Col. Richard G. Earle, 2nd Alabama Cavalry, Killed In Action against "Wilders Lightning Brigade".

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Col. Richard G. Earle (1813 - 1864); 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment Commander: Born September 4, 1813, Walterboro, Colleton, S.C. Moved to Jacksonville, Alabama in the 1840`s. He was a Lawyer there by trade. He held the rank of Lt. Col. in the U. S. Army and distinguished himself while fighting the Mexican - American War (1846-1848). Capt. Company "A", 2nd Alabama Cavalry, February 24, 1862. Court-Martialed for not accepting Maj. Leroy Napier as his commander and imprisoned for several months but was eventually acquitted. Promoted to Colonel on May 27, 1863 and took over as the Regiment Commander of the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment after Col. John Porter West resigned near Canton, Mississippi just after Sherman`s Meridian Campaign was fought. He was considered as a "A skillful officer" by those under whom he served. KIA May 18, 1864 near Kingston, Ga. while leading a charge against the 72nd Indiana Cavalry (Wilders Lightning Brigade). Buried in the Gardens at "Woodland," North of Kingston. Middle name often given as Gordon.

Colonel Richard G. Earle and the Mexican - American War (1846-1848):

Colonel John R. Coffee’s regiment during the Mexican - American War was mustered into service in June 1846, at Mobile, by Walter Smith, Brigadier General and Mustering Officer. The completed muster of the regiment dates the 29th of June, 1846. The officers were John R. Coffee, Colonel; Richard G. Earle, Lieut.-Col.; Goode Bryan, Major; James D. Parke, Adjutant; A. H. Hughes, Quartermaster; John C. Anderson, Surgeon; Nesbitt, surgeon mate; Arithy B. Green, surgeon mate; with a non-commissioned staff of John B. Fuller, Sergeant Major, no quartermaster sergeant, Christopher Darrow, Drum Major; Joseph Anderson, Fife Major.

Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade arrived at Rome, Georgia from Alabama on the afternoon of May 13, 1864 after a week long forced march on Horseback from Elyton, Alabama (Birmingham). At this time Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade was comprised of the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment (Col. Richard G. Earle), the 56th Alabama Partisan Rangers (Col. William Boyles), the 12 Mississippi Cavalry Battalion (Col. William M. Inge), the 11th Mississippi Cavalry Regiment (Col. Robert O. Perrin) and the 9th Mississippi Cavalry Regiment (Col. Horace Miller). Captain Thomas Flournoy (Sanders' Tennessee Battalion) was the Scout Company for Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade from this time until the end of the war and 1st Lt. Muldrow was the Provost Marshall of the Brigade. Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade was reported as having a strength of 2,000 Cavalrymen on the day that they arrived at Rome, Georgia.

On the day that they arrived to Rome, Georgia without being given a chance to rest, within hours they were immediately ordered to Calhoun, Georgia a little past Midnight on May 14, 1864 by General Joseph E. Johnston where the Campaign for Atlanta / Dalton, Georgia had already commenced and was well underway. Hours later they had positioned themselves on the road from Calhoun to Rome just a few miles outside of Calhoun, Georgia. The 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment was reported as being under the direct command of Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade in Brig. General William Hicks "Red Fox" Jackson`s Cavalry Division and would remain as such for the majority of the Campaign.

14 May 1864:

The 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment arrived at Calhoun, Georgia just 5 miles south of Resaca, Georgia on the early morning, they were positioned just outside of Calhoun south of Resaca on the road between there and Rome just south of Tanners Ferry along the Oostanaula River.

RESACA, GA., May 14, 1864.

Brigadier-General JACKSON, Rome, Ga.:

The lieutenant-general commanding directs that you assume command of Armstrong's, Ferguson's, and Ross' cavalry brigades and keep yourself in readiness for orders. Forage will be sent from here. In mean while get all yon can around Rome, and communicate with Major Peters, chief quartermaster at Selma, Ala., for forage, and Major Francis, commissary of subsistence, at Bine Mountain, for subsistence.

