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The Other Colquitt The Life and Death of Colonel Peyton H. Colquitt By Howard D. Lawrence


the other colquitt The Life and Death of Colonel Peyton H. Colquitt Some research projects start with a direct gia. Their father was the highly regarded Judge purpose, and some start obscurely by happy Walter T. Colquitt, a U.S. Representative and accident, never completely revealing the story leading states rights advocate of his day that voted until one is totally engrossed by the subject. So it was one day while perusing an obscure book of poetry on Google called “The Lovers Revenge” by J. Thigpen. The title brought hopes of Poe and Longfellow, flowery Victorian sonnets that would be an easy diversion from the realities of 21st century news. But after a few pages of poorly written maudlin prose I started to lose interest until I came upon a little gem titled “The Death of Colonel Peyton Colquitt.” A snippet reads as follows.

Thus nobly, in his manhood prime. In freedoms holy cause sublime. The gallant Colquitt fell.

The Christian warrior loved and mourned. His spirit has to HIM returned. Who “doeth all things well” Typical 19th Century histrionics I thought. But being intrigued by the Civil War connection, I needed to know more about this man who died so long ago. Who was Peyton Colquitt? Peyton Holt Colquitt came from one of the leading families of Georgia. All of us who have studied the Army of Northern Virginia know the name Colquitt. His older brother Alfred CDV taken of Colonel Colquitt sometime in was a general under Lee and had a brilliant post 1862 by the Charleston studio of Quinby & Co. war career as a senator and governor of Geor- Courtesy www.FindAGrave w w w. c o n f e d e r a t e p l a n e t . c o m


for secession at the 1850 Nashville Convention. Peyton was the third child of Judge Colquitt and his wife Nancy. Growing up in Columbus, Peyton was schooled as most of the southern aristocracy before the war. Ancient languages like Latin and Greek, engineering and the classics were the common curriculum and at these Peyton excelled. Among the family Peyton was considered “The most notable and talented” of the boys and a great future lay ahead. When it was Peyton’s turn at higher education, the U.S. Military Academy was chosen. His older brother had graduated from West Point and served in the Mexican War but unlike Alfred, Peyton dropped

Dinglewood was the scene of the marriage of Julia and Captain Peyton Colquitt. After the ceremony Julia donned her riding habit as her going-away costume, and rode to Virginia with her husband. After Peyton’s death, Julia traveled to Europe where she was courted by Emperor Napoleon’s nephew, but refused his hand in marriage and returned to Dinglewood. She later became the wife of Lee Jordan of Macon, who was said to be the wealthiest man in Georgia at the time. Courtesy HABS, Library of Congress.

out before finishing. Family influence and a good name go a long way in antebellum Georgia and he was chosen Secretary of the State Senate in 1856 and was elected State Senator the next year. Columbus was becoming a vibrant thriving city and Peyton became the editor of one of the states most influential papers The Columbus Constitution. This meteoric rise did not go unnoticed. “One of the most brilliant men in the Commonwealth...A splendid physical specimen of a man” were just some of the accolades associated with Peyton. The South before the war had no real aristocracy, but never the less a class system did exist and Peyton was like a prince among men. An acceptable romance was expected, and Peyton fell in love with the “ Sweetheart of Columbus” Julia Hurt. Her father was one of the richest men in the city and they were married in October of the first year of the war. Militia units were rushing to fight for the new Confederacy in April of 1861. Peyton was Captain of the Columbus City Light Guard and his company were immediately sent to Virginia when the hostilities started. Captain Colquitt and his men would not have to wait long for action. While “listening to a very poor sermon” at Tanners Crossroads, Norfolk Virginia the Guard, now Company A, 2nd Battalion, Georgia Infantry were called to battle in one of the first engagements of the war. “A currier rode up bringing an order...to detail one company to march in 10 minutes to Sewell’s Point where they would prevent a landing by the enemy” so wrote Albert Moses Luria a Jewish soldier from Columbus. The gunboat USS Monticello was shelling the battery at Sewells Point and the company bravely manned the cannon throwing shells back at the enemy. “Throughout the engagement, our men displayed great coolness and bravery. This was the first engagement that took place in Va. – the victory was won by the City Light Guards of Columbus GA assisted by 30 Virginians” and his men were envied and

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Wearing the frock coat that exists today. Carte de Visite taken by George S. Cook, Charleston. Courtesy D. Patterson.

