(1831 - 1908)
Home State: Georgia
Branch of Service: Infantry
Unit: 50th Georgia Infantry
He came to Savannah, GA with is family in 1848, briefly prospected for gold in California, then was a saddler in Tomasville, GA. He enlisted as a Private in the 29th Georgia Infantry in April 1861. He transferred and mustered in Thomas County as First Lieutenant, Company E, 50th Georgia Infantry on 22 March 1862.
On the Campaign
He was with his Company in action at Fox's Gap on South Mountain on 14 September 1862 ...
The Fiftieth were posted in a narrow path washed out into a regular gully, and were fired into by the enemy from the front, rear and left flank. The men stood their ground nobly, returning the fire until nearly two-thirds of their number lay dead or wounded in that lane. Out of 210 carried into the fight over 125 were killed and wounded in less than twenty minutes. The slaughter was horrible. When ordered to retreat I could scarce extricate myself from the dead and wounded around me ...... and at Sharpsburg ...
near a small river named the Antietam. On the evening of the 17th [16th], the Fiftieth, some ninety strong, were placed on picket on the banks of the river. Next morning our cavalry pickets were driven across from the other side, and the enemy succeeded placing a four gun battery on the heights of the Blue Ridge, commanding the river. Three brigades passed along in plain view of our pickets to our right to attempt crossing. I having command of the right wing of the regiment, strung out my pickets, in obedience to orders from Gen. Drayton, as far to the right as the men could be placed, greatly weakening my line of skirmishers. The enemy having succeeded in silencing our supporting battery, commenced pouring in a tremendous fire of grape and canister on us while their skirmishers engaged ours; Toombs’ brigade, on our left, fought until their last cartridge was expended.
Lieut. Col. Kearse, of the Fiftieth, finding his position untenable, and ascertaining that the enemy in strong force were passing the river on our right, and having no support on that side, drew his line of pickets back some three hundred yards from the river, just in time, as it proved, as our right was flanked and fired on by the enemy’s skirmishers as we fell back. Here we were thrown into Toombs’ brigade and double-quicked off to the heights near Sharpsburg, where we arrived just in time to save one of our batteries from capture by the enemy ...
The rest of the War
He was promoted to Captain on 1 October 1862, Major in February 1863, and Colonel of the regiment on 16 September 1863 (to date from 31 July). He was wounded at Cedar Creek, VA on 19 October 1864 and in a hospital in Staunton, VA then home on furlough into January 1865. He commanded Bryan's Brigade by the end of February 1865 and was appointed Brigadier General in April 1865, but not confirmed at that rank. He was captured at Sailor's Creek, VA on 6 April 1865, briefly in the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, DC, then held on Johnson's Island near Sandusky, OH. He was released on 25 July 1865 after taking an oath of allegiance.
After the War
He owned and operated a saddle and harness shop in Thomasvile, GA, and served a term as Mayor. He went to Savannah in 1885 and had a shop there.
References & notes
His service from Henderson1 and his Compiled Service Records,2 online from fold3. His presence in Maryland from Evans3 with the quotes above from his letter to the Savannah Republican of 16 October 1862, online from the Digital Library of Georgia. Personal details from family genealogists and Bruce S. Allardice's More Generals in Gray (2006). His gravesite is on Findagrave. His picture from a standing portrait photograph in the Thomasville History Center.
05/19/1831; Edinburgh, SCOTLAND
06/13/1908; Isle of Hope, GA; burial in Laurel Grove Cemetery, Savannah, GA
1 Henderson, Lilian, compiler, Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia, 1861-1865, 6 vols., Hapeville (GA): Longino & Porter, 1959-1964 [AotW citation 29303]
2 US War Department, Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, Record Group No. 109 (War Department Collection of Confederate Records), Washington DC: US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), 1903-1927 [AotW citation 29304]
3 Evans, Clement Anselm, editor, Confederate Military History, 12 Volumes, Atlanta: The Confederate Publishing Company, 1899, Vol. VI, pp. 460-461 [AotW citation 29305]