Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The "Hartwell Infantry" a/k/a Company C, Georgia 16th Infantry Regiment: 2nd Lieutenant Elias Sanders Dyer, my 2nd cousin 4x removed

Original Tintype of  2nd Lieutenant Elias Sanders Dyer
The Georgia 16th Infantry Regiment a/k/a the "Sallie Twiggs" Regiment was organized by my 4th cousin 7x removed, Howell Cobb in the Summer of 1861.  It's men were raised from the Counties of Madison, Elbert, Gwinnett, Habersham, Jackson, and Hart.  Howell Cobb had previously served as Secretary of the Treasury under President James Buchanan from 1857 - 1860, and also as the 40th Governor of the State of Georgia from 1851 - 1853.  Cobb also served as the acting Head of State for the Confederate Government for a two week period before Jefferson Davis was elected President. 

Howell Cobb

The Georgia 16th Infantry Regiment had many brave soldiers, however two of its men rose rapidly through the ranks of the Confederate Army.  Howell Cobb began his Confederate military career as Colonel of the Georgia 16th and rose to the rank of Major General.  He is the highest ranking known ancestor in my family.   Howell and his brother Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb have both been the focus of previous entries. 

George Good Bryan

George Goode Bryan began his career as a Captain of the Georgia 16th before being promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.  Bryan eventually rose to the rank of Brigadier General.  The Georgia 16th was also known as the Sallie Twiggs Regiment in honor of his daughter, Sallie Twiggs Bryan, who was born in 1859. 

Following the organization of the Regiment, the Georgia 16th was transferred to Richmond, Virginia via railroad.  When the unit arrived in Richmond, their quarters were affectionately named "Camp Cobb" in honor of their Colonel.  Below is an excerpt from the September 25, 1861 "Richmond Dispatch"  describing the morale, shape and discipline of the Regiment:

Camp Cobb--16th Regiment Georgia Volunteers.

"--We were much gratified by a visit yesterday to the camp, at the old Fair Ground, of the 16th Regiment of Georgia Volunteers, commanded by the Hon. Howell Cobb, President of Congress. A finer body of men, or a cleaner or better regulated camp, we have rarely seen. Although a few weeks ago a considerable number of this regiment were sick with the measles and remittent fever, we are happy to say that now, with very few exceptions, the entire strength of the regiment is fit for duty. The rapid improvement in the health of this corps is, we believe, mainly attributable to the rigid enforcement, by the Colonel and his officers, of the wise rule providing for the sick in camp, and only removing to the hospitals and private houses such cases as could not properly be attended to in the camp hospital, and to the extreme attention paid to the cooking of the soldiers' food, and the cleanliness of all parts of the camp.
During a somewhat protracted visit, we did not hear a single profane expression, nor a word which could offend the cars of the most sensitive. We found the men cheerful and happy, the officers courteous and obliging; the tents airy, scrupulously near, and well pitched, and the general arrangements for the comfort and good order of the regiment worthy of all commendation.
We understand that the stand of colors voted by Congress at its last session to the corps commanded by its President, is now ready, and will shortly be formally presented by the President of the Confederate States. From what we have seen of this fine body of Georgians, and from what we have heard of their moral and physical discipline, we can predict that they will prove themselves worthy of the proud distinction which the Congress has conferred upon them in the person of their able and popular Colonel."

General Howell Cobb

On February 13, 1862, Howell Cobb was appointed Brigadier General.  The Georgia 16th was now a part of Cobb's Brigade.  Following Cobb's promotion, George Goode Bryan was promoted to Colonel of the Regiment.  Cobb's Brigade was attached to General Layfayette McLaw's Division in Major General James Longstreet's First Corps, Army of Northern Virginia. 

Cobb's Brigade participated in the Peninsula Campaign and the Seven Days Battles from June 25 - July 1, 1862, where they aided the Army of Northern Virginia in successfully defending the Confederate Capital.  The Brigade also saw action at Second Manassas on August 28 - 30, 1862, which resulted in another Confederate victory very near the ground that was in the first major battle of the war in June of 1861. 

