Sunday, April 7, 2013

The "Bartow Guards" a/k/a Company E, Georgia 31st Infantry Regiment: The Nowell Brothers, my 3rd cousins 4x removed

Georgia "State Rights" Banner from 1860

The Georgia 31st Infantry Regiment completed its organization in November of 1861 at Cusseta, Georgia.  Its men were recruited from the Counties of Muscogee, Chattahoochee, Monroe, Bartow, Pulaski, Dawson, and Newton.  An attorney and State Senator from Stewart County, Georgia named Clement Anselm Evans helped organize the Volunteer Company that would later become Company E a/k/a the "Bartow Guards". 

Clement Anslem Evans

Evans was commissioned Major of the Georgia 31st Infantry Regiment on November 19, 1861.  The Regiment was ordered to Richmond, Virginia where they were assigned to Brigadier General Alexander Robert Lawton's Brigade. 

Brigadier General Alexander Robert Lawton

In the Spring of 1862, Lawton's Brigade participated in Stonewall Jackson's Shenandoah Valley Campaign where they marched 646 miles in 48 days and defeated two separate Union armies. 

On May 13, 1862, Major Evans was promoted to Colonel and took command of the Georgia 31st Infantry Regiment.    Colonel Evans and the Georgia 31st Infantry Regiment participated in the Seven Days Battles, Second Manassas and Sharpsburg a/k/a Antietam.  General Lawton was seriously wounded on the morning of September 17, 1862 during the Battle of Antietam, effectively ending his field command for the duration of the war.  Lawton was initially carried to a nearby field hospital to recover, but ended up being sent home to Georgia to recuperate.   In August of 1863, General Lawton became the second Quartermaster General for the Confederacy. 

In General Lawton's absence, Colonel Evans assumed command of Lawton's Brigade from September - November of 1862.  Following the Battle of Fredericksburg in December of 1862, Lawton's Brigade was reassigned to the command of Brigadier General John Brown Gordon. 

Brigadier General John Brown Gordon

In June of 1863, while attached to General Jubal A. Early's Division, Gordon led his Georgia Brigade in the Confederate invasion of Pennsylvania.  His Brigade occupied Wrightsville, Pennsylvania on the Susquehanna River, which was the farthest eastern point in Pennsylvania that any organized Confederate troops during the campaign. 

On July 1, 1863, during the Battle of Gettysburg, Gordon's Brigade clashed with the Federal XI Corps on Barlow's Knoll.  There, Gordon aided the wounded opposing Division commander, Major General Francis Barlow. 

Federal Major General Francis Channing Barlow

This action led to a story which was recanted by both Barlow and Gordon, about both officers later meeting in Washington D.C., neither knowing that either had survived the war.  An account of the story was written in several Magazines and John Brown Gordon's book "Reminiscences of the Civil War".
"Seated at Clarkson Potter's table, I asked Barlow: "General, are you related to the Barlow who was killed at Gettysburg?" He replied: "Why, I am the man, sir. Are you related to the Gordon who killed me?" "I am the man, sir," I responded. No words of mine can convey any conception of the emotions awakened by those startling announcements. Nothing short of an actual resurrection from the dead could have amazed either of us more. Thenceforward, until his untimely death in 1896, the friendship between us which was born amidst the thunders of Gettysburg was greatly cherished by both."
The Georgia 31st Infantry Regiment lost more than 25% of the 252 engaged at the Battle of Gettysburg.  During the Battle, Colonel Evans assumed command of the Regiment while General Gordon took command of the Division.  Evans also assumed command of the Brigade in 1864 during the fighting in the Wilderness and Spotsylvania, while Gordon again commanded the Division.  Colonel Evans was finally promoted to Brigadier General in May of 1864 and assumed permanent command of the Brigade.  General Gordon assumed permanent command of the Division. 

