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  • Charlton County Votes Not To Secede

  • Civil War Action At the Kings Ferry Sawmill

  • Civil War Deserters in the Okefenokee

  • Georgia Militia Districts In Charlton County

  • After the Civil War

Charlton County Votes Not to Secede


Civil War Action At the Kings Ferry Sawmill

By Lois Barefoot Mays

Local residents may be surprised to learn how perilously close the Civil War came to Charlton County in February 1864. More than a year before the end of the war, Union troops numbering more than 300 men were raiding two Nassau County sawmills on the St. Marys River. They stole, in a weeklong plundering episode, most of the lumber stacked at these mills. Then they boarded their steamships and made their way back to their Fernandina post, leaving in such a hurry that they cast adrift four rafts of timber, hoping the tides would deliver them to the coast.

A report of the expedition shows that Major Galusha Pennypacker, who was in charge of a unit of Pennsylvania Volunteers, received orders to leave their Fernandina post on February 15th, 1864 and rapidly walk the thirty-three miles to Woodstock and Kings Ferry Mills on the St. Marys River to confiscate lumber for military use. Persons living along the road who might have given warnings of their approach were made to march along with the soldiers until they arrived at sunset at Woodstock Mills.

Twenty men were sent by Major Pennypacker to surprise and capture mill guards and prevent the lumber from being set on fire, as orders had been given to watchmen to burn the property on the approach of any Federal forces. However no sentries were there and the lumber was found undisturbed.

The following morning, Major Pennypacker ordered the 300 Yankee soldiers to build rafts of the lumber found at the mills. (The Edwin Alberti estate was the owner of Woodstock Mills and Gilbert and Franklin Germond owned the Kings Ferry sawmill that was later purchased by William Mizell, Sr. and his brother Jackson Mizell in 1870.) Stacks of lumber, some of it very valuable, were sent by raft daily to Fernandina. Before the week was up, at least a million feet of lumber was stolen.

Abruptly on February 22nd Major Pennypacker and his whole force were hastily dispatched back to Fernandina, the troops returning on the steamers “Island City” and “Harriett A. Weed”. Thirty-one extra persons, who had come inside the mill property during the week, were sent to the Fernandina post also and included two deserters, four refugees and 25 slaves. Four rafts of lumber were quickly abandoned to make their own way to Fernandina down-river. The suddenness of their departure was almost surely caused by an unexpected exchange of gunfire that day with Confederate soldiers on the Camden County side of the St. Marys, in which two of the Pennsylvania Volunteers were wounded.

It’s been a long time since the gunfire of the Civil War encounter was heard on our peaceful St. Marys River. Maybe some day a concrete monument will mark the place where Confederate soldiers defended this part of Georgia.

SOURCES: The War of the Rebellion, Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series One, Volume 35, pages 359-60, also Series One, Volume 15, pages 283-4; The Vanished Town of Kings Ferry by William Mizell, Jr., page 17; Yesterday’s Reflections II by Jan H. Johannes, Sr., page 122-3.

Civil War Deserters in the Okefenokee

In July, 1863, the Georgia Calvary sent a search party into the Okefenokee to find a group of soldiers who had deserted the Confederate Army. The next month the search party emerged, escorting six fugitives back to Camp Lee.

{SOURCE: __THE GEORGIA HISTORICAL QUARTERLY Vol. LXXXIV, No. 4, Winter 2000. "The Loanly Runagee; Draft Evaders in Confederate South Georgia," By David Carlson P. 603.}

That November, Maj. George Washington Lee led a battalion on a sweep through south Georgia searching for deserters. His men captured 20 deserters and killed another three in a skirmish (March, 1864). Most of the deserters were hiding on a large, isolated island deep in the great swamp, called Blackjack Island. The men were living in fortified camps and survived on fish and wild game, and sometimes poached cattle from farms on the edges of the swamp{FN}.

{SOURCES: P. 604-5. Valdosta Daily Times, Dec 20, 1884; C.T. Trowell, Exploring the Okefenokee: The Richard L. Hunter Survey of the Okefenokee Swamp, 1856-57 (Nicholls, Ga., 1988), 62.}

Geoergia Militia Districts in Charlton County

1220 Willisville/ The Bend

959 Gaineyville/St. George

1545 Toledo

1142 Traders Hill

32 Folkston, Homeland

1193 Thick Branch/Mattox, Uptonville, Racepond

1354 Satilla/ Winokur

After The War

Almost Forgotten Historical Notes

By John Harris

Charlton County Herald, September 14, 1977

President Grover Cleveland spoke from the rear platform of a whistle-stop campaign train at Uptonville in 1892. Cleveland had been elected as the first Democrat to become President after the War for Southern Independence, in 1884, when his party was dubbed the party of “rum, Romanism and rebellion” by the Republicans. This slogan so angered the Catholics that they helped defeat James C. Blaine, the Republican candidate. In 1888 Benjamin Harrison, a Republican, defeated President Cleveland, although Cleveland had a majority of the popular vote. But, in1892, Cleveland was again elected.

Uptonville, at this time, was the most populous community in Charlton County on the railroad, S.F.&W., and was frequently mentioned as a contender against Traders Hill as the county seat.

Francis Marion Mizell, son of Perry Stallings Mizell and Charlotte Albritton Mizell, was one of Jefferson Davis’ personal aides and was captured with him in Irwin County near Ocilla and was carried to Fort Moultrie, S.C., where he languished and died in a filthy dungeon there.

The election at Traders Hill, soon after the close of the War for Southern Independence, was manned by three black poll holders. Voters who had become of age since the close of the War, all others being disenfranchised, had to march to the polls between lines of Yankee soldiers forming an arch of guns with fixed bayonets. The list of those voting was not large.

from DeBrahm's Report
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