Sunday, September 2, 2012

Thomas Coke Glover: The Fighting Physician

One of the things I try to avoid as I share my research regarding Douglas County history is a dry recitation of someone's birth and death dates, where they are buried, who their parents were, their spouse's information and their children's names.

I wouldn't want to write it, and you certainly wouldn't want to read it.  Even when I was still in the classroom I thought of myself as a storyteller because that's what history is...a collection of true stories.

As I related in 2006 in a post I wrote for my blog History Is Elementary, "Thousands of people throughout history have gone to great lengths to record history through newspapers, diaries, journals, saved letters, family Bibles, and oral traditions."

I want to do more than just record a litany of facts.  I want to gather up as many of the bits and pieces of the story as I can from as many resources as I can to tell the story

Sometimes it's a real challenge, but in the case of Dr. Thomas Coke Glover or Dr. T.C. Glover depending on the source the story is just too compelling not to relate it. 

Though Glover was born in Augusta, Georgia he chose to make Campbell County his home.   The genealogy research of Joe Baggett indicates Glover was in Campbellton as early as 1850.  He was a medical doctor and evidence suggests he was highly respected and known across the state.

I obtained the following picture from

The picture was posted by Harold Glover a descendant of Dr. Glover's and he advised this was the original office from which Dr. Glover practiced medicine from 1850-1861 in Campbell County.   I'm not sure of the exact location of the building, but following the war Harold Glover advises the building was used as a voting site and finally as a general store.  He also adds that if you look closely at the side of the building, just below the lower left corner of the drink sign, you will see a hole.  This is a result of an artillery shell fired by General Sherman's troops when his men marched from what would later become Douglas County and crossed the river into Campbellton.  

The building no longer exists, but it is said the cannon shell hole can be observed if you visit the History Room at the Old Campbell County Courthouse in Fairburn.

Now you may be asking yourself why I'm discussing a man from Campbell County when my focus is Douglas County history.  Please remember Douglas County was birthed out of Campbell and many of our citizens hold ties to the original settlers of Campbell County including Dr. Glover. 

Dr. Thomas Coke Glover interests me due to the choices he made during the days leading to the Civil War.  He was a respected physician who married Elizabeth (Lizzie) Susan Camp in 1852.   Glover was one of the original town commissioners of Campbellton in 1854 per the research of Joe Baggett.

Glover also served the people of Campbell County as one of the two delegates they sent to represent them at the Secession Convention held in Milledgeville from January 16 to March 23, 1861.  An image of the secession document is published below:

Not only did Glover vote for secession he also assisted with writing the new constitution for the Republic of Georgia.

Of course it was assumed Glover would serve in the Confederate Army, and it was naturally assumed he would serve as a medical doctor, but this is where Glover deviates from the expected.  By serving as an army doctor he would have been spared from actual combat, but Glover chose to fight and set about at once organizing a company of men.

Richard B. Stansberry writes in So Sings the Chattahoochee..."[Upon from the Secession Convention] Dr. Glover organized the Campbellton Blues which became Company A of the Twenty-first Georgia Infantry Regiment.   The men drilled on the streets and about the courthouse square [in Campbellton].  They received so much training they were dubbed the 'West Pointers' of the Georgia Twenty-first, and given the roster distinction of Company A."

The picture below shows the spot where the old Campbell County courthouse stood in Campbellton.....courtesy of Mark Phillips.    The site of Campbellton's old courthouse quare is is on your left...on the your cross the Chattahoochee River on Highway 92 entering Fulton County.

A complete muster roll of Company A including many men from Campbell County....ancestors of many of today's Douglas County residents can be found here.  

This might have been the end of my discussion regarding Thomas Coke Glover, but then I happened upon an interesting book titled History of the Doles-Cook Brigade by Henry Walter Thomas.  The book was published in 1903, and represents the history of four different regiments of the brigade - the Fourth, the Twelfth, the Twenty-first (Glover's regiment), and the Forty-fourth.  Thomas served in Company G of the Twelfth Georgia, and the book is an extensive  history provided mostly by the men who served.  

So often we have the information someone fought in the Civil war, but Thomas' book provides the details regarding where the men in Company A fought and contains eyewitness accounts of Dr. Glover's actions.

Thomas relates how Glover and Company A didn't reach Virginia until Second Bull Run, and soon after their arrival a feud began between some of the officers that grew and spread and lasted until death claimed the principal, Colonel John T. Mercer. 