On September 14, 1862, Cobb's Brigade played a key role in the fighting at Crampton's Gap during the Battle of South Mountain.  It was in this battle that Elias Sanders Dyer was captured by Federal troops and taken prisoner.  Crampton's Gap was located at the southernmost point of the Battle of South Mountain.  A small group of Confederate Cavalrymen and a small portion of General McLaw's Division were tasked with defending the Brownsville Pass and Crampton's Gap.  A group of about 500 Confederates in a thin line  was deployed behind a three quarter-mile-long stone wall at the eastern base of Crampton's Gap.  As 12,000 Federal soldiers approached, Cobb's Brigade arrived at a critical time to delay a Union advance through the gap.  As the Union numbers grew, they began to overpower the outnumbered Confederates.  Roughly 400 men from Cobb's Brigade were captured as prisoners of war. 

Below is General Cobb's Post Battle Report that followed the Battle of Crampton's Gap:

BRIGADE HEADQUARTERS, Opequon Crossing, September 22, 1862.
     GENERAL: On the 13th instant I was ordered by you to take and hold possession of Sandy Hook, near Harper's Ferry; which was done, without serious opposition. On the 14th my command was ordered by you to return to our former camp, at Brownsville. This order was received about 1 o'clock p.m., and the brigade was immediately marched to that point, reaching there about 4 p.m. I had been in camp about an hour when I received a message from Colonel Munford, at Crampton's Gap, distant about 2 miles, recommending the removal of my command to that point, as the enemy were pressing the small force at the gap. I immediately ordered my two strongest regiments to march to their support. Before, however, the head of the column had filed into the road I received a message from Colonel Parham, who was in command of Mahone's brigade at the gap, to the effect that the enemy was pressing him hard with overwhelming numbers, and appealing for all the support I could bring to him. I immediately ordered the remaining two regiments to march, and accompanied the command in person. As I was marching the last of the column, I received a message from you, through your assistant adjutant-general (Major Mcintosh) that I must hold the gap if it cost the life of every man in my command. Thus impressed with the importance of the position, I went forward with the utmost dispatch. When I reached the top of the mountain, I found that the enemy had been repulsed and driven back in the center and had been pursued down the other side of the mountain by Mahone's brigade. I soon discovered, however, that the enemy, by their greatly superior numbers, were flanking us both upon the right and left. Two of my regiments were sent to the right and two to the left to meet these movements of the enemy. In this we were successful, until the center gave way, pressed by fresh troops of the enemy and increased numbers. Up to this time the troops had fought well, and maintained their ground against greatly superior forces. The Tenth Georgia Regiment, of General Semmes' brigade, had been ordered to the gap from their position at the foot of the mountain, and participated in the battle with great courage and energy. After the lines were broken, all my efforts to rally the troops were unsuccessful. I was enabled to check their advance by momentary rallies, and, the night coming on, I made a successful stand near the foot of the mountain, which position we held during the night, and until a new position was taken about day-dawn the next morning, in the rear of Brownsville, which position was held until the surrender of Harper's Ferry. General Semmes' brigade and Wilcox's brigade, under the command of Colonel Cumming, of the Tenth Georgia Regiment, had been ordered, the former by General Semmes, the latter by yourself, to my support. They came up to the position I occupied during the night; they could not have reached me sooner. The whole number of troops engaged on our side did not exceed 2,200, whilst the force of the enemy was variously estimated from 10,000 to 20,000 men. It could not have been less than 10,000 and probably reached 15,000.
       It is impossible for me to report the casualties, as the fate of only a few of the large number missing is certainly known. Of the number who went into the battle there are now missing and unaccounted for over 800. The larger portion of this number is believed to be prisoners, as we were flanked on both the right and the left by the enemy, and, thus surrounded, our men were compelled to surrender. For the most successful rally made on the retreat from the crest of the mountain I was indebted to a section of the Troup Artillery, under Lieutenant [Henry] Jennings. They had been ordered forward, and had reached a point where, under the terrific fire of the enemy, their pieces were placed in position, and, by their prompt and rapid firing, checked for a time the advance of the enemy. One of the pieces was brought off safely; the other was lost by an accident to the axle. When I reached the gap I found both Colonel Munford and Colonel Parham active and energetic in the discharge of their duty, which continued to the end of the fight. Shortly after the lines were broken, and I was endeavoring to rally the troops, General Semmes appeared on the field, and, at great exposure and with great coolness and courage, gave me his cordial aid and co-operation. All of the members of my staff were on the field, and did all that could be done under the circumstances. One of them, Col. John B. Lamar, of Georgia, volunteer aide, whilst near my side, earnestly rallying the men, received a mortal wound, of which he died the next day. No nobler nor braver man has fallen in this war. There were many other acts of personal courage which circumstances prevent me from mentioning at present. The remnant of my brigade marched with the rest of your division from Harper's Ferry, and was engaged in the battle of the 17th, at Sharpsburg. I was necessarily absent for two days from the command, and reached it the morning after the battle, and the present absence of the officer then in command of this brigade prevents a report at this time of that day's operation.
       Accompanying this report is a list of the killed, wounded, and missing, made out with as much accuracy as practicable under existing circumstances.

