(1834 - 1879)
Home State: Georgia
Education: Ga Military Institute, Class of 1856
Command Billet: Commanding Regiment
Branch of Service: Infantry
Unit: 26th Georgia Infantry
Edmund was sent to the Georgia Military Institute for military training and graduated in 1856 at the age of 21. This education made him one of the few people in his part of the state who knew how to drill raw troops or move a military unit from one point to another.
Consequently when War broke out in 1861, despite his youth, he became Adjutant of the 13th Georgia Regiment made up of militia companies from Southeastern Georgia Counties. Upon its reorganization the regiment was designated the 26th Georgia Regiment and Edmund was elected its Colonel. He was 26 years old and his Colonel's commission dated from May 10, 1862.
We have no portrait of him* but his pension records indicate that he had dark hair, gray eyes, and dark complexion and he was about 5 ft. 9 inches tall.
On the Campaign
Lawton's Brigade and the 26th Georgia were positioned at the south of the Cornfield. They bore the brunt of Hooker's early morning attack. In a short time half of the Brigade's soldiers were casualties. Here Colonel Atkinson received the first of many wounds he would get in the war. It was a severe one.
The rest of the War
He had returned to his regiment in time to participate in the Battle of Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862. He was put in command of Lawton's Brigade immediately before the engagement although a brigade commander was usually a brigadier general. When Meade"s troops (Federal) penetrated a swampy area which had been left undefended on the Confederate right, Colonel Atkinson led a riveting counter-attack that drove the Yankees out of the salient and routed them. Atkinson outdistanced his troops and was wounded and captured. He was paroled and exchanged within a few days of his capture.
In the Spotsylvania battle of May 12, 1864, Col. Atkinson was in the forefront of Gordon's counter-attack that was successful in restoring the Confederate line. He was in the thick of the fight, yelling and waving his men on with his sword.
The gallant Colonel was captured again at the Confederate defeat at Fisher's Hill on September 22, 1864, in the Shenandoah Valley. This time Atkinson was out of the war for good. He was sent to Fort Delaware prison on September 25, 1864. He was finally released on July 24, 1865, after taking the Oath of Allegiance.
After the War
He came home to a part of the Southland that had not been ravaged by war but most of the coastal planters were ruined and bankrupt by the defeat and subsequent reconstruction.
Colonel Atkinson was one of those who tried to rebuild his country. He ran for the Legislature, like his father before him, and was elected in 1866. It must have been a trying time for anyone in government who was a former Confederate.
He died in 1879 when he was only 44 years old. Perhaps the years of hard campaigning had ruined his health as it did many others.
More on the Web
Excellent job in Family History by the Colonel's decendents. Much of the text above is from a Eulogy at that site, delivered by Judge Ben Smith on May 29, 1994 at Lott Cemetery in Waycross, Georgia at the CSA Dedication of Memorial of Colonel Edmund N. Atkinson.
*The family has posted a damaged photograph of the Colonel, as provided by Gina Fisher (thanks to O.J. Hickox for the find).
11/14/1834; Camden County, GA
1879 in GA; burial in Lott Cemetery, Waycross, Georgia