War Brings Tragedy to Historic Old Barnsley

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Barrycdog

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Looking ‘em Over
War Brings Tragedy to Historic Old Barnsley
by Thomas Spencer

It was on Wednesday, May 18, 1864, that the first of the line of tragedies struck at Barnsley Gardens. It was on that day that the gallant Alabama soldier, Colonel R.G. Earle, was killed just a few yards to the north of the Gardens.
The Civil War struck Bartow county on May 17, 1864--when the battle of Adairsville was fought. Sherman was marching south--his force divided in three armies, The Army of the Tennessee, The Army of the Ohio, and the Army of the Cumberland. About 100,000 strong, Joe Johnston, the master strategist, with about 50,000 men, was contesting Sherman’s every move.
On the morning of May 18th, Confederate cavalry, with Brigadier General Saml. W. Ferguson commanding, was just north of Barnsley. Ferguson’s Brigade consisted of the 2nd Alabama Cavalry, Col. R.G. Earle in command, the 56th Alabama, 9th and 11th Mississippi, the 12th Miss. Battalion, and the Scout Company of the 9th Miss. Cavalry.
Headed south, to fight this gallant band of Confederates, was the 2nd Division of the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Cumberland. This division was commanded by General Kenner Garrand, and consisted of the 1st Brigade under Col. R.H.G. Minty, the 4th Michigan, 7th Penn., and the 4th United States.The 3rd Brigade of mounted infantry, commanded by the famous Federal John T. Wilder, was made up of the 98th Illinois, the 123rd Illinois, and the 17th Indiana. The artillery was the Chicago Board of Trade Battery. All seasoned veterans.

Join Battle May 18
Early the morning of May 18th--Federals outnumbering the Confederates almost five to one--hit the Rebs north of Barnsley, and drove Ferguson’s force back onto Kingston. Here Ferguson reformed his brigade, and headed by Colonel Earle and his famous 2nd Alabama, started a drive that forced Federals back past Barnsley.
Time--that valuable element in success of victory--was an important factor now. French and his division were coming out of Rome--and in Kingston. Had the Federals managed to keep pushing the Confederates past Kingston, the story of Barnsley might have been different. The story of Cassville also would be a different one.
Headed by Colonel Earle, the Confederates drove the Federals back. Just north of Barnsley, the Federals decided to make a stand. Earle, knowing the danger of those living at Barnsley, took time to warn all that a battle was to be fought.

Col. Earle Killed
Earle then took command of his 2nd Alabama Cavalry--and in a charge on the Federal positions--he was killed while at the head of his gallant troops. No braver Confederate ever lived. His body was brought back to Barnsley--and buried under one of the windows in the rear of the main Barnsley home. In a few days the odor from the body was so strong that the Federals gave permission to remove the body from the house. He still sleeps in this grave.
Colonel Earle was a brave and gallant soldier. He had seen service in the Mexican War, and had won many victories before his death. He is often mentioned in official records for his gallantry in action. He was killed by Private Thomas H. Bonner, Company ‘’A’’ 98th Illinois, U.S.A. A new marble marker marks the grave of Earle; same having been placed on his grave by Miss Leila Darden of Kingston.

The old stone had the following inscription on it:
Col. R.G. Earle
2nd Regt. Alabama Cavalry
C.S.A.
Killed near this spot by U.S. Forces May 18, 1864. GSB--Asst. Surgeon CSA 164

The ‘’GSB’’ was evidently one of the Barnsley’s who erected the old grave marker.
General McPherson, Federal Commander, slept at Barnsley the night of May 18, 1864. Mary Quim, housekeeper for the Barnsley’s said of McPherson, ‘’He was a jintleman, but wan that’s in mighty low company.’’ (Quote from In-and-Out of the Lines--Frances Thomas Howard’s fine little book)

Irish Lady Takes Hand
Evidently Mary Quim was the ‘’fighting’’ Irish lady--for she kept the Federals from burning Barnsley. She fought off one of the Federals, and in the battle knocked out that soldier, though badly beaten by that soldier. McPherson ordered the house NOT burned.
Now, as to the pictures with this story. It is humbly suggested that all who are interested in the history of Bartow County, cut out this story--with the pictures--and keep in that valuable scrapbook. The pictures are certainly EXCLUSIVE with the Tribune. I do not think these have ever been in print--for I had the cuts made from articles found on the body of the gallant Earle.
One picture is that of the housekeeper for the Barnsleys--the gallant Mary Quim, the other is probably that of Mrs. Earle.

