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Remembering Camp Davis

POSTED: May 3, 2012 7:54 p.m.
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Above is the Camp Davis Sons of Confederate Veterans encampment.

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Effingham County Convention and Visitors Bureau will host "Camp Davis Re-creation 1862" commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War on May 12 from 9 a.m. through 6 p.m.

The event will be held at 1683 Highway 17 North in Guyton. Adult admission is $5 and age 7-18 admission is $2 with under age 6 free. A historical marker will be dedicated at 10 a.m. Encampment of Camp Davis SCV with cannon firing, troop field exercises and live reenactments will be occurring. An example of the demonstrations will be medical exams and issuing uniforms and supplies like back in the day. Food with recipes from 1862 will be available from vendors as well as festival food and local fresh produce, honey, jelly, etc. A storyteller will be on hand to entertain children of all ages. Historic Effingham Society, Camp Davis Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Effingham Hussars Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy will assist sponsoring the day.

Camp Davis was established by order of the Secretary of War, J. P. Benjamin, by letter to Gov. Joseph Brown dated Feb. 11, 1862. This prompted the State Executive Department to establish camps of instruction by order of Gov. Brown dated Feb. 14, 1862. The camp in our area was named after Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America. There were two others in the state. These were camps for induction, training, medical clearance and issue of supplies for soldiers.

The site was chosen on land adjacent to the Central of Georgia Railroad between mile markers 32 and 33, two miles north of Whitesville (now Guyton). This is near the present intersection of Highway 17 and Keith Road. It is situated on what is now known as Woodlawn Plantation, the lovely country home of local attorney Warren Ratchford.

Soldiers from counties comprising the 1st, 2nd, 6th and 13th military districts were ordered to report to Camp Davis under general order No. 2, dated Feb. 13, 1862. The Governor had declared all men from age 18 to 45 must report for duty and, if not enough men arrived for duty from each county, then men would be drafted to fill the quota needed. These military districts encompassed the majority of southeast and southwest Georgia.

Major E. C. Corbett was ordered to command Camp Davis on March 16, 1862, although records indicate it opened a short while before that date. Staff of the Confederate Infantry Training Camp included Col. W. Schley. Dr. Francis Stone served as Surgeon. Assistant Surgeons were: Dr. Jonathan Toole, Dr. R. S. Dawson, Dr. William H. Wilson and Dr. W.W. Wilson. These physicians did physicals and declared medical exemptions for unfit soldiers. Some of the doctors served at Guyton Confederate General Hospital or Springfield Confederate Convalescent Camp after duty at Camp Davis. Records indicate several soldiers while at the training camp died from illness or died where they were sent for treatment.

Supplies arrived on the Central of Georgia Railroad from the Commissary Department in Savannah. They did not have nearly enough tents or provisions when the troops began arriving from the Militia Districts. Rations issued to Camp Davis in March and April of 1862 include: 6,399 pounds pork and bacon, 8,878 pounds beef, 18,130 pounds of salt pork, 231 barrels of flour, 67,832 pounds of cornmeal, 11,443 pounds of sugar, 23,609 pounds of rice, 3,001 pounds of coffee, 1,119 pounds of candles, 1,907 pounds of soap, 1,387 quarts of salt, 1,005 gallons of molasses and 39 50-pound sacks of rye.

The 47th, 48th, 49th, 50th, and 51st Georgia Regiments were formed (a total of 4,125 men) and trained through May of 1862 at Camp Davis. After that date the camp was not used for any further training by the Confederate Army. Though short-lived (about two-and-one-half months) this site certainly played a role in the history of the Civil War.

Information for this article came from "Camp Davis the third Confederate Training Camp located 2 miles north of Guyton, Ga" by Chief Warrant Officer Norman V. Turner. This was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact Susan Exley at 754-6681 or email her at: hesexleyherald@aol.com

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