One Man's Journey: Thomas Rigdon in the Civil War

This is the story of Thomas Sylvester Rigdon of Chula, Georgia and his participation in the Civil War. Thomas joined the GA 49th Infantry Regiment and fought in Virginia until his death in September 1863.

  1. In April of 1862, Thomas traveled to Camp Davis, near Savannah.  It was near here 17 years earlier that he had met Rebecca and her parents were still here.  After visiting them for a few days he joined with the Georgia 49th Infantry Regiment. While in training the regiment was plagued by measles and other illnesses, so much so that they were delayed two weeks in leaving for Virginia.

    The 49th left Camp Davis for Virginia via way of "the cars." For many this was their first experience in riding on a train. Three men were left sick at Augusta. They arrived in Virginia on May 26th and were immediately ordered into line of battle
  2. The 49th left Camp Davis for Virginia via way of "the cars." For many this was their first experience of riding on a train. Three men were left sick at Augusta. They arrived in Virginia on May 26th and were immediately ordered into line of battle.
  3. OK, so the Yankees call this one 2nd Bull Run, but what sounds better -- "We spanked their tushes at Bull Run" or "We whupped their asses at Manassas?

    Thomas's brigade was right out front behind the railroad grade near Sudley Church, backed up by Gregg's South Carolinians.
  4. Again out front and in a blinding thunderstorm, Thomas' brigade killed two Union division commanders, Stevens and Kearny. Union Gen. Kearny was leading a charge in hand to hand bayonet fighting against Thomas brigade when he was killed.

    Responding to warnings of a subordinate, he said, "The Rebel bullet that can kill me has not yet been molded." Encountering Confederate troops, Kearny ignored a demand to surrender and, while he tried to escape, was shot by a bullet that penetrated the base of his spine, killing him instantly. Confederate Maj. Gen. A.P. Hill, upon hearing the gunfire, ran up to the body of the illustrious soldier with a lantern and exclaimed, "You've killed Phil Kearny, he deserved a better fate than to die in the mud."
  5. A. P. Hill's troops flanked the Yankees, killed the commanding officer and took 12,000 prisoners.
  6. The Yankees outnumbered Lee's troops two to one. Exhausted from fighting at Harpers Ferry two days earlier, hungry, and after running 27 miles,  at a crucial moment, Confederate Maj. Gen. A.P. Hill's division arrived from Harpers Ferry and launched a surprise counterattack, driving back Burnside and ending the battle.
  7. Acting as Lee's rear guard after Sharpsburg, Hill's troops inflicted 269 casualties on the 118th Pennsylvania -- almost half the effective force of this regiment.
  8. Thomas's brother, Berry was killed in Pickett's Charge through the Peach Orchard.
  9. Thomas died of camp fever at Huguenot Springs Hospital in Virginia on Sept. 15th 1863. A marker was placed on his grave by the J.E.B. Stuart SCV Camp. More than 200 of his brothers lie unknown in this Cemetery.
  10. Thomas's wife, Rebecca reared the children to maturity, but never remarried. She is buried in the Zion Hope Baptist Church Cemetery in Tift County, GA.

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One Man's Journey


Thomas Sylvester Rigdon