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R. A. Toombs

R. A. Toombs

Confederate (CSA)

Brigadier General

Robert Augustus Toombs

(1810 - 1885)

Home State: Georgia

Education: Union College (NY), U of Virginia - Law, Class of 1828

Command Billet: Briagade Commander

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: Toombs' Brigade


see his Battle Report

Before Sharpsburg

Before the War he was a very successful planter and Lawyer. He then entered politics: member of Georgia state house (1837-43); U.S. Representative from Georgia 8th District (1845-53); U.S. Senator from Georgia (1853-61); delegate to Georgia secession convention (1861); Delegate from Georgia to the Confederate Provisional Congress (1861-62); Confederate Secretary of State (1861)..

In July 1861 he was commissioned Brigadier General and commanded Toombs' Brigade in D. R. Jones' Division. He was at the Seven Days.

On the Campaign

As the Army crossed into Maryland on 6 September, Brig.Gen. Jones assigned him command of a semi-division of his own and two other brigades, Drayton's, and Col. G. T. Anderson's. By the 13th, however, he was in practical command of little more than his own brigade: Drayton's was returned to Jones' Division, less the 50th Georgia, and G.T. Anderson's Brigade attached to Hood's Division.

Toombs' was the small force that held the ground immediately above what became known as Burnside's Bridge for several crucial hours on 17 September 1862. As he says it in his report of October 1862:

At between 9 and 10 o'clock the enemy made his first attempt to carry the bridge by a rapid assault, and was repulsed with great slaughter, and at irregular intervals, up to about 1 o'clock, made four other attempts of the same kind, all of which were gallantly met and successfully repulsed by the Twentieth and Second Georgia. The Fiftieth Georgia and the half company from General Jenkins' brigade, before referred to, were on the right of the Second Georgia, rather below the main point of attack, and rendered little or no service in this fierce and bloody struggle. After these repeated disastrous repulses, the enemy, despairing of wresting the bridge from the grasp of its heroic defenders, and thus forcing his passage across the river at this point, turned his attention to the fords before referred to, and commenced moving fresh troops in that direction by his left flank...

Although forced to withdraw by this flanking movement and a final successful assault on the bridge, also due to a lack of ammunition, Toombs reformed his men near the town of Sharpsburg, and later in the day joined the counter-attack which drove the Federal advance back to near the Bridge. About this attack Toombs reported:
As soon as possible, I opened fire upon the enemy's columns, who immediately advanced in good order upon me until he approached within 60 or 80 paces, when the effectiveness of the fire threw his column in considerable disorder, upon perceiving which I immediately ordered a charge, which, being brilliantly and energetically executed by my whole line, the enemy broke in confusion and fled. McIntosh's battery was recaptured and our position retaken within less than thirty minutes after the commencement of this attack upon him. The enemy fled in confusion toward the river and bridge, making two or three efforts to rally, which were soon defeated by the vigorous charges of our troops, aided by Captain Richardson's battery, which I ordered up immediately upon the recovery of the heights, and which, with its accustomed promptness and courage, was rapidly placed in position and action. The enemy, to cover his retreating columns, brought over the bridge a battery and placed it in position. I ordered Richardson's battery to open upon it, and at the same time ordered the Fifteenth and Twentieth Georgia forward, who pursued the enemy so close to his guns as to bring them within range of musketry, which compelled his battery, after a few shots, to join his fleeing infantry and retreat across the bridge. I desired to pursue the enemy across the river, but being deficient in artillery to meet his heavy batteries on the other side, I sent my aide, Captain Troup, to General Lee for the purpose of supplying myself, who ordered Captain Squires to report to me immediately, which he was unable to do, from not receiving the order in time, until nearly night, when it was too late to risk the movement, and, therefore, I ordered him to hold himself in readiness for the movement in the morning, if the action should be renewed. I then determined to move my troops upon and occupy the position held by me on the river at the beginning of the action, but before the execution of this purpose I received your order to change my position and to occupy the heights on the opposite side of the road leading to the bridge from Sharpsburg, on the left of your command, which order was immediately executed and the troops bivouacked for the night.
There are many references to General Toombs receiving a head wound at Sharpsburg, but he makes no mention of it in his official report. He was, however, slightly wounded in the left hand on the evening of 18 September, along with his acting AAG Lt. Robert Grant, in an encounter with Federal pickets.

The rest of the War

Disappointed by not being promoted, Toombs resigned from the army in 1863, but joined the Georgia militia when William Sherman was advancing on Atlanta in 1864.

After the War

After the war Toombs fled to Cuba and then moved to England. Toombs returned to Georgia in 1867 where he once again established a successful law practice. He never asked for a pardon and was thus denied elected office.

References & notes

His command arrangement in Maryland from his own Report. His wounding from accounts by Lieut. Melvin Dwinell (A/8th GA) to the Rome [GA] Tri-weekly Courier of 4 October 1862 and from Peter Wellington Alexander to the Savannah of 5 October; thanks to Laura Elliot and "Ernie Mac" on the CWT forum for those. Personal details from the Political Graveyard and other sources on the Web (below).

More on the Web

Places of interest and Sources for more info:
The GA State Parks' Robert Toombs House Historic Site;
An brief article illuminating Toombs' political position;
See Jim Emmerson for Toombs' Secession Speech to the Georgia Legislature, Nov. 13, 1860;
See the 1911 E. Britannica article about him, and Generals and Brevets for a nice set of pictures of him.


7/2/1810; Wilkes County, GA


12/15/1885; Washington, GA; burial in Rest Haven Cemetery, Washington, GA