Collins in the Revolutionary War
There was one Collins who was a patriot, Capt. Jacob Collins, and probably one who was a Tory, Abraham Collins. The exact relationship of Jacob and Abraham has not been determined, but they were next door neighbors in Lincoln County, North Carolina, in 1790.
Jacob was the captain of a group who were serving a three-month enlistment. In a deposition of Capt. Jacob Collans, dated 14 Oct 1786, in Lincoln County, he states, "that the above named offisers and Soldiers was under his command at the Sorender of Charlestown in the year 1780 being Drafted from North Carolina for a three months tower of Duety and That the were peroaled home and hath not been Returned by him or Received aney order from him to receive pay for the Same and that he himself Nor Aney of the above named offisers or Soldiers his had aney Satisfaction to his knolieg.”
Nothing else is known of his service at the present time.
Abraham Collins played a prominent role in the Battle of King’s Mountain. He was a Tory sympathizer, and he and a man named Peter Quinn were dispatched by British Col. Patrick Ferguson to seek reinforcements from Cornwallis after he learned of a gathering Patriot force in the King’s Mountain area. Collins and Quinn were delayed, however (according to one account, by members of the Henry family) and did not deliver the message until 7 October 1780, the day of the battle. Ferguson lost and was killed in the battle, which forced Cornwallis to retreat from Charlotte, North Carolina. The Patriot victory has been called the turning point of the Revolutionary War
Abraham also gained notoriety as a counterfeiter, and was arrested for the crime on 20 June 1805, but the case was dismissed on an technicality. According to one account, his counterfeiting was continuous but, paradoxically, he is said to have died in poverty near Stice's Shoal on First Broad River.
Collins in the Civil War
During the long and bloody Civil War that threatened the very fate of the United States, perhaps few families in the South could match the loyalty shown by the Collins to the short-lived Confederacy. They were Democrats and Rebels through-and-through. So when the call came for troops to fight in the “War of Northern Aggression,” as it was called by some in the South, over 10 members of the Collins extended family in Bartow, Gilmer, Pickens, and Cherokee Counties answered. They included fathers and their sons, brothers, and first cousins. And they, like many families, suffered loss, but considering their number, they were remarkably few. The Collins were hardy men, pioneers who had made a home for themselves in the North Georgia wilderness in 1844, and all but one is thought to have survived the war. It was surviving the peace that proved much more difficult.
The hostilities did not end for the Collins with the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee to Ulysses S. Grant on 9 April 1865 at Appomattox Courthouse. Like the aftershocks of an earthquake, sporadic revenge killings plagued the South for some time after the official hostilities ended, and the Collins were no exception. Too, they could be temperamental men, and some were prone to violence. How much of this tendency existed before the war is unknown, but within six months of the war’s end, three young Collins men died as a result of lingering hostilities and one was charged with murder. In later years, two more would die at the hands of others.
Ransom Collins’ sons Berry and Fielding Bell, and a mysterious relative named “Boswell” Collins died in shootouts at the Hinton Methodist Church in Pickens County and at the cabin home of Union veterans near Ryo in Gordon County in late August 1865. For a full account of those events, see the “Scared Corn-Ryo Murders.” As for the identity of Boswell, according to one Civil War roster, a B. B. (Byron?) Collins enlisted as a private in Company D, 23rd Georgia Infantry Regiment (Colquitt’s Brigade) on 31 August 1861 along with 1st Sergeant Miles A. Collins, Corp. J. B. Collins, and privates J. V. Collins and Miller Collins. Another roster adds B. M. Collins, and James S. Collins, and B. B. is replaced with Bryon. Company D consisted of men recruited from Pickens County. However, there is no family record that I know of that mentions a Boswell or B. B. Collins, and no one remotely resembling him is in the 1860 Pickens County census.
