The McAfee Family
On August 12, 2000, members of Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 1642 held a ceremony to mark the restoration of a small forgotten cemetery off Hopewell Road in northern Forsyth County. There are only six graves in this cemetery, all members of the McAfee family. Alexander McAfee was a farmer. He had moved his large family from the Ashville area of North Carolina to Forsyth County in the 1850’s. He and his wife Harriett had eight children.
When the Civil War began, two of the McAfee sons joined Confederate regiments that were raised in Forsyth County. 21-year-old Charles A. McAfee joined Company I of the 22nd Georgia as a 1st Sergeant. 19-year-old George W. McAfee joined Company E of the 43rd Georgia as a private. The 22nd was dispatched to Virginia where they fought in Wright’s Brigade in Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Charles McAfee would be promoted to 2st Lieutenant on Dec. 27, 1861. George’s company, the 43rd Georgia, defended the Cumberland Gap before being dispatched to the defense of Vicksburg in May 1863. George served as a musician in the regimental band.
Both McAfee boys were killed within days of one another in separate battles. Charles McAfee died on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg. On July 2, 1863, his battalion advanced from Seminary Ridge across open ground to attack Federal soldiers who were holding a stone wall on Cemetery Ridge. Wright’s Battalion charged 14 canons and succeeded in capturing them, only to be driven from the position by a Yankee counter-attack. 181 of the 412 Confederates in the battalion, including Charles McAfee were casualties.
George McAfee survived the May 16th Battle of Champion Hill when his 43rd Georgia Regiment took heavy casualties covering the retreat of the Confederate Army back to Vicksburg. The 43rd was so decimated from the battle that they were placed in the southern-most part of the Vicksburg line. They endured heavy bombardment from Federal artillery. George McAfee died in the Vicksburg trenches on June 15th, shortly before the city and its defenders would surrender.
Both McAfee boys are buried in this small cemetery, as well as their parents, a brother and niece. Despite being 66 years old and having recently buried two sons, Albert McAfee joined the Cherokee Legion home guard and served with the State Guards in the fall of 1863. Today, the cemetery, which sits near the entrance to the Hopewell Manor neighborhood, remains under the care of Camp 1642. The Confederate Battle Flag is flown here in memory of these three Confederate soldiers, two of whom died while serving under this flag.
W. Cliff Roberts
Lt. David Harris Terrell of the Concord Rangers
Davy Harris was 21-years-old when he and his friends volunteered for Confederate service at the Concord Baptist Church in Forsyth County. He was the 10th of 13 children born to a pioneer settler of the county, a blacksmith and cabinet maker named Claiborne Harris, and his wife Sarah Amelia Potts. Organized into a company under Captain Edward Smith, the local men called themselves the “Cherokee Rangers” and were sent to the North Carolina coast. There were not enough Georgia troops on the Outer Banks to form a Georgia regiment so the Forsyth men fell in with the 2nd Battalion of North Carolina Infantry. After being captured and paroled on Roanoke Island in February 1862, Harris and the rest of the battalion were sent to Richmond and Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. The Battalion was in Gen. Richard Ewell’s Corp at the Battle of Gettysburg. They lost 240 men in the battle, 64% of their total, in the epic three-day struggle. Lt. Harris returned to Forsyth County on his only furlough of the war in January 1864. In the few days that he was home, Davy Harris married his childhood sweetheart, Tahlitha Smith. In April 1864, the company of Forsyth men was transferred to the 21st Georgia Infantry. One month later, at the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, Davy Harris was knocked senseless and captured in hand-to-hand fighting at the “mule shoe” on the Confederate line. He was taken to a prisoner-of-war camp in Delaware. Union officials, upset with how Southerners had been treating Yankee POWs at the Andersonville Prison in Georgia, choose to make an example of 600 Confederate officers. Harris was one of the “Immortal 600” who were sent to Morris Island outside of Charleston. They were placed in a small stockade in front of the Union cannon batteries. Under the hot Low Country sun, they endured wretched conditions, starvation rations, and constant shelling from Confederate artillery. Many of the officers died before they were finally sent back to Fort Delaware in March 1865. On June 16, 1865, Lt. Harris took an oath of allegiance to the Union and was finally released. He began a long walk home to Georgia and a new beginning. David and Lithy Harris had nine children after the war. They lived in Dahlonega and later in Hall County. David Harris was a businessman and part-owner of a gold mine. Lt. Harris died in 1912 and is buried in Alta Vista Cemetery in Gainesville.
