William T. Wofford

William T. Wofford

Last week we returned to Georgia for a few days. I wanted to retrace a part of the Sherman-Johnston "red clay minuet," as Shelby Foote called it, so we visited battle sites in Resaca, Cassville, Kennesaw Mtn. and environs, and the Chattahoochee crossing site at Paces Ferry.

Cassville was a thriving town in 1864, boasting two four year colleges. Unfortunately for Cassville, Sherman carried out his total war strategy there, burning the town, which was never re-built. The Cassville Cemetery exists still, however, with many unknown CSA dead buried not far from the grave of General William T. Wofford.

My interest in Gen. Wofford is twofold. He was born in the county of my birth, Habersham Co., Ga. in 1824. But primarily he was brigade commander of my great-great grandfather's units, the 18th Georgia Infantry and, later, the 3rd Ga. Sharpshooters. GGrandad was wounded at 2nd Manassas, presumably fought at Gettysburg, and went AWOL from the CSA in late 1864.

Wofford, however was more persevering. He practiced law in Cassville until serving as a Captain of Ga. Volunteer Cavalry in the Mexican War under Winfield Scott. He served in the Ga. Legislature from '49 until '53, and was a member of the State Secession Convention in '61, opposing secession, but remaining loyal to the CSA, disloyal to the USA.

In the Civil War he was colonel in the 18th Ga., serving in the Seven Days, 2nd Manassas, South Mountain and Sharpsburg. His brigade commander, Gen. T.R.R. Cobb was killed at Fredericksburg. Col. Wofford succeeded him, being promoted to brigadeir general in Jan., '63. His brigade consisted of the 16th, 18th, and 24th Ga. Infantry Regiments, Cobb's and Phillip's Ga. Legions, and the 3rd Ga. Sharpshooters Battalion.

Wofford's Brigade was actively engaged at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wilderness, Spotsylvania CH, Knoxville, Overland Campaign, Petersburg, and the Shenandoah Valley. The general was wounded both at the Wilderness and at Spotsylvania CH.

At Gettysburg his brigade(McLaws' Div., Longstreet's Corps) supported Barksdale's Brigade and was engaged in the stony hill area, Trostle's Woods and the Wheatfield, lending "...new life and hope to Kershaw's and Semmes' men on its right..." (Pfanz). McLaws considered him bold and daring, but B.G. Humphreys felt him prone to "charge into disaster."

In '65, at the request of Gov. Joe Brown, Wofford commanded troops in North Georgia, quelling "lawlessness" and administering the area. He was paroled at Resaca, Ga in May, 1865.

Following the war, he was elected to the US Congress, but was refused his seat by the Republicans. He remained active in Georgia politics, however, being a Presidential Elector in '72 and '76. He died in Cassville on May 22, 1884.

Many served valiantly at Gettysburg; unfortunately, we "get to know" only a few of the shining lights and scoundrels. Thanks for listening to my recap of a few highlights in the career of a "citizen soldier," a soldier who commanded my relative in those sad days last century.