I am, very respectfully, yours, &c.,

Cobb's Brigade continued to participate in the Maryland Campaign, fighting at Sharpsburg on September 17, 1862.  Due to his capture at Crampton's Gap, Elias Sanders Dyer did not participate in the battle.  Dyer was paroled by his Union captors in November of 1862.  He returned to the Georgia 16th in time to participate in the Confederate victory at Fredericksburg in December of 1862.  Following the Battle of Fredericksburg, Longstreet's Corps went in to winter quarters. 

In October of 1862, Brigadier General Howell Cobb was detached from the Army of Northern Virginia and sent to the District of Middle Florida.  Cobb was promoted to Major General in 1863 and placed in command of the District of Georgia and Florida.  

On November 1, 1862, Howell Cobb's brother, also my 4th cousin 7x removed, Colonel Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb was promoted to Brigadier General.  The command of Cobb's Brigade now passed to his younger brother.  With another Cobb in command, the Brigade was able to keep its name. 

General Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb

Brigadier General Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb commanded the Brigade for just over one month.  He was wounded in the thigh by a Union Artillery shell or minie ball while inside the Stephens house near the Sunken Road on Marye's Heights on December 13, 1862 during the Battle of Fredericksburg.  He bled to death within minutes from damage to his femoral artery.  Brigadier Generals Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb and James Johnston Pettigrew are the highest ranking known ancestors in my family to have died from wounds received in the Civil War. 

Brigadier General Goode Bryan

Following the death of General Thomas R. R. Cobb, Colonel George Goode Bryan assumed command of Cobb's Brigade.  Colonel Bryan led the Brigade during the Battle of Gettysburg on July 1 - 3, 1863.  During the Battle, the Georgia 16th were among the troops poised to attack a perceived weak spot in the Federal Line near Little Round Top, however the troops were recalled by General Longstreet and remained in reserve.  Bryan was convinced that if his troops had been allowed to attack, they could have moved forward and won the battle.  Bryan was promoted to Brigadier General on August 29, 1863. 

Following the Battle of Gettysburg, the Georgia 16th followed Longstreet's Corps into the Western Theater but were not engaged in the Battle of Chickamauga.  The Unit did participate in the Knoxville Campaign in November of 1863, taking part in the Battle of Campbell's Station on November 16th and the Battle of Fort Sanders on November 29th.  Following the Knoxville Campaign, the Brigade returned to Virginia where they went into winter quarters. 

