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James Warren Price was the next youngest son born to James Mitchell Price and Elizabeth Lindsey in Johnson County, Georgia, the year of 1841. Though we are certain of his full birth name, he always went by his middle name and is listed as Warren Price in records. Among his siblings were three sisters and six brothers. Records indicate at least two of his brothers served in the Confederate Army: Larsen and Clement whom died in Virginia. Warren’s wife, Susan’s brothers are also indicated on the casualty list of Confederate Soldiers: one KIA at Manassas, the other wounded at Sharpsburg. All these events took place prior to the date of Warren’s enlistment, so he knew the cost of freedom and what it meant to serve in the Confederate Army beforehand.
Provable Service Events
The Combined Service Records indicate that James Warren Price was conscripted 25 Dec 1863. On a ‘Camp of Instruction’ card dated 11 Feb 1864, Camp Randolph, Decator, Georgia, he was assigned to the 1st Georgia Regulars by Major John R. Andrews and is described as a 23 year old farmer from Johnson County, Georgia with grey eyes, light hair, light complexion, six feet tall. With no indication of his disposition, the May/June record additionally shows him as “Absent : Sent to Lake City, Florida Hospital on 25 Apr 1864.” That same card indicates that his “pay was due from enlistment,” an all to common problem in the Confederate Army. His last card shows him as being paroled 22 May 1865 at Augusta, Ga. It is interesting to note that most of his unit was paroled in Greensboro, NC; this means he was probably separated from them somehow. That he was listed as “paroled” and not “deserted” is an important detail in this assessment. Family lore suggests that he was indeed at Tybee Island, prior to the evacuation of Savannah , apparently having cooked a large meal for his fellow soldiers. It seems reasonable that he was somehow taken POW sometime around the fall of Augusta.. Family oral tradition suggests that he walked back to Wrightsville from Augusta, after he was paroled. There is also evidence that the Sandersville Mercury paid him $10 for his life story, just before his death; though, many attempts to locate the narrative have proved unprofitable. Unfortunately, these are all the details about his service we can know with any level of certainty.
It is reasonable to draw further conclusions about his service from a study of his unit, the 1st Georgia Regulars, Company I. Unlike many other units that mainly consisted of troops from one general geographic area, the 1st Georgia Regulars was made up of citizen soldiers from areas as diverse as Resacca, Macon, Savannah, Atlanta, and so on. Though much can be said about an individuals diverse reasoning for doing what they do, it seems that the motive for enlistment explained by First Sergeant of the 1st Georgia Regulars, Company M, W.H. Andrews in his Footprints of a Regiment : A Recollection of the 1st Georgia Regulars seems to sum up the sentiments of most: “Being a firm believer in the doctrine of states rights and secession, I considered it my duty to shoulder a musket in defense of my native state, which I put in execution …” (Andrews 2)
The motives of the Confederate Soldier were indeed honorable and should always be remembered as such.
Prior to Warren’s service the 1st Ga Regulars were sent to Savannah and then assigned to the Army of Northern Virginia (ANV), where they were heavily engaged in nearly every notable battle of 1862 in the Old Dominion State (Andrews 101). While serving in the ANV, the 1st Ga Regulars sustained heavy losses both in dead & wounded and were greatly reduced in numbers. On page 101, Andrews writes that in Dec 1862:
The Regulars had been relieved from duty with the Army of Northern Virginia on account of their small numbers, only 150 men in the regiment. One year ago, three companies would have made a larger regiment than we have today. How sad to look at our depleted rank and think of our comrades who have passed in their checks.
The regiment had suffered greatly and had earned a place of notable fame as well respected battle-hardened veterans. They saw many comrades fall and met many enemy forces. The hardships they endured led Andrews to write on page 28:
Life would be no inducement to me to go through what I did during the war. I would have considered myself blessed if I had died at the commencement of the war and escaped the hardships and sufferings through which I had to undergo.
Due to those experiences, the 1st Ga Regulars were apparently unwelcoming towards new recruits. As Andrews writes, “The Regulars claim themselves old veterans of many hard fought battles and have no use for anyone who has not shared their hardships and battles with them.”
At the time of their relief from duty in the ANV, the Regulars were brought back to Georgia a short time, where they stayed at Macon 13 January 1863 until 20 Mar 1863, some securing furloughs while there (Andrews 106-7, 112).
