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Person Sheet

Name James Appleton BLACKSHEAR
Father James Addison BLACKSHEAR
Mother Caroline WARD
Last Modified 31 Mar 1996 Created 15 Mar 2003 by EasyTree for Windows

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James Appleton, b. Sumter Co., Ga., 5 July, 1841, son of Caroline Ward and James Addison Blackshear—never married—d. Claiborne Parish, La., 1867, a victim of tuberculosis.

Scholar, Soldier, Diletante and Philogynist.

A cadet at Georgia Military Institute, Marietta, Ga. at the outbreak of the 1861-65 War. Left school to organize “a Company of the boys that were raised up with him near Americus”. The photo to the right is from the book "Cradled in Glory" by Gary Livingston.

First Lieutenant & Captain of Infantry, Georgia State Troops.

Captain of Artillery at age 21 years. Congressional District Enrolling Officer in Georgia, Age 23.

The following extracts from his Diary are submitted to illustrate the times and conditions of his day and his youthful reactions to them.


Sept. 15, 1862—The other batteries of the battalion about 8 o'clock P.M. yesterday had returned to camp with most of their ammunition exhausted and the men and horses worn out from fatigue and hunger. I had taken occasion to call the colonel's attention to the important position which my battery had held and to the valuable service which it had rendered; whereupon he had consented that I should take it to the battle field. I had mounted my horse to be going and 60 minutes later would have made me and my entire command prisoners of war had it not been that an Aid De Camp to Gen. Evans luckily galloped that way, from the field and informed us that our whole army had retreated during the night and that the enemy was advancing in full force by the very turn-pike which I was to take and that he was then within two miles of us. Where was the army gone! He did not know. He knew nothing more than that when he went in search of the General where he had left on yesterday, he saw nothing but yankees there and yankees everywhere. Cutt’s battalion was immediately on the pike and moved off at “Trot March” but we had not gone far before we received intelligence that the enemy had flanked us on the right and that his cavalry was then in front capturing Longstreet’s baggage train. Therefore with the enemy in front on our right and in rear we could escape only by the left, and to do this we had to turn round in a road so narrow that almost every carriage was unlimbered and to go back to the camp before finding a road which would serve our purpose.

Until now no uneasiness had been manifested and the privates knew not the danger that surrounded them. But the truth could no longer be disguised. It became necessary to go into the “Gallop March’’ and the clouds of dust which loomed up to the very skies and the blue yankees themselves soon told to every man woeful tales of his impending fate. The united efforts of all both bodily and mental were called forth and they exemplified the proverb “In unity there is strength”, for our guns and wagons rolled over the rocks and hills and gullies of that country road easier and faster than they bad ever gone over the best macadamized pikes. Still we succeeded in making our escape by a providential occurrence. A Brigade of our cavalry engaged the advanced guard of the enemy and thereby stayed his progress and diverted his attentions from us until after we had got fairly off the pike and out of his sight. The enemy pursued us, but any man who saw us between this pike and Sharpsburg, a distance of ten miles, could safely swear that his pursuit was vain. Passed through Sharpsburg and camped in a beautiful grove near by.

Sept. 16—Moved out from camp at sunrise to take positions on the lines and halted in Sharpsburg until the positions could be found. Whilst halted here it was my good fortune to receive the first token of regard with which the yankees have ever complimented me. A 20 pound Parrott shell passing immediately over the officers grouped in front ranged the en tire column but struck harmlessly into an out house in rear. The peculiarities of the feelings which the howling of that shell produced seemed to me plain indications of freaks in my moral nature, but I would not have dodged for a thousand dollars and if I had been by myself I dare say I would not have missed dodging for twice the sum. I am, however, proud to be able to say that this messenger startled me more than time tens of thousands which afterwards brought their woeful tidings. 11 o’clock A.M.—Took position on a high hill imme diately in front of the enemy. 3 o’clock P.M.—Fights begin in skirmishing and cannonading on the left wing. 5 o’clock P.M. —Infantry fire from both sides begins. 51/2 P.M.—Jackson’s Corps arrives from Harpers Ferry. 6 P.M.—Tremendous fighting, which lasts until 7. 7½ P.M.—Infantry fire ceases with the enemy driven a few yards from his original position. 9 P.M.—Cannonadings cease and many a weary soldier pillowed perhaps upon the corpse of his comrade dreams for the last time of “home, love & Kindred.”

