believed that the entire inferno was caused by burglars who broke into the millinery store and set the fire to cover their crime.  

There was a fire earlier in the day at Captain James' sugar cane mill, not his saw mill, which was still turning out 100,000 board feet of lumber every day.  Rev. Leon O. Lewis was quick to correct the mistaken reports coming out of the beleaguered town.  Rev. Lewis pointed out there was no motive of any disgruntled employees as no one in the town had any grudge to settle. 

Those who hated, quickly pointed the fingers at the Negroes of the town.  Lewis, pastor of the Adrian Methodist Church,  discounted that notion when he wrote, "As to the Negroes being accused, I can see only one accusation to bring, viz, that as a class they worked as faithfully as the whites to save the property in which they had not a cent of interest."  The minister went on to point out that several black citizens  worked to the point of exhaustion.  "All honor to them,"  concluded Lewis, who rejoiced in the fact that eleven business houses were yet standing in addition to Captain James' large store, the economic nucleus of the burgeoning town.

The fires about the town continued over the following days.  On the night of June 9, Captain James  suffered his second fire in five days.  James' planing mill burned to the ground when a pit full of wooden slabs ignited causing $20,000.00 of uninsured damage.

The flames spread consuming three railcar loads of lumber and nearly six thousand dollars worth of lumber in a matter of hours.  Machinery damage was estimated at $10,000.00, half of the total estimated damage to James's mill.

Once again, arson was suspected since the night watchman reported that he saw the fire begin in a section where no machinery was located.

Just as Adrian town and Captain James seemed to have recovered from the devastation of June of 1899, James businesses were struck again on April 19, 1900.  This time the inferno destroyed his dry kiln near his saw mill.  

All of the Captain's hands rushed to the scene. No one could approach the fire, which fed upon the exceedingly dry lumber inside the burning building and  was fully engulfed in flames in a matter of minutes.

Once again, James' convicts rose to the occasion of rescue the critical saw mill plant from assured annihilation, although once again, James, a wealthy man who curiously chose not to insure his premises, suffered a substantial loss of $15,000.00.

Although the town, with her 1200 people, 22 stores, two churches and a very good school,  never achieved the greatness it had so ardently attempted to achieve, the crossroads community once again rose from the ashes and chased the Devil away.*

*Suppose there was a connection between the fires and  the name of Adrian school's mascot, "The Red Devils?"

Sunday, September 02, 2012



The end of the summer of 1862 saw General Robert E. Lee's forces return to the scene of the first Confederate victory at Bull Run or Manassas, as it was called by people in the South.  Lee hoped to continue his successes of the Seven Days Battles. Southern generals Stonewall Jackson and A.P. Hill reached Brandy Station on the south side of the Rappahannock River on August 24.  Three days later, Jackson marched 54 miles northwest completely around Pope toward Manassas Gap.  On the 28th of August, Hill moved from Centreville to join Ewell at Blackburn's Ford, where they crossed Bull Run and moved south toward Manassas Junction.  Hill took his men back across Bull Run and moved them up the northeast side of the creek toward the Warrentown Turnpike, where he turned to the southwest and crossed Bull Run for a third time.  Participating in that battle were the Blackshear Guards and Laurens Volunteers of Laurens County and the Johnson Grays and Battleground Guards of Johnson County, along with a host of other local companies from east-central Georgia. 

Gen. Jackson assigned Hill to protect the mill and ford at Sudley Springs.  On the morning of the 29th, E.L. Thomas formed his brigade, including the Blackshear Guards, Laurens Volunteers and Johnson Grays, along the western margin of an unfinished railroad east of the Grovetown to Sudley Road.  Union general Pope had hoped to use his superior forces to crush Hill before the rest of Lee's army joined the fight.  Thomas discovered that the ground was a little higher to the west and moved back toward the road.  Thomas also found impediments in placing his artillery in the woods.  By noon, Union skirmishers, mainly composed of German regiments, began firing on Gregg's Brigade on Thomas's left.  The Federal forces moved back after a brief skirmish.  Thomas moved his men back to the railroad shifting his line to his right and  leaving  a 125-yard gap along a break in the railroad bed where it passed through a swamp. 

