Members of this unit were assigned as prison guards. They served as guards at Andersonville and at Camp Lawton. Several of the men died while guards at Andersonville and are buried there in Oak Grove Cemetery.

Confederate authorities, fearing a raid on Andersonville by Sherman’s marching army, chose Andersonville as a safe, temporary prison camp. Five thousand Federal prisoners were brought here on the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad Line via Blackshear in the second week of December 1864. Colonel Henry Forno commanded the 2nd and 4th Georgia Reserves and the prison camp. The camp was a five acre square bounded by a ditch six to eight feet deep, ten to twelve feet wide. Several hundred prisoners died of smallpox, typhoid fever, diarrhea, and a few from trees felled for firewood and shelter. Some sick prisoners were cared for at the Methodist Church and at Fletcher Institute. The dead were buried in the Methodist Cemetery. Local citizens helped the sick and provided prisoners with food. With Sherman settled at Savannah the emergency camp at Thomasville closed. The prisoners were marched sixty miles to Albany and entrained for Andersonville where they arrived on December 24, 1864 http://www.civilwaralbum.com/misc12/thomasville1.htm During the month of November in 1864, some 5,000 Union Soldiers began arriving by rail along the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad into the small community of Blackshear, Georgia. At the outbreak of the war the town contained just 333 households. Most of the men had gone off to fight in the war, serving in the 50th Georgia Infantry Regiment, 26th Georgia Infantry Regiment, and 4th Georgia Cavalry Regiment, leaving the women and children to manage as best they could. When these prisoners of war began arriving the citizens were not prepared to handle such overwhelming numbers of starving human beings. Nevertheless, they shared what little they had. By the beginning of January, 1865, the Union prisoners and their guards had moved on either northward into South Carolina or westward to the prison camp in Thomasville. Personal accounts of Union soldiers are beginning to surface which help us in determining the scope of Blackshear at the time of the war. John McElroy, 16th Illinois Cavalry, Company L, stated, " Pierce County as I have learned by the census report, is one of the poorest counties of a poor section of a very poor state." He added, "After leaving the cars we were marched off into the pine woods, by the side of a considerable stream, and told that this would be our camp. A heavy guard was placed around us, and a number of pieces of artillery mounted where they would command the camp. We started in to make ourselves comfortable, as at Millen, by building shanties." Quartermaster Sergeant John Ransom, 9th Michigan Cavalry wrote, "Dec. 4, 1864, Fresh meat again today. Rebels go out to neighboring plantations and take cattle, drive them here, and butcher for us to eat. Rice is also given us to eat. Have plenty of wood to cook with." Ralph Bates, 9th Ohio Cavalry Regiment, Company H, claimed in his diary, "The Blackshear prison was completely commanded by earthworks with mounted cannon, and was guarded by several hundred Confederate soldiers." This information is courtesy of: John Guss, President Pierce County Historical & Genealogical Society P.O. Box 443 Blackshear, Georgia 31516 FIELD OFFICERS:





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