D. WEST,
Acting Assistant Adjutant- General.
RESACA, GA., May 14, 1864 - midnight.


Brigadier-General JACKSON, Rome, Ga.:

Your written orders of today are revoked. You will move the whole, of your division on Calhoun at once. Ferguson must start tonight. Send your trains to Kingston. This movement requires the utmost dispatch.

L. POLK,
Lieutenant-General.


15 May 1864:

Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade was reported as having repulsed the enemy south of Resaca between the town limits and Rome, Georgia in what became known as the Battle of Farmer's Bridge and Armuchee Creek after the enemy crossed the Oostanaula river earlier at Tanner`s and Dobbin`s Ferry`s which consisted of 2,300 union troops attached to Union Colonel Robert H. G. Minty`s Saber Brigade who were some of the first Union Forces to be assigned the Spencer seven shot repeating rifles.

Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade and Colonel Lawrence S. Ross` Texas Cavalry Brigade fought specifically against the 7th Pennsylvania Mounted Cavalry under Colonel William B. Sipes and Colonel Josiah B. Parks with the 4th Michigan Cavalry who were both regiments in Colonel Robert H.G. Minty`s Saber Brigade, the fighting was reported 8 miles north of the town of Rome at Farmers Bridge along the Rome and Calhoun Road.

Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson reported that his Cavalry Brigade repulsed the enemy after a few hours of heavy fighting had occurred between the two opposing forces resulting in Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade driving Colonel Robert H. G. Minty`s Saber Brigade back towards Resaca all the way to Tanners Ferry where the Yankees originally crossed the Oostanaula river coming from, just south of Resaca a few days before.

The fighting was hard and heavy throughout the Resaca Campaign. By 9:30 PM Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade to include the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment, had retired for the night after 2 long days of constant fighting and were encamped 6 miles below Calhoun, Georgia on the road to Rome due south of Resaca.

CALHOUN, May 15, 1861 - 9.30 p. m.

Lieutenant-General POLK :

General Ferguson with his brigade is in camp six miles below Calhoun, on the Rome road. He has reported to me enemy repulsed at Rome today retired. The force was 2,300.

WILL. T. MARTIN,
Major-General.


16 May 1864:

Following the Battle of Resaca General Joseph E. Johnston and his Army of Tennessee was forced to retreat south of Resaca to Calhoun, Georgia where the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment had been operating and skirmishing with the enemy for two days and was looking for a suitable position just south of there where he could dig in and put up a strong defense against the enemy and as they did this General Sherman gave chase while skirmishing and engaging with General Johnston`s Forces with the Rebel Cavalry, to include Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade, whom at that point had been ordered by General Joseph E. Johnston to fight a rear guard action while the Rebel Infantry, retreated south from Resaca towards Adairsville, Georgia after the Battle of Resaca had been waged.

After General Joseph E. Johnston failed in finding a suitable defensive position south of Calhoun with Sherman pressing him he moved further south to Adairsville, Georgia where he was able to dig in and prepare to make a stand against General Sherman`s troops again.

17 May 1864:

General Joseph E. Johnston had completed their retreat from Adairsville, Georgia, where they had dug trenches the day prior to meet the enemy but feeling that the earthworks were to weak they pulled back further south towards Cassville, Georgia and entrenched themselves there through out the day in front of the town where General Joseph E. Johnston thought that he could set a trap for Union Major General William T. Sherman on what he considered to be a more defensible ground.

Later in the evening Brig. General Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade, to include the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment, were ordered to fight a rear guard action as the Army of Tennessee under the command of General Joseph E. Johnston was completing their retreat from Adairsville, Georgia having withdrawn south to Cassville Station, Georgia in search of more formidable ground on which to stand and fight with the enemy. Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade went into camp at Humes` Plantation for the night.

HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY BRIGADE,

Humes' Plantation, three miles from Rome, May 17, 1861 - 8.30 p. m.

Major-General FRENCH, Commanding, Rome, Ga.:

GENERAL: I today received orders from General Jackson to guard river and country between it and the left of General Morgan's brigade, connecting with Morgan on my right and Ross on my left. The withdrawal of these two officers to Rome compelled me to fall back, too, as the enemy at once attempted to get round me on each flank. I have left a picket at Bell's Ferry, and will camp here tonight, if possible. My horses have not been unsaddled nor fed since yesterday, and are worn down. Please let me know the condition of affairs at Rome, and do me the favor of sending the inclosed telegram to General Polk to let him know where I am.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. W. FERGUSON,
Brigadier- General.


