On Oct 3, 1861, 17 year old Thomas Harris Sparks, and several of his brothers, enlisted into the local unit organized in Sandersville, Washington County, GA. The unit was known as the "Jackson Guards" and became Co B 1st Georgia State Troops. They served 6 months in Georgia, guarding Federal Prisoners at Macon. Thomas mustered out April 3, 1862. On May 8, 1862, the unit was reorganized as Co B of the 59th Georgia Infantry and sent to Virginia. In July 1862, Thomas was appointed regimental "Drummer" of the 59th Georgia. *
As activity intensified in the Spring of 1863, the 59th was assigned to Brig Gen G T "Tige" Anderson's brigade of Hood's Division. His brother, William, died of disease at Rapidan, Va in the Spring of 1863 and, another brother, Stephen was killed at Gettysburg. Thomas was wounded by GSW and captured while serving as a nurse in the hospitals after the Battle of Gettysburg. He was released Nov. 12, 1863 at West's Building US Hospital |*** and paroled until exchanged Nov 17, 1863.
Thomas returned to his regiment and was present at the Battle of Cold Harbor. During that battle, he became separated from his drum, but survived that battle and all the rest to surrender at Appomattox.**** After the Battle of Cold Harbor, the drum was picked up by a Union soldier as a souvenir of the battle and carried home.
And so the drummer remained separated from the drum for 52 years, until 1916, when the Georgia Adjutant General received a letter from William F. Scott of New York seeking to return the drum to the drummer whose name was inscribed upon it "T. H. Sparks" if he was still alive or to a member of his family. Inquiries were posted in all the Georgia newspapers. Thomas H Sparks responded immediately and negotiated the purchase of the drum for $15 plus the cost of shipping. In January 1916, the drum arrived in Sandersville Georgia, remarkably well-preserved save a bullet hole suffered at Cold Harbor. Today, although barely escaping a fire, the drum is on display at the Washington County GA Historical Society in Sandersville, GA.
The original inscription on the drum under the name "T H Sparks" looks like it says "4th Ga Vols CSA" so it is possible that the drum previously belonged to that regiment of Dole's brigade?
* William Rawlings as published in Georgia Backroads
** Find-A-Grave https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/28028317/thomas-harris-sparks
*** Carded Records at Fold3.com
**** Busey and Busey Confederate Casualties at Gettysburg, p. 380. https://books.google.com/books?id=MbzDDQAAQBAJ&pg=PA380&lpg=PA380&dq=Thomas+Sparks+drummer+4th+Georgia+Vols&source=bl&ots=5bKqOfnkwF&sig=o0leT2vN-NT2zqHQ0a1Afm6xzU4&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjhgPHW-4_YAhXHdSYKHaokB2oQ6AEIUjAH#v=onepage&q=Thomas Sparks drummer 4th Georgia Vols&f=false