Sept. 17—Wednesday 5 o’clock A.M.—Occasional musketry had already disturbed our slumbers but the time had now come when none could sleep save the peaceful dead. The great battle of Sharpsburg was begun. Long lines of infantry fired the dark horizon with sheets of flame and filled the morning breeze with missiles of death. Tremendous batteries of artillery sent their.missions of destruction screaming through the air and the sun which seemed to rise through hills of blood soon illuminated a spec tacle on that dreadful field which no pen can describe. The contest raged during the whole day and still it was undecided. Two hundred thousand men had for more than twelve hours made all the ingenuity, the skill and the experience of ages subservient in killing each other and beyond this not one thing had been accomplished. Both armies held and slept upon the field but neither could boast of victory.

Sept. 18—Both armies remained all day confronting each other unwilling and in all probability unable to renew the conflict in force. At 8 o ‘clock P.M. the Confederate army begins its retreat across the Potomac into Virginia, the transportation having already crossed.

Sept. 19—The sun rose bloomingly from behind the hills and lo! to the consternation of the yankees the “rebels” were gone. We had escaped, you may say, like a bird from the hands of the fowler. We had marched until we could march no more. We had perished until food or death one must come. We had fought until we could fight no longer, and a God send had saved us from destruction. Had the enemy pursued and at tacked us on the evening of the 18th, as he might have done had he been vigilant—our army would have been annihilated and our country over-run. Passed through Sheperdstown. Stopped at a country house where I ate the first “apple but ter” that I ever saw. Whilst here and taking dinner of beef without salt some shells from the yanks made us “git further” and we camped—.

Sept. 20—Went down river, formed line of battle. Drove 5000 enemy back with great slaughter, camped on Martinsburg road. Sept. 22 to Oct. 5, on the road between Martinsburg and Winchester and between Winchester and Front Royal.

Oct. 6—A quiet Sabbath afternoon brought orders which rended my happiness, wounded my pride and disappointed my ambition. The orders called for the reorganization of the artillery of the whole army under plea of the necessity of the service which necessity existed in the scarcity of horses and forage. More than twenty (20) batteries—mine among them— were temporarily reduced. The good horses and men with the best of the guns were assigned to other artillery companies in the service. Condemned horses, ammunitions and the most inferior guns were turned in to the ordnance department. The officers who were relieved reported to the Secretary of War and were by him assigned to duty.


In leaving the army which I did about noon on the 7” or 8” October I was deeply grieved, chagrined and mortified. Many of my men were little less so than my self and some shed tears because of my departure. . . . Finally however, I excused myself and with my trunk in the wagon prepared to take a seat. Mollie followed me very contrary to my expectations and detained me at the door and then at the gate with tender expressions of her regret and other manifestations of deep concern. It was then that I first felt a conviction that there was a being on earth—a lovely one—my dear Mollie—who was willing to give me comfort in my adversity and partake even of my sorrows. This feeling notwithstanding did me but little good, for if I was not worthy I had no desire to possess the regard of any one and my confidence in myself was shaken. I had not seen the Secretary of War and the result of my interview with him I foreboded would ruin me forever. After promising Mollie to return as soon as I could to see her I bid her an affectionate good-evening and returned to the Hotel. Upon seeing the Secretary of War which I was not able to do until the 14” inst., I was directed to report to Maj. Gen. G. W. Smith then commanding at Richmond. He assigned me to duty temporarily with Lieut. Col. Shields at Camp Lee, the order dating 15” October 1862.

I remained on duty at Camp Lee still visiting Mollie almost every day until the 18th of November when upon my own application I was ordered to report “for assignment to duty and orders” to the Commandant of Conscripts for Georgia. Of course I now called upon Mollie and informed her that I must leave her for a time—(and it may be forever)—Poor girl! her heart swelled, her face colored and her eyes over flowed with tears. She hung about my neck, kissed me and sat down upon the lounge in deep but silent grief. Presently she asked in broken accents some questions concerning my prospects and probable return to Richmond. I gave her what consolation I could telling her that I would be apt to see her as often as I applied for leave and that my duties in Ga. would be more agreeable, easy and honorable than what they had been in Va. She seemed to cheer up when I alluded to more honorable employment, for she was of firm opinion that my abilities were wasting for want of employment. A short and sweet conversation then ensued, at the close of which I told her that we had to part, that matters had become reconciled between us touching the parting that we had both realized it, that we should meet again soon and that we might as well be cheerful as sad. She said she thought so and seemed very much nerved. I asked her to play the Marseilles hymn. She did so and it was pleasing beyond description. My time was growing short. It was now near time for the cars to leave 5 o ‘clock P.M. Thoughtlessly I asked her to sing the sweet little air “Good Bye.” She began but could not finish it. She sung but a few words with trembling voice, then buried her face in her hands and wept like a child. I gently raised her from the stool of the piano and we locked arms across the neck of each other and for a minute wept together. I then pressed her close to my body. We mingled tears with tears and lips with lips, I left her, praying in my heart as I now do that the blessings of God may forever rest upon her and especially that no fiend may ever gain her holy affections and by their strength betray her. In crossing over the bridge on the James she had from her father’s house a splendid view of the train which took me away and her first letter says “I felt like all was going with it”. While the train was on the bridge I took a “Longing, lingering look” at the cottage by the river. I could see my Darling Mollie but could not distinguish her features—God bless her, I may see her again no more, forever.