They were then ordered to Jacksonville, Florida, which the Union forces had invaded. Much emphasis at this time was placed on picket duty in the surrounding areas, which later contributed heavily to disease. There was also a great deal of malnourishment during this time, which Andrews describes at length. In one example he states:
Something to eat is getting pretty dear and Confederate money is getting almost worthless. Molasses, 500 per gallon, sugar 100 per pound, sweet potatoes 250 per bushel, chickens 175 each, eggs 150 per dozen, fresh pork 100 per pound, and corn meal 300 per bushel. A private soldier’s monthly pay, 11.00 dollars, will just about pay for his breakfast.
It was not the heavy fighting that they had endured earlier in Virginia, but it certainly was no slumber party.
On 8 Feb 1864, the Regulars were advanced to the direction Lake City, Florida, where the Confederate military headquarters had been reestablished after the capture of Jacksonville and the advancing of Union troops on Tallahassee (Andrews 123). Along the way they were engaged in a hard fought skirmish the morning of 11 Feb 1864, which appears to be a small Confederate victory (Andrews 123). They were placed in defense with earthworks around Ocean Pond, a large body of water near Olustee Station, about 14 Feb 1864 (Andrews 125). On 20 Feb 1864, the Battle of Olustee became the largest battle fought in all of Florida (Andrews 127 pp.). This engagement resulted in a Confederate victory that was attributed to the prevention of much Shermanesque devastation of lower Georgia and upper Florida. Confederate forces were highly outnumbered and out gunned with Union forces employing Colored Troops and Sharps Rifles. The Regulars were no small factor in the outcome of this engagement. Andrews narrates on page 128:
The Battle was in a great measure won by Gen. Colquitt ordering the troops out of the works to attack the enemy when first discovered. Had he drawn them on the works the enemy could have faced them with an equal number of men and still had an army larger than Gen. Finegan’s to have flanked him on his right, his left being protected by Ocean Pond and thus flanked him out of his position without a fight. Olustee was a hard-fought battle and numbers were killed and wounded on both sides. After the battle, Finegan’s Command followed up the vanquished Federals to Jacksonville, where they were protected by their gunboats.
During the battle, the casualty list notably included Capt. Cannon, commanding the Regulars, the Regulars Adjutant, the Regulars Color bearer, and others (Andrews 128).
After some light duty in the Camp Milton, Florida are which even included a sport of ‘war games with fire set pine cones’ a couple of nights (Andrews 130), the Regulars returned to Savannah 16 May 1864 where they were on picket duty at Whitmarsh Island, Fort Pulaski having been previously taken by Union forces (Andrews 135). They were ordered to Johns Island, SC around 3 July 1864, where they engaged the enemy in skirmishes and the Battle of Waterloo (Andrews 136-8). On 13 July 1864 they were sent from Battery Haskell to James Island and took up quarters at Secessionville, where they endured heavy bombardment by the enemy forces at Morris Island (Andrews 145-6).
When the Regulars were placed back in Savannah on 2 Aug 1864, they were exercised as guards over POW’s that had been sent from Andersonville, apparently with the promise of a prisoner exchange (Andrews 148-9). During this time, another glimpse into the high points of Confederate Service is noted in the midst of all the suffering, as Andrews states on page 149 about a prank pulled on him in the camps:
The boys are going to have their fun, and the best you can do is to take it like a little man, because if you get mad and want to fight, you will certainly be accommodated. The boys mean no harm, and if it was not for the mischief carried on in camps, all would die of the blues. So here is hoping our mischievous buys may live long to enjoy the pranks they play on the rest of us.
He names specific soldiers amongst the ranks as class clown as it were, but the point is clear: in times of war, you find importance in the little times of peace you make amongst your fellow soldiers.
From 24 Sept 1864 until the evacuation of 9 Dec 1864, the Regulars were once again placed on picket at Whitmarsh Island. The weather was frigid and food was spares. The troops rounded up anything they could get to eat : crabs, oysters, and even acorns & rats (Andrews 151). John Porter Fort, 2nd Lt. of the Regulars writes on page 148 in History of the Last Campaign of the First Georgia Regulars of the Confederate States Army in the Civil War 1864-5, “The First Georgia Regulars consisted at this time of about two hundred and fifty men.” He was acting adjutant for the regiment. Though he had brazenly denied Sherman’s request for the surrender of the city (Fort 148), the rest of Savannah was evacuated under orders from Gen. Hardee the night of 20 Dec 1864 (Andrews 153). They crossed over the river into South Carolina on pontoons (Fort 149) and bivouacked near the Charleston and Savannah Railroad station at Hardeeville and went on to pickets at Pocotaligo (Andrews 155). While at this location on pickets, the enemy was within spitting distance of them, just over the creek (Fort 152).