18 May 1864:

The day began very abruptly for the troopers of Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade when three companies of the 17th Indiana Mounted Cavalry led by Major Jacob G. Vail advanced on the vicinity of their position. These union forces were part of the infamous "Wilders Lightning Brigade" commanded by Colonel John Thomas Wilder of the 4th Division, XIV U. S. Army Corps, who along with Colonel Robert H. G. Minty`s Saber Brigade shared the distinction of being one of the very first Union Cavalry Brigades in the Civil War who were fighting not with Belgian Rifles but rather with Spencer 7 shot repeating Rifles (and Sharps rifles), which at that time was cutting edge technology. Major Jacob G. Vail and 4 companies of the 17th Indiana Cavalry from "Wilders Lightning Brigade" were cutting telegraph wires and tearing up R/R tracks between Rome and Kingston, Georgia when they unexpectedly came across Brigadier General Samuel Wragg Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade coming out of Kingston as they neared an unguarded bridge. The 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment, who was leading Brig. General Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade at the head of his column, being led by Col. Richard G. Earle, was given the order to deploy and charge and that they did reportedly routing the four companies of "Wilders Lightning Brigade" and giving chase to them back towards Rome for quite a few miles before breaking off the skirmish.

This is what Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson wrote in his journal regarding how the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment under his command acted as they fought during the engagements against the enemy on this day:

"I encountered Colonel John T. Wilders Lightning Brigade as they were approaching a bridge which was unguarded. The 2nd Alabama Cavalry (Col. R. G. Earle) were at the head of my column and I ordered them to deploy and charge; this they did in handsome style, routing the enemy and chasing them for several miles and capturing about 50 of their white horses".

Only an hour or so later Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade attacked Lt. Colonel Josiah Brown Park of Colonel Robert H. G. Minty`s Saber Brigade (Fourth Michigan Cavalry) and engaged them 2 miles from Kingston, Georgia giving chase to them and driving them all the way back to Woodlands, Georgia. Earlier Lt. Colonel Josiah B. Park and his 4th Michigan Cavalry had given chase to a few Confederate Cavalry Scouts around their base camp of Woodland, Georgia just south of Adairsville towards Kingston, Georgia when they unexpectedly came across Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade where immediate skirmishing ensued when the Yankee Cavalry were then forced to return in retreat in haste back to Woodland, Georgia from whence they came. They returned back to their base camp where the whole of Union Brigadier General Kenner Garrard`s 2nd Division was encamped to include; Colonel Robert H. G. Minty and the remainder of his Saber Brigade, Colonel John Thomas Wilder and his "Lightning Brigade" and then Brig. General Judson Kilpatrick and his Cavalry Brigade, all of whom were dismounted and entrenched amongst infantry and a battery of artillery at Barnsley`s Manor in Woodlands, Georgia.

Once Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade, to include the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment, arrived there they began to attack the enemy as they were entrenched in their breastworks, the fighting was reported as being heavy and went on for a few hours until Brigadier General Samuel Wragg Ferguson pulled back their attack. But during the fighting, unbeknownst to anyone, the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment had lost their Regiment Commander, Colonel Richard G. Earle, who was killed by Private Thomas H. Boner, a sharpshooter with Company "A", Ninety-eighth Illinois Volunteers who was part of "Wilders Lightning Brigade". From there Brig. General Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade were ordered north a couple of miles back to Adairsville, Georgia to assist General Joseph E. Johnston`s Army of Tennessee there as they were engaging against the whole of General Sherman`s Army. Brigadier General Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade was requested to fight another rear guard action to protect General Joseph E. Johnston`s Army of Tennessee as they repositioned further south to Cassville Station, Georgia.

When Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade started back they made Camp at Humes Plantation 3 miles north of Rome and south of Calhoun, it was only then that they discovered their Regiment Commander, Col. Richard G. Earle was missing. His fate was not known for months, when some exchanged prisoners later reported that he was killed a considerable distance ahead of his Regiment. Actually he was killed while attempting to warn a very close family friend who lived near by, that being Mr. Godfrey Barnsley at his Manor located at Woodlands, Georgia and was shot from his mount.