Miles was the son of Davis Collins. J. B. was Joseph Bynum Collins and J. V. was James V. Collins, brothers and sons of Jacob Archibald Collins, Davis’s brother. Miller Collins was the son of Ransom Collins, and like the rest was a first cousin. B. M. was Berry M. Collins, who died at the Hinton Methodist Church. He was also the son of Ransom Collins. The exact identity of James S. Collins is unknown at the present time.
One account states that Boswell may be James V. Collins, but the presence of B. B. Collins in the same unit with James V. would seem to undermine that thesis. But James V. Collins may be part of another mystery, though. In 1879, two peculiar notices were printed in a Cartersville newspaper (see “Documents”). The two notices are for funeral services to be held in October and November at the Pine Log Methodist Church for James Collins, but they are obviously for the same James Collins. In the notices, James Collins is said to have been captured by Federal troops on 4 July 1864. James V. Collins, who was a member of Ben Jordan's Pickens Home Guard, could have been among five men captured by Union forces when Jordan's group was defeated by the Third Kentucky Calvary (Union), which killed eight and wounded 14, including Ben Jordan, in a battle near Jasper in late July 1864. In the first notice, he is said to have been “taken off and never returned to his home,” while in the second, “Mr. Collins, although released, did not live to return to his home.” If this James Collins is James V. Collins, there is a good reason he stayed away. James V. Collins was indicted by the first post-war Pickens County Grand Jury for two murders (see "The Scared Corn-Ryo Murders") along with Ben Jordan and other members of the home guard, although one of the murders, of Peter Cantrell, a deserter, occurred on 22 July 1864, eighteen days after James was captured. The larger mystery is why funeral services were being held in 1879 for a soldier who died 15 or 16 years earlier.
There are several related James Collins. In addition to the unidentified James S., and James V. above, there is James C. or K. P. Collins (the census records vary). James C. or K. P. Collins is another son of Davis. He is probably the James P. Collins who enlisted as a private in Company B of the 23rd Georgia, along with an Absolem A. Collins, who enlisted as a private and became a sergeant. Absolum A. may be Asbury Collins, Joseph Bynum and James V.’s brother., but I cannot confirm this.
James S. and James V. Collins do not verifiably appear in any census records after 1860, however, nor does James P. Collins, but speculation is that James V. fled the area along with other members of Ben Jordan’s Home Guards after the indictments..
Also, J. A. Collins enlisted as a private in Company L, 36th Georgia Volunteer Infantry. J. A. Collins may be James Collins, son of Isaac Collins and another first cousin. J. A. Collins probably was captured by Federal troops, on 4 July 1863 at Vicksburg with the rest of the 36th Georgia, but Isaac’s son James is living in Pine Log, Bartow County in 1880, so he can not be the subject of the funeral notices.
I am hopeful that there are living Collins out there who can help resolve these mysteries.
In May, June, and July of 1863, the men of the the 36th Georgia were among the tens of thousands of Confederates under Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton who were trapped defending Vicksburg, Mississippi from the Union forces of then Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. The Union army had crossed the Mississippi and driven Pemberton’s Army of Tennessee back behind defensive fortifications surrounding the city. After a couple of disastrous assaults by Grant, the future president decided to lay siege to the city on 25 May. For 40 days, Pemberton’s men withstood regular Union bombardments, but their food dwindled and some spoiled. By the beginning of July, about half of the Confederate force of 30,000 was sick with malaria, dysentery, scurvy, and diarrhea, and the soldiers had exhausted their food supply, including horses, mules, and dogs. Some of them were reduced to eating shoe leather. On July 3, Pemberton offered to surrender, and on 4 July, Grant accepted. Not wanting to deal with the logistics of imprisoning and transporting so many Confederate troops, especially with so many sick, Grant elected to parole them on 9 July and there is some evidence that prisoners were exchanged.