Back in Virginia, the Georgia 16th participated in the Battle of The Wilderness from May 5 - 6, 1864.  This battle took place on the land just west of the Battle of Chancellorsville, which had taken place a year earlier.  On May 5th, Longstreet's First Corps were stationed at Gordonsville where they guarded the rail lines.  Gordonsville was approximately 25 miles away from the dense forest of Spotysylvania known as theWilderness.  Federal Generals Grant and Meade didn't want to engage the Confederates in the Wilderness because the dense forestry would negate the Union Army's superior numbers and artillery.   Those were the very reasons that Robert E. Lee wished to fight there.  The Confederate Second and Third Corps fiercely engaged the Federals on May 5th.  On May 6th, numerous reinforcements from Longstreet's First Corps arrived and filled in the Confederate gap in the line.  As the sun was setting on May 6th, Longstreet was struck in the neck by friendly fire.  Command of the First Corps was now ceded to Major General Richard Anderson. 

The Unit also participated in the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House from May 8 - 21, 1864.  On May 7th, Robert E. Lee ordered Anderson to move the First Corps to Spotsylvania Court House, predicting that Ulysses Grant's Federals would also converge on that area.  Lee was correct in his assumption.  The First Corps arrived at Block House Bridge and were informed that General J.E.B. Stuart's Cavalry were holding off elements of Warren's V Corps off near Brock Road and needed reinforcements.  Anderson deployed the Brigades of Henegan and Humphreys to aid Stuart.  Stuart immediately deployed them along the crest of Laurel Hill, where they succeeded in holding off the Federal advance.

A courier from Major General Fitzhugh Lee's force arrived with news that Lee was engaging Federal Brigadier General James H. Wilson's cavalry near the court house.  Anderson immediately deployed the Brigades of Bryan and Wofford, who aided Lee in fending off the Federal Cavalrymen.  The First Corps spent the majority of the Battle fending off repeated Federal assaults on Laurel Hill.  They were not engaged at the fighting near the "Bloody Angle". 

It is not known whether Elias Sanders Dyer was wounded in the Battle of the Wilderness or the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, only that he was mortally wounded in May of 1864.

Elias Sanders Dyer

Elias Sanders Dyer was born in Hart County, Georgia in 1830.  He is my 2nd cousin 4x removed.  According to family sources, he preferred to be called Sanders.  Prior to the Civil War, he served as a Deacon of the Hartwell Baptist Church, Marshal of the Town and Deputy Sheriff of Hart County.  Sanders volunteered for the Confederate Army on July 13, 1861.  He was elected 2nd Lieutenant of the "Hartwell Infantry" a/k/a Company C, Georgia 16th Infantry Regiment. 

Roster showing Sanders' election as 2nd Lieutenant

Two of his younger brothers also served in the Confederate Army.  Joel Hunter Dyer, Jr. served as a Private in Company C, Phillip's Georgia Legion.  Elisha Marion Dyer served as a Private in Company A, Phillip's Georgia Legion. 

Sanders was captured by Federal troops at Crampton's Gap, Maryland on September 14, 1862, three days before the bloody battle at Sharpsburg.  He was held prisioner at Fort McHenry, Maryland for just under two months, being sent to Fortress Monroe, Virgina where he was paroled on November 10, 1862.

POW Roll showing parole at Fortress Monroe

Sanders was critically wounded at either the Battle of the Wilderness or The Battle of Spotsylvania in May of 1864.  His Regiment participated in both battles and Confederate records don't reference which particular battle he was wounded in. 

Report showing Sanders admission to General Hospital at Camp Winder

He was then admitted to the first division General Hospital at Camp Winder in Richmond, Virginia, where he died from infection from these wounds on June 6th, 1864.  Elias Sanders Dyer was 34 years old at the time of his death. 

Register showing Sanders Death

He is buried in Soldiers Section U, Grave 540 in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.  Currently Sanders does not have a headstone to mark his grave,  It is a goal of mine to make sure He receives a proper Confederate Headstone.

Final Resting Place for Elias Sanders Dyer.  The small stone marks grave 538.  Sanders is two graves up the row. 