Grover moved his Federal Division in front of the gap between  Gregg and  Thomas, who knew nothing of Grover's approach. Thomas' men escaped the battle that morning. But,  Grover's men closed to within a few yards of the railroad before they spotted the Confederate line.  Thomas's men stood up and fired.  Grover launched a hand to hand combat attack through the gap and overran the 49th Georgia on Thomas's left.  Thomas retreated back toward the Grovetown Road with many casualties. The move was described by onlookers as "like opening swinging doors."   Grover lost one in six of his men during the first attack.  Thomas  moved to his left and rallied the 49th Georgia.  The fighting was fierce with a crossfire of less than ten yards.  Thomas's left was strengthened  by the 14th S.C. and Pender's Brigade.  Grover retreated in 30 minutes after losing another sixth of his men.  

Federal forces under Gen. Kearney launched another attack at five o'clock running into Gregg and Thomas's skirmishers.  Once again, Thomas was nearly surrounded by Federals.  This time Thomas's Brigade stood firm.  Gregg was nearly out of ammunition.  Gen. Jubal Early came to the rescue, saving Thomas and Gregg, who had moved back to Stoney Ridge.  Early, with his twenty five-hundred fresh men, crushed the Federals, who hastily retired to end the day's fighting.  The battle shifted to the southwest on the 30th with Thomas on the extreme Confederate left.  Thomas lost 155 men, killed or wounded, during the battle.   Corp. James C. Lee, who was killed in action, was the only casualty of the Blackshear Guards.  Capt. James T. Chappell and privates John M. Burch, Uriah S. Fuller and William H. Wright,  all of the Laurens Volunteers,  were wounded in the first day of the battle.  John D. Wolfe, of the Volunteers was killed.  William G. Pearson was wounded on the second day.  Johnson Grays Francis J. Flanders, Williamson T. Flanders, Jonathan B. Smith and John Walker were wounded during the first day's fighting.  Future Laurens Countians Sgt. G.W. Belcher (Co. C. 20th), William Cranford (Co. E, 26th) and Lt. James Mincey (Co. D, 61st) were wounded during the two-day battle. 

The 48th Georgia was a part of Gen. Ransom Wright's Brigade of General R.H. Anderson's Division.  The Division was attached to the Right Wing of the Army of Northern Virginia under the command of General James Longstreet.  During a grueling march, Quincey L. Black, A.J. Foskey, and Wilson Riner had to fall out of line.  Ransom Wright, a Louisville-born attorney, commanded a Georgia Brigade composed of the 3rd, 22nd, 44th, and 48th Georgia Regiments. 

At 4:50 p.m. on the afternoon of August 30, the 48th Georgia moved out from its resting place on the Brawner Farm.  Anderson's Division crossed to the south of the Warrenton Turnpike and set out on a two-mile march toward Henry Hill.  During the march, the Confederates were subjected to  artillery fire from Dogan's Ridge.  Three thousand Georgians opened the assault by pressing the Federal lines along the Sudley Road.  

At the height of the fighting, the 48th Georgia moved to Jones' right.  Wright brought his brigade to the far right in support of Gen. G.T. Anderson's brigade,  who were being fired on before their lines could be formed.  Mahone's brigade fell in on  Wright's right flank and  extended the Confederate right far beyond the Union left flank.  The Federal lines were caught in a bad position.  Many elements of the Confederate forces were crossing the road.  The Confederates failed to press the attack and allowed the Union army to regroup.  The 15th and 17th Georgia regiments fell back.  Anderson's Division and the 48th held their position.  James Neal, of the Battleground Guards, was killed in the fighting.   James W. Rowland suffered a wound.   Though Anderson failed to discern that an attack would have cut the Federal lines, his default did not end the assault on the Federal lines.  

Wright and Anderson's brigades continued to pressure the Union lines at slow place until an hour after dark.  Wright's fatigued men were replaced by Wilcox's and Drayton's brigade.  Longstreet's Corps continued the attack forcing Pope's Yankees into a retreat. At the end of the battle Lee's forces were in position to launch an attack deep into the North.  Gen. Lee's hoped his success at the Second Manassas would lead his army to victories in Maryland and beyond.  Little did General Lee realize the devastating carnage that would follow  in the succeeding battles of Antietam/Sharpsburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. 

In summarizing the battle, a Federal survivor of the attack on Hill's line said, "The slope was swept by a hurricane of death, and each minute seemed twenty hours long."

An artilleryman in Hill's division, put it this way, "When the sun went down, their dead were heaped in front of that incomplete railway, and we sighed with relief, for Longstreet could be seen coming into position on our right.  The crisis was over ..., but the sun went down so slowly."   

And so it was, 150 years ago today.  Until that point, the fighting had been moderately intense.  But from that point on, the fighting was about to get down right frightening, the dying totally sickening and the days, a lot more terrifying.