Monday, 5 September 2011

georgia brigade

On April 11, 1863, Brigadier General John Brown Gordon, previously Colonel of the 6th Alabama, assumed temporary command of the Georgia Brigade from Colonel Clement A. Evans of the 31st Georgia. Gordon had been named a Brigadier in November 1, 1862 on Lee's recommendation after his heroic service at Sharpsburg (Antietam) where he sustained five wounds. He was not confirmed in his new rank until May 11, 1863 (with the promotion made retroactive to May 7), after the Battle of Chancellorsville, and was assigned permanent command of the Georgia Brigade shortly thereafter following a unanimous petition by its regimental officers to General Lee.
A "comparative stranger" to his new brigade, Gordon was to make quite an impression in the days that followed. Private G. W. Nichols of the 61st Georgia wrote that:

We were soon all acquainted with him. He put the company and regimental commanders to work drilling the boys. We often had three drills daily; first, company drill; then, battalion drill; and in the afternoon brigade drill. Gordon would ride along the line, talk very kind, yet very positive, and the officers and men were soon liking him very much.
The end of April found the Georgia brigade still posted in their winter encampments along with the rest of Lee's 60,000 man Confederate Army of Northern Virginia guarding defensive lines overlooking Fredericksburg and the west bank of the Rappahannock River. The 130,000 man Union Army of the Potomac under new commander "Fighting Joe" Hooker was positioned across the river to the east.
The 31st Georgia was encamped to the south covering the crossing at Port Royal. The rest of the brigade was posted with General Early's division along the line of the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad between Deep Run and Hamilton's Crossing. Their camps were in the low foothills paralleled the Military Road with pickets advanced forward to the River Road [a.k.a the Richmond Stage Road] where they could cover the crossings south of the town. This was ground over which the Georgians had fought the previous December, launching the counterattack that repulsed the advance of General George Meade's Union division during Ambrose Burnside's disasterous first battle of Fredericksburg.

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