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In Their Own Words

September 18, 1864

Georgia Soldier Died from Friendly Fire

From Camp Bartow, Va., Lavender Ray of the 1st Georgia Infantry wrote his mother about the accidental loss of a soldier in the 12th Georgia due to friendly fire:

“We were now upon the side of the mountain about 2 1/2 miles from the enemy’s camp. The Colonel now sent out scouts up the mountain … We then began to advance slowly. General Jackson, Colonel Johnson and Ramsey, P. Major Thompson at our head, when someone hollered that they heard the Yankees coming with artillery. We were immediately ordered to get in the side of the woods and as soon as it was done both sides fired into each other. But the other side commenced hollering ‘Georgians, Georgians!’ and ‘Hurrah for Jeff Davis!’ by which some thought they were Yankees trying to fool us. But I with Jim Brown and others, think they perhaps were Georgians, did not shoot, for which I was glad. For we soon found that they were the advance guard we had sent the other road coming back. They had cut off the enemy’s pickets and killed fifteen of them and were coming after more when they met us and mistook us for the enemy.

“I ran from the woods to the other side and found that we had shot a man from the 12th Georgia in the leg, who immediately bled to death. He had a slight wound on the side of his head above the eye. It is well now. And [I] saw Tom Brown lying on the ground shot through the lower part of the stomach. He is lying now in Lieutenant Brown’s tent. We don’t think he will live. The ball passed through his bladder. There was a man on our side shot through the heart. He was standing in 20 feet of me. And another shot through the fleshy part of the leg… .”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), “Dear Mother: Don’t grieve about me. If I get killed, I’ll only be dead.”: Letters from Georgia Soldiers in the Civil War (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), pp. 64-64.