Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Lieutenant Edward H. Hart, 3rd Alabama Infantry

Here comes the latest in the series on the Hart family, the last individual story in this long, enjoyable project. It began with University of Kentucky basketball, continued to the career of a Confederate veteran, and expanded to describe the careers of five more former Confederates. A study of the family history and a quick conclusion and list of sources for this series will follow.

 Please see the below list of the entries I have already published.  

This story will explore the life and Civil War career of Edward Heron Hart. Edward was born April 13, 1837 in Montgomery, Alabama, the 4th son of Benjamin and Anne Hart. Like 5 of his brothers, he decided to enlist in the Confederate Army. His military career, however, began in an apparently confusing fashion, at least in terms of the paper trail, with a touch of sadness as well.

His records on show that he enlisted in Company G of the 3rd Alabama Infantry, the same unit in which his older brother William had enlisted. Edward joined for a term of 12 months and paperwork shows he was enlisted by either J.S. Whitfield or W.G. Andrews. Forms show both names, though more show Andrews. They also show multiple dates, June 16 and 17, but it is clear he enlisted in the middle of June. (The sad part of this time is that his brother William passed away in a hospital in early July, less than a month after Edward had joined the same company.)

Another form, however, shows he joined, or at least attempted to join, an artillery unit, Lee's Light Battery, at the same time. What exactly happened is unclear, but I will review the existing records I found in order to explore the possibilities. 

Some of the confusion about his enlistment starts with the infantry unit he joined, Company G of the 3rd Alabama. Late in 1861, some of the company's men left this regiment and joined an artillery unit. See this linkDecember 28.  Part of Company G transferred to the artillery.

  Here is another description of this change:

Montgomery True Blues Artillery Battery
This company was organized at Norfolk, VA, January 1862, by the conversion of the first Co. "G", 3rd Alabama Infantry Regiment, to artillery service. The majority of the men were from Montgomery and had served a year in the infantry... 
Officers: Capts. W. G. Andrews (relieved); Edgar G. Lee (Montgomery); Lts. E. R. Spalding (resigned); E. J. Lee (promoted); J. E. Davis; William F. Williams; Sid. S. McWhorter.
Other records show a unit of that name not bring organized until early 1863: The Montgomery True Blues battery, Capt. W. G. Andrews, was organized at Norfolk in January, 1863, and was composed of men from Montgomery, most of whom had served in a campaign in the Third Alabama infantry. I suspect that "1863" is a typo, as the 3rd Alabama was in Norfolk in early 1862, not 1863, and since the artillery group splintered off from the 3rd, it is logical to believe they were in the same locale when that departure took place.

The best explanation of this division may be here. It states that the Montgomery True Blues were a pre-war militia unit that originally became part of the 2nd Alabama Infantry before moving to the 3rd when their enlistments expired. They then split up as the Montgomery True Blues artillery unit and the Lomax Sharp Shooters infantry, which became the "new" Company G of the 3rd Alabama.

blog post offers an interesting tidbit from the regiment's July election of a new major: Captain Andrews of the Montgomery True Blues (G) already was making arrangements for his company to be detached as an artillery battery. Did this distract him from his infantry role?

Below is one of the documents showing Edward in the 3rd Alabama, enlisted by Captain Andrews.

Here is the form showing Edward with the battery. It is for Captain Andrews' Company, Starks' Battalion, Light Artillery, Lee's Light Battery for the period April 30 to June 30, 1862. It indicates that Edward had enlisted on June 17, 1861 in Montgomery, signed up by the same W.G. Andrews for a term of 12 months. This roll marked Edward as "absent" with the note "retained in 3rd Alabama Reg." Does that mean he tried to join the artillery after enlisting in the infantry and was not allowed to do so? The word "retained" suggests that possibility.


The soldiers and sailors site lists William G. Andrews as a captain in both the 3rd Alabama and Lee's Light Battery units, and shows Edward in both units also, clarifying nothing. It lists no history or roster for the battery. Paperwork on also associates Andrews with the "True Blues" as does the previous link.

I do not believe Edward tried to join the True Blues. I have not seen "Lee's Light Battery" associated with the 3rd Alabama, though one website mentions them with the "True Blues." That grouping seems to be the exception. 

Nothing in Edward's existing files mentions the True Blues either. It seems likely that the timing of that transfer and the presence of William Andrews as captain in all three units simply serve to confuse the issue, though it makes for an interesting side story to the start of Edward's career. Perhaps Captain Andrews was trying to collect multiple bounties, one for each unit raised or maybe it was Edward who wanted multiple bounties. It is also possible he was confused by the excitement of the experience and signed up twice through an honest mistake on his part. Did Captain Andrews deceive him somehow? No record I have found provides a definite answer, though Edward apparently had no association with the True Blues.