Archibald G. B. Collins, another first cousin, also was captured at Vicksburg. He was a “fourth corporal” in Company A, 43rd Infantry Regiment, which included recruits from Cherokee County. He enlisted 10 March 1862, and was “Wounded, permanently disabled and captured at Vicksburg, Mississippi July 4, 1863, and paroled there July 6, 1863. Pension records show he was unfit for infantry service. Enlisted in Cavalry, command not stated.” This was probably the 11th Georgia Cavalry, which includes an A. G. Collins on its roster. This unit was organized near Athens, Georgia, in November, 1864.
Of the Collins men, Miles A. Collins, second son of Davis and Martha A. Jackson Collins, was the highest ranking. He entered the war as 1st Sergeant of Company D on 31 August 1861, and emerged as a lieutenant in command of the unit, no doubt due to the heavy losses suffered by officers of the regiment. By May 1863, the 23rd Georgia had been engaged at Seven Pines, the Seven Days fighting, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville, and had lost three commanders. Col. W. P. Barclay was killed at Sharpsburg, with Lt. Col. Emory F. Best assuming command. He, too, was wounded, and his replacement, Maj. James H. Huggins, was himself wounded. At Chancellorsville, Col. Best was the only high-ranking officer of the regiment to avoid capture.
Regardless of their losses, the 23rd Georgia was back in action in the Battle of Olustee in Florida in February 1864, and they were at Drewry's Bluff, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg. The unit surrendered in North Carolina with General Johnston's Army of Tennessee in 1865.
According to an account by William Jasper Collins (see “A Noted Family” in "The Scared Corn-Ryo Murders"), son of another brother, William James Collins, he and his cousins Martin, Berry, Miller, Boswell, and Bell Collins “went to Virginia, and there the most of them were in camps and on battlefield at the time of the surrender.” As noted, Miller, Berry, and Boswell appear on the roster of the 23rd Georgia, which was part of the Army of Northern Virginia under the command of Robert E. Lee.
Ord. Sergeant (Ordinance?) Martin Collins, a son of Wiley Collins, and private William Collins served in the 39th Georgia Infantry, but that unit did not fight in Virginia. The 39th Georgia was part of the Army of Tennessee and was captured at Vicksburg. Martin and William were probably paroled, on 9 July, but Martin was back in Pickens County within the month. Martin enlisted as a sergeant in Company I, the “Pickens Raid Repellers,” Cherokee Legion, Georgia Volunteer Infantry, This legion was also a state guard organized in July 1863 to serve for six months as local defense. And Martin is listed in the Pickens County portion of the “Joe Brown Census,” a list of men available for military service but not currently serving that was compiled in 1864 at the direction of Gov. Joe Brown.“Joe Brown census,” He is a justice of the peace and as such is exempt from duty. As a sidenote, Ransom, 57, and his brothers Jacob, 47 (the text incorrectly lists him as 57), and Davis, 55, are also on the census list.
Fielding Bell Collins apparently did not serve in Virginia, either. Bell, who died at the shootout in Ryo, is listed on the roster of Company C., the “Bartow Raid Repellers,” 10th Battalion, Georgia Cavalry (State Guards). This battalion, consisting of recruits mainly from Bartow County, was organized in August 1863 to serve for six months as local defense in that portion of Georgia west of the Chattahoochee River as mounted infantry. In the shootout at Ryo, Bell Collins identified himself as a member of the “home guards,” but since the “state guards” and the “home guards” were two different entities, he apparently served in a home guard unit as well. If he did, it would no doubt have been Ben Jordan’s.
There are at least two other men, Collins’ brothers-in-law, that fought for the Confederacy. One is Albert Smith, who, right after the war, married Ursula Collins, first cousin to all the Collins men. Albert Smith was a private in Company G, the "Lewis Volunteers," 18th Regiment, Georgia Volunteer Infantry. The company was recruited from Bartow County The 18th Georgia Regiment was organized at Camp Brown, Cobb County on 22 April 1861, as the First Regiment, Georgia State Troops, and fought in 20 battles during the war. As part of the "Texas Brigade," it was one of the most famous units of the Army of Northern Virginia. For more on his service, and that of other members of the family besides the Collins, see Our family in wartime.
