Reviews - Georgia Militia
A Savannah Family
Ghost Dances
Georgia Militia The Authors Purchase


Louisville Genealogical Register, Volume XLVIII, No. 4, December 2001:
“There have traditionally been three schools of thought about the ante bellum State militias in the South. Some historians have treated it as a joke, a haven for those who wanted only to carouse and get drunk. Others consider it as primarily a paranoid institution organized to enforce slavery. Most historians, however, have simply ignored the militia. In fact, says Smith, the militia system was perhaps the most inclusive and influential element in antebellum society. Nor was the period between the British evacuation of Savannah and the coming of the Civil War a time of peace, for in terms of the threat of armed violence against its people, Georgia was in an almost constant swirl of ‘war or rumors of war.’ And he makes a very creditable effort to fill the void in the historical record. The oversized volumes in this set total more than 1,600 pages with several times that many footnotes. Volume 1 covers ‘Campaigns and Generals,’ providing an outline of units in state service during each conflict of the period, followed by brief but very thorough biographies of the state’s military leaders. Volumes 2 and 3 are devoted to ‘Counties and Commanders,’ giving a full table of organization at the local level and including local contextual data. Volume 4 considers ‘The Companies,’ of which Georgia had twenty-two [which the author has focused on, out of a much larger number] with full histories of the activities of each. Smith makes every effort to let the participants speak for themselves, but his own writing style also is exceptional. This superior work is a model of its kind.”

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From Virginia Sanders-Mylius, Bermingham, Alabama, 6 August 2004:
“Dear Mr. Smith,

I have recently been delving through your wonderful four-volume set History of the Georgia Militia, 1783–1861. Your books have been of invaluable assistance to us, and are a delight to read. So first let me thank you, most profusely, for writing them, and congratulate you on a magnificent piece of work! ...

Forgive my intrusion, and for bending your ear like this! But I felt we would be remiss in not contacting you, given your wealth of knowledge. If you find error with any of this, please let me know.

Once again, thank you so much for your wonderful books. I find I am constantly checking them to find information. They are a remarkable achievement!”

(and on 22 August 2004) “It is wonderful to hear that you and your wife are working on additional books. You do such a wonderful job; they are a joy to read. You obviously go to great pains with them.”

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Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sunday, May 2, 2004
Genealogy/ Kenneth H. Thomas Jr.:
“State militia records topic of lunch seminar.

Military records for our ancestors are a very important source. With every war, if the veteran or his widow lives long enough, pensions eventually become available. So there are records of service, and for some, pension applications for that service of for the widow…

The archives, where many records of the Georgia Militia are found, is at 5800 Jonesboror Road, Morrow, near Clayton College & State University. Info: 678-364-3730.

One of the great published sources concerning Georgia’s militia is the four-volume series by Gordon B. Smith, History of the Georgia Militia (Boyd Publishing of Milledgeville).

These volumes are an important addition to any genealogy library because they are well researched and full of data about Georgia’s militia and the various wars involved.”

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From Mr. Richard Maner, Louisville, GA, 12 May 2003:
“Dear Mr. Smith, 75 is a fine age, I guess, to be writing one’s first ‘fan letter,’ but I simply can’t rest without telling you how fascinated I was by your work, History of the Georgia Militia. The amount of research that must have gone into its writing is mind-boggling! As a staff member at the Jefferson County [Georgia] Library System, whose main job is dealing with genealogical research, I was searching fruitlessly for info on the ‘Jefferson Riflemen,’ when I came across an account of your book, describing the contents of each volume, on Boyd Publishing’s internet page. Being a small, not-too-flush library, we purchased only the volume containing info on Jefferson Co. (though I was later able to borrow the other three from another library). Not only was the main body filled with information that was not available in any of our other material, but the footnotes were like a book in themselves, with their thumbnail biographies of figures from our county’s early years.

Personally, I found the chapters on Beaufort District, SC, and Effingham Co., GA, especially interesting, as I have ancestors from both areas.

Getting back to the ‘Jefferson Riflemen’—not only was the book invaluable, but we learned from various independent sources that the retired company flag had been ‘liberated’ by Sherman’s troops when they occupied Louisville, and that the flag is now in a museum in Ohio. The Jefferson County Historical Society is now circulating a petition to recover it.

Thanks again for an extremely valuable work!”

UPDATE: On June 7 2004, Ms. Dorothy Olson, Curator, State Capitol of Georgia, informed Mr. Smith that as a result of the information contained in his book, the state of Ohio has allowed the flag of the Jefferson Riflemen to be put on permanent loan at the State Capitol of Georgia. It is now restored and on public display, being the oldest Georgia militia flag extant in the state of Georgia

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Waycross Journal-Herald, Monday, November 17, 2003:
“One of the most distinguished of Georgia’s historians will be the featured speaker Thursday at the next Sons of confederate Veterans meeting of the Clement A. Evans Camp.

Published author Gordon Smith, a Savannah attorney and one of the Southern Heritage revival’s most compelling speakers, will address the public…

Gordon Smith, a scion of a famous military family in Chatham County, is a combat veteran of the 101st Airborne. He is the nephew of General Bob Travis and Col. Bill Travis, who both flew with Judge Ben Smith Jr. in the 303rd Bombardment Group of the 8th Air Force.

Gordon Smith had numerous Confederate ancestors and, said Judge Ben Smith: ‘The subject of Southern Heritage is very near and dear to his heart. He is a convincing orator. He spoke at the Huxford Society recently and was heard by many Waycrossans who attended.’

Gordon Smith is the author of the famous four-volume History of the Georgia Militia, which is complete and comprehensive and a must-read for the serous researcher of history.”

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Waycross Journal-Herald, Thursday, November 29, 2001

“Four-Volume ‘History of Georgia Militia’ Donated to Local Library, by Martha Davis, Staff Writer:

The Waycross Town Committee of The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in [the state of] Georgia has donated the newly published four-volume ‘History of the Georgia Militia, 1783–1861’ to the Waycross-Ware County Public Library.

‘We know these volumes are going to be an important part of our Heritage Room collection,’ said library director Charles Eames and reference librarian James Britton. People come to the Waycross-Ware Public Library from all over the United States to trace their Waycross area ancestors, the librarians said. ‘We receive quite a few questions about this period because so many of the ancestors of Georgians came here during this period.’ Britton said.
This set of four books is a chronicle of the military units, personalities, and events that took place in Georgia between the colonists’ victory in the American Revolution and the start of the War Between the States.

Mrs. Revenal Winge (Bunny), who serves as chairman of the Town Committee, said, ‘This work by Gordon Burns Smith of Savannah seeks to give an insight into the period by using campaigns, representatives of counties, and selected units to tell the larger story…’ These volumes will be especially valuable in providing information about counties such as Ware, Pierce, Lowndes, Glynn and McIntosh, where a significant amount of early public records have been lost. Other Georgia counties that have lost a significant amount of their early public records include Baldwin, Burke, Crawfore, Jefferson, Muscogee, Sumter and Washington counties. Mrs. Winge was delighted to find extensive information about Thomas Hilliard, who is buried in Kettle Creek Cemetery, Waycross, in the alphabetized ‘who’s who’ section on generals contained in Volume 1…

In his preface to History of the Georgia Militia, Gordon Burns Smith wrote ‘It is an honor to have this work included in their [The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of Georgia] impressive collection of historical projects…’

Librarians Eames and Britton expressed appreciation Tuesday afternoon for the Colonial Dames’ generous gift and they invite the public to use the library’s Heritage Room where these volumes will be shelved.”

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