How Many Served?
Exactly how many Giles Countians served the Confederate cause will probably never be known. Few Confederate company records and rosters survived the war. Utilizing what records are available, we can estimate that more than 3000 Giles County men and boys served in the Confederate army.
A military company was composed of approximately 100 men, but there was no set rule as to an exact number of men required to form a company. Records indicate that Captain Andrew R. Gordon's company of Holman's Cavalry Battalion initially had 160 men, while Captain James River's company of the same battalion had 100 men. A roster of Company K, 1st Tennessee Infantry lists 105 men. Surely some companies were formed with less than 100 men.
There were 23 companies formed in Giles County, Tennessee, during 1861 and early 1862. They were comprised primarily of Giles County men, however some of these companies are known to be partially composed of men from neighboring counties. Many were from the Cornersville area, which was part of Giles County during the war. Other Giles Countians served in regiments that were raised in neighboring Maury, Marshall, Lincoln, and Lawrence counties. Some from southern Giles County served in Alabama regiments. A few Giles Countians are known to have served in the 7th Kentucky Cavalry.
The 23 companies raised in Giles County were:
Approximately 2300 Giles County men and boys volunteered for service in the Confederate army prior to the inception of the Confederate draft. Tremendous loses of men due to death, desertion, illness, and injury reduced the Confederate ranks drastically during the latter part of 1861 and early 1862. A draft and continued recruiting efforts were required to refill the ranks.
A history of Holman's Battalion tells us that they were sent to Giles County in the latter part of 1862 to "assist in enforcing the conscript law and arresting deserters from the army." Major Flavel C. Barber of the 3rd TN Infantry told in his diary of recruiting in the fall of 1862: "About one third of the officers of our regiment were detailed on the recruiting service and ordered home to procure recruits to fill up our different companies, and by good luck I was placed upon that list."
As time passed, the Confederate draft was expanded to include younger boys and older men. Some Giles County boys joined the Confederate army as soon as they became of age. Others, too young, lied about their age and joined the army. Some young boys ran away from home to join the army.
There are no records available to indicate how many Giles County men and boys joined the Confederate army in 1862, 1863, 1864, and as late as 1865, but many did. Some were conscripted, but most volunteered. We can safely estimate that more than enough joined, when added to the known 2300, to bring the total number of Giles Countians who served the Confederate cause to well over 3000. Submitted by Bob Wamble
This page is made possible by the generousity of Bob Wamble. He is the author of Giles County, Tennessee Confederate Veterans, 1994.