Alabamians in 31st Georgia
Previous posts have described Alabamians in Georgia units, and Georgians in Alabama units. Another example is Company C "Mitchell Guards" of the 31st Georgia, which was formed in southeast Alabama, especially in Dale and Barbour counties. At Gettysburg, the company was led by Captain Joseph Ganes Sanders, a "backwoods, unlettered farmer and millwright" from Dale county, who had originally enlisted as a private [The Alabama Review, vol. 47, January 1994, no. 1]. The cited article says the company was organized at Glennville, a community between Eufaula and Phenix City, and was composed of men from Dale, Coffee, Barbour and Henry counties. Among the company's casualties at Gettysburg was a Private W. G. Thornton, who ADAH records indicate applied for a pension in Dale county in 1891. Another casualty of that battle was James L. McNair, who was born in Georgia but resided in Alabama [see the Georgia board for details on McNair]. On the first day of Gettysburg, the 31st was on the left of Gordon's brigade, touching the Harrisburg road, and in the afternoon attack they overcame some skirmishers of the 17th Connecticut around the Josiah Benner place, and also the 54th New York posted on the opposite side of Rock Creek. So it can be stated that Alabama men helped roll up the right flank of the Union 11th Corps, which is something you will never find in the histories of that battle. According to the Alabama Review article, Sanders resigned on 29 January 1864, and joined the Union army to avoid conscription, becoming a 2nd Lieutenant in Company F, 1st Florida Cavalry Volunteers. He went AWOL and was discharged from federal service. He eventually returned home to his wife and children in Dale county, but was gunned down by an unknown assailant on 19 February 1867 in Decatur county, 50 miles from his home.