Finis?
This is supposed to be the ‘’last’’ of the Barnsley stories--but what of Charles Von Schwartz, the German, Godfrey Barnsley the Englishman, and of Baltzelle the Frenchman? And, what of those unmarked graves near the Barnsley home? Who is buried there? And, that of the ‘’voodooists’’ and the missing Barnsley hand? Where are the graves of the Confederates --who fell nearby? And, where are the graves of the Federals?
All this--and much more. Must I break my promise NOT to do any more Barnsley stories--or quit with this one? I leave it to you.

Tribune, 1951
Expired Image Removed
 

Northern Light

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So, did he tell the other stories, about the German and the Englishman and the Voodoo and the hand? Enquiring minds want to know!:giggle:
 
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cwhearrell

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Hello,

I am a research graduate at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, TX and I am currently assisting in a book about Col. Richard Earle. Previously, I came across the newspaper article you cited by Thomas Spencer, however, my copy was just a clipping and did not contain the full article like you have above. I am desperately trying to find pictures of Col. Earle and I know that Thomas Spencer wrote many articles (some of which may have contained Col. Earle's picture). Where are you finding these articles by Spencer? The only information I can find online directs me to go in person to a microfilm database in Athens, Georgia.... that is just not possible for me at this time.

If you have more articles by Spencer, or any more information pertaining to Richard Earle, could you please email me what you have?!

Thank you and I appreciate the many contributions you have made in preserving history through your posts.

--CW Hearrell
 

l.b.

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May 30, 2018
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I have a collection of information about Colonel Richard Gordon Earle while he lived in Jacksonville, Alabama.
 

l.b.

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Joined
May 30, 2018
Messages
2
Hello,

I am a research graduate at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, TX and I am currently assisting in a book about Col. Richard Earle. Previously, I came across the newspaper article you cited by Thomas Spencer, however, my copy was just a clipping and did not contain the full article like you have above. I am desperately trying to find pictures of Col. Earle and I know that Thomas Spencer wrote many articles (some of which may have contained Col. Earle's picture). Where are you finding these articles by Spencer? The only information I can find online directs me to go in person to a microfilm database in Athens, Georgia.... that is just not possible for me at this time.

If you have more articles by Spencer, or any more information pertaining to Richard Earle, could you please email me what you have?!

Thank you and I appreciate the many contributions you have made in preserving history through your posts.

--CW Hearrell
Are you still interested in Co. R. G. Earle?
 
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17 May 1864:

General Joseph E. Johnston and the Army of Tennessee 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 Johnston thought that he could set a trap for Maj. General William T. Sherman on what he considered to be a more defensible ground.

Later in the evening Brig. Samuel Wragg General Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade, to include Col. Richard G. Earle`s 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment, was 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 enclosed 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 advaned 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, were 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 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. Col. Josiah Brown Park of Col. 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. Col. 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 Federal 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 Brig. General Kenner Garrard`s 2nd Division was encamped to include; Col. Robert H. G. Minty and the remainder of his Saber Brigade, Col. John Thomas Wilder and his "Wilders 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 Brig. 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 Brigadier General Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade were ordered north a couple of miles back to Adairsville, Georgia to assist General Joseph E. Johnston`s Army there as they were engaging against the whole of General Sherman`s Army. Brig. 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, once again 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 exact fate was not known to his men 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 Maj. 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 Gordon 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 Gordon Earle, was shot from his mount and killed, Lt. Col. 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.

Below is a photo of Col. Richard Gordon Earle circa 1858, beloved fallen Commander of the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment. Before joining the Confederacy during the American Civil War he was a Colonel in the U. S. Army during the Mexican - American War (1846 - 1848) and was distinguished for his service during that War.

Col. Richard G. Earle (circa 1858).jpg
 
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