The original military plans of the State of Georgia included the idea of companies formed in communities. The membership of each company was limited to citizens of a given militia district. There are fourteen of such districts in the county at present, but the number of militia companies was probably twelve. Salem district was created in 1910 as No. 1689, and had no company. Pool’s Mill District was created in 1853, and the existence of the thirteenth company in this district is doubtful. There was in the county a full complement of the battalion and regimental officers, such as Adjutants, Majors and Colonels.
The companies were required to assemble for drill at intervals, the minimum of which was once each quarter of the year, and the date was called “Muster Day.” The roll was called and absentees summoned and punishments meted unless sufficient excuses were rendered. Drills were conducted in the school of the soldier and in the manual of arms and also included the use of the bayonet for such soldiers as possessed such a weapon. Many a huntsman appeared at muster with his own long rifle with the hexagon shaped barrel, while others brought their short carbines, and during the manual of arms, a queer ragged line of long and short weapons was displayed. Nevertheless, the American soldier of early days was ever a huntsman, and each man was a crack shot with his own pet firearm. The drillmasters were chosen from the veterans of the Revolution, or of the War of 1812, or the Texas War of Independence of 1836. The Mexican War of 1848 added to the military experience of those who volunteered for that service, among whom may be mentioned James A. Norwood and James R. Gates. The manual of tactics used at the time of the Civil War was that of Captain Hardee, which was later replaced by that of Upton.
The uniform of the commissioned officers was distinctly different from that of the rank and file, which difference, together with the bearing of side arms, made officers an easy mark for sharpshooters, and accounts for the relatively heavy mortality among the officers in all major engagements. In addition to the fatigue uniform, which was used for active duty, many companies boasted a dress uniform for parades and state occasions, and Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like some of these: brilliant colors, waving plumes and numerous rows of shiny brass buttons. The Confederate uniforms were gray, and that of the Union soldiers a dark blue. The World War soldiers used a khaki uniform. Swords were discarded, and shoulder straps and chevrons made less conspicuous during the World War, especially during active duty.
In addition to the customary regimental band, in the militia there was the inevitable drummer and the accompanying filers. These were afterwards replaced by the use of buglers in a system of calls ranging from reveille to tattoo and taps. Many an old soldier recalls the thrill that came with the “long roll” of the snare drummer as a call to arms. The regimental bands were always on duty for every formal occasion from that of guard mount to dress parade, and frequent concerts were given to while away the monotonous rounds of the daily camp, or garrison life.
Each regiment formerly carried the regimental colors with a suitable escort in all formal assemblies of the regiment, and at the time of the Civil War each company also carried its company flag in order that scattered squads might recognize the rallying point of their company.
These company flags, as well as the regimental colors, made a shining target for the opposing artillery, and in consequence the mortality among the color bearers was always high in every important engagement. The use of conspicuous uniforms and objects were carefully avoided in the gigantic struggle of the World War, because they were markers for the hovering planes, who telegraphed to the hidden gunners the result of each salvo of murderous shells upon such a marked enemy. Thus the use of flags in the battle lines was suppressed.
The bloody struggle of the Civil War left many homes bereaved and deprived of their normal support, and the Federal government extended pensions to such needy families, and the benefits were afterwards offered to all who in any way assisted in the inglorious War Between the States. The states of secession were stripped of all their resources, and then burdened with the wild orgy of reconstruction and cost of the pensions added thereto, but nevertheless they soon increased their slender budget to include a modest pension to the patriotic soldiers of the “Lost Cause” and their dependents. The World War, with its millions of the conscripts, gave an additional tax burden in a still wilder orgy of pensions. There were 908 white and 688 colored citizens certified for the World War service in Troup County.
The records of some of these old militia companies have been lost or destroyed, and the full rosters of only two of the twelve remain intact, those of the LaGrange and Harrisonville districts.
- Militia Districts
- Captain McGehee, G. M. D. No. 673, Harrisonville District
- Captain Stewart, G. M. D. No. 655, Lagrange District
Source: History of Troup County, Smith, Clifford L.; Atlanta, Ga.: Printed by Foote & Davies Co., c1935, 330 pgs.