150 years ago today, a young man of 20 could mark the one year anniversary of the survival of the first of three battle wounds he would receive and live to tell about. Enoch Eubanks had quite a life and just a few stories to tell.
Born to Thomas and Nancy (Cox) Eubanks in Calhoun County Georgia in 1842, he had seven siblings – four brothers and three sisters. On June 10, 1861, at the age of 19, Enoch Eubanks left his family and enlisted in the Georgia 12th Infantry Company D also known as the Calhoun Rifles. This was the first organized group to leave the county for the war. The 12th Georgia was originally assigned to the Army of the Northwest and ended the war as part of the Army of Northern Virginia.
The first of Enoch’s wounds happened on May 8, 1862 when Union and Confederate forces met at McDowell, Virginia at the start of Major General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s Valley Campaign.
The Union force, originally under the overall command of Brigadier General Robert Milroy, was taken over by Milroy’s senior, Brigadier General Robert Schenck, on the morning of May 8. Schenck sent 18 guns to defend a bridge over Bullpasture River, deployed infantry units along the river, and sent one regiment east of the river. Calvary troops were positioned on the left flank.
It was reported that Confederate artillery were being brought to Sitlington’s Hill which would have made the Union position at the bottom almost impossible to defend. They planned to send 2,300 men consisting of Milroy’s 25th, 32nd, and 75th Ohio and the 3rd West Virginia with the Schenck’s 82nd Ohio to meet the Confederates. Milroy personally led the attack.
Due to the terrain, Jackson’s army was spread over more than 8 miles. Also due to the terrain, he did not send up the artillery, as the Union thought. Union guns, however, continued to fire on the Confederate position. A total of 6,500 Union troops battled 6,000 Confederates.
Enoch Eubanks and the 12th Georgia was at the center of the action and suffered greatly. They were positioned to hold a hill overlooking McDowell and were being attacked from the right and the left. It was reported that the Union troops had superior weapons to the Georgia boy’s smoothbore muskets. The Georgia regiment, however, held their position. After four hours of fighting, the nine Confederate regiments held off the five Union regiments from breaking the center of the Confederate line. The Union army retreated towards Franklin with Jackson in pursuit. Due to the efforts of his army, Jackson was able to continue defending the Valley – next at Front Royal and again at Winchester.
News of the Battle of McDowell got to Richmond in the form of a telegram sent by Confederate Major A. W. Harman:
Transcript of telegraph sent to Richmond following the Battle of McDowell:
“Jackson advanced forces Engaged Enemy near McDowell on Suttington (Stitlington’s) Hill at five o’clock PM yesterday-After four hours fighting drove them back in Confusion on McDowell-Our loss about three hundred (300)-Col Gibbons Killed-Genl Johnson wounded in ankle-Col Harmon & Capt Dabney of 52nd VA Regt wounded-Fifty Second VA & Twelth (12th) GA suffered severely –we had no artillery- ……Brigade Not in action-Our troops encamped on Battle Field-artillery gotten in position ready to renew fight today if enemy doesn’t retreat.
The Union, although battling uphill and forced to retreat, inflicted almost twice as many casualties on the Confederates, one of whom was Enoch Eubanks. 12th GA Lieutenant, Shepard Pryor wrote of the Battle of McDowell the following:
“I felt quite small in that fight the other day when the musket and cannon balls were flying around me as thick as hail and my best friends falling on both sides, dead and mortally wounded. Oh Dear, it is impossible for me to express by feelings. When the fight was over and I saw what was done, the tears came then free. Oh, that I could never behold such a site again. To think it among civilized people; killing one another like insects.”
Enoch returned to his unit and was wounded again at 2nd Manassas in 1862;
and at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863;
At Gettysburg Enoch’s regiment fought with Doles’ Brigade of Robert Rodes’ Division. He was likely wounded in an assault that brigade made on July 1 coming from the direction of Oak Hill that looked to drive off John C. Robinson’s Union Division of the I Corps on Oak Ridge.
In addition to McDowell, 2nd Manassas, and Gettysburg, the GA 12th Infantry was involved in a total of 25 major engagements throughout the war including Winchester, Seven Days, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor and Cedar Creek. Enoch and the regiment surrendered at Appomattox in April 1865.
After the war, Enoch married Licia Isler. They had three sons: John (1870), Enoch (1875), and Elmore (1877). On April 26, 1880, Licia died at the age of 26 of pneumonia leaving Enoch a widower to care for their farm and the children ages 10, 5, and 3. Two years later, on May 24, Enoch married Elish Johnson. Although we cannot say for certain, it is believed that Enoch passed away not long after marrying Elish Johnson and that she took her three step sons to live in Alabama.
Enoch Eubanks saw a lot in his years of service to the Confederacy. As many soldiers of the day, he carried those memories physically as well as emotionally.
In addition to the one year mark since Enoch’s first wound, 150 years ago today his commander at McDowell, Stonewall Jackson, lay convalescing from his wound received at Chancellorsville five days earlier. At this time Jackson was teetering between consciousness, and despite his condition all around him were hopeful for a full recovery.