Old South Military Antiques

1st Georgia Infantry, Oglethorpe Light Infantry Presentation Sword
Item #: OS-6906

The thirty-three year old Methodist Preacher, James Osgood Andrew Clarke, enlisted in the Georgia Volunteers, on March 16, 1861 as Captain of the Oglethorpe Light Infantry. He had previous military experience from serving in the Mexican War. The 1st Georgia Volunteers, CS (Ramsey's) was formed at Camp Oglethorpe in Macon, Georgia, in April, 1861, with the Oglethorpe Light Infantry as Company D. Clarke was signing as Lieutenant Colonel as early as April 30, 1861, though the official card showing his official promotion date is missing.

The men were raised in the towns and cities of Macon, Newnan, Perry, Augusta, Sandersville, Atlanta, Bainbridge, Quitman, Dahlonega, and Columbus. After being stationed at Pensacola they moved to Virginia, served under R. S. Garnett and H. R. Jackson, then during Lee's Cheat Mountain Campaign was attached to General D. S. Donelson's Brigade.

From its formation at Macon, Georgia the regiment went to Pensacola, Florida, then Richmond, Virginia. Richmond sent them to Western (now West) Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley. Ramsey’s regiment meets with initial success in a minor skirmish in the Allegheny Mountains at Laurel Hill, but then is involved in a disastrous retreat and the rear guard fights at Kalers Ford and Corricks Ford, during which six companies are cut off from the army and become lost in the rugged Alleghenies, starving to the point of contemplating cannibalism. They served under General Robert E. Lee during the Cheat Mountain Campaign. They fight well in the Confederate victory at Greenbriar River. Subsequently, they were sent to the Shenandoah Valley to serve under General Thomas J. "Stonewall” Jackson. The 1st suffers horribly dealing with the winter ice and snow as the regiment marches to Bath, Hancock, and Romney. After being left in fetid and isolated winter quarters in Romney, the army to which the Georgians belong comes near to mutiny. When one of his men beat the Devil out of General Taliaferro, charges were preferred against Colonel Clarke, causing him to resign his commission in November, 1861. He, and soon the regiment, returned to Macon and mustered out of service. Most members joined other commands and came back to Virginia.

Clarke reentered service as a Lieutenant and Drill Master at a Georgia Camp of Instruction. He was already serving, but his official appointment date was July 29, 1862. He continues in that position through 1863 at the least, but due to the dearth of records, his discharge date cannot be determined, but I assume that he served through the remainder of the War.

He went to his reward on December 6th, 1889 and his earthly remains are buried in Magnolia Cemetery, Augusta, Richmond County, Georgia. The "Captains” ornate sword was presented to him by the men of the Oglethorpe Light Infantry in June of 1861. It was manufactured by Horstmann & Sons, Philadelphia. The sword and its scabbard are ornately decorated with solid silver, engraved patriotic Georgia motifs, and has an engraved silver grip. The blade is deeply etched with more patriotic motifs that are brought out into strong relief with a gold overlay on the recesses.

The sword and its scabbard are in near new condition, still glowing with its original beauty.

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