During the Battle of Spotsylvania in May of 1864, Gordon's troops succeeded in turning back the massive assault Federal assault at the "Bloody Angle", which prevented a Confederate rout.   In June of 1864, Evans led the Georgia Brigade during the Confederate rout at Cold Harbor.  Following the victory, General Evans' Brigade was again attached to General Jubal A. Early's Division just in time for the Valley Campaign.   Evans was wounded during the Battle of Monocacy on July 9, 1864.  Following his recovery, he commanded John Brown Gordon's Division during the Siege of Petersburg through the Confederate surrender at Appomattox.  General Gordon had been wounded on August 25, 1864 during a skirmish in Shepardstown, West Virginia.   He returned to duty after General Early's defeat at the Battle of Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864.  Gordon led the Second Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia until the end of the war. 

Gordon commanded Evans to lead the last charge of the Army of Northern Virginia before it was surrendered at Appomattox Court House.  During the charge, Evans troops captured Federal entrenchments, and several pieces of Artillery.  Gordon's troops officially surrendered to Brevet Major General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain on April 12, 1865.  Chamberlain had the following to say in his post war recollection, "The Passing of the Armies":

"The momentous meaning of this occasion impressed me deeply. I resolved to mark it by some token of recognition, which could be no other than a salute of arms. Well aware of the responsibility assumed, and of the criticisms that would follow, as the sequel proved, nothing of that kind could move me in the least. The act could be defended, if needful, by the suggestion that such a salute was not to the cause for which the flag of the Confederacy stood, but to its going down before the flag of the Union. My main reason, however, was one for which I sought no authority nor asked forgiveness. Before us in proud humiliation stood the embodiment of manhood: men whom neither toils and sufferings, nor the fact of death, nor disaster, nor hopelessness could bend from their resolve; standing before us now, thin, worn, and famished, but erect, and with eyes looking level into ours, waking memories that bound us together as no other bond;—was not such manhood to be welcomed back into a Union so tested and assured? Instructions had been given; and when the head of each division column comes opposite our group, our bugle sounds the signal and instantly our whole line from right to left, regiment by regiment in succession, gives the soldier's salutation, from the "order arms" to the old "carry"—the marching salute. Gordon at the head of the column, riding with heavy spirit and downcast face, catches the sound of shifting arms, looks up, and, taking the meaning, wheels superbly, making with himself and his horse one uplifted figure, with profound salutation as he drops the point of his sword to the boot toe; then facing to his own command, gives word for his successive brigades to pass us with the same position of the manual,—honor answering honor. On our part not a sound of trumpet more, nor roll of drum; not a cheer, nor word nor whisper of vain-glorying, nor motion of man standing again at the order, but an awed stillness rather, and breath-holding, as if it were the passing of the dead!"

Two of my ancestors served in the "Bartow Guards" a/k/a Company E, Georgia 31st Infantry Regiment.  They were both brothers from Georgia. 

Arthur F. Nowell was born in Damascus, Early County Georgia on April 18, 1836.  He is my 3rd cousin 4x removed.  Arthur was one of five brothers who served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.  His younger brother George W. F. Nowell also served in the "Bartow Guards".  Arthur's four older brothers all served in different Confederate Regiments.  William Arnold Nowell served in Company L, Georgia 3rd Infantry Regiment.  William Benjamin Nowell served in Company D, Georgia 10th Infantry Battalion.  Archibald Marion Nowell served in Company I, Alabama 46th Infantry Regiment.  Henry C. Nowell served in Company D, Georgia 2nd State Line Infantry Regiment.  Their father, Luke Smithy Nowell, my 2nd cousin 5x removed, was a veteran of the War of 1812, having served as a Private in McDonald's 1st North Carolina Militia.  By 1830, Luke and his family had relocated from North Carolina and settled in Georgia.

Arthur enlisted as a Private in the "Bartow Guards" a/k/a Company E, Georgia 31st Infantry Regiment on November 13, 1861 in Weston, Webster County, Georgia.  He was 25 years old at the time of his enlistment.  

