The History of the First National Guard Unit in the Southeast

A century ago this week, the men of the local National Guard were formally established by the United States.  These men, who have been serving our country for a quarter of century became the first National Guard company in the southeastern United States. 

     The first local military company founded after the Civil War was the Dublin Guards.  The Dublin Guards were organized as a part of the 4th Regiment of the Georgia Volunteers in 1890.  The earliest available information on the company from February of 1894  is the cadre of officers: Captain Lucien Quincy Stubbs, First Lt. T.K. Tharpe, Second Lt. M.A. Kendrick, and Junior Second Lt. Hugh McCall Moore. J. Ware Brown was the chaplain and Dr. J.H. Walton was the company surgeon. W.J. Hightower, the Clerk of the Superior Court, served as quartermaster.  Lem Kreutz was the company drummer.

     The Dublin Guards, designated as Company A, Second Infantry Regiment, Georgia State Troops, continued to be active during the Spanish American War.  They drilled once a week in the auditorium located on the upper floor of the Leitch-Stubbs building, which was then located at the southwestern corner of West Jackson Street and South Jefferson Street.  

    Willis Canty Davis, (left) who attended West Point and served as a Captain in the Spanish American War, came to Dublin in the late 1890's.  He replaced another lawyer, C.A. Weddington, as Captain of the Guards in 1901.  Capt. Weddington stepped down to First Lieutenant while Hugh M. Moore stepped down to Second Lieutenant replacing L.L. Linder who had recently died.  Second Lieutenant Moore was soon replaced by T.O. Dupree.  By the end of the year all of the officers resigned and the Guards disbanded due to lack of interest.

      In the fall of 1904, a new company was organized under the name of "The Laurens Volunteers".  Judge John S. Adams was the civilian chairman of the organization while Ernest Camp acted as secretary.  Capt. W.C. Davis was unanimously elected Captain with Hugh M. Moore and Arthur M. Wolfe were chosen as the lieutenants.  Arthur Wolfe had attended West Point in 1902 but didn't have an officer's uniform, so he resigned in favor of T.O. Dupree who was the former Second Lieutenant of the Dublin Guards.   The company was composed of sixty one men including the bugler, L.H. Thomas.  The company met and drilled at the City Hall but soon moved back to the Leitch Stubbs building.  By the beginning of 1906,  the name had been changed to "The Dublin Rifles"  which was a part of a loosely organized Georgia National Guard.

    The Dublin Rifles were soon designated as Company K of the 2nd Georgia Infantry.  In 1906 Cleveland L. Pope (left) was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and was quickly promoted to 1st Lieutenant.  Lt. Pope was replaced by Douglas Smith.  By the end of 1907,  this company and other Georgia companies were decommissioned due to the peace and prosperity of the times.

    With Woodrow Wilson's declaration of war with Germany in the spring of 1917,  the call went out once again to organize the home guards.  Judge R. D. Flynt served as chairman of the organizing committee.  Capt. W.C. Davis, now too old to serve, also aided in the organization of the Dublin Guards.  The mission of the local guards was to replace the National Guard units who would be going to Europe.  Lt. J.C. Minnenant was called in to organize the local men into what would become the senior home guard organization in Georgia.  Lt. Minnenant left for France in August.  He was replaced by Capt. Lewis Cleveland Pope.  The other officers were 1st Lt. C.F. Ludwig and 2nd Lt. R. D. Flynt.  In the fall election,  Dr. E. Ross Jordan, a local pharmacist,  was elected 1st Lieutenant.  W.M. Breedlove was elected 2nd Lt. and Carl Hilbun was elected 1st Sgt.  In the late spring of 1919,  the Company moved into its new quarters on the third floor of the Burch Building on the northwest corner of South Jefferson Street and West Madison Street.  The company was decommissioned during the summer in favor of a National Guard Unit.

      The "Dublin Guards" officially were reorganized into the first federally recognized National Guard company in the southeastern United States.  The company was designated as Company A of the First Battalion, Georgia National Guard.  Capt. Lewis Cleveland Pope took command of the company on August 28, 1919.  First Lt. William M. Breedlove, 2nd Lt. Carl Hilburn, and 1st Sgt. Henry C. O'Neal were appointed as the remaining officers.  In 1921,  the Georgia National Guard was reorganized and the unit then became known as Company "K" of the 122nd Inf.  At the same time HQ Co. of the Regiment was formed with its command located in Dublin.  Three years later the designation was modified to Co."K" of the 121st Inf.  The Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the regiment were established in Dublin in 1921.  John E. Matthews served as 3rd Battalion commander from 1926 throughout the 1930s.


 Lewis Cleveland Pope joined Company A of the 2nd Infantry Regiment, Georgia State Troops in 1899, one year before he graduated from Dublin High School.  He served in every rank from private to Captain in the local unit. He was commissioned Second Lieutenant in 1906.  Capt. Pope served as 1st Lieutenant of the 30th Army Division during the Mexican Border Conflict in 1916.  Col. James A. Thomas, son of General James A. Thomas of Dublin,  was in command of the regiment.  He contracted a fatal illness while on board a European bound ship during World War I.  During the World War I years Capt. Pope returned to Dublin to serve as captain of the Dublin Guards.  When the first National Guard unit was created in Dublin, Capt. Pope was the logical choice to command the company.  In January of 1922, Capt. Pope was promoted to Major commanding the 3rd Batallion of the 1st Inf. Reg., Georgia National Guard.  Within six months,  he was again promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.  Within three more months,  Pope was again promoted on a temporary basis  to Brigadier General as Adjutant General of Georgia.  Col. Pope was promoted to Colonel in the winter of 1923.  

Col. Pope (left)  commanded the 121st Infantry at Fort Jackson, South Carolina and during the war commanded the Regiment that became part of the famous 8th Division, which played an important role in the European theater.  Col. Pope died on December 10, 1942 and was given a full military funeral at Northview Cemetery. 

Charles Flannery Pope

For the first time in nearly 50 years, the members of the 121st Infantry were without General Pope.  The 121st fought its way through Europe from Normandy to Germany.  After the war, the regiment was deactivated.  Beginning in 1954, the Guard returned to Dublin with its local unit serving under various company designations. And still today, a century later, the men and women of the descendant of Company “A” are serving around the state and around the world.