The Civil War (1863)

Federal gunboats of the U.S. Navy attacked the Genesis Point Battery (Fort McAllister) in March 1863. The Liberty Independent Troop was ordered to the scene to prevent the possible landing of federal troops. A lengthy ship and shore duel ensued. The federal gunboats withdrew and the Liberty Independent Troop returned to its camp in Liberty County.


On April 11, 1863, black members of a U.S. Army unit landed at Darien, Georgia, and took possession of the town. They looted the town and then burned every building in the area. They killed every white person they could find.


It was in April 1863 that the Liberty Independent Troop, Liberty Guards, the McIntosh Dragoons, and the Lamar Rifles were all ordered to Savannah, Georgia, for organiza­tion of the Fifth Battalion, Georgia Cavalry, Enroute to Sa­vannah, the Liberty Independent Troop, Liberty Guards, and Lamar Rifles met at Midway Church. They held a religious service in the church, said several prayers, two speeches were made, and the service ended with a doxology.


By April 1863 Liberty County was left without a military organization. A group of citizens gathered at Hinesville, formulated and signed a petition, and dispatched it to Con­federate Army headquarters in Savannah, Georgia, asking that the county be allowed at least one military unit to insure its safety, and deter a possible slave insurrection.


The Liberty Mounted Rangers, and the 20th Battalion, Georgia Cavalry, were ordered from James Island” South Carolina, to Liberty County in early summer 1863. They set up a camp on Palmyra Plantation, but by autumn moved it to an area near Riceboro.


The Civil War caused a disruption of the postal system in Georgia, but it was restored to a surprising degree in Liberty County by the summer of 1862. Mail arrived regularly by train at the Mclntosh, Walthourville, and Johnstons Station depots, where the station agent was the postmaster. Mail went from McIntosh to Midway and Riceboro by stagecoach. There was a horse-back mail service from Walthourville to Hinesville, and from Johnstons Station to Jones Creek. This system operated until November 1864.


Residents in the upper part of Liberty County had no mail service from the beginning of the Civil War until the post­master general, Confederate States of America, issued a com­mission effective July 1, 1863, to July 1, 1867 to James T. McCollough to operate a postal system between Tattnall County and Hinesville. This sytem operated by stagecoach until very near the end of the Civil War.


Poor schools continued to operate in Liberty County throughout the Civil War. James Sharp Bradwell, however, closed down Hinesville Academy early in the war, and it never reopened under his supervision. Other academies in the county closed down in 1863 for the duration of the war, and some of them forever.


The people of Liberty County read in the Savannah Morn­ing News about important battles at Chancellorsville , Virginia, in early May 1863 at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in early July, at Vicksburg, Mississippi, on July 4, at Chickamauga, Tennessee, in mid-September, and at Chattanooga, Tennes­see, at Thanksgiving.


One of the most startling pieces of news to reach Liberty County during the summer of 1863 was that a law had been enacted by the Confederate States Congress to permit the impressment of black slaves into organizations of the Con­federate Army. No such action, however, ever took place in Liberty County.


Cotton in Liberty County sold for 45¢ a pound, wood for $1 a cord, and rice for $4 a bushel. There was, however, little rice to be sold in Liberty County in 1863. The crops failed because of a drought which made the county streams too salty to flow normally during the proper season.


Colonel Joseph Quarterman and Reverend Charles C. Jones died in 1863. Mary Jones, widow of Reverend Jones, was left with the enormous task of operating three large plantations with no supervisors. Other plantation people in the county came to her assistance.


By the summer of 1863, slaves were beginning to run away from their plantations. Most of them were caught and returned, but eleven slaves from a plantation near Walthour­ville made their way to a federal ship lying off Saint Cather­ines Island.


Major John McPherson Millen was in command of all military operations in Liberty and McIntosh counties in June 1863. From his headquarters at Riceboro he wrote in a letter to a friend that his duties were, “A most inglorious service, with no foe but marauding Negroes to contend with and no opportunity of punishing them.” He was replaced in spring 1864 by Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Hood.


Tax collections in Liberty County for 1862 were barely adequate to maintain the county government. The county treasurer got funds from the state and loans from banks. The county taxes for 1863 were the last collected until after the Civil War.


The one bit of prosperity in Liberty County in summer 1863 was salting operations. They reached a peak of pros­perity in late 1863 when salt produced in Liberty County sold for $35 a bushel in Savannah, Georgia.


A federal naval force landed at several points along the Bryan County coast on December 8, 1863. They searched and found no salting operations, but created havoc among the residents of that area. Salting operations in Liberty County were closed down temporarily.


U.S. currency by 1863 had virtually disappeared from Georgia. Paper money was, of course, issued by the Confed­erate States government, and by states, banks, and private companies. It depreciated greatly in value which caused prices to accelerate rapidly. The people of Liberty County felt the pinch of hard times. Scarce commodities in Liberty County could be bought more readily with U.S. than Con­federate States currency.


Heavy rains in early autumn 1863 made it impossible to boil salt for three months. The winter of 1863 was one of the coldest anyone could remember. Ladies of the county turned their efforts to making sheeting on home looms. They sent it, and boxes of provisions they collected, to the sick and wounded in hospitals in Atlanta, Georgia.


A few slaves escaped from a plantation near Riceboro near the end of 1863. Some of them made good their escape. Others were caught and whipped, and it is possible some of them were hanged.