|Spring||The North Sumter Rifles were formed in Sumter County, Alabama under Captain Sebastian Van de Graaff and sent to Virginia as an artillery unit. They were present but not engaged at Manassas (Bull Run). The Rifles later become Company A of the 5th Alabama Infantry Battalion.|
|August||Captain Thomas B. Bush returned to Jacksonville, Alabama to recruit Company B (The Calhoun Sharpshooters, also known as the Bush Sharpshooters). Lieutenant Colonels F. B. Shepherd and Henry H. Walker were in command as the battalion formed. It was originally designated the 8th Alabama Infantry Battalion.|
|December 2||The White Plains Rangers were added as Company C and the unit was designated the “8th Infantry Battalion”|
|February 8||The Daniel Boone Rifles of Mobile County (formerly Company K, 1st Tennessee Infantry Regiment, Provisional Army) was added as Company D|
|April – May||Company E (a Florida company) and company F (an artilllery unit) was temporarily attached.|
|June 10||Companies E and F were transferred to become Companies L and M of the 55th Virginia Infantry Regiment.|
|June||The battalion became part of Archer’s Brigade of A. P. Hill’s Division. It included the 1st, 7th and 14th Tennessee, the 19th Georgia, and Braxton’s Battery.|
|June 26 – 28||
Battles of Mechanicsville and First Battle of Cold Harbor, or Gaines’ Mill
The battalion suffered 19 dead and 79 wounded out of around 200 engaged. Major Van de Graaf was wounded and originally thought killed, and Captain Thomas Stewart was wounded. Captain Bush assumed command of the regiment. Company A suffered over 40 casualties out of 70 men
Battle of Cedar Mountain
The regiment suffered 1 killed and eight wounded
The regiment suffered 19 casualties, including Captain Bush, who was mortally wounded. Lieutenant Charles M. Hooper assumed command.
The Flag of Company B was returned home after Captain Bush was mortally wounded. It is now in the State of Alabama archives.
The battalion was detached from the brigade and assigned to guarding Union prisoners after the capture of Harpers Ferry. It missed the Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam).
|October 22||The 8th Infantry Battalion was officially redesignated 5th Alabama Infantry Battalion. The new designation had been used as early as January. Major Van de Graaf returned to command.|
When Union General Meade breached the Confederate lines the battalion was led by General Archer in a counterattack against overwhelming odds which bought time for D. H Hill’s Division to stabilize the line. It lost 3 killed and 18 wounded, including Major Van de Graaf, who was wounded. Captain S. D. Stewart assumed command. Generals Jackson, A. P. Hill and Archer all praised the heroism of the Fifth Battalion in their reports.
The battalion participated in flank attacks against Sickles in Hazel Grove. It suffered 36 casualties out of around 150 men engaged, including Captain Stewart, who was killed. Captain A. N. Porter assumed command.
Company D (Daniel Boone Rifles) disbanded and the members were distributed among three other companies.
Major Van de Graaf returned to command about this time.
|June||The battalion, along with the rest of Archer’s Brigade, became part of Heth’s Division in the newly created 3rd Corps under Lieutenant General A.P. Hill.|
The battalion was in the lead of Heth’s column when it encountered Buford’s cavalry west of Gettysburg on July 1. The battalion drove the Union cavalry back three miles before running into The Union Iron Brigade in Herbst’s Woods. In fierce fighting, General Archer was captured and the 5th was forced to fall back to Herr Ridge, losing seven men casualties.
The heavy losses caused Archer’s Brigade, now under Colonel B. D. Fry, to be held in reserve on July 2nd, but on the 3rd it participated in the great charge under General Pettigrew, including some men wounded on the 1st. Guiding on Garnett’s Virginia Brigade, they converged on the “Copse of Trees.”
Some members of the battalion survived to cross the stone wall at The Angle and plant the flag, which was captured (see below). Major Van de Graaf wrote his wife, “My loss in this battle (Pickett’s Charge) was 43 out of 98 men. Some are prisoners & unhurt.” For the three days the battalion lost 3 killed, 30 wounded and 15 missing out of 105 men engaged.
The battalion colors captured at Gettysburg survived the war and came into the possession of Union General Joshua Chamberlain, whose heirs returned it to the State of Alabama in 1943. It is currently in the State of Alabama Archives.
|July 14||Battle of Falling Waters|
|August||The Battalion was assigned to Third Corps Headquarters as Provost Guard.|
Serving as Provost Guard, the battalion was thrown in a desperate but successful evening charge against a Union breach in the Confederate lines.
|July||Siege of Petersburg|
|April 2||Members of the battalion discovered General A. P. Hill’s body during the evacuation of the Petersburg lines. Hill had been accompanied only by an aide when he tried to rally the collapsing Confederate line during the Fall of Petersburg and was killed trying to capture two Union skirmishers.|
The battalion surrendered 125 officers and men under Captain Ritter.