Upon reporting to Lt. Col. Jno. B. Weems Commandant Con scripts for Georgia with Headquarters at Macon I was by special orders No. 2 Nov. 29, 1862, assigned as Enrolling Officer for the Seventh Congressional District with my Headquarters at Griffin, Ga. Col. Bailey, my predecessor there, had paid but little attention to the business of his office even for the short time in which he held it and I may have been justly said to have been the first Enrolling Officer the District ever had. The locality was a very healthy and pleasant one and the society

if the place extremely agreeable. The ravages of war had not yet devastated the country and the free spirit of the people iemained comparatively unhurt. In a few days Lieut. Council reported to me for duty as Asst. Eng. Offr. The business of the office was soon arranged for his accomodation and mine. He preferred the society of gentlemen and consequently the work of our office and there not being enough to busy us both I paid my respects to the ladies and lived the life of a loafer as most men are want to do. In the morning I would rise about eight o’clock, dress and drink and breakfast, read the paper if there was one and go into town about 9 or ten where I would meet Capt. Stark, Capt. Lewis, Col. Rogers Billy Mitchell, Cook, Dr. Daniel, Mayor Jossey, Major Smith and divers oth ers, Tobe Johnson, Capt. Johnson, Capt. Gross, & Trent, Ried, more or less every day. Drinks and billiards being cheap, contributed to our amusement, in fact, constituted our favorite en tertainment. Occasionally we would have whist and drinks. About one P.M. we went to dinner and returned to town about three. The afternoon I generally spent in riding either on horseback or in buggy with or without ladies.

The evening constituted the best part of the day and was al most invariably spent in company with the ladies. Parties, sociables, private entertainments, and visits took up the hours from 8 to eleven sometimes to 1, 2 and 3 A.M. Upon these oc casions I generally met ( 12 ladies named).

Camp Lawton Nov. 19, 1864, I returned to duty at Athens about the 15 of January 1864 and remained there until 15 March only. During these two months except what annoyance the thoughts of leaving Athens and living in Gainesville oc casioned me—I spent the time quite pleasantly. There were a great many parties and I attended nearly all of them. There was also a series of tableaux gotten up by Misses Franklin & Carnjk in which I was solicited to take parts and which was the cause of much secret satisfaction to the ladies in attend ance who wished to show their pretty selves and, especially those delicate parts of their feet, legs, arms and breasts which decency in other places would hide. I will not do the fair creatures the injustice to say that they took more pleasure in exhibiting these things than I did in looking at them. I remember especially among the beauties the costume, the figure and the countenance of Miss ...... as my Queen in a scene from King Lear, she appeared very much as the woman who—

“Rose from her untroubled sleep

And put away her soft dark hair

And in a voice as low and deep

As loves first whisper breathed a prayer,

Her snow white hands together pressed

Her bright eye sheltered in its lid

The flowing night-gown on her breast

But swelling with the charms it hid.”

Books in his Library

Extracts from an article written for the Georgia Educational journal March, 1939, by Roy Newton, Great Nephew, Dean of the Junior College, Ferris Institute, Big Rapids, Michigan.

James Appleton Blackshear kept an uncommonly detailed and revealing personal diary from 1862 to almost the day of his untimely death in Louisiana in August, 1867. The greater part of the four handwritten volumes of the diary is concerned with the war. This part forms an interesting and historically valu able document in itself. However, those portions describing his experiences as a post-war teacher in Sumter County should i)e of particular interest to Georgia teachers today. His teaching experience included one “year” in Sumter Coun ty, Georgia, in 1865, and part of a year in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, in 1867. His school “year” in Georgia included 16 weeks (80 days of actual teaching) from July 10 to October 30, 1865. His “salary” for the entire period, amounting to $135.66, was collected from patrons on the basis of the number of “scholars” from each home. An interesting sociological sidelight of this arrangement is that the county paid the tuition for two children from an indigent family. His first entries on opening his school reveal problems in pedagogy that are timeless: lack of proper facilities, discipline, and partiality.

“Monday, July 10, 1865. Began to teach school. Had 16 pupils. ‘Twas pleasant in the morning but unpleasant in the afternoon. The children have not enough books to be properly classed off and as they cannot get them I may begin to cultivate patience of which I shall probably have need on some other accounts. School house is in bad order and water has to be brought from Mr. Elbert Ansley’s, near ly one-half mile.