Colonel Colquitt’s beautiful frock coat was donated to the Columbus Museum in 1993 by brother and sister John and Estelle Hinde. Julia Hurt Colquitt died childless on New Years Eve 1891 and left Dinglewood to a cousin who subsequently left it to the Hinde’s aunt. They inherited Dinglewood from their aunt in 1947 and found the coat while cleaning out the attic. Courtesy Columbus Museum, Columbus Georgia. w w w. c o n f e d e r a t e p l a n e t . c o m


This sword and scabbard was also found at Dinglewood. It was probably the one carried at Chickamauga by Colonel Colquitt when he was mortally wounded. Courtesy Columbus Museum, Columbus Georgia. lauded throughout the South as heroes. At one point in the battle, Peyton, not having a flag of his new nation the Confederacy, defiantly raised the state flag of Georgia. In the spring of 1862 a new regiment was being formed with men from Georgia’s Upson, Schley, Harris, Muscogee, Chattahoochee, Webster, Marion, and Talbot counties, the colonelcy was given to Peyton. The new 46th Infantry Regiment served briefly in Georgia, then went to South Carolina where it was involved in the battles at Secessionville, Gaston and Frampton’s Plantation. In May 1863, assigned to General Gist’s Brigade, it moved to Mississippi. At the siege of Jackson, Colquitt encouraged his troops saying “Stand firm men, remember we are Georgian’s.” In August 1863, the regiment and brigade joined Braxton Braggs ill fated Army of Tennessee in their home state of Georgia. On Sunday morning at Chickamauga after an all-night’s March from Ringgold, Gist’s Brigade, under temporary command of Colonel Colquitt was called for by D. H. Hill. A dangerous gap had developed between Cleburne and Breckinridge’s men and Peyton’s troops were needed immediately, there was no time to waste. They quickly marched forward without a skirmish line until confronted by the log breastworks of the enemy and met with a destructive fire that shattered their ranks. For nearly half an hour the brigade stood its ground. Colonel Colquitt, hat off, was riding up and down the

line encouraging his men when a canister shot hit him in the breast hurling him from his horse. He was carried to some shade, and there the chaplain of his regiment, Rev. Thomas Stanley attended him (and recounted). “When I found the colonel he thought his wound was mortal, and though he had not recovered from the shock he seemed calm and collected. I talked with him very freely on the subject of religion. He constantly expressed a spirit of resignation to the Providence of God, and that he had no apprehensions whatever in regard to the future; that he had tried to do his duty, and felt in the last hour that he was accepted of his Savior. In this hour his faith never wavered he said he was going to the land of light and peace, where he should

One of four similar monuments at Chickamauga commemorating fallen brigade commanders, this cast pyramid of cannonballs marks the spot of Colonel Colquitt’s mortal wounding. In the 1890’s after being used as a training camp for the U.S. Army, the battlefield at Chickamauga was dedicated as the first military park by the NPS. Courtesy D. Patterson meet his many loved ones who had gone before; and again: Tell my dear wife I go to meet our angel child, and to come to us. At one time he said: The Providence of God is inscrutable, but I submit in hope. He died without a struggle. It is comfortable to know that all his wants were

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supplied during his sufferings. He experienced no pain, and was conscious to the last moment. As soon as he was wounded General Forrest sent his surgeon to him; the poor people, who had been benefit of all their worldly substance, went to see him from miles around.” So ended the career and life of a rising star without peer, Peyton Holt Colquitt. “His name is without spot or blemish. He lived a pure and stainless life.” Sources The Georgia Weekly Telegraph. April 5,1870 Christ in Camp, or Religion in Lee’s Army. John William Jones. 1887 The Jewish Confederates. Robert Rosen. 2000 Letter of Albert Moses Luria to his Cousin. Southern Historical collection, UNC Columbus Enquirer. Sept. 29th, 1863 The editor wishes to thank Daniel L. Patterson, Scott Valentine, Denise Vero and Rebecca Bush for assistance in this article.

Peyton’s grave lies in Linwood Cemetery next to his wife Julia Hurt Colquitt Jordan. His monument was imported from Italy in 1870 and is made of the finest “Tuscan Marble”. Courtesy Evening Blues.

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The Other Colquitt