The Warsaw Rebels
The small community of Warsaw once stood near the entrances to the large neighborhoods of Medlock Bridge and St. Ives. On the eve of the Civil War, this area was a land of cotton farms and poor roads. Most of the land was still forest, as the entire population of Milton County, according to the 1860 census, was only 3,985 people.
In 1861, calls went out across Georgia for men to defend the new Confederate nation. In the village of Alpharetta, approximately 100 volunteers organized themselves into a company of men who took the name the “Milton Tigers.” The town of Cumming raised two companies. A lawyer named Henry Kellogg organized the “Kellogg Rifles,” and another lawyer named Hiram P. Bell organized the “Zollocoffer Guards.” Warsaw would form its company on August 31, 1861. Men were drawn from the farms of what is today the city of Johns Creek, as well as young farmers from the southern portion of Forsyth County. Hampton W. Howell, a 41-year-old plantation owner, was elected captain of the newly created “Milton Rebels.” This group went to Big Shanty near Kennesaw where they received arms, uniforms, and training. Here they were one of ten companies organized into the 22nd Georgia Infantry, with the Milton Rebels taking on the designation of Company E. By the spring of 1862, the 22nd was part of Wright’s Brigade in Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.
Capt. Howell resigned in June 1862 because of poor health due to “long marches and exposure.” First Lieutenant Joseph Foster, who had been a brick mason before the war, was elected to take Howell’s place. In 1862, the Milton men lost 24 men to disease, mainly typhoid fever, and also took their first heavy casualties at the battles of King’s School House and Second Manassas. The Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, however, would be the defining moment for the 22nd Georgia. Late on the second day of the battle, Gen. James Longstreet launched a major assault on the Union’s left flank. Wright’s Brigade, made up entirely of Georgia regiments, managed to briefly reach the top of Cemetery Ridge, only to be driven back by a fierce Federal counter-attack. The Milton men of Company E were in the thick of the fight. Refusing to retreat, they were flanked on both sides, and 15 of the men, including Captain Foster, were forced to surrender. Second-in-command Lieutenant William Nesbit was wounded in the left arm, necessitating an amputation. The next day, the Confederates would attempt to take Cemetery Ridge a second time in the ill-fated Pickett’s Charge.
The Milton Rebels would continue to fight in Lee’s army until the final surrender in April 1865. The company was never more than 92 in number at any one given time, but, over the course of the war, they were supplemented by additional recruits coming from the Warsaw community. In all, 158 local men served in Company E of the 22nd Georgia. 49 were killed or died of disease during the Civil War. 26 were permanently disabled from their battle wounds. 24 became prisoners of war. 17 deserted in the final three weeks of the war, with only 22 present at the final surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.
Many Milton families sent several sons to fight in Company E. There were ten Smith’s and eight Webb’s in the company. Eight sons of Abel and Anna Crisler served in the Milton Rebels. Three sons were killed at the Battle of Second Manassas and another two were severely wounded in the same fight. Only John Wesley Crisler was able to salute the regimental flag for the last time at Appomattox Courthouse.
Texas Ranger Sam Street
Seven Confederate soldiers are buried at Shady Grove Baptist Church off McGinnis Ferry Road on the south Forsyth border with Fulton County. Most of these were local men who had gone off to fight in Virginia and Tennessee and had managed to return alive, and resume their lives as farmers. There is one notable exception. 23-year-old Samuel A. Street was from Plum Grove near Houston, Texas. He was a member of Company F, of the 8th Texas Cavalry, and he was killed in a skirmish with Yankee cavalry on a nearby farm of John and Cynthia Lowe.
On the afternoon of July 30th, a squad of Yankee horsemen came riding down McGinnis Ferry Road. They were on a foraging mission, but, to the local families, they were “raiders.” They pulled up at the farm of John Lowe, a 50-year-old farmer, and his wife, Cynthia Rogers Lowe. The farm was in the center of Sheltonville, with the family’s corn fields on both sides of the road. Mr. Lowe’s house stood on the south side of the road, in what was then Milton County. About six to eight Rebel cavalrymen were eating dinner at an old cotton ginhouse, some one hundred yards behind his home. This small contingent of Rebel horsemen were not just any group of cavalry soldiers. They were members of “Terry’s Texas Rangers,” formally known as the 8th Texas Cavalry, perhaps the most elite scouts in the western theater. Since coming east at the beginning of the war, the 8th Texas Cavalry had fought in more than 200 engagements, including the major Battles of Shiloh, Perryville, and Chickamauga. Equally adept at fighting from horseback or on foot, they were praised by Confederate generals for their skill and willingness to fight. A Union officer, whose misfortune it had been to cross swords with the elite 8th Texas Cavalry, observed that “the Texas Rangers are as quick as lightening. They ride like Arabs, shoot like archers at the mark, and fight like devils.” By 1864, much of their uniform and equipment had been procured from raids on Yankee supply bases deep behind enemy lines. They would never fail, however, to wear the Texas Star on their belt buckle and war hats.
