Sketch of Pettus’ Brigade by Gen. Edmund Winston Pettus of Selma


By Gen. Edmund Winston Pettus,1 Of Selma.

(Transcription from Transactions of the Alabama Historical Society, Volume 2, 1898)

Head Qrs. Pettus Brigade,2

Camp near Dalton, Georgia

March 17th 1864

Col. W. H. Fowler

Richmond, Va.

Colonel: – Your letter of the 8th inst. with circulars enclosed, was received yesterday. I hope you will be successful in the work you have undertaken.

This Brigade is composed of five Regiments — the 20th Ala. Regt., commanded by Col. James M. Dedman; the 23rd Ala. Regt. Col. F. K. Beck, but now commanded by Lt. Col. J. B. Bibb; the 30th Ala. Regt., commanded by Col. Charles M. Shelly; the 31st Ala. Regt., commanded by Col. Daniel R. Hundley, and the 46th Ala. Regt., Col. M. L. Woods: but now commanded by Capt. Geo. E. Brewer.

Brigadier General Edmund Winston Pettus, C.S.A. (1821-1907) Before his appointment (Q4667 Alabama Department of Archives and History)

The Brigade was organized in its present form in November, 1862, under the command of Brig. Gen. E. D. Tracy, who was killed on the 1st of May, 1863, at the battle of Port Gibson. Col. I. W. Garrott of the 20th Ala. Regt., then command[ed] the Brigade for a few days; and was relieved by Brig. Gen. Stephen D. Lee, who commanded the Brigade at the battle of Baker’s Creek3 and during the Siege of Vicksburg. Col. Garrott was about the 25th of May, 1863, promoted to be Brig. Gen.; but he never heard of his promotion, and was killed at Vicksburg on the 17th day of June, 1863. A short time after the surrender of Vicksburg Brig. Gen. S. D. Lee was made a Major General and assigned to the command of the Cavalry in Miss. On the 18th day of September, 1863, I, being then Lt. Col. of the 20th Ala. Regt., was made a Brig. Gen. and assigned to the command of this Brigade. My appointment as Colonel of the 20th Ala. Regt. was made before, but was not received until after I had accepted my present position.

Edmund Winston Pettus

My Staff officers are Capt. John S. Smith, A. A. General, (of Perry County, Ala., appointed Oct. 18, 1863, from Adjutant of 20th Ala. Regt.); Maj. John E. McElrath, A. Q. M. (of East Tenn.), appointed Dec. 11, 1862; Maj. W. P. Hollingsworth (of Cherokee Co., Ala.), A. C. S., appointed Nov. 1, 1862; and Capt. J. A. Story (of Calhoun Co., Ala.), appointed May 27, 1862. My aide dc camp has not been appointed.

I will try to aid you in your work, so far as it may relate to my brigade.

I am Sir, most respectfully,

Your Obt. Serve, Edmd4. W. Pettus, Brig. Gen. Com’ding.

1E. W. Pettus was born in Limestone County, Ala., July 6, 1821; is the youngest child of John Pettus and Alice T., a daughter of Capt. Anthony Winston, of Virginia, a revolutionary soldier; was educated at the common schools in Alabama and at Clinton College, in Smith County. Tenn.: studied law in the office of William Cooper, then the leader of the bar in North Alabama; was admitted to the bar in 1842, and commenced the practice of law at Gainesville, Ala., as partner of Hon. Turner Reavis; in 1844 was elected solicitor for the seventh circuit; served as a lieutenant in the Mexican war; in 1849 resigned the office of solicitor and went, with a party of his neighbors, on horseback to California; was elected judge of the seventh circuit after his return to Alabama in 1855, but resigned that office in 1858, and removed to Dallas County, where he now resides; resumed the practice of law as a member of the firm of Pettus. Pegues & Dawson; in 1861 went into the Confederate army as major of the Twentieth Alabama Infantry, and soon afterwards was made lieutenant-colonel of that regiment; in October, 1863, was made a brigadier-general of infantry, and served till the close of the war, and he was in many battles; after the war returned to his home and to the practice of law. and has continued at that work since; since he became a voter has been a member of the Democratic party; in November, 1896. was nominated by that party, and elected by the legislature of Alabama United States Senator for the term commencing March 4, 1807, and expiring March 3, 1903; never was, before, a candidate for any political office; has been a delegate to all of the Democratic national conventions, except the first and last, since the war, and when a delegate, was chairman of the Alabama delegation. For further references see Brewer’s Alabama, pp. 227-229; Hardy’s Selma (1879). p. 175; Garrett’s Public Men in Alabama, pp. 382-383; Smith and DeLand’s Northern Alabama, pp 667-668; and Brant and Fuller’s Memorial Record of Alabama, vol. i, pp. 900-004. Each of these sketches contains many incidents in the military career of Gen. Pettus.

2This letter is taken from the original on file in the office of the Adjutant General of Alabama, among the papers of W. H. Fowler. An account of his work is found in this volume.

3A copy of Gen. Lee’s report on the battle of Baker’s Creek is in the archives of the Society, having been supplied by him. It is printed in the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, vol. xxiv, part 2, pp. 101-103.

4Brewer’s Alabama contains short accounts of these several Regiments, with staff and company commanders.

Incomplete returns of the 20th, 30th and 31st Regiments are on file in the office of the Adjutant General of Alabama. Rosters of the 46th, “Complete with historical memoranda from organization to surrender,” except of Co’s. B. E. F. and I., are also on file.

Prison Experiences during the Late War (1874) is the title of an interesting volume by Col. Daniel R. Hundley, 31st Ala., one of the Regiments of this Brigade, in which he details camp life, service in the field, capture, imprisonment, escape, etc.

ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS – Volume I – IV: Four Volumes in One

The first four Alabama Footprints books – Volumes 1-IV have been combined into one book


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