The 53d. Ga. Vols. was organized in the manufacturing city of Griffin, June 1862, with one of Griffin’s noble sons, Leonard T. Doyal, as Colonel, Thomas Sloan of McDonough, as Lt. Colonel, and J.P. Sims of Covington, as Major. Ten companies composed the regiment, with Capt. Nutt, Co. A, Spalding county; Capt. Chestnutt, Co. B, Newton county; Capt. Marchman, Co. C, Fayette county; Capt. Moses, Co. D, Coweta county; Capt. Glass, Co. E, Covington, Newton county; Capt. Brown, Co. F, Henry County; Capt. R.P. Taylor, Co. G, Coweta county; Capt. Bill Baker, Co. H, Pike county; Capt. Bond, Co. I, Butts county; and Capt. J.M. Ponder, Co. K, Monroe county; with Capt. Rich Hogan, of Forsyth, Quartermaster; Lt. Hanson, of Griffin, Adjutant; Dr. Simon Sanders and Dr. J.J. Nott, of Griffin, Surgeon; Capt Bill Glass, of Fayette, Commissary; Rev. J.T. Bowles, of Haralson, Chaplain; and with one thousand (1000) as good soldiers as ever left Georgia. During the seven days fighting around Richmond, Va., this gallant regiment was ordered from Griffin to the front to join the Army of Northern Virginia.
Many of the regiment never saw a musket till they drew guns in camps beyond Richmond. In the fight on Sunday evening of the Seven Days, this regiment was thrown in reserve line. The regiment the 53d was supporting being pressed, an artillery company was ordered up into a gap on the 53d’s left, and the Captain of the company gave orders to “fire and fall back” until the order reached the color company, when the gallant Tom Sloan, Lieutenant Colonel, can dashing down the line from the right and rallied the regiment, returned them to their original position under heavy fire and they held their position till night put a stop to further hostilities for that day.
For that misguided step the regiment of many “raw recruits” was stigmatized by some of the older soldiers. “The Bloody 53rd, the Twentieth Georgia Army Corps, etc.” At last the crowning victory of the seven days fight around Richmond where Gen. R.E. Lee showed beyond all doubt his superiority of generalship over the best general the Federals ever had. Gen. George B. McClellan, the Malvern Hill victory, this regiment did gallant service. The 53rd Ga. Regiment never drilled three weeks in preparation for military service til after engaging in several hotly contested engagements. At the battle of Sharpsburg, Md., Sept. 17th, 1862, where Lieut. Colonel Tom Sloan was shot down, and Major Sims and nearly every officer had received wounds, that grand old military chieftain, Lieut. Gen. James Longstreet forever removed the uncalled for stigma by complimenting the gallant 53d on the battlefield; and from then on till the lamented General Lee, surrendered a small remnant of the 53rd with his shattered and broken down army at Appomattox Courthouse, did the gallant regiment do valiant service: Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Culpepper Courthouse, Gettysburg; the to the Army of the West, with her brave and gallant chieftain Longstreet, through to Knoxville, back to Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor and down to Richmond; and in the last regular engagement of the Army of Northern Virginia, at Ameliar C.H., nine tenths of the regiment was captured with General Ewell’s command three days before the surrender, and spent three months in Northern prisons. On detach service under the gallant, dashing Maj. Gen’l. Kershaw, with Gen’l. Early’s army in the Valley, October 19th, 1864, the regiment scored a splendid record. The regiment had the misfortune to lose, killed on the battlefield, five lieutenant colonels, as follows: Lieut. Col. Tom Sloan at Sharpsburg; Lieut. Col. Hanee, at Gettysburg; Lieut. Col. R.P. Taylor, at Knoxville; Lieut. Col. Glass, at Spottsylvania; and Lieut. Col. Wiley Hartsfield, at Ameliar C.H. With twelve hundred (1200) in her first fight and not over two hundred (200) in her last, she made a record that history may never recount - a record that will live as long as kith or kin of her survivors lives.
Fellow soldiers and officers, let us reunite, somewhere. I will suggest the city of organization, Griffin. She is no longer the town of Griffin of 1862, but the manufacturing city of the New South. Why Griffin? you say. Because, she gave us our first colonel - a camping ground - she shared her hospitality with us. It was freely shared without cost to us. (I know whereof I speak.) She is nearest in the center of the regiment, with railroad facilities sufficient. Many of us are old men now and soon we will pass away. I assure you, Griffin will share her hospitality again with her regiment the 53rd Ga. Volunteers. I would like to tramp upon the same old camping ground with all the survivors of our gallant old regiment. One day spent in reunion would dispel the gloom of twenty two years separation. I have received several letters from gentlemen from Newton, Pike, Carroll, Henry, Butts and Spalding counties, saying “old age and decrepitude are crawling upon us, and we would like so much to visit a reunion before we go hence to be no more.” So would I, dear brethren of the Lost Cause.
I felt constrained to give this sketch not a full history. I rejoice in my old age that I was a member of the 53d Georgia Regt., Seeme’s, Bryant’s, and then J.P. Sims Brigade. McClaws and then Kershaw’s division, Longstreet’s corps, and the Army of Northern Virginia.
Newton, Henry, Monroe, Pike, Coweta, Fayette and Carroll papers, if friendly to reunions, please give of your valuable space the sketch and you will very much oblige.
Through the Griffin News I presume the subject of reunion can be discussed or you can address me at Haralson, Ga. - W. L. Taylor
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