Here's my relation to Sanders:

Elias Sanders Dyer (1830 - 1864)
is your 2nd cousin 4x removed
Joel Hunter Dyer (1794 - 1863)
father of Elias Sanders Dyer
Malvina Lavonia Wheeler (1760 - 1820)
mother of Joel Hunter Dyer
William Wheeler (1725 - 1780)
father of Malvina Lavonia Wheeler
Benjamin Wheeler (1755 - 1830)
son of William Wheeler
Benjamin Franklin Wheeler (1803 - 1883)
son of Benjamin Wheeler
Christopher Columbus Wheeler (1842 - 1912)
son of Benjamin Franklin Wheeler
Benjamin Elliott Wheeler (1883 - 1951)
son of Christopher Columbus Wheeler
Phebe Teresa Wheeler Lewis (1918 - 1977)
daughter of Benjamin Elliott Wheeler
Joyce Elaine Lewis (1948 - )
daughter of Phebe Teresa Wheeler Lewis
Chip Stokes
You are the son of Joyce


  1. Where does your information come from regarding the leadership and actions of the brigade at Gettysburg? My impression is that the brigade was led by Wofford during the battle, and that it participated heavily in the Second Day's fighting -- following Barksdale's brigade in its famous charge, and doing yeoman's work in the Peach Orchard on its own. One reason I ask is because I had two distant relatives in Company G of the 16th Georgia who were probably wounded in the action. Perhaps Goode Bryan's frustration was at a later counterattack which was called off? I do find your detailing of the 16th Georgia's history quite interesting and detailed, just wanted to compare notes. If you're still responding to comments, feel free to comment back here and let me know how to get in touch with you. -- Dave Ellrod


  2. Oliver N. Hardy was a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans on the record of his Father, Sgt Oliver Hardy, Co K, 16th Georgia Infantry Regiment

    Oliver N. Hardy was a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans on the record of his Father, Sgt Oliver Hardy, Co K, 16th Georgia Infantry Regiment

  3. Thanks for posting this! There is so little information available for the 16th Ga and I especially enjoyed the article from Richmond newspaper detailing the conditions in camp in the Fall of 1861. Good stuff! :-) I agree with Dave Ellrod who commented above. It is well documented that the 16th saw brutal engagement and heavy losses at Gettysburg in the Peach Orchard and the Wheatfield. It is estimated that they sustained 79 casualties (26%) of the 303 engaged.
    Also, your narrative states that the 16th was not engaged within the Bloody Angle at Spotsylvania. My husbands gg grandfather, William Walker Fitts, was in 16th GA Co D "Danielsville guard." He along with the others killed there lay as solemn testament to the 16th's role at the Bloody Angle. CoD alone lost four men killed and another wounded in the eye (loss of vision) there. We visited there last year and were lucky to hire a wonderful guide who was able to show us almost precisely where the 16th was first deployed to guard an intersection. Later they were called up to plug a hole in the line and he was able to show us almost precisely where in the salient they were located and where (in general) my husbands gggrandfather was killed. If you ever have the opportunity to visit, be sure to look him, John Cummings. He is fabulous! Would love to share info with you and others who are researching the 16th Georgia. Thanks again for popsting this wonderful tribute to men of the 16th GA Infantry. :-)

  4. By the way, there is an entry on Findagrave for your ancestor. I suppose you already know that he is buried at Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, VA. I think you were unsure if he was mortally wounded at The Wilderness or Spotsylvania? The record on Findagrave says:

    He enlisted 13 July 1861 and was elected 2nd Lieutenant in Company C, 16th Georgia Regiment. He was wounded in the Battle of the Wilderness in May of 1864 and died 6 Jun 1864 at General Hospital Camp Winder in Richmond.

    Note: [Dyar], Date Of Burial :, Confederate Soldier State : Georgia Regiment : 16th Company : C, Ref: Cemetery Records

    Hollywood Cemetery
    Richmond City
    Virginia, USA
    Plot: Section: Soldiers Section U Lot: Unknown

    You can take that for what its worth. Someone posted it so it is possible that they had access to hospital admission records or something that led them to that conclusion. Of course it is also possible that they just assumed he was injured at The Wilderness. You can also contact the poster and ask from what source the info comes.