The Battle of Pocotaligo was fought 15 Jan 1865 with the inclusion of the regiment. The next day, they crossed the river and burned the railroad bridge, which gave a short reprieve. 20 Jan 1865 the unit engaged the enemy at the Battle of Salkehatchie, which resulted in the unit retreating to the swamps with much fighting and confusion. “The Regulars were cut off from the rest of the command and marched all night by themselves” (Andrews 163). Regarding this time, Fort states on page 154:
The troops in this campaign carried all their camp implements with them, every soldier had his haversack with from one to two days rations in it and his arms and ammunition. I always carried an ax, bedding for myself and messmate, whereas he carried a cooking utensil and a small tent fly.
The troops were beaten down pretty bad; it seemed they were in a hurry to get anywhere that Sherman’s troops weren’t heading, but they were still prepared to fight it out. And fight it out they did. As Fort writes on page 156:
Our entire regimental force in commencing this retreat was something over two hundred men. All of the command was more or less enfeebled by malarial fevers because of bad water and location during the past summer while in front of Savannah. We were unable to obtain quinine, the only remedy know for malaria, as its importation into our lines had been forbidden by the Federal authorities.
He continues on the page after describing the engagement at Broxton’s Bridge:
Our marching and counter marching taxed endurance of which any troops were capable, and some of our best soldiers gave out. They were exhausted by reason of poor food, poor supplies and a summer encampment in a malarial region. Some few were captured, others escaped in the swamps and finally arrived at Augusta, Georgia. We probably lost one-fourth of our command before we arrived near the north-western border of South Carolina.
This seems highly relevant to a study of what happened to separate Warren from his unit.
Early February 1865 placed the Regulars moving towards Charleston along the Edisto River and on to Kingstree and Cheraw by late month. On picket duty in Cheraw, two looting Union troops were captured which Fort takes the opportunity to describe the difference in motive between the Confederate soldier and his enemy. He describes them on page 160:
They were ignorant foreigners and know about as much of what they were fighting for as an ox, but were ready to kill, plunder and burn as long as they were paid and fed.
The Battle of Cheraw commenced 3 Mar 1865 with the Regulars under orders from Gen. Hardee to be the last troops out of town, after burning the bridge. Andrews say of this battle, “Altogether, Cheraw was a mighty bad place, and one I don’t want to see again.” He continues, “At the same time, the 1st Regulars preformed a gallant feat in charging and retaking the bridge” (Andrews 169). Further explanation of the victory is found in Fort’s assertion that the Regulars were exceptionally good marksmen, accurate with their Enfield Muskets up to 200 yards (Fort 158). This was no small achievement either, as it provided all to valuable time in which Sherman could not pursue them until he built pontoons.
After the Battle of Cheraw, the Regiment went up to the Cape Fear, where they received back pay. As Andrews states on page 170:
March 14, regiment paid six month’s wages at 18 dollars per month. I sent 50 dollars home, [with] which my mother purchased 50 pounds of lard. Pretty good money at that. The only wonder is that it passed at all.
It seems that there would be a record of this; however, the exceptionally poor records of the unit are explained by the fact is that the Adjutant of the unit was killed at Olustee.
The regiment was engaged at the Battle of Averysboro and again at the Battle of Bentonville in mid March 1865, which proved to be their last major engagement. After Gen. Johnston withdrew his army across the river on 22 Mar 1865, it was reorganized. The Regulars were combined with the 47th Regiment and the 28th Battalion (Andrew 178). They found out about Lee’s 10 Apr 1865 surrender from ANV troops returning home. Johnston surrendered 26 Apr 1865.
Given the dates of his enlistment and the fact that he was definitely admitted into the hospital in nearby Lake City, it seems clear that Warren fought in the Battle of Olusttee. That there is not proof of Warren being wounded, we are left to conclude that he was sick; as we have seen, malaria was rampant in his unit at the time. After that event, it seems that he was separated from his unit, either by orders or by force of battle after the evacuation of Savannah. Gut instinct suggests that the explanation quoted above about being separated in battle and retreat is how he came to be paroled in Augusta and not with his unit in Greensboro. Though we may never know for sure, these details seem most likely.
Andrews, W.H., Footprints of a Regiment: A Recollection of the 1st Georgia Regulars 1861-1865; Longstreet Press, Atlanta 1992.
Fort, John Porter, ‘History of the Last Campaign of the First Georgia Regulars of the Confederate States Army in the Civil War 1864-5’ in Memoirs of the Fort and Fannin Families; edited by Fort, Kate Hayes: MacGowan & Cooke Co., Chattanooga 1903.
Confederate Service Records; National Archives, Washington, DC.