When General James B. McPherson (U. S. Army) later arrived on the grounds, Mr. Godfrey Barnsley asked permission to bury his friend on his Estate behind the Manor. The General granted the request. Colonel Richard G. Earle (2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment Commander) was buried in the Gardens located behind the Barnsley Manor by his friend, Mr. Godfrey Barnsley. After Colonel Richard Greene Earle, was shot from his mount and killed, Lt. Colonel John Newsome Carpenter was given a Battle field promotion to the rank of Full Colonel as he assumed Command of the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment as they quickly headed south to Cassville Station to meet the enemy.

19 May 1864:

While Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade was skirmishing with the enemy between Cassville Station and Adairsville, Georgia, Johnston`s Army of Tennessee had dug themselves great defensive entrenchments and breastworks in Cassville, Georgia in an effort to bait a trap for General Sherman`s forces but in confusion based on a false rumor that they had been out flanked by General Sherman`s Forces around 11 AM they were ordered to fall back to another position which required them to dig again more trenches and it was from this less favorable ground which saw them trading artillery fire with the enemy throughout the night over the mostly deserted houses in the small town of Cassville, Georgia.

20 May 1864:

While the Army of Tennessee was fortifying their new position along the Etowah River in the direction of Cartersville, Georgia, Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade found themselves in a hard fought battle from their position at the R/R Bridge Crossing the Etowah River while covering the retreat of the Confederate Army as they fought a fierce rear guard action covering the retreat of the Confederate Army.

As soon as the Army of Tennessee were across the R/R Bridge at noon the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment was ordered by Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson to burn the Etowah River Bridge to prevent Maj. General Sherman`s Cavalry from crossing there and giving chase to the Army of Tennessee as they retreated along the Etowah River south towards Cartersville, Georgia.

21 May 1864:

Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade was positioned around Raccoon Creek between Milam`s and Wooley`s Bridges. The enemy attacked Confederate Colonel Jones` position as well as Major Bates with the 9th Texas Cavalry Regiment and was seriously injured by the enemy. The 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment was reported burning Milam`s bridge to resist the enemies attempts to cross the river.

22 May 1864:

Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade was reported as picketing the Etowah River as far as Rome, Georgia as they were operating and strengthening the flank of Brig. General Lawrence S. Ross` Texas Cavalry Brigade and General Frank C. Armstrong`s Cavalry Regiment close to the burned out Bridge which was over Milam`s Creek.

23 May 1864:

On this day just after being notified that the enemy`s cavalry had successfully crossed the Etowah River at Stilesboro, Georgia and were advancing on their position General Joseph E. Johnston and the Army of Tennessee decided to give up their defensive position, fearing being out flanked by the enemy, and head further south. This would bring them to the vicinity of New Hope Church where a great Battle would ensue in a couple of days.

While heading towards New Hope Church, Brig. General Ferguson spotted more than 5,000 Union Infantry and Cavalry forces crossing the Etowah River on Pontoon Bridges erected by the U.S. Engineer Corps where Milam`s Bridge was burned by the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment just a couple of days before close to Raccoon Creek. Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson still had his pickets set out on the Etowah River supporting the position of Brigadier General Lawrence S. Ross and his Texas Cavalry Brigade while General Sherman`s Forces were making their river crossing.

The irony of course regarding the death of Col. Richard G. Earle was that early on 18 May 1864 it was the first time during the War the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment, as well as Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson for the matter, had fought against various components of "Wilders Lightning Brigade" and Col. R. G. Earle routed them capturing 50 of their famous white horses. But just a few hours later, by days end, John Thomas Wilder and Robert H. G. Minty got the last laugh with the death of Col. Richard G. Earle. Through the Atlanta Campaign the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment as part of Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade would often fight against Wilders Lightning Brigade and Col. Robert H. G. Minty`s Saber Brigade, which resulted in quite a few saber charges being dutifully performed between them during the campaign.

Photo below: Col. Richard G. Earle, 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment Commander circa 1858 at Jacksonville, Alabama.

