Cpl William John Turner Hutcheson - Company E

Company E of Infantry Battalion (Blue Ridge Rifles)

This photo can be dated to 1862 as the stripes on his sleeve show him as a Corporal and he was only at this rank during 1862.

William John Turner Hutcheson was born December 18, 1839 to Curtis C. and Verlina Deadmon Hutcheson. He joined the Blue Ridge Rifles in his hometown of Dahlonega, Ga. and was formally enlisted July 9th, 1861 as a private in the Rifle Battalion of the 4th State Brigade at Camp McDonald (located at present day Kennesaw, Ga.) When the State Brigade was disbanded in early August 1861 they became Company E of the newly formed Phillips Legion. He served with the Legion in the late 1861 campaign into western Virginia and then returned , with the unit, to Hardeeville, South Carolina in January of 1862. After being strengthened by additional recruits and three new companies recruited in Cobb and Bartow counties, the Infantry Battalion of the Legion was assigned to a new brigade under General Thomas F Drayton and sent north to Richmond, Va. on July 18th, 1862 to join the Army of Northern Virginia. Early 1862 had brought a promotion for W.J.T. Hutcheson as the May/June 1862 muster roll shows him as a 4th Corporal. On August 29th, 1862 at the battle of Second Manassas a Federal shell scored a direct hit in the ranks of the Legion, killing two men and wounding two more. One of the wounded was Cpl Hutcheson, whose left thigh was badly lacerated by a shell fragment. We know the injury to have been serious by virtue of the fact that the December 31, 1862 muster roll shows him still absent due to this wound.

He returned to duty at the beginning of 1863 and received a promotion to 3rd Sergeant as he is indicated as present at this rank on the January/February 1863 muster roll. He is reported wounded again during the May 1863 battle of Chancellorsville in a casualty list published in the May 20th, 1863 edition of the Athens (Ga) Southern Banner. This wound was probably not very serious as his records do not show him hospitalized during this period. Surviving the Gettysburg campaign, Sgt Hutcheson headed west with two divisions of Longstreet's First Corps to aid General Braxton Bragg's army in repelling a large Federal army in north Georgia. Wofford's brigade, including the Phillips Legion Infantry, arrived one day too late to participate in the battle of Chickamauga, undoubtedly saving the lives of many of it's members.

During September, Sgt Hutcheson wrote his wife expressing the thoughts of many soldiers who were growing weary of the war. "There is talk of being paid off. I hope soon, for I knead money jest about as bad as I am going to," he told his wife, "As to clothes," he added, "I can make out without you making me any at all, I guess, provided the government is able to furnish them, & when it gets so it is not able to do that, I am going to come home."

The Legion was then active during the siege of Chattanooga in October before moving north in early November in an attempt to destroy General Ambrose Burnside's Army of the Ohio at Knoxville, Tennessee. Wofford's brigade, including the Legion, was one of two thrown into an incredibly bungled attack on Federal Fort Sanders at Knoxville on November 29th, 1863. In this attack, the Legion led a charge into a deep ditch in front of the fort's walls only to discover that the wall's sides were too high and slippery to be climbed without ladders. Trapped in this position, the Georgians were slaughtered as Federals began throwing artillery shells rigged as grenades into the ditch. The Legion lost very heavily in this fight with numerous soldiers killed, wounded or captured. Total southern casualties in this action were 813 versus only 13 for the defending Federals. Badly demoralized by a combination of short rations, inadequate winter clothing and, what many soldier's perceived to be, poor leadership, many soldiers decided they had had enough war for 1863 and simply went home to their families in north Georgia. Sgt Hutcheson must have been one of these as he is shown as being AWOL as of December 4th, 1863 on a roll dated January 14th, 1864.

We do know that he returned to the Legion sometime in early 1864 as the next entry in his record, a roll for April and May of 1864 dated October 5th, 1864, shows him as wounded in action at Spotsylvania Court House on May 12th. He was admitted to Jackson hospital in Richmond on May 15th where the middle finger on his left hand was amputated. On May 23rd, 1864 he received a 60 day wounded furlough and returned to Georgia. He was carried on all further rolls as being AWOL so we know that he did not return from his wounded furlough. Further research may show that he was one of the many Georgia soldiers who, once home in 1864, remained there as part of home guard or militia units to defend their homes and families from the depradations of bands of marauders roaming north Georgia. The situation became so serious that General Wofford was reassigned, at Governor Brown's request, to north Georgia in January of 1865 to try and bring law and order back to this area.

It may also be that young Sgt Hutcheson simply decided that three wounds were enough!

After the war Hutcheson ran a grocery store and was the superintendant of the Battle Branch gold mine. He was married to Elizabeth Davis before the war and fathered twelve children. One son, born after the war, was named Rebel Lee Hutcheson. He also served as tax collector in Lumpkin County from 1877 through 1880 and was eighty two when he died on April 8th, 1922. He and his wife are buried in the Antioch Baptist Cemetery at Auroria, Ga. in Lumpkin County. He sleeps under a marker with masonic symbol which reads "William J.T. Hutcheson Dec 18, 1839 - April 8, 1922, Gone but not forgotten. He was a faithful soldier in the W.B.T.S. serving as a volunteer 1861-1865"

Photo courtesy of Georgia Dept of Archives & History
Written by:Kurt Graham

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