(1823 - 1862)
Home State: Georgia
Command Billet: Regimental Lt Colonel
Branch of Service: Infantry
Unit: 6th Georgia Infantry
He was a farmer at Jasper, GA in 1850 and was a successful merchant at Indian Spring in Butts County by 1860. At the start of the war he was Captain of the "Butts County Volunteers" who became Company B, 6th Georgia Infantry, and he was elected Lieutenant Colonel of the regiment on 27 May 1861 at its initial organization. He was cited during the Seven Days action in June 1862 by General D.H. Hill, who said
The Sixth and Twenty-seventh Georgia, of this brigade, commanded by those pure, brave, noble Christian soldiers Lieut. Col. J. M. Newton and Col. Levi B. Smith, behaved most heroically, and maintained their ground when half their number had been struck down.
On the Campaign
He was senior officer present and commanded the regiment at Turner's Gap on South Mountain on 14 September and at Sharpsburg on the 17th, when Colonel Colquitt was elevated to Brigade command. Colonel Newton was mortally wounded in action in the infamous Bloody Lane at Sharpsburg. Lieutenant Frederick Hitchcock of the 132nd Pennsylvania later wrote:
Their first line in the sunken road seemed to be all dead or wounded, and several of our men ran down there, to find that literally true. They brought back the lieutenant-colonel, a fine-looking man, who was mortally wounded. I shook his hand, and he said, "God bless you, boys, you are very kind." He asked to be laid down in some sheltered place, for, said he, "I have but a few moments to live."
I well remember his refined, gentlemanly appearance, and how profoundly sorry I felt for him. He was young, lithely built, of sandy complexion, and wore a comparatively new uniform of Confederate gray, on which was embroidered the insignia of the "5th Ga.,* C. S. A."
He said, "You have killed all my brave boys; they are there in the road." And they were, I saw them next day lying four deep in places as they fell, a most awful picture of battle carnage ...
* This is from my diary, but investigations since the war make it evident that it must be a mistake; that the 5th Ga. was not in that road, but it was the 6th Ga., and this officer was probably Lieutenant-Colonel J. M. Newton of that regiment.
References & notes
His service from Henderson1 and the Roster of Field and Staff Officers, 6th Georgia Infantry transcribed on RootsWeb by Carla Cegielski. His death in the Sunken Lane, above, quoted from Hitchcock.2 Personal details from family genealogists and the US Census for 1850 and 1860. His picture here is from a portrait painted over a photograph. Thanks to great-great-great-grandson Mike Newton for that.
He married Jane Elvira Geiger (1827 or 1830-1858) in 1846 and they had 3 children. He married again, in 1858, Mary Elizabeth Varner (later Dupree, 1837-1891), and they had two more.
08/18/1823; Jasper, GA
09/17/1862; Sharpsburg, MD
1 Henderson, Lilian, compiler, Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia, 1861-1865, 6 vols., Hapeville (GA): Longino & Porter, 1959-1964 [AotW citation 26358]
2 Hitchcock, Frederick Lyman, War from the Inside : the Story of the 132nd Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry ... 1862-1863, Philadelphia: J.D. Lippincott Company, 1904, pg. 62 [AotW citation 26359]