The other is Capt. George W. Moss, who married Jacob Archibald Collins, Jr.’s daughter Martha. George was born 18 January 1829 in York County, South Carolina, the son of Gabriel Moss, Sr., and Telitha McFarland. His brother, Gabriel Moss, Jr., married Mary Jane Collins, Martha’s sister. The Mosses moved to the Talking Rock area of Pickens County about the same time as the Collins.
On August 31, 1861, George Moss enlisted in Company D, 23rd Georgia Infantry. In early 1864, he deserted his unit and was later arrested on 30 March 1864. It is not known if he re-entered service or served the remainder of the war as a prisoner, but he successfully applied for a Confederate pension after the war in Hood County, Texas. He entered the Confederate Men’s Home in Austin, Texas, on 2 September 1921, and a few months later he was transferred to the Austin Lunatic Asylum where he died on 18 May 1922 at about 85 years of age. He is buried in the Texas State Cemetery.
Histories of the Units
23rd Regiment, Georgia Infantry
The 23rd Infantry Regiment (Colquitt’s Brigade) was organized at Big Shanty, Georgia, in September, 1861, and contained men from Bartow, Henderson, Floyd, Pickens, and Cherokee counties. It moved to Tennessee, then was sent to Virginia and assigned to the Department of the Peninsula. In April, 1862, it totaled 370 effectives and during the war served under Generals Rains and Colquitt. The 23rd participated in the campaigns of the Army of Northern Virginia from Williamsburg to Chancellorsville, where more than 275 men were captured. It then was ordered to Charleston, South Carolina, and later Florida. After fighting at Olustee, the unit returned to Virginia, took part in the conflicts at Drewry's Bluff and Cold Harbor, and endured the battles and hardships of the Petersburg siege. It lost 4 killed and 56 wounded at Gaines' Mill and Malvern Hill, had 14 killed and 64 wounded in the Maryland Campaign, and 2 killed, 66 wounded, and 2 missing at Olustee. During 1865 it was active in North Carolina and surrendered with the Army of Tennessee. The field officers were Colonels Marcus R. Ballenger, W.P. Barclay, Emory F. Best, James H. Huggins, and Thomas Hutcherson; Lieutenant Colonel John J.A. Sharp; and Major William J. Boston.
Among the most notable historical facts about this unit is that it’s flag, a distinctive square version of the St. Andrews Cross, was adopted as the first official battle flag of the Confederacy. Generals P. G. T. Beauregard, Joseph E. Johnston, and Gustave Smith sought to find a flag to be used in battle that would not easily be confused with the “Stars and Bars” or Union regimental flags, so they chose the flag of the 23rd Georgia. While the flag was never officially recognized by the Confederate government, it became the iconic symbol of the “Southern cause.”
39th Regiment, Georgia Infantry
39th Infantry Regiment, organized at Dalton, Georgia, in April, 1862, recruited its members in the counties of Butts, Whitfield, Bartow, Dade, Fayette, Clayton, and Chattahoochee. The unit was ordered to Tennessee, then Mississippi where it was brigaded under T.H. Taylor in the Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana. After fighting at Champion's Hill, it was captured on July 4, 1863, at Vicksburg. Exchanged and assigned to General Cummings' Brigade, the 39th went on to participate in the campaigns of the Army of Tennessee from Chattanooga to Nashville and in 1865 saw action at Bentonville. It reported 52 casualties at Chattanooga and in December, 1863, totalled 243 men and 202 arms. During Janaury, 1865, the regiment had 177 fit for duty and surrendered in April. Its commanders were Colonel J.T. McConnell, Lieutenant Colonels J.F.B. Jackson and William P. Milton, and Majors Tilmon H. Pitner and Gabriel H. Randell.
The Siege of Vicksburg, from Wikipedia:
The Siege of Vicksburg was the final major military action in the Vicksburg Campaign of the American Civil War. In a series of maneuvers, Union Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and his Army of the Tennessee crossed the Mississippi River and drove the Confederate army of Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton into the defensive lines surrounding the fortress city of Vicksburg, Mississippi.
