Georgia Secession Cockades

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As Georgia went, so went the South. Georgia's secession spurred the creation of the Confederacy. The fall of Atlanta ensured Lincoln's reelection and the end of the war. And Georgia's secession cockades were recognized throughout the country!

Marked Attention

Isaac H. Arnold recalled, "Webster went into the secret service of the Government under the administration of Mr. Lincoln, and, as an illustration of the condition of public feeling after the attack on Fort Sumter, I insert the following incident: In April he was traveling by railroad from Winchester west, and observed in the car six commissioners or emissaries from South Carolina and Georgia, each of them wearing conspicuously a black and white cockade. They received marked attention from the passengers, and from the people at the stations."

Private Benjamin Chance, G Company,
32nd Georgia Infantry
Georgians had a head start on their preparation for war. Governor Joseph Brown began organizing state troops in late 1860, even before the state seceded. He shrewdly started collecting war materials and military information, placing orders for arms and gathering descriptions of weapons. At that time, nearly all munitions plants were in the North, so Brown began offering incentives for Georgia arms productions.

Meanwhile, he continued to push for secession from the Union. A November newspaper declared, "Gov. Brown’s message is much approved. During its reading to the Legislature it was interrupted by applause. Delegations of Georgians are visiting South Carolina and South Carolina delegations are visiting this State. Sedate and conservative Georgians have mounted the cockade. The South is in earnest, depend on it.

"Savannah, Nov. 9th. - Advices from Milledgeville state that the Governor’s Special Message was received yesterday amidst thundering applause. Everybody endorses it. The Legislature of this State endorses the course of South Carolina. The blue cockades are worn in numbers about the streets of Milledgeville.

"Senator Toombs sent in his resignation as Senator. He is in favor of immediate secession, and action with South Carolina. Georgia, from the mountains to the seaboard, is determined to resist Lincoln’s election."

Jesse Bateman, Company E, 9th Georgia Infantry

Great Excitement Prevails

Secession rallies across Georgia continued through November and December. And the secession cockades were conspicuous at all of them.

A November newspaper observed, "Great excitement prevails here. Everybody seems to be for secession, judging from the blue cockades, which all, both old and young, wear. The College boys at Oxford [GA] all wear cockades, and are universally for disunion. Some of the young men drill each other every day. Newton County will go for disunion. Bell, Douglas and Breckinridge men combine, and boldly advocate it. Go on, Mr. Editor, and advocate the cause of the South, and do all you can to "fire the Southern heart and precipitate Georgia into a revolution."

And in December, another newspaper had this report:

Columbus, Nov. 24. The demonstration made here to-day was the greatest ever seen in Western Georgia. All the merchants closed their stores and joined in the procession. Flags and banners were suspended on the streets, the military and Southern Guard paraded in procession, and cannon were fired as a salute to the Southern Confederacy. Messrs. Yancey and Rice spoke in the morning to a crowd of 5,000 people. John Cochrane, of Alabama, spoke at night, with Senator Iverson and Mr. Crawford. Nine-tenths of the people – men, women and children – wear the disunion cockade.

Elijah Lazarus Anderson, Company G,
5th Georgia Militia

Factories and Chase Scenes

When Federal forces occupied Fort Sumter in South Carolina in late December, Georgians realized their own coastal fortifications were at risk. They quickly moved to take Fort Pulaski in Savannah, fortunately not a hard task since it was unfinished and only manned by two people at the time!

Georgia's secession convention began in January and on January 19 the state officially seceded from the Union. Both the geographical and political influence of the state emboldened other Southern states considering secession.

Georgia moved quickly to establish production efforts for the war. Besides major supply depots and hospitals, the state became home to the largest gunpowder factory in the Confederacy, the largest shoe factory, one of the largest textile mills, and arsenals and a munitions laboratory.

Because of Georgia's great railway center, she became the scene of a dramatic episode, later turned into the movie, The Great Locomotive Chase. Union spies managed to steal a train with the intention of creating havoc along the South's railways. In an amazing chase, Confederate men set out on foot after the train. After adventures commandeering a number of locomotives, they finally retook the stolen "General" over 80 miles later.

With the fall of Atlanta and the destruction from Sherman's March to the Sea, a death blow was struck to the heart of the Confederacy. As Georgia went, so went the South.