Col. Richard G. Earle, 2nd Alabama Cavalry Commander....jpg


Photo below: One of the troopers of Col. John T. Wilders Lightning Brigade on one of their famous white horses.

WilderBrigade3.jpg


John Thomas Wilder (Wilders Lightning Brigade).jpg
 
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#2
Substantiating accounts from the Official Record regarding the fight on 18 May 1864 near Kingston, Georgia which resulted in Col. Richard G. Earle of the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment being killed in action that day.

Report of Lieut. Col. Josiah B. Park, Fourth Michigan Cavalry, of skirmish (May 18) near Kingston, Ga.

Headquarters Fourth Michigan Cavalry,

May 21, 1864.

Sir : I have the honor to report that, in compliance with verbal order of the colonel commanding brigade, I reported to General Garrard, with Companies L, F, M, K, E, H, and B, numbering 284 men and 17 officers, at Woodland, about seven miles northwest of Kingston, Ga., at about 1 p. m. on 18th instant. The general directed me to proceed toward Kingston, ascertain what was there, and, if not meeting resistance too strong, to go into the place, sending Captain Kennedy, assistant adjutant-general, to direct me. I moved out with my command immediately, and after leaving our pickets three-quarters of a mile, came upon the enemy's pickets. We drove them rapidly about two and a half miles, when we came to a road turning directly to the right: the enemy taking both roads, and being uncertain which led to Kingston, I left Company M to guard the one turning to the right, and proceeded with the balance of the command on the road straight forward. The Third Battalion, under Major Grant, was then about 300 yards in advance, Companies H and B deployed as skirmishers. Upon advancing, they immediately engaged the enemy, in vastly superior numbers, and almost without a moment's notice I found myself outflanked and nearly surrounded. I directed Companies F and L, under Major Robbins, to charge a line of the enemy advancing rapidly on my left, which they did in gallant style, driving them over the hill. At the same time I withdrew the Third Battalion, forming into line about 200 yards to the rear. Major Robbins fell back a few yards and reformed, received the enemy again, and drove them back a second time, receiving a severe wound in the left arm, which rendered him incapable of retaining further command. Now the fighting became fierce and desperate, charge after charge received, and as often repulsed. I found it impossible to hold a given line longer than to deliver a single volley. In this manner we fought our way back five miles, contending with a brigade on our flanks and rear, and much of the time completely surrounded.

My casualties are : 3 officers wounded and 1 captured ; enlisted men, killed, 3 ; wounded, 9 ; captured, 9 ; aggregate, 25. 34 horses killed, wounded, and missing. The enemy's loss must have been severe ; 5 were seen to fall at a single volley, and 7 others were seen to fall within a few yards of our lines. Colonel Earle, Second Alabama Cavalry, fell within a short distance of Colonel Wilder's line.
It was impossible to note the gallantry of one officer more than another; all did their duty nobly, continually cheering on their men and restraining them from falling back in confusion. I rejoined the command about 6 p. m.

J. B. PARK,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Comdg. Fourth Michigan Cavalry


Headquarters Second Cavalry Division (U. S. Army), Woodland, On,, May 18, 1864.

Sir : I have the honor to report that my command moved from camp on the Oostenaula at daylight this morning, passing rapidly through McGuire's ; thence down the Rome road to Hermitage ; thence to Woodland, arriving at the latter place at 12 m.
Near this place six companies of the Seventeenth Indiana, under Lieutenant Colonel Jordan, were detached to cut the railroad and telegraph wire from Rome to Kingston, which was accomplished. They also captured a wagon and 3 rebel soldiers. The railroad was cut near the mouth of Bradley Creek. It is reported that there are several trains of cars cut off on the Rome side. From Woodland Major Vail, with four companies of Seventeenth Indiana, was sent to cut the telegraph between Adairsville and Kingston, two miles north of Kingston. They skirmished up to the railroad, and under the fire of a rebel battery cut the telegraph wire. Both of these parties belonged to Colonel Wilders brigade and acted under the special orders of Colonel Wilder, commanding brigade, who was charged with the execution of that duty. Colonel Park, with seven companies Fourth Michigan, of Colonel Minty's brigade, was sent on the direct road to Kingston, with orders to proceed as far as he could, and drive in everything before him. He proceeded to within about a mile of Kingston, skirmishing and driving in the pickets, when he came upon a very strong line of infantry and cavalry, and was forced to fall back. He was warmly engaged, and closely followed by the enemy, until he reached my line of battle, where the enemy were easily repulsed.