“Wednesday, July 12, 1865. Had the same school as yes terday. Had a notion to flog Perry about his insolence and his geography lesson, but let him off with a lecture and a promise. I had hoped to manage my school without using timber, but I am now about to conclude that it cannot be done. The wild spirit of these boys will not be tamed by frowns and lectures.

“Wednesday, July 19, 1865. Father began working on the school house well, having concluded that it would be easier to clean out the old one and put a new curb in it than it would be to dig a new one. . . . Had to keep Perry and Thomas in at noon because they did not know their Geo graphy lesson, and to lead Joan by the arm and make her sit in my chair for a few minutes for making noise. Perry and Tom studied and learned their lesson and recited it. Joan cried considerably and would have grown boisterous had I not talked of sending for a switch.

“Thursday, July 20, 1865. Thomas Allen, whose family have been expecting him to die every day for a week, is better today. I went to the branch at noon and bathed though the place is not a very suitable one.

“Friday, July 21, 1865. Wm. W. went fishing and did not come to school. Weather very hot, dismissed school one hour earlier than usual, i.e. at five o’clock.

“Saturday, July 22, 1865, Remained at home until after four o’clock and went with father to the creek. Had a good bath but took too much exercise in swimming. In coming home I fell in with Judson Clark who told me that he had heard it reported that Miss Nora was to marry soon but did not know to whom ‘twould be. He seemed not to know that people generally think me interested in her.

“Monday, July 24, 1865—I began this morning to review my Latin grammar and intend spending a half hour with it and my Latin reader every day until the end of the present term. It has now been six years since I laid these books by, but with diligent attention I hope so to improve myself in them by the opening of the next term, provided I should teach, as to feel competent to teach them.

“Tuesday, July 25, 1865. Had 24 scholars today. Bennie Allen came with Betta this morning, and remained all day. He swallowed a marble.

“Wednesday, July 26, 1865. Thomas Green went to the mill. All other scholars came. Nothing unusual. I studied Algebra a little as I have been doing since I began teaching and as I expect to continue to do until I have reviewed it throughout.

“Friday, July 28, 1865. Had all my scholars, 24. Whipped Willie Roberts for sticking straws in Judson Roberts’ navel.

“Monday, July 31, 1865. Went to church with all the school except Marion Roberts and Cassie Wilder. Perry’s class didn’t know Geography. Made them get it over and promised them a thrashing.

“Tuesday, August 8, 1865. Dismissed school an hour earlier than usual, went home and to Miss Mollie Gains’ wedding. There were a great many awkward country girls and a few town ladies with as many old people as were desired to grace the occasion. . . . Promenaded the yard for half an hour with Miss Mary Allen, who is, like unto my self, ‘restless and unhappy,’ dissatisfied with things as they are without any hope of being able to better them.

“Wednesday, August 9, 1865. Absent Mrs. Elbert’s boys. Had a game of marbles with some of the boys.

“Monday, August 14, 1865. Had only 17 scholars. I sup pose they have stopped to attend the protracted meeting at Bear Branch or Rehobeth Baptist Church.

“Tuesday, August 15, 1865. Had but 13 scholars. Whipped Judson Roberts for tickling Jammie Gaines. 12 Yankees came to our house after I went home from school and ate some peaches.

“Friday, August 18, 1865. In the afternoon I went to town and took the oath of allegiance. Received a letter and some papers from the U.S.P.O. for father and went to see Miss Nora, I believe, has concluded that I do not intend to marry her. In fact, she told me so, and I did not endeavor to make her believe otherwise.

“Friday, August 25, 1865. Had 22 scholars. Whipped Perry, Pomp Allen, Jno. L. Barrow, Willie Roberts, Augustus Ansley, and Clinton Solomon Adams for going to the branch three times when they were forbidden to go but twice during a week. Also whipped Pickie, Elvira Green, Cassie Wilder, and Betta Duke for having gone into the branch at the boys’ bathing place.

“Tuesday, August 29, 1865. Had 24 scholars. Whipped Jno. L. Barrow and Doctor Gwathney for disturbing the school with noise, etc. during study hours. Introduced the game of town-ball at recess in the morning. The boys were well pleased and we enjoyed ourselves finely at playing then, at dinner time, and at recess in the afternoon. Mrs. Ebert’s cows had the misfortune to get into Mr. Mulkey’s sorghum patch where they ate so much that two of them died.

“Monday, September 25, 1865. My school is now some what like I wish to have it—free from dead heads. I have none today, and from what I can hear I have reason to believe that most of them contemplate stopping entirely. I am glad to have it so, especially as they have found no fault with me and do not know that I want them to quit.

“Monday, October 30, 1865. Went to the school house and dismissed the school. Brought home books, papers, etc. Helped work in the sugar cane and blistered my right hand.

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