(1840 - 1912)
Home State: Georgia
Education: Cumberland University (Law)
Command Billet: Commanding Regiment
Branch of Service: Infantry
Unit: 23rd Georgia Infantry
A pre-war lawyer in Rome, GA, he was 1st Lieutenant, Company C, 23rd Georgia as the Regiment was organized in August 1861, but was elected Major on 31 August 1861. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on 16 August 1862.
On the Campaign
He relieved Colonel Barclay in command at Sharpsburg on 17 September when the Colonel was killed in action. He was himself wounded and captured there.
The rest of the War
He was promoted to Colonel 25 November 1862, not yet 23 years old. He was in command at Chancellorsville (May 1863), and organized a successful rear-guard action at Catherine's Furnace, losing much of the regiment to capture [see his report]. He escaped. Some of his troops apparently thought him a coward, and in fact he was dismissed from the service by Court Martial on 23 December 1863 on charges of dereliction of duty. The sentence was later overturned by President Jefferson Davis, but Best did not return to his regiment.
After the War
He had a career as a lawyer and bureaucrat in Washington DC. By 1893 he was Chief Law Clerk of the US Department of the Interior.
References & notes
Sources: Rosters of the Field and Staff, and Company C, 23 Georgia Infantry - posted online on RootsWeb by Patty Brock;
Krick, Robert K., Fighting near Catharine Furnace - an article posted online by the Fredericksburg (VA) Free Lance-Star; and
A Directory of the US Government, Department of the Interior, 1893 - transcribed and posted online by Lynn Waterman at the Legacy Preservation Library on USGenNet. His photograph here from one posted online by Richard Thompson. Further details fromm his gravesite on Findagrave.
Note: Dr Keith S. Bohannon wrote an essay Disgraced and Ruined by the Decision of the Court: The Court-Martial of Emory F. Best, C.S.A., published in Chancellorsville: The Battle and Its Aftermath, edited by Gary W. Gallagher, Chapel Hill, NC: UNC, 1996. pp. 200-218.
3/28/1840; Bladensburg, MD
4/23/1912; Washington, DC; burial in Rose Hill Cemetery, Macon, GA