John Hand Long, a Confederate veteran who died here in 1927, is believed to have been one of the last soldiers paid off by the Confederate States of America.
He made $1.15 for 18 months service. He received the money in United States silver coins though, so it was worth more than a barrel full of Confederate States bills. He and other troopers got paid in Augusta after marching from Hillsboro, N.C., shortly after Robert E. Lee’s surrender.
Long was born in Liberty County’s Gum Branch community Oct. 18, 1844, to Robert Long and Matilda Smith Long. Matilda was from the Jones Creek community. His grandparents were Fashaw and Margaret Allen Benton Long of Savannah.
Fashaw migrated to the Rye Patch community from South Carolina in 1800. He was a member of the Georgia Militia in the War of 1812.
By 1820, Fashaw had acquired land left vacant by Archibald Clark in the Gum Branch community. The land he owned has been deeded down to family members throughout the years.
Long had three brothers, four half-sisters and three stepmothers. Two of his half-sisters married Groover brothers on nearby farms.
Long answered the last roll call and passed away July 16, 1927, to join his comrades in gray on the other shore, having lived to the age of 83 in the neighborhood of his birth.
His remains were laid to rest in the Gum Branch Cemetery. Most fitting was it that his bier and grave should be draped with the flag of the Confederacy, and that the laurel wreath prepared by the Daughters of the Confederacy should be laid upon him as a tribute to this patriot of the 1860s; Long’s three years of service in the Army of the Confederacy was the great adventure.
In May 1862, at the age of 17, Long enlisted in the Liberty Independent Troop at Palmyra Plantation, located in the coastal area of Liberty County where a new camp had been established.
Under the command of Capt. Lowndes Walthour, the troop patrolled the Liberty County coast for a few months and then marched to Savannah. As Company G became a part of the Fifth Georgia Calvary, they served until the surrender at Hillsboro, N.C.
Gen. Robert Anderson was the brigade commander of the Fifth Georgia Calvary, and Long became his courier. The general nicknamed him “Skip.”
In Long’s capacity as a courier, he had many hairbreadth escapes that he attributed to the good qualities of his horse, Andrew Jackson, implying that his horse resembled his namesake.
Long’s comrades credited him with extraordinary, daring and unexcelled horsemanship.
Troop G had a remarkable experience: Although it engaged in many battles and skirmishes in North Georgia and raided through Tennessee and Virginia as a part of Gen. Joseph Wheeler’s cavalry, none of the troopers were killed in action. However, many were wounded or taken prisoner.
Long was slightly wounded in the battle of Noon Day Church in northwest Georgia, but he was not incapacitated for duty.
From Augusta, the ragged, hungry and barefooted men made their way home as best they could. Long reached his beloved home of Gum Branch on May 17, 1865.
In 1870, Long married Cynthia Jane Parker, daughter of George Washington and Senia Baxter Parker. They had 10 children: Ida and Ada (twins), Romulus and William Damon (twins), Nina, Maggie, Rosa Belle, Nora, Pearl and Anna D. Long.
In April 1903, Long received his appointment as first lieutenant of the Liberty Guards under Capt. Joe Hughes. He served in this capacity until 1910, when the troop disbanded, subject to call.
Note: Most of the information above came from what I believe to be a Savannah Morning News article.