At the beginning of the War Between the States, Captain Bird was anxious to enlist in the Army of the CSA. However, his brother Edward, being Captain of the Effingham Hussars was compelled to go, requested James to stay home and take care of the women and children of four families — widowed mother and daughter; widow and three children of a deceased brother; Edward’s wife and three children and his own wife and two children.
In February of 1862, James Bird did enlist, joining the 5th Georgia Regiment Cavalry commanded by his brother, now Captain Edward Bird. With this command he saw service from Florida to Virginia and west to the mountains. He was in many engagements of more or less importance and many skirmishes. He was in the Battle of Noonday Church in Georgia; Murphreesboro, Tennessee; Saltville and Bear Creek Station in the battles near Macon and Aiken, S.C. At the later he was wounded in the left arm and sent to the hospital. From there he was sent home on a furlough and was still there when the war ended. He had been made sergeant major of his regiment, exact date unknown.
After the close of the war when the Effingham Hussars were reorganizing, James Bird was named first lieutenant and later served as captain and again as lieutenant for a number of years. When Gen. W. W. Gordon reorganized the 5th Georgia Cavalry he was made paymaster, serving until his retirement from active service. Captain Bird was a faithful member of the local Camp of Confederate Veterans at Springfield from its organization to his death.
For a number of years he served as Effingham County Treasurer and his public career was without blemish.
The following was taken from an obituary written by his pastor, Rev. T. I. Nease, “Brother Bird was a man who never went to anything half heartedly. What he undertook to do, he went into it with his whole soul. He was one of the bravest men of the Confederate Army and always stood at his post of duty. Once when wounded he stayed in the field with one hand, to the close.”
“He served his church in the same way, having joined the Methodist Church as quite a young man. His money, time and talents were used for the church. Wherever God was to be worshipped or church work to be done he was ever ready to do his part. He served faithfully as Steward and Sunday School Superintendent for a number of years.”
“He was one of the founders of the Old Camp Ground, his tent one of the first to be built was occupied every year. To prepare for this occasion was to prepare for a battle of the Lord. More than a year before his passing, he was stricken with paralysis and confined to his room mainly, he was cheerful and happy. His presence in his wheelchair at the church services and last Camp Meeting was an inspiration to all.”
James Bird was born in Springfield, Georgia on April 27, 1833 and married Martha Berry on March 2, 1859. To this union 13 children were born, three dying in infancy. The couple celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on March 2, 1909. He died December 21, 1911 and was buried at Springfield.
This was written Sept. 15, 1928, by Ella Bird Sharpe for Historical Records, Screven County UDC Chapter.
This was compiled 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.