Forgotten Civil War soldiers rediscovered
By Andrew Akers
May 25, 2014
William “Bill” Bowers was always curious about his own Southern heritage.
Therefore, the South Georgia man embarked on a 20-year journey to quench his thirst for knowledge by researching the past.
Bowers discovered one of his ancestors fought in the Civil War and was wounded as many as four different times. The 66-year-old also learned about three different Georgia regiments, including one company in Georgia’s 27th Regiment with ties to Hall County.
Bowers discovered Company D was formed at Redwine Church in Gainesville. It became the color guard of the 27th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
“They must have been quite brave or they wouldn’t have been made color bearers,” the author said. “Sometimes the colors were the first thing the enemy tried to take out because that is how signals were given.
“They didn’t have walkie-talkies or anything, so the flag was how they gave instructions to the rest of the regiment.”
Bowers compiled his findings in a self-published book about the Civil War Confederate regiment, “The 27th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment.”
“It was tough because there was nothing written about any of these units,” Bowers said. “I know more about these regiments than probably anyone alive does.
“I decided to put it in a book form so anyone who was interested in their own heritage could find it in one place.”
The 27th Regiment was formed with companies from across Georgia and participated in 44 engagements throughout the war, including at the Battle of Antietam, the single bloodiest day battle in American history, Bowers said.
Roughly 25 percent of Georgian soldiers died from disease or in battle, and half came back maimed or injured.
The sheer difficulty of collecting the information about the soliders spurred the Appling County man to compile a book.
“I might call myself a writer, but I’m really a compiler,” Bowers said. “I’ve been to battlefields, cemeteries, courthouses and museums.
“Sometimes I would come away with nothing, sometimes it was just a mouthful and sometimes I would come away with a tremendous amount of information.”
Bowers has published two books, “The 27th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment” and “The 47th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment.” He is currently working on a book about the 54th Georgia regiment, which he hopes will be completed in early 2015. Both published works were compiled from more than 10,000 documents and multiple interviews with historians.
Memorial Day, which is being celebrated Monday, has its roots in the Civil War. Originally called Decoration Day, the holiday was meant to commemorate soldiers who died in the war. Later the name was changed and expanded to include all men and women who died while serving in the military.
“The freedoms that we have were bought for a really heavy price of blood and treasure,” Bowers said. “Even in the War of Southern Independence, we paid a high price for liberty.
“We should never ever forget to honor the soldiers who fought and died for those liberties.”