Confederate Regiments & Batteries * Alabama

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 10 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 of Calhoun County were added as Company C near Dumfries, Virginia. 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 artillery 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

August 9
Battle of Cedar Mountain

The regiment suffered 1 killed and eight wounded

August 30
Second Battle of Manassas (Bull Run)

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.

September 15
Siege of Harpers Ferry

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.
December 13
Battle of Fredericksburg

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.

May 1-4
Battle of Chancellorsville

The battalion participated in flank attacks against Sickles’ Third Corps 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.

May 22

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.
July 1-3
Battle of Gettysburg

The battalion was in the lead of Heth’s column acting as skirmishers 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. When the rest of the division came up the battalion took part in the afternoon attack which drove Federal troops back through the town, fighting on the far right flank flank of the Confederate line.

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.
May 5-7
Battle of the Wilderness

Serving as Provost Guard, the battalion was thrown in a desperate but successful evening charge against a Union breach in the Confederate lines. The surprise assault in the near darkness hid the small numbers of the attackers and caused the Federal troops to go on the defensive until daylight, allowing Longstreet’s reinforcements to reach the battlefield.

May 8-18
Battle of Spotsylvania Court House
June 3
Second Battle of Cold Harbor
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.
April 9
Appomattox Court House

The battalion surrendered 125 officers and men under Captain Wade Ritter. A member of the 5th Alabama Battalion, Private Jesse H. Hutchins of Company  A,  is buried in the small Confederate cemetery at Appomattox Court House, one of the last casualties of the Army of Northern Virginia.