What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?

“Why, gentlemen, if Georgia fights, I’ll go with her. Why else would I have joined the Troop?” he said. His gray eyes opened wide, and their drowsiness disappeared in an intensity that Scarlett had never seen before. “But, like Father, I hope the Yankees will let us go in peace and that there will be no fighting—” He held up his hand with a smile, as a babel of voices from the Fontaine and Tarleton boys began. “Yes, yes, I know we’ve been insulted and lied to—but if we’d been in the Yankees’ shoes and they were trying to leave the Union, how would we have acted? Pretty much the same. We wouldn’t have liked it.”

-Ashley Wilkes – Gone with the Wind – Margret Mitchell.

During the Civil War, my great-great-grandfather, DJ Dobbs, held, at one point, the rank of Colonel, at another point, the rank of Private, and on yet another occasion, the rank of Master Private. And no, he was neither promoted nor was he demoted. As I revealed in a previous post, I found a letter from some citizens of Marietta, who requested of the Confederate state’s Secretary of War that “Col. DJ Dobbs of Marietta” be commissioned the county’s enrolling officer for the Confederate Army. As I mentioned, I found no indication that he had been granted that office.

Here is an explanation of the different ranks he held during the war. In a review of this history, I feel that my great-great-grandfather and others like him probably thought the war would be over in a matter of weeks. In the beginning, they never believed for a moment that the Union Army would one day invade their homeland.

In 1861, at the very start of the war in April of that year, white Southern men of all ages and walks of life enrolled in various local military units with names such as the “Kennesaw Dragoons.” I had discovered DJ’s involvement with this particular unit about a dozen years ago in a book written about the cadets of Georgia Military Institute, the school that Dj graduated from in 1856. The other day I found the document from the archives listing my ancestor as a Master Private in that unit. There is no record of the Kennesaw Dragoons after the spring of 1861.

In October 1861, David J Dobbs was commissioned a Colonel in command of __Regiment, Second Brigade, 11th Division, of the Georgia Militia. It was essentially the military unit that represented the Georgia state militia in Cobb County.

It was found in the archives along with a letter that DJ wrote to Adjutant General Henry C Wayne, the Confederate adjutant and inspector general for the state of Georgia. In the letter, DJ provided details regarding manpower, weapons, and ammunition held by Cobb County.

He reported that there were 1164 men of military age in the county. The local armory held 157 rifles, 14 muskets, 128 double-barrel shotguns, 68 single-barrel shotguns, 92 pounds of powder, and 388 pounds of lead. His report lists 200 volunteers raised in the field, with 110 men recruited before the report was sent out. That is over 25% of the military age population.

The report is dated March 10, 1862.

As I previously reported, DJ, and others in similar situations as he, were exempted by the Gov. of Georgia from military service in the field due to his status as a plantation owner. It was done because Gov. Joseph E Brown believed that plantation owners and managers were necessary to the state’s economy. Following Lee’s defeat at Gettysburg in the Summer of 1863, Gov. Brown ordered all non-disabled men from 15 to 65 into units known as the State (or Home) Guards. According to muster rolls, David enrolled as a private in Company E, Seventh Infantry Georgia State Guards.

According to Rhett Butler a fictional character in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, the rank and file of the State Guards believed that they would never see action. They were nicknamed Joe Brown’s Pets.

“There’s a rumor floating about to that effect. The rumor arrived on the train from Milledgeville this morning. Both the militia and the Home Guards are going to be sent in to reinforce General Johnston. Yes, Governor Brown’s darlings are likely to smell powder at last, and I imagine most of them will be much surprised. Certainly they never expected to see action. The Governor as good as promised them they wouldn’t. Well, that’s a good joke on them. They thought they had bombproofs because the Governor stood up to even Jeff Davis and refused to send them to Virginia. Said they were needed for the defense of their state. Who’d have ever thought the war would come to their own back yard and they’d really have to defend their state?”

-Rhett Butler – Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell

Not long after Sherman’s Army invaded Georgia from Tennessee, and Marietta fell to Union forces, DJ and his family became refugees in South Carolina. About six weeks after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, DJ was taken prisoner by the Union Army at Greenville, South Carolina. The seventh infantry had been reduced to just one company.

DJ was paroled a few weeks later in Georgia.

Perhaps he did become an enrolling officer of the Confederate Army for Cobb County, because in August 1867 DJ was compelled to sign an Oath of Allegiance before his civil rights could be restored and he be allowed to vote in a special US Sen. election held that year in Georgia.

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