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Remembering Liberty Independent Trroop

Liberty lore

POSTED: August 8, 2011 7:00 p.m.
Photo provided/

From left: Joe Fraser Jr., C. J. Martin and E.V. Martin were members of the Liberty Independent Troop.

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There is much history in the county about the Liberty Independent Troop. Richard "Dick" Cohan served in it for 17 years and retired as a captain. He has several notebooks full of information on the LIT. Several years ago, he wrote an article summarizing the many highlights of this honorable group of soldiers. I want to share his summary with you:
The origins of the Liberty Independent Troop are somewhat obscured by the smoke and haze of the American Revolution since the early records of the unit were lost to a fire in 1885.
It is known, however, that Capt. James Screven led the St. Johns Rangers at the Battle of the Rice Boats in March 1776 and a month later in the Tybee Raid.
Screven soon was promoted to colonel, and a mere two years later, he was killed in action as a brigadier general near Midway.
Several commanders led the Rangers until the fall of Fort Morris at Sunbury. Following this defeat, Georgia was under the rule of the British until 1781.
The Liberty Dragoons were organized by Capt. John Berrien in 1785 and carried on by Capt. William McIntosh Jr.
While the official birthday of the Liberty Independent Troop is given by the Army Department of Military History as Sept. 12, 1788, even this date is unclear.
The haze cleared in July 1788. At that time, Capt. Simon Fraser was commissioned as a captain of the 2nd Troop of Horse in Liberty County Battalion. The meeting place was at the “bridge” in Riceboro. The basic requirement for membership at this time was owning a horse — the government did not supply equipment.
The 1st Troop of Horse was inactivated in 1790  and became the Horse Company. In 1800, it was known as “The Liberty County Blues.”
The name “Liberty Independent Troop” came into being on July 4, 1807, and remains today.
During the War of 1812, the troop was called out under the command of Capt. Joseph Jones. It joined other units along the seaboard to aid the detachment of U.S. troops who were driven from Point Peter at St. Marys.
The troop marched to Fort Barrington on the Altamaha River and then to Darien. After remaining there for 12 days, they learned that the war had ended. The troops were released at this time and returned home.
Brig. Gen. Daniel Stewart commanded the cavalry brigade in the coastal region at that time.
For the next 45 years, the social life of the county prospered among the plantations during the antebellum period. The troop volunteered its services during the Mexican War but was not called.
The troop, under Capt. Abial Winn, was mustered into Confederate service in Sunbury in October 1861. After this period, the troop split and formed another troop, the Liberty Mounted Rangers, under Capt. William G. Thompson. This troop, after serving in the coastal area for two or three years, was sent to Virginia battlefields.
The Liberty Independent Troop reorganized under Capt. William L. Walthour and became Company G, 5th Georgia Calvary. Col. Robert H. Anderson, who later became a brigadier general, commanded the regiment.
The newly reorganized troop’s first campaign was in South Carolina in 1863 — it was a successful effort to contain the federal landing at Port Royal. The federal invasion of northern Florida in 1864 also was blocked.
The regiment joined Wheeler’s Calvary Corps near Marietta in June 1864 as Sherman bore down from Chattanooga.
After the unsuccessful Battle of Atlanta on July 22, 1864, the corps ventured into Tennessee in a vain effort to cut off Sherman’s supply lines.
After a two-and-a-half-month campaign through east and middle Tennessee and southwestern Virginia, they returned to Georgia in time to begin the delaying actions of Sherman’s March to the Sea. Slowing down the march but not being able to stem the Yankee tide, the march ended in a Christmas present of Savannah to President Abraham Lincoln.
Soldiers fought, delaying actions through North Carolina and South Carolina, which were unsuccessful in stopping the linkup of Sherman and Grant.
On April 16, 1865, the troop surrendered near Greensboro, N.C. These men slowly and dejectedly made their way back to Liberty County to find their homes burned, property lost and family members missing.
Federal law forbade the reorganization of military units during the early reconstruction period.
On Aug. 24, 1872, Capt. William A. Fleming once again organized the troop and guided it through the next 11 years.
Capt. Edward Payson Miller was the commander during the three-day 100th anniversary celebration.
The troop found itself on the Mexican Border in 1916 as the National Guard was ordered out to guard the southwestern border. Capt. Donald F. Martin Sr. carried the troop to the border, but Capt. Donald A. Fraser soon replaced him.
As the campaign ended, war clouds hovered in the opposite direction. While the troop was on the train returning home, war was declared against Germany, but the troop was not mustered out.
The troop gave up its horses and traded them for flags.
The soldiers became Company B, 106th Signal Battalion of the 31st Dixie Division.
After training, the division was sent to France but was too late to take part in the war. The unit was deactivated in May 1919.
The troop was reorganized in 1920 when Martin Sr. again took over as the commander. His lieutenant was 1st Lt. Joseph B. Fraser, who had been Capt. Harry S. Truman’s executive officer in the 129th Field Artillery in France.
In 1921, Fraser became the commander of Troop B, 108th Calvary. After making captain, Fraser steadily rose through the ranks to become the regimental commander as a colonel in 1936.
In 1952, he was a major general commanding Georgia’s 48th Armored Division. He retired as a lieutenant general in 1955.
The horse cavalry declined in 1939 as armor began replacing it. Also, the airplane had developed into a powerful offensive weapon.
In October 1940, the horses were relinquished for the final time. The troop became Battery B, 101st Sep CA BN (AA), was mobilized in February 1942 and was stationed at the newly created Camp Stewart in Liberty County. The troop now is known as B Company, 148th Brigade Support Battalion, 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
The Liberty County Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy erected a Confederate monument in front of the Liberty County Courthouse in 1925 to honor the five military companies that left the county when the call to arms came in the 1860s. The companies honored were the Liberty Independent Troop, the Liberty Guards, the Liberty Mounted Rangers, the Liberty Volunteers and the Altamaha Scouts.

 

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