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In Their Own Words

April 21, 1863

Diary Entry on Sons’ Civil War Service

John Banks, a 65-year-old Columbus planter and businessman, would have seven sons serve in the Confederate cause during the Civil War. But, as the day’s diary entry reveals, not all were gone at the same time. Furthermore, two of his sons had paid substitutes to serve in their place for one enlistment period:

“Yesterday the [Nelson] Rangers left for Louisiana. They have been here nearly a month recruiting their horses. Watkins and Jo Watkins got substitutes. Watkins at $2,300 and Jo Watkins at $3,000. Watkins had served two years. Elbert chose to go with the company. He and Willis are the only sons in actual service. Eugene is through conscripting and must soon enter again into the service. George on his plantation, having resigned the lieutenantcy. No signs yet of the end of the war. Various skirmishing at different points, resulting favorable for the Confederacy, in general.”

Source: John Banks, Autobiography of John Banks, 1797 - 1870 (Austell, Ga.: privately printed by Elberta Leonard, 1936), p. 27.