CONFEDERATE CLOTHING ACCOUNT BOOK FOR THE COLUMBUS LIGHT ARTILLERY: CAPT. CROFT’S FLYING ARTILLERY BATTERY

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Item Code: 490-3670

This is a very scarce Confederate clothing account book and one for an interesting unit: the Columbus Light Artillery, also known as Capt. Croft’s and then Capt. Young’s light artillery, which saw active service attached to various cavalry commands, earning the nickname “Croft’s Flying Artillery.” The battery is the subject of a 1993 history titled, “Haulin' Brass: A Confederate Chronicle of Capt. Croft's Flying Artillery Battery, Columbus Georgia,” by William Forbes. We have not read the book, but do not think Forbes had access to this record while compiling the history.

Recruited in 1861 largely in Russell and Muskogee counties, the battery was organized and mustered into Confederate service at Columbus, Georgia, in early 1862, and was initially armed with four six-pound and two twelve-pound guns, reduced in late 1862 to two of each. It served first at Savannah, and in May 1863 transferred to Mississippi and in 1864 served in the Atlanta Campaign, fought with Hood in Northern Georgia and Tennessee. In August 1864 they were with Ross’s Texas cavalry in a hard-fought engagement at Lovejoy Station against Kilpatrick and in November were attached to Forrest and in fighting at Murfreesboro in December slowed a Federal charge, giving Forrest time to rally his men. After Nashville the battery was dismounted, having used a mix of mules and horses, and the men assigned to heavy artillery at Mobile. In the evacuation of Mobile they converted to infantry. The battery surrendered under Gen. Richard Taylor in May 1865 in Mississippi and was designated at the time as Young’s Light Battery, Williams’ Battalion, Smith’s Brigade.

The book is quarter bound in leather, about 10.25 by 8 inches. It bears the retailer’s label of “John M. Cooper & Co. / Printers and Binders / Savannah, Ga.” on the inside of cover. The book is preprinted with the account form laid out on facing pages, with the blanks to be filled in: “The Confederate States in Account with [..] of ( ) Company, [..] Regiment of [..] on Account / of Clothing Enlisted at […] on the [..] day of [..] 186[.]” Columns are then provided for the date of issue, name of the soldier, a number of uniform items such as caps, cap covers, uniform coats of various ranks, trousers, boots, bootees, etc., with seven blank columns that could be used for other material, followed the dollar value of the item, and lastly a column for remarks. The book is complete and is missing no pages. There are 66 two-page forms, about 35 of which are filled out, starting in February 1862 and ending in April 1865. Half the entries are quite dark. The others are light but legible. The first and last pages of the printed main section being simply the backs of the forms as printed and bound together in signatures.

The inside covers and flyleaves at front and rear carry notations that are as interesting as some of the main entries, with lists men and notes whether they have mounts or serviceable mounts, are wagoners, etc. There are some practice signatures (likely trying out the ink on the pen) and in the rear is drawn a large, shaded five pointed star labeled “Texas,” possibly a tribute to their association with Ross’s Texas cavalry.  The name “Geo. B. Forbes / Orderly Sergeant / Youngs Lt. Battery” appears several times in pencil, as well as “Capt. A.J. Young” In ink. Forbes served as orderly sergeant with the unit throughout the war and is listed as sergeant major at war’s end. Young served as a private in Co. A 2nd Georgia Battalion of Infantry from April to November 1861, received a commission as 1st Lieutenant in Croft’s Battery 11/27/61, and was promoted to captain and battery commander 9/13/64, commanding it to the end of the war.  [sr] [ph:L]

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