Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Confederate Family Reunion in Abbeville GA Part 1

I attended my Rhodes family reunion in Abbeville GA the weekend of June 28-30th.  We had an early lunch at Cracker Barrel with my cousin Richard and his wife Ramona in Cordele on Saturday morning.  Richard is the pastor of his apostolic church in Abbeville.   My grandmother lived most of her life on her farm there just south of Abbeville and my mother was born there.  I recall many summers there fishing and hanging around with Richard as he lived across Highway 129 from my grandmothers place.  My mother and Richard's father were first cousins.  Richard bought my grandmother's farm from her and has done a wonderful job renovating the place and he raises dogs there.  After some good fellowship over lunch and catching up we took off for our Confederate field trip.  I had never known growing up there that such rich Confederate history laid there in this part of south Georgia.  The previous year I had found information about my great grandfather Joseph Edwards Rhodes who fought in Company E of the 49th Georgia Infantry in the Army of Northern Virginia.  He is buried at Cedar Creek Baptist Church just north of Abbeville.  I battled the gnats and finally found his grave under the stand of moss draped oak trees in the cemetery and planted a Confederate flag there.   The 49th Georgia Infantry served in Georgia and North Carolina and were assigned to General J.R. Anderson's and E.L. Thomas' Brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia.  They participated in battles from Seven Pines to Cold Harbor and fought in the Petersburg Trenches and were surrendered at Appomattox.  The unit reported 68 casualties at Second Manassas and 61 at Fredericksburg, 13% at Chancellorsville and over 25% at Gettysburg.  Joseph enlisted on May 10, 1862 and was wounded less than two months later on June 30, 1862 in the Seven Days' Battle at Savages Station.  Union Gen. McClellan approached Richmond intent on getting close enough to bombard the Confederate capital with his artillery. But Confederate General Robert E. Lee's troops repelled the invaders and in the deadly Battle of Gaines Mill where there accrued 15,000 casualties, succeeded in forcing their retreat.  The action on June 30th at Savages Station included hand to hand combat.  On July 1st the final day of the battle proved to be the bloodiest where at Malvern Hill, Union forces holding the high ground were able to avoid total destruction and capture by the Army of Northern Virginia but the defense of Richmond was successful and Lee was hailed as a hero.  Joseph Rhodes returned home to recuperate for four months but then he reenlisted in the wagon trains and was wounded again in battle near Sharpsburg Maryland on September 17, 1864.   He was captured near Petersburg VA on May 25, 1865 and was sent to Point Lookout Prison in Maryland as a prisoner of war.  He was released on June 17, 1865, making his way back to Georgia and his family.  A true unsung Confederate hero - what a record of service for the Cause.

Joseph Edwards Rhodes Grave in Cedar Creek Cemetery near Abbeville GA

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