During the months of March,
April, and May of 1861, the citizens of Dooly County raised a company of volunteer infantry and called themselves the Davis
Guards. The company had 103 officers and enlisted men. William F. Brown would serve as Captain, James Everett as 1st Lieutenant
and Napoleon M. Howard as 1st Sergeant
On June 11th 1861 the company
was mustered into Confederate service and vowed to stay until the end of the war. Within the week they left Drayton Georgia
and marched to the town of Montezuma in Macon County. From there they traveled by train to Richmond Virginia. On June 26th
1861 the company joined nine other Georgia companies to form the 12th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment. It would become
Company F. Edward Johnson, a former United States Army Captain, and a Virginian, would become its first Colonel causing some
dissatisfaction in the regiment that Zephaniah Turner Conner was overlooked by President Davis. Conner a Macon resident would
become Lt. Colonel. Although some companies wanted to leave over this others argued that to leave would be disgraceful. While
in Virginia they stayed at Camp Fairfield a local race course converted to a camp of instruction located several miles east
of Richmond. They stayed at this camp until June 27th when they moved as a regiment to Camp Reservoir west of town and stayed
there until the first week of July.
On July 7th 1861, the regiment
was ordered to Western Virginia and left by rail to Staunton, Virginia. From Staunton they marched toward Laurel Hill to reinforce
General Garnett near Greenbrier River. On route, they met Garnett’s retreating troops. General Garnett had been killed
at Carrick’s Ford on the 13th of July 1861, giving him the distinction of being the first General killed in the Civil
War on either side. The 12th Georgia was ordered to Monterey, but with a change of plans encamped on Alleghany Mountain from
July 22nd until August 13th. The next day the regiment was ordered to Traveler’s Repose, a little known valley on the
Greenbrier River and Camp Bartow was established.
On September 12, 1861, General
Robert E. Lee, coordinated an assault against the Federal Army on Cheat Mountain. The 12th Georgia was under the command of
General H. R. Jackson on the march to Cheat Mountain. Losing the element of surprise because of bad weather and lost commands
the troops returned to Camp Bartow. On the return trip back to camp soldiers under the command of Lieutenant Samuel Dawson
Company A were fired on by their own troops and one man from the 12th Georgia was killed with several wounded.
The weather in the mountains
of Western Virginia was miserable. Nights were cold and it rained and snowed much of the time. This caused much sickness in
camp. In the months from August until December 1861 eighteen men from Company F would die from a variety of disease. The men
spent their time, cutting wood, building huts, and setting up fortifications. The rations here were plentiful for the troops
were well supplied from the local inhabitants and Staunton which was two days travel. They also received plenty of supplies
On October 3, 1861, General
H. R. Jackson’s command was attacked at Greenbrier River by a combined force of approximately 5,000 Federal troops,
a force three times larger than the Confederates. The battle started on the Confederate right flank manned by the 1st and
12th Georgia, Colonel Johnson commanding. A heavy artillery duel was fought which kept the infantry at a safe distance and
after a seven and a half hour fight, the Battle of Greenbrier River was over. The Federals were repulsed and retired in confusion.
Total Confederate loses were fifty-two with six men killed. The 12th Georgia suffered one killed and four wounded.
The troops holding Camp Bartow
were ordered to move to another location along the Staunton-Parkersburg-Turnpike and on November 26th they burned their extra
supplies to avoid carrying them or letting them get into the hands of the Yankees. It was rumored that they were going to
Staunton, but instead were sent to a much higher elevation on Allegheny Mountain and it snowed the fist night.
On December 13, 1861, Colonel
Johnson would command a brigade at Allegheny Mountain that was attacked by a Federal force of about 1900 men. General Robert
Milroy would lead a coordinated attack on two fronts. With Colonel James Jones advancing with about 1000 men on the right
they drove in the Confederate pickets stationed across the Turnpike. Leaving some units entrenched, the Confederates advanced
to an open field, formed a line of battle and a stand up fight was on the way. After charge and counter-charge Colonel Johnson
added more companies of the 12th Georgia to the fight and led them himself armed only with a club. As this Federal force was
chased off the field an attack was made on their left. Colonel Gideon Moody leading about 900 men was late on arrival. This
allowed Colonel Johnson to shift his whole force to meet them. Confederate artillery played an important part during this
engagement as the men fought a snipers contest in trenches and acres of fallen timber. With a force of 1,200 men these Southerners
drove the Federals from the field after a fierce six hour fight. Total Confederate losses were one hundred and forty six.
The 12th Georgia lost six killed thirty seven wounded and four missing. During this battle company “F” reported
one man wounded. This action became known as the Battle of Allegheny Mountain. By the end of 1861, “Allegheny”
Johnson, as he had become known was promoted to Brigadier General. Colonel Z. T. Conner would now become the 12th Georgia’s