The two adversaries immediately recognized each other and rifle shots rang out. Six-year-old Albert Matthew Bell would later recall that he was playing under a large poplar tree directly between the two groups of soldiers. He lay on the ground as minie balls flew over his head. The Texans were at a disadvantage as they were outnumbered and their horses were grazing in a nearby field. The Rebels made a run for their mounts, but two of their number were hit as they retreated. Sam Street was struck in the head and died instantly. 32-year-old George Zimpelman, a German native, was shot in the chest and fell to the ground severely wounded. According to the later recollections of Mr. Bell, the remaining Confederates departed quickly.
Local residents buried Sam Street in the Shady Grove Cemetery and Mr. Lowe paid to have a marker put on his grave. George Zimpelman, who had already been wounded eight times in previous engagements, was taken to the home of Henry and Louisa Rogers, which was the original home of the pioneer settler John Rogers and his Cherokee wife Sarah Cordery. After weeks of constant care, Mr. Zimpelman managed to regain his strength. He would thank his Sheltonville hosts, and start a long journey home to Austin, Texas. This brave cavalry scout did not make it far as he was captured in Alpharetta and taken to Johnson’s Island, a prisoner-of-war camp in Ohio. After the war, George Zimpelman did return to Austin where he served as sheriff of Travis County for eight years. He later became a successful banker, father of five, and died in his home state in 1908. A statue in honor of Terry's Texas Rangers stands proudly next to the front entrance of the Texas State Capitol.
John W. James, 9th Battalion, Georgia Light Artillery
John W. James, a member of the 9th Georgia Battalion Light Artillery, is one of several Confederates buried in Cumming City Cemetery. John was born in Forsyth County in 1841, the oldest of nine children born to Andrew Jackson James and Elizabeth Martin. His father was a blacksmith and “mechanic.” On January 17, 1861, only months before Fort Sumter, John wed 16-year-old Margaret “Maggie” Jane Phillips, daughter of Rev. King David Phillips and Tabitha Estes. The couple had a daughter Mary that same year. On May 10, 1862, Captain Tyler Macon Peeples enlisted John James in the “Gwinnett Artillery,” soon to be Company D of the Georgia Light Artillery Battery. There were five companies in the 9th Battalion. The unit would fight in Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia.
Company D participated in the Battle of Chickamauga and protected a ridge near Chickamauga Creek with two 12-pound Napoleon cannons, two 24-pound howitzers and 69 rounds of ammunition. Captain Peeples reported that his company “was subjected to a very severe enfilading fire of artillery as well as a direct fire from artillery and infantry in its front.” Company D held their position until “near dark and the action ceased.” Several cannoneers were wounded and the company lost 11 horses in the fight. While near Winchester in the Shenandoah Valley in the spring of 1864, members of the 9th Battalion were ordered to abandon their light artillery and report to Richmond to man the heavy artillery protecting the city. During the siege of Richmond and Petersburg, July 1864 to April1865, they were on duty at Fort Gilmer and Fort Hoke. When the Confederate lines finally broke on April 2, 1865, the Georgians spiked their siege guns, blew up their magazines, and marched out with Lee's retreating army. Major A. Leyden and 19 men were present for the final surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.
In the 1870 census, 28-year-old John James lived in Cumming and ran a “country store.” He had $50 in real estate and store goods valued at $1,700. Margaret was now 23 and their daughter Mary was 9. Brother Davis James, 22, worked as a clerk in the store. Dicy Vaughn, a 30-year-old mulatto servant, and her 5-year-old son Joseph completed the household. John James died in Cumming on 26 March 1879. He was only 37 and his death must have been unexpected. In the 1880 census, 34-year-old Margaret was living with her daughter Mary in Cumming. Mary had married Homer Virgil Jones, a Forsyth County farmer, in 1879, and they had a six-month old son named John C. Jones. The flat grave marker for John James in the Cumming Cemetery reports that he was a member of the 9th Battalion from 1862 to 1865. The marble stone also notes that wife Margaret died in Atlanta, Texas in 1912. Atlanta is in the rural piney woods of East Texas, a few miles below Texarkana. Margaret had married Sidney I. Johnson in 1889 in Rome, Floyd County.