When the order came to go to Manassas a large number of the regiment were down in their tents with measles.   When the order to strike tents was received the rain was pouring down in torrents, and Glover went to Colonel Mercer and asked that the tents be not struck down from over the men sick with measles stating the danger to their lives would ensue from their getting wet.  

Colonel Mercer refused to listen to him, and....Captain Glover refused to obey the order so far as his company's sick were concerned, and was placed in arrest...the tents were struck and about twenty men with measles were left in the rain.

Almost all the other company officers of the regiment took sides with Captain Glover, and the breach thus made was never healed as long as the principals lived.

On arriving at Manassas....the regiment went into camp and a few days later the arrested officers were returned to duty without any thing further having been done.

Glover and his men were soon caught up in assisting the Twenty-first North Carolina in capturing the Union supply at Manassas Junction.  Glover's commanding officer, Brigadier General Isaac Trimble gleefully said, "Give me my two Twenty-ones and I'll charge and capture hell itself!"

Glover and the Twenty-first Georgia took part in the Battle of Sharpsburg or Antietam in September, 1862.

One of the battle reports relates how the Twenty-first Georgia was ordered to wheel to the left, and, taking shelter under a low stone fence running at right angles to their former line, direct their fire upon the wavering Yankee regiment, with the view of breaking the enemy's line at this point.   They did so promptly, and a few rounds from them had the desired effect, and the enemy's line was entirely broken.

Discussing the same action Thomas' book states:

We were given orders to reach the fence.   In obedience to this command there was exhibited the most daring bravery that came under our observation during the war - a bravery not surpassed in the charge of the famous Light Brigade at Balaklava.  Volley after Volley was poured into the Twenty-first Georgia, mowing down the men by scores, yet they never faltered or wavered, but onward went, closing up the gaps in the lines as if on dress parade, with their gallant commander Colonel [Thomas Coke] Glover, in front with his sword in his uplifted hand calling for his men to follow.   And they did.   Oh God!  What a sight; what carnage.  What a feast of death was that!

....The fence was reached the work of death commenced at short range.  From this fence we poured volley after volley into them for some thirty to forty minutes....The regiment went over to the fence with one of its most blood-curdling rebel yells.

...Then they fled and the day was ours; but at what a cost!   ....Company A went into battle with forty-five men, nineteen were killed and twenty-one wounded, some of them fatally and others crippled for life. 

One of the wounded happened to be Glover himself who at some point during the battle realized ammunition was getting low and his men were wasting it on an enemy who was too far out of range.  The book Antietam: The Soldier's Story by John M. Priest relates how Glover sought out Colonel James Walker (C.O. Trimble's Brigade) to ask to move the men under his command.   

Walker gave the order for the Twenty-first Georgia to move out.   As his aide delivered the command to the regiment a ball struck Major Glover through the body and sent him to the ground - severely wounded.....but he did live to fight another day.

In fact, he lived to fight many fights before his death leading his men through 107 various engagements with the enemy.

When Colonel John T. Mercer of the Twenty-first Georgia was killed at Plymouth, North Carolina Glover rose to Lieutenant Colonel on April 18, 1864.  

Five months later on September 19, 1864 he was shot and killed instantly at Winchester, Virginia and was buried there.

Strangely, it is reported a few hours before his death, Lieutenant Colonel Glover heard about the fall of Atlanta and said, "Atlanta has fallen, and I fear all is lost, but I shall not live to see it."

How amazingly prophetic.

Thomas relates in The History of the Doles-Cook Brigade.....No braver or truer man that he ever drew the breath of life.  He was always at this post of duty ready to lead his men to battle.  His own safety was of no consideration to him when or where duty called  Not a single battle was ever fought by the regiment, but that this noble officer was with it, encouraging and leading his men to victory and glory...Colonel Glover was to the Twenty-First Georgia what Stonewall Jackson was to the army of the valley.

....and a final note regarding the Twenty-First Georgia including Company A from Campbell County......Of all the regiments engaged in the war between the states, North and South, the Twenty-first Georgia was the third in number of men killed in battle.  The regiment that lost the greatest number was the Eighth New York, and they were killed by the Twenty-first Georgia.  

Next Monday I'll continue the Glover saga with a post concerning his wife and her importance regarding how we remember the Civil War...not just here but across the South.

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