My loss is not now known, but 1 major is captured, 1 major severely wounded, and 1 lieutenant severely and 1 slightly wounded, besides a number of men wounded and 2 reported killed of the Fourth Michigan. Reports not yet having been received from the brigades, it is impossible to state the exact loss. The loss of the enemy is not known, but Colonel Earle, Second Alabama Cavalry, was killed by Private Boner, Company A, Ninety-eighth Illinois Volunteers, in a charge made by the enemy againt my dismounted line, in which the enemy were handsomely repulsed.

During the whole time I was at Woodland engaged in these operations I was entirely disconnected with the main army, and could not open communication with General McPherson. In every direction I sent out from my position my scouts encountered rebel pickets.
I was not aware that the rebel army had left Adairsville until the arrival of General McPherson this evening. From information received to-day from negroes and prisoners, the bridge over the Oostenaula at Rome was burned to-day at 11 a. m., and that the place was attacked yesterday by some of our forces. Result not known. I have every reason to believe that Rome is almost entirely evacuated, as we followed within a few hours to this point a brigade of infantry and one of cavalry. Captain Pritchard, Fourth Michigan Cavalry, with a battalion of that regiment, made a reconnaissance to within a few miles of Rome, meeting no pickets.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Kenner Garrard,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Division.


May 18, at Woodland, northwest of Kingston, General Garrard ordered one battalion, Fourth Michigan to move down the Kingston road, and as the enemy was in full retreat, to charge whatever they found. Lieutenant Colonel Park met the enemy within one mile of Woodland, and drove them sharply to within two miles of Kingston, where he ran into a force of infantry, and at same time was attacked in rear and on both flanks by the whole of Ferguson's brigade of cavalry. Colonel Park fought his way back to Woodland, losing 4 officers and 24 enlisted men.

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
ROBT. H. G. MINTY,
Colonel, Commanding Brigade.
 
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#3
Below is a period map of the area which will give you a much better idea of where all of the fighting occurred by the various parties involved from 14 May 1864 - 24 May 1864. Woodlands where Col. Richard G. Earle was killed is located with-in the red boundaries just north-west of Kingston.

Rome Georgia Map to include Woodland`s.jpg
 
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The following is a very good account that details the days fighting in and around Woodlands, leading up to the death of Col. Richard G. Earle. The account comes from: "CIVIL WAR AND RECONSTRUCTION ERA, CASS/BARTOW COUNTY, GEORGIA" compiled and written by Keith Scott Hébert regarding his research of this Campaign from the "official record" and other available sources. This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of Auburn University in partial fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctorate of Philosophy, Auburn, Alabama May 10, 2007:

"Sometime before noon on May 18, 1864, skirmishers detached from four companies of the 17th Indiana Cavalry reached Spring Bank. Major Jacob Vail had orders to cut the telegraph wire near Kingston. While most of Hardee’s Corps had already moved through Kingston, Samuel Ferguson’s cavalry remained at Spring Bank, determined to hamper the enemy’s progress. Confederates installed a battery atop a small hill located directly across from the W&A and Spring Bank’s upper gate while dismounted cavalrymen formed on the lawn. As soon as Vail’s advance units appeared along the crest of the road, the battery opened fire, scattering the enemy into a roadside thicket. The 17th Indiana Cavalry reached the railroad located directly in front of the enemy battery where they successfully cut the telegraph wire. Having achieved their mission, the unit slowly retreated toward Woodlands where they rendezvoused with Brigadier General Kenner Garrard’s 2nd Cavalry Division.