Though I do not wish to stray too far from Edward Hart's career, a quick look at Captain Andrews might provide some perspective. One site says he resigned from the 3rd Alabama on August 13, 1861. He may have done so in order to work on his artillery unit as suggested above. Records on include copies of pre-printed muster rolls for Lee's Battery Light Artillery, with "Capt. Andrews' Company, Alabama Light Artillery" written on them. Other forms have "Montgomery True Blues" noted on them. He apparently had multiple military "mistresses."

Further paperwork shows him on furlough and then listed on both special service and recruiting duty. Forms then indicate he found himself in hot water, which included his arrest and refusal to cooperate with higher authorities. At one point, he tried to resign, perhaps due to disability, but Major General D. H. Hill telegraphed Richmond to hold off on the resignation as "grave charges" would be pursued against him. A link posted above listed him as being "relieved" from the battery. Whether or not that means anything in terms of his association with three units, as captain and recruiter, is uncertain. He does not appear to have had a stable career during the war, so perhaps it is reasonable to question his motives in this tangled web of companies and batteries. I may have just found another project for future research.

Back to Edward, no matter what happened in June of 1861, he remained part of company G, the Lomax Sharp Shooters, of the 3rd Alabama Infantry.

He was promoted to corporal on June 15, 1862 and a pay record from June to August 1863 indicates he was an orderly sergent at that time.

Paperwork dated October 30, 1864 shows he had been on detached service, working as a provost guard for Major-General Robert Rodes' division in New Market, Virginia since August 28. The website of the Civil War Trust briefly describes the role of a provost guard: Veteran or disabled soldiers frequently served as a "provost guard" that would enforce discipline in the armies

This record lists him as 1st Lieutenant, though other records, such as the soldiers and sailors site, show his highest rank as 2nd Lieutenant. An 1864 pay record showed him as a 2nd Lieutenant earning $80 per month. Nothing else on shows "1st Lieutenant," so this form likely is mistaken.

It is a bit weird to see that this was from an October 30 report and stated it was under Rodes' authority, since Rodes was killed in September at the 3rd Battle of Winchester. Obviously, the authorization came before then, August 28 at the latest, but it seems strange that it was still listed under Rodes' name. 

The 3rd Alabama lost over 300 men killed during the war. This link provides a history of the regiment. It had been organized at the Montgomery Fairgrounds and was the first Alabama unit in Virginia. It was also the lowest numbered Alabama regiment to exist intact for the duration of the war. It was in Norfolk for a year and after the Confederates evacuated that city, the 3rd Alabama was assigned to what became the Army of Northern Virginia. 

Under this command, it saw action in many of the war's most famous battles. It suffered severe losses at Seven Pines and then again at Malvern Hill. In the invasion of Maryland, this unit was "the first to plant the 'stars and bars' on the hills of Maryland." It fought at both Turner's Gap and then at the Sunken Road during the Antietam campaign.

It was present at Fredericksburg and then Chancellorsville, where it suffered heavy casualties, before moving into Pennsylvania, fighting at Gettysburg and again suffering significant losses. (On a personal note, its position on July 1 was near Oak Ridge, not far from the position of the 3rd Indiana Cavalry, which included my great-great grandfather. The timing, however, makes it seem unlikely that Edward and his colleagues fired shots towards my ancestor, as the 3rd Indiana had moved by the time these Confederates arrived there from my understanding.)

Marker, O'Neal's Brigade C.S.A., incl. 3rd AL, July 1, 1863, courtesy

The 3rd Alabama remained active during the rest of the war, seeing action at other major battles including the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Courthouse, Cedar Creek and more. It was also present at Appomattox, though with just 9 officers and 93 men by that time.


Edward's life before and after the war is more mysterious. In 1860, he was a teacher and lived with Thomas Meriwether, a wealthy planter and slaveowner in Montgomery. Their relationship is unknown - perhaps Edward needed a place to stay as he went out on his own - but the 3rd Alabama roster lists Thomas, William and Benjamin Meriwether on it. It could be this man and two of his sons (the 1860 census shows these three as members of one family) providing a houseful of Confederate volunteers, but a quick search makes it appear this is not the same Thomas. Further research is beyond the scope of this post, though it may be another future research project.

Edward survived the war. An 1866 tax list shows him in Montgomery, where he owned 56 hogs, worth $560. 

A family history website shows he passed away July 24, 1868, at age 31. He is buried, along with his parents, sister Martha, and maternal grandfather Wiliam Falconer in the Falconer Cemetery in Sprague, Alabama. 

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