1st Muster for Arthur

He was listed as present and accounted for through December of 1862.  Arthur was wounded in the left hand at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia on December 13, 1862. 

Muster roll showing Arthur was wounded in December of 1862

He was sent to the General Hospital at Camp Winder in Richmond, Virginia on December 14, 1862.  Arthur was transferred to the General Hospital in Farmville, Virginia on January 16, 1863.  As of February 9, 1963, he had returned to duty. 

On May 12, 1864, Arthur was wounded in the right arm and captured by Federal Troops at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. 

Muster Roll showing Arthur was captured in May of 1864

He died in the Stanton U. S. Army General Hospital in Washington, D. C. on May 28, 1864 from complications from the amputation of his right arm.  He was 27 years old.

Record of Death and Interment for Arthur

On May 29, 1864, Arthur F. Nowell was buried in the small Confederate section of Arlington National Cemetery.  He is one of less than 500 Confederate soldiers buried there. 

Grave of Arthur F. Nowell

George W. F. Nowell was born in Bibb County, Georgia on January 18, 1842.  He is also my 3rd cousin 4x removed.  George also enlisted a Private in the "Bartow Guards" a/k/a Company E, Georgia 31st Infantry Regiment on November 13, 1861 in Weston, Webster County, Georgia.  He was 19 years old at the time of his enlistment. 

1st Muster for George

George was listed as present and accounted through May of 1862.  He was discharged by Certificate of Disability on May 7, 1862 at Beaulieu near Savannah, Georgia.  Per his discharge letter, George had a bad cut on his left that was infected, rendering him unfit for duty.

Certificate of Disability for George

Regimental Record showing George's Discharge

George W. F. Nowell returned to Georgia and lived an additional 30 years following the end of the Civil War.  George died in Gaines, Elbert County, Georgia on November 22, 1895 at the age of 53.  He is buried in the Campground Cemetery in Clay County, Georgia.

Grave of George W. F. Nowell

Due to the fact that Arthur and George were brothers, I'm only providing one relationship chart.

Here's my relation to Arthur:

Arthur F. Nowell (1836 - 1864)
is your 3rd cousin 4x removed
Luke Smithy Nowell (1795 - 1866)
father of Arthur F. Nowell
William Isham Nowell (1773 - 1852)
father of Luke Smithy Nowell
William Nowell (1750 - 1787)
father of William Isham Nowell
Dempsey Nowell Sr. (1728 - 1777)
father of William Nowell
Dempsey Nowell Jr. (1755 - 1810)
son of Dempsey Nowell Sr.
Rev. John Downing Nowell (1803 - 1859)
son of Dempsey Nowell Jr.
Joseph Warren Nowell (1829 - 1889)
son of Rev. John Downing Nowell
Walter Hinton Nowell (1855 - 1922)
son of Joseph Warren Nowell
Joseph Warren Nowell (1889 - 1954)
son of Walter Hinton Nowell
Ruth Adelaide Nowell Stokes (1918 - 2013)
daughter of Joseph Warren Nowell
Selby Edward "Stokey" Stokes Jr. (1946 - )
son of Ruth Adelaide Nowell Stokes
Chip Stokes
You are the son of Selby


  1. Chip,

    A great tribute to your Nowell kin from the "Bartow Guards" company E, 31st Georgia Infantry.

    Are you familar with my 1997 book - "A History of the 31st Georgia Volunteer Infantry" ? (Butternut And Blue, Baltimore)


    Greg C. White
    Canton, GA

  2. This is wonderful!! I just came across your site and see my husband's 2nd great grandfather, William Benjamin Nowell, listed as a cousin of yours. We would so appreciate any information/research you would share with us on William Benjamin Nowell and his brothers/ancestors. My husband's name is Mike and his e-mail is; my e-mail is I can hardly wait to show him your sight!! Great job!!! Thanks for your work in this area.