7th Georgia Infantry at Gettysburg

Tom Elmore

Sergeant Major
Member of the Year
Jan 16, 2015
The 7th Georgia was part of Brig. Gen. George T. Anderson’s brigade, which also included the 8th, 9th, 11th and 59th Georgia regiments. But the 7th was destined to play only a minor role in the battle, having being detached to observe and hold off Federal cavalry operating off the right flank of the Confederate army. Consequently it suffered only light casualties, in stark contrast to the heavy losses sustained by the rest of the brigade during the July 2 action in the Rose woods, adjacent to the Wheatfield.

Confederate sources on this regiment are very scarce, but I will provide a brief synopsis of what is known or may be reasonably deduced. For an excellent analysis of the Federal cavalry movements on that flank, I recommend the book, Gettysburg’s Forgotten Cavalry Actions, by our very own Eric J. Wittenberg.

The 7th Georgia was stronger than the average Confederate infantry regiment at Gettysburg, and arrived with the brigade on the edge of the battlefield on the night of July 1 with a strength of about 42 officers and 417 enlisted men. Deducting non-combatants (staff and detailees), the regiment entered the fray the following day with an estimated 38 officers and 387 enlisted men. These numbers are derived from a meticulous examination of combined service records for members of the regiment, which are unusually complete. When in line of battle, the front of the regiment (in two ranks) would have extended about 350 feet.

As the brigade marker on the field states, when Anderson’s brigade formed a line of battle on the afternoon of July 2, the 7th was “sent southward to watch Union cavalry.” It is reasonable to suppose that the regiment centered itself upon the Emmitsburg road, but it might have extended its front considerably by forming a single line, with some space between soldiers. In any event, the duty was relatively quiet, since the 7th recorded only four casualties on July 2, while another five men deserted that day.

The 7th remained in position, so far as we know, until daybreak on July 3, when it rejoined the brigade in Rose woods. Colonel William W. White of the 7th succeeded to command of the brigade due to Gen. Anderson’s having been wounded late in the action the preceding day. However, the entire brigade was soon sent piecemeal back to the army’s right flank to deal with a growing threat from Federal cavalry.

It appears the 7th Georgia was among the first to go, taking position on the right (west of) the 1st Texas, which was stretched thin behind a stone wall that still stands east of the Emmitsburg road. It suggests the 7th might have again deployed on both sides of that road. The 11th and 59th Georgia presumably left with, or soon after, the 7th Georgia, as the 11th joined on the right of the 7th, while the 59th joined to the right of the 11th. They were soon followed by the 9th Georgia, which took up a supporting position behind the 7th, according to Captain George Hillyer of the 9th. The 8th Georgia seems to have joined the right of the 59th.

Slight skirmishing may have ensued, but the battle on the Confederate right flank began in earnest with Farnsworth’s charge east of the Emmitsburg road, which came close on the heels of Pickett’s repulse late in the afternoon. The 9th Georgia was sent back to help deal with this immediate threat.

Meanwhile, the 7th Georgia, with the balance of the brigade, confronted Wesley Merritt’s advance, mainly on the west side of the Emmitsburg road. Merritt’s men first drove back Colonel Black’s advanced ad-hoc force (including a couple of guns under Capt. Hart) posted near Alexander Currens place, but further to the rear stood the veteran Georgians. Brig. Gen. Evander Law (who had succeeded Hood as division commander) personally supervised the Georgians in a timely counterattack, which principally involved swinging the right of his line around to pressure Merritt’s left. But the 7th, near the Emmitsburg road, also participated in the advance, according to a participant:

One extant account from the 7th is a postwar letter by Private William J. Hilburn of Company K (Digital Library of Georgia), which pertains to this action: “… [Corporal] David Wyatt and I tried to get Captain [Charles K.] Maddox to get behind a tree at Gettysburg, but he would not. [Maddox sustained a gunshot wound to his right hip on July 3.] One thing I was proud of there was I killed the man that wounded our old captain. Poor David was [mortally wounded] behind me as we charged up the hill to the rock wall.” [Wyatt died on July 10 in a Gettysburg hospital.]

The only other account that I have found is a letter written by 1st Lieutenant William H. Clayton, also of Company K, to his mother, about two weeks after the battle (Virginia Historical Society, Richmond): “The casualties in our company are Capt. Charlie Maddox slightly wounded and on his way home. Corpl. David H. Wyatt mortally wounded. Private Samuel Smith serious wounded [Smith was captured at Williamsport]. These men wounded on the 3t. of July near Gettysburg, Penn. …”

Merritt’s troopers withdrew after a brief contest. The 7th had again sustained only light casualties - two officers and seven enlisted men. On the morning of July 4, the brigade was moved back to the main line and erected breastworks, which they held until the retreat commenced. They sustained additional casualties in a skirmish at Funkstown, Maryland on July 10.

Present at Gettysburg:
Colonel William Wilkinson White; commanded brigade on and after July 3.
Lieutenant Colonel George H. Carmical.
Major M. T. Almon.
Adjutant J. Emmett Shaw.
Clerk to the Adjutant, Private William H. Niles.
Surgeon Joseph H. Ganahl (graduated in 1849 from Franklin College).
Assistant Surgeon Abraham C. North.
Medical Department, Private Patrick H. Pate.
Quartermaster (AQM) Captain Robert Kennedy Holliday (his nephew was John Henry “Doc” Holliday, of O.K. Corral fame - the son of his brother, Henry Burroughs Holliday, Quartermaster of the 27th Georgia).
Clerks to the Quartermaster, Privates Thomas D. Johnson and Henry A. Pattillo.
Quartermaster Sergeant William C. Green.
Commissary Captain (ACS) William L. Norman.
Commissary Sergeant Joseph R. Tucker.
Commissary Department (butcher), Private Virgil P. White.
Ordnance Sergeant John T. Peddy.
Sergeant Major John N. Brooks.
Musicians Robert T. Harris (drummer), William Stephens (drummer), and Thomas Wood.

Companies and their Captains:
A (“Coweta Guards” or “Coweta 2nd District Guards,” Coweta County) – William D. Lynch
B (Fulton County) – Reuben W. Satterfield.
C (“Paulding Volunteers,” Paulding County) – James N. Cooper.
D (Cobb County) – John F. Kiser.
E (“DeKalb Light Infantry,” DeKalb County) – James Hunter.
F (“Iverson Invincibles” or “Carroll Rangers,” Carroll County) – Julius C. Watkins.
G (“Franklin Volunteers,” Heard County) – Noah Smith Culpepper.
H (“Roswell Guards,” Cobb County) – Robert B. Hicks.
I (“Cobb Mountaineers” or “Cobb Volunteers,” Cobb County) – William J. Hudson.
K (“Davis Infantry,” Fulton County) – Charles K. Maddox (wounded).

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Aug 30, 2017
That's a nice write up on the 7th. As you said, compared the rest of Anderson's men, the records of the 7th are relatively intact. Btw, you'll soon have available more roster information than you ever wanted to know about the 7th, 8th, 9th and 11th Georgia. Trust me.

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