John Jackson Griffin was born in Irwin County Georgia 18 April 1832. He was the son of Benjamin Daniel Griffin and Sarah (Henderson) Griffin. He first married Martha Giddens 16 Sep 1856 in Berrien Co Ga. Martha was born 3 Oct 1841 in Lowndes Co, Ga the daughter of Jacob Giddens (1803-1878) and Ann Sirmans (1823-1860) Martha died on 2 July 1860 in Berrien Co Ga. Three years to the day, John Jackson Griffin would be fighting for his life in Gettysburg.
Griffin enlisted as a Private in Company I, 50th Georgia Volunteer Infantry (Berrien Light Infantry), Confederate States of America on 22 August 1862 at Calhoun, Georgia by Major J. Dunwody. This was 8 months after his second marriage (19 Dec 1861) to a Martha Mathis (1884-1925), daughter of Thomas Mathis and Eady Register.
The 50th Georgia Volunteer Infantry was organized in the late spring of 1862. Most of the 50th was made up of men from the South Georgia area. The regiment participated in more than 45 engagements during the war. The original commander was Col. W. R. Manning. The 50th fit into the Military Organization, Department of Georgia, CSA on 30 Apr 1862 as follows: Maj. Gen., JC Pemberton Commander of SC, GA, FL, Brig. Gen. Alexander Lawton Commander of Ga, Brig. Gen. HW Mercer 2nd Brigade. In this Brigade along with the 50th were 1st, 13th, 25th, 26th, 29th, Ga Infantry, 3rd Ga Cavalry, 8th and 11th Battalions, Savannah Guards, Chatham Light Horsemen, Effingham Hussars, Hardwich Mounted Rifles, Ga Artillery Co D, and Stanton Hill VA Artillery. (OR I-12, pg 487) In June and July the Brigade continued to add units. (OR I-12, pg 576, 592). The 50th was organized into the following companies:
- A- The Satillia Rangers; men from Ware Co
- B- Ware Volunteers; men from Ware Co
- C- Coffee Guards; men from Coffee Co
- D- Valdasta Guards; men from Lowndes Co
- E- Thomas County Rangers; men from Thomas Co
- F- Decatur Infantry; men from DeKalb Co
- G- Clinch Volunteers; men from Clinch Co
- H- Colquitt Marksmen; men from Colquitt Co
- I- Berrien Light Infantry; men from Berrien Co
- K- Brooks Volunteers; men from Brooks and Fayette Co
On the Company Muster Roll for 31 August 1862 we find him as a member of the regiment. His enlistment was for a three year period or the end of the war, whichever came first.
The 50th Georgia Volunteer Infantry also known as the Berrien Light