Some Pulaski County Confederates

I received this information which sorts out the military records of the two William Bembrys from Pulaski County, GA from a distant cousin, Jason Bembry. I am sharing it here with his permission. Thanks, Jason!

The Battle of Chickamauga
The Battle of Chickamauga

William Bembry, born December 9, 1834, was one of the sons of William Miles Bembry (August 23,1795-April 22, 1839) and grandson of Miles Bembry (c.1770-1838). He served the Confederacy in the 14th Battalion, Company B Anderson’s Battery, Georgia Light Artillery. It seems that he joined this unit in April 1862, almost a year after the war began. He is listed as “William Bembry Sr.” in some lists. He appears on a list in the book, Georgia in the War 1861-1865 by Chas. Edgeworth Jones on pages 56-57. He is listed as a 2nd Lieutenant in Company B also known as the Pulaski Artillery (probably since many of the group came from Pulaski, Ga).

William Bembry is also listed in company G, also known as Stonewall Battery which was, according to this source, temporarily consolidated with Dawson’s Battery on March 1, 1863. This source lists Thomas H. Dawson as the Captain of Company B and R. W. Anderson as the ranking Lieutenant. William Washington’s nephew, William Washington Bembry, served in the same unit with the rank of Master Sargent (he is not listed in the book Georgia in the War 1861-1865 since only commissioned officers are listed). The older William Bembry saw action at Chickamauga and died there on Sept 20, 1863.

The iron placard at Chickamauga reads:

Dawson’s Georgia Battery
2 Napoleons; 2 12 PDR Howitzers
Brown’s Brigade, Stewart’s Division, Buckner’s Corps
September 20, 1863
1st Lieut. R. W. Anderson, Commanding
2nd Lieut. Henry S. Greaves
2nd Lieut. William Bembry (Killed)

The battery followed closely in rear of the brigade in its charge of the 19th, but did not become engaged. On the morning of the 20th the battery came into position on this ground in front of the brigade, with orders to remain until the enemy’s position was carried, as there was no position for artillery between the lines. The battery remained in this position under heavy fire of the enemy’s artillery and musketry.

About 11 a.m. the brigade charged, but the fire from the enemy’s batteries and fortified line of infantry was so intense that it was compelled to retire. During this charge the battery was exposed to a most destructive fire and retired a short distance to the rear for refitting, pulling two pieces off the field by hand. The battery soon returned for duty, but was not again engaged. Casualties at this time; 1 officer killed; 5 men wounded; 15 horses killed or wounded.

The rangers at the visitor center gave me a copy of this tablet. On the bottom it says Map #130. There is also a stone marker just a few feet away from this iron tablet. It reads:

T. H. Dawson’s Battery
Lt. R. W. Anderson
Brown’s Brigade
Stewart’s Division
11:30 A.M. Sept. 20, 1863

I also obtained a copy of this marker from the rangers at the visitor center. On the bottom the printout reads Map #130.

Both of these markers can be found at the Chickamauga battlefield in NW Georgia by following the Lafayette Road south from the visitor’s center there. Turn left on the Brotherton Road and park alongside the road at the first marked walking trail on the left hand side of the road. Less than100 yds up this trail (heading north) you will see the iron placard and stone marker on the left of the trail. There are a few cannons on display here too. The day we were there it had not been mowed in a while and so the grass and poison oak were pretty high.

Peter Cozzen’s book, This Terrible Sound, one of the most respected sources on the battle of Chickamauga, lists the chain of command for William Bembry’s unit as follows (p. 549):

Buckner’s Corps
Major General Simon B. Buckner
Stewart’s Division
Major General Alexander P. Stewart
Brown’s Brigade
Brigadier General John C. Brown (w)
Major J. Wesley Eldridge
1st Arkansas Battery   T. H. Dawson’s (Georgia) Battery

Buckner’s Corps was under Lieutenant General James Longstreet and the entire Confederate army at Chickamauga was commanded by General Braxton Bragg. Since Dawson’s Battery is listed with the 1st Arkansas Battery it seems as though it had been combined with this group.

If we can assume that the older William Bembry’s unit was with Stewart’s Division as early as June 24, 1863, we would be able to chart his movements during the months leading up to Chickamauga. There is a new book that provides a day by day account of the Tullahoma Campaign up to Chickamauga (June 22-Sept 23, 1863) entitled, The Maps of Chickamauga by David A. Powell and David A. Friedrichs. In this book we might be able to follow the steps of Bembry’s artillery unit during the summer before he died.

According to the ranger at the Chickamauga visitor’s center, all the Confederate soldiers who died at Chickamauga were buried in shallow graves on the battlefield. After the war the state of Georgia made an effort to move the bodies to a cemetery in Marietta, Ga. Virtually all the bodies were unidentified and so we cannot know where William Bembry’s body was interred.

Concerning William Washington Bembry, the nephew of William Bembry the elder, I found this from a Pulaski County, Ga genealogy website.

“Miles Bembry could not serve his beloved Southland in the War Between the States because of defective hearing, but sacrificed to this cause his cherished son and a dear younger brother, William, who was killed in the Battle of Chickamauga. The son, William, enlisted at age sixteen, served three years, was taken prisoner and, after recovering from a severe case of smallpox, was smuggled through the lines to freedom by a kind-hearted Yankee, who was touched by the boy’s youth and broken health. Journeying alone, separated from his body servant, he reached home, dying soon afterward.”

This website also lists a cemetery plot for William Washington Bembry born Sept 21, 1844 died August 3, 1864. Another website lists William Bembry Jr. as joining the 14th Battalion, Company B Anderson’s Battery, Ga. Light Artillery CSA on April 26, 1862 and has him discharged for disability on April 10, 1862. This must be a typo of some sort since this would have him discharged before he joined. I suspect the discharge date should be 1864 or 1865 if we combine this with the quote mentioned above that says he served 3 years before being taken prisoner.

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