When two major assaults (May 19 and May 22, 1863) against the Confederate fortifications were repulsed with heavy casualties, Grant decided to besiege the city beginning on May 25. With no re-enforcement, supplies nearly gone, and after holding out for more than forty days, the garrison finally surrendered on July 4. This action (combined with the capitulation of Port Hudson on July 9) yielded command of the Mississippi River to the Union forces, which would hold it for the rest of the conflict.
The Confederate surrender following the siege at Vicksburg is sometimes considered, when combined with Gen. Robert E. Lee's defeat at Gettysburg the previous day, the turning point of the war. It also cut off communication with Confederate forces in the Trans-Mississippi Department for the remainder of the war.
According to local tradition, the city of Vicksburg would not celebrate Independence Day for about eighty years as a result of the siege and surrender.
11th Regiment, Georgia Cavalry
The 11th Cavalry Regiment was organized near Athens, Georgia, in November, 1864, by consolidating the newly formed 30th Georgia Cavalry Battalion and four companies raised under the authority of the War Department where the conscript act could not be enforced. The unit was assigned to the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, and served in M.W. Hannon's and R.H. Anderson's Brigade. It fought at Savannah, but many of the men were captured. In February, 1865, only 90 effectives were present and in April most of these were captured at Macon. Colonel Andrew Young, Lieutenant Colonel H.W. Barclay, and Major Madison Bell were its commanders.
43rd Regiment, Georgia Infantry
43rd Infantry Regiment, organized at Big Shanty, Georgia, in April, 1862, contained men from Cherokee, Pickens, Cobb, Hall, Forsyth, Jefferson, and Jackson counties. The unit moved to Tennessee, then Mississippi where it placed under the command of General Barton in the Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana. It took an active part in the conflicts at Chickasaw Bayou and Champion's Hill, and was captured when Vicksburg fell. After being exchanged, the 43rd was assigned to General Stovall's Brigade, Army of Tennessee. It was prominent in the numerous campaigns of the army from Missionary Ridge to Nashville, and ended the war in North Carolina. In December, 1863, it totalled 283 men and 251 arms, and in November, 1864, there were 130 fit for duty. On April 26, 1865, the unit surrendered. Its commanding officers were Colonels Hiram P. Bell, Skidmore Harris, and Henry C. Kellogg, and Major William C. Lester.
By the winter of 1861, it was apparent that the Southern armies needed more men. The enlistment of most of the first volunteers expired in the Spring of 1862 and it was clear that the war was not going to be short or easily won. In February, 1862, each of the Confederate States received requisitions for more troops. Georgia was asked for twelve regiments. Since the state was divided into military districts, all men between 18 and 45 were ordered to report to the parade ground of their respective districts on March 4th where they were to volunteer. The governor, Joseph E. Brown, indicated that if not enough volunteers stepped forward he would draft what he needed.
Most companies of the 43rd Georgia were formed on either March 4th or 10th in their respective counties and then traveled by wagon or rail to Camp McDonald for organization and training. Camp McDonald was the largest of the three training camps and the destination of men from forty-three counties, about half of the new recruits. It was located seven miles north of Big Shanty (just above Marietta), a railroad depot on the railway that ran from Atlanta to Chattanooga.
The soldiers of the 43rd Georgia came from six counties that lie North of Atlanta: Cherokee, Pickens, Forsyth, Hall, Jackson, and Banks. There were enough troops at McDonald to form six new regiments which were designated the 39th, 40th, 41st, 42nd, 43rd, and 52nd as well as a new battalion, the 9th . Over the course of the war, most of these regiments would serve together in the same brigade.