While the 17th Indiana Cavalry fell back, seven companies from the 4th Michigan Cavalry, Colonel Robert H. G. Minty’s brigade, received orders from Garrard “to proceed” toward Kingston “as far as he could, and drive everything before him.” Sherman’s horsemen managed to get within a mile of the town before encountering the Confederate rear guard. Ferguson had anticipated that Federal commanders would send reconnaissance units toward Kingston. He accordingly stationed his soldiers along both sides of the Kingston road, using the forest for cover, and behind an improvised breastwork that blocked the enemy’s path. When the men of the 4th Michigan Cavalry encountered the well-protected Confederates, they quickly realized that they were outgunned and outnumbered. Sergeant Albert Potter, Co. B, described the scene: “I had my men deployed as skirmishers on the left on a hill our attention all directed to the front when a regiment of rebels came charging around to my left and rear. Yelling like incarnate fiends."

The Confederates had outflanked and “nearly surrounded” the 4th Michigan. Lieutenant Colonel J. B. Park ordered companies F and L, under the command of Major Richard Robbins, to charge in order to break through the rebel lines. Robbins’s men crashed into the Confederate cavalry pushing them back 200 yards. This enabled the remainder of the 4th Michigan to fall back and reform their lines. After an exhausting push, Robbins’s men slowly fell back; however, as the enemy cavalry reformed and again advanced, companies F and L, without orders, again charged into the rebel lines, again forcing them to retreat. For five miles, the 4th Michigan rapidly formed their lines, fired a single volley, and then retired several hundred yards, only to repeat the entire process. When the retreating Federals reached Woodlands, their numerical deficiencies disappeared as they rejoined their division. During the five mile retreat, their regiment
suffered 25 casualties.


At Woodlands, Godfrey Barnsley had spent the morning listening to Federal artillery dislodging Wheeler’s rear guard along the Kingston road. Hoping to convince the enemy that he was a neutral British citizen innocently caught in the midst of a foreign rebellion, he raised a prodigious British flag over his mansion. Barnsley’s efforts to proclaim his neutrality, however, were quickly spoiled when Colonel John T. Wilder’s scouts spotted the Englishman talking to a group of Confederate cavalry officers and offering them spring water.

By mid-afternoon, Confederate and Federal armies surrounded the entire estate. As Confederate cavalry pursued the 4th Michigan, they slammed into Garrard’s 2nd Division, Cavalry Corps, which had arrived at Woodlands around noon. Along the lower valley situated west of the main house, remnants of two Confederate cavalry brigades fought a prolonged action against a vastly numerically superior foe.
The Confederates managed to capture 135 prisoners and kill approximately twenty-eight enemy soldiers. Outnumbered and without artillery support or possible reinforcements, the Confederates withdrew from Woodlands southward toward Kingston.


During the fight, Colonel Richard Earle of the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment attempted to warn the Barnsley family to seek shelter in the wine cellar. While returning to his unit from the mansion, the colonel encountered Federal soldiers who were pushing toward the Confederate lines. Unable to flee the pursing enemy, Earle stood his ground. After an intense period of hand-to-hand combat, during which time the officer was apparently shot several times, the Alabamian died at the hands of his enemy. The following day, Barnsley received permission from Union commanders to bury the fallen colonel.

Army of the Tennessee commander Major General James B. McPherson arrived at Woodlands shortly after the skirmish ended. He promptly met with Barnsley and guaranteed him that his home would not be disturbed. That night, according to Coker, “McPherson rested quietly in the cottage on Godfrey Barnsley’s prominent hill.” While the general slept, Federal soldiers broke into the Englishman’s wine cellar and stole more than 2,000 bottles of wine, brandy, and whiskey. Others stripped the upper kitchen bare, stealing food, utensils, and imported china. Soldiers indeed took everything from Woodlands’ nine cellars except several barrels of rice. “If you ever have any friends about to fall into [enemy] hands,” advised Jane Howard, “advise them to lay in a stock of rice, for a Yankee cannot be induced to touch it.” While Barnsley suffered a tremendous loss of property, by remaining at his home, his estate escaped catastrophic damage."

The above passage was taken from pages 219-222 of the dissertation compiled by Keith Scott Hébert and submitted to the Graduate Faculty of Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama. Follow the link below to a PDF which covers his entire dissertation, he wrote a lot giving well researched and very detailed information regarding this timeline of events as well as others regarding the ACW. It is worth a read for sure.

https://etd.auburn.edu/bitstream/handle/10415/1373/HEBERT_KEITH_56.pdf?sequence=1
 
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