The Civil War – Behind the Scenes

There were militia districts and a state militia in Georgia as early as 1751. They lacked overall organization. The Georgia Militia, well organized, was established in 1755, and militia districts were named for districts, then parishes, and finally counties of the state.


Each county was divided into militia districts, the number of which depended on the size of its population. From each militia district could come a company of about 100 men to provide protection of the citizens from hostile Creek Indians.


The members of each company selected their own captain. The militia districts were at first named for the captains, but confusion arose because of duplication of names and changes in command. The state then started using the numerical system, beginning with the first district in Savannah, Georgia, on May 2, 1804.


By the beginning of the nineteenth century there was no longer a threat to the citizens along the coast of Georgia from hostile Creek Indians. General militia organizations from militia districts of counties of the state, therefore, were used in a variety of law enforcement and civic duties.


Volunteer militia companies came into existence during the Revolutionary War. Liberty County had only one such organization in the first years of the nineteenth century. While the general militia organizations could be called to active duty only inside of the state, the volunteer militia could, and sometimes was sent out of the state for such duty as the Patriot Expedition to East Florida in 1812.


The governor could place the volunteer militia organiza­tions on active duty only for stated, short periods of time. He could, however, place on active duty for longer periods of time, such military forces as the Home Guards, Georgia Regulars, and State Conscripts.


Militia districts of Georgia by 1860 were used primarily for political reasons. Liberty County that year was composed of the l5th, 16th , and 17th Militia Districts. The county had two volunteer militia companies, and one general militia organization.


The Civil War was basically a clash of opposing social and economic systems between the North and the South. The South lived by the plantation system, employing slave labor to produce agricultural staples for export. The North devel­oped diversified agriculture and industries depending on free labor.


The South advanced the principle of states’ rights. Many Southerners believed that this also led to the states’ rights to secession. The North believed in a strong central government.


The material resources of the North was superior to the South. The North controlled most of the naval forces. The South recognized that the war would be fought on their own home territory; saving their homes was a motivating force.


Northern population was 22,000,000 against 9,000,000 in the South of which 3,500,000 were Negroes. The quality of both troops were fairly similar. The South had the advan­tage of better general officers at the outbreak of the war.