The 43rd Regiment, Georgia Volunteers, Army of Tennessee, came into being on March 19, 1862. After about a month at Camp McDonald,where there were many fatalities due to disease, the regiment left for Chattanooga and the District of East Tennessee under the command of Maj. Gen. E. Kirby Smith. While in this command they participated in two engagements, atWest Bridge, Bridgeport Alabama, 29 April 1862, and Cumberland Gap, 17-18 June1862
The 43rd marched into Kentucky with Kirby Smith but saw no action, just long grueling marches over several months in which they covered 700 miles. Going into Kentucky, one participant said the artillery had to be hauled over the mountain passes by hand and that it was the worst country they had ever seen. When they retreated in December, it was in the snow without much of their baggage. At least two companies put in requisitions for shoes with the justification that some of the men were barefooted.
Once back in Tennessee, the regiment was transferred along with some of her sister regiments to the Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana . They were now serving as a Georgia brigade under Brig. Gen. Seth Barton. Lt. Gen. John C.Pemberton was in command of the Department.
Company I, Pickens Raid Repellers, Cherokee County
This company was originally designated as Co. A, 16th Battalion Georgia Cavalry, State Guards, but there is not information available to suggest it ever served as such. This legion was organized in July 1863 to serve for six months as local defense.
18th Regiment, Georgia Volunteer Infantry
"Among the historical regiments of Georgia proudly stands the battle-scarred Eighteenth. Though no minstrel has tuned his harp to sing the praises, though not seeking, and therefore not obtaining a newspaper reputation, this noble regiment has gained a name which will live through all future time; in the memory of those who have so closely watched its career of glory."
--James M. Folsom.
The 18th Regiment had one of the most distinguished records of the Civil War. In all, it participated in 20 major battles of the war including Seven Pines, Cold Harbor, Second Manassas (Bull Run), Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Chattanooga, the siege of Knoxville, the Wilderness Campaign, and the siege of Petersburg and Richmond. The 18th Georgia, with less than 60 soldiers, surrendered with the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia on 9 April 1865 at Appomattox Courthouse.
In November 1861, while camped near Fredericksburg, Virginia, the 18th Georgia was merged with the 1st, 4th, and 5th Texas Infantry Regiments to form a full brigade, called "Hood's Brigade" or the "Texas Brigade.". These units fought together for the next year, and were often used as "shock troops" who led the charge against Union fortifications. They soon earned a reputation for courage in battle, despite suffering many deprivations, including the lack of shoes.
The unit at one time had the dubious distinction of having suffered the highest proportion of casualties of any unit in any major battle of the war. At the battle of Sharpsburg, the 18th Georgia lost 101 men either killed, wounded, or missing, out of a total of 176, or 57%.
On the afternoon of 27 June 1862, at the Battle of Cold Harbor, Gen. Robert E. Lee ordered a major assault on Union lines. The 18th Georgia led the charge, which broke the Union line and forced their retreat. The 18th Georgia had 146 casualties. Albert Smith was severely wounded at Second Manassas, 30 August 1862, and lost his left leg below the knee.
On 26 November 1862, the 18th Georgia was transferred to Cobb's Brigade along with the 16th and 24th Georgia Regiments, Cobb's Legion, and Phillips' Legion.
In the Wilderness, the 18th, as part of Col. W. T. Wofford's Brigade, took part in a flanking action that turned the tide of battle in the Confederates' favor. Wofford was from Cass County, later Bartow.
United States Federal Census Records
Artillery, Cavalry, Infantry Regimental Histories, Georgia C. S. A.
Civil War Rosters Arranged by State
Note: The two sites above are excellent resources for information on Civil War soldiers and sailors.
The 43rd Georgia Infantry Regiment Volunteer
Confederate Battle [Flag] (Square), AKA "Southern Cross"
Flag; Confederate, St Andrews Cross, Army of Northern Virginia, 23rd Georgia, 49 inch.
23rd Georgia Infantry
18th Regiment, Georgia Volunteer Infantry
The latter site is also the source of the flag image.
Heroes and Martyrs of Georgia by James M. Folsom.
For personal information on each of these men, see the page called “A summary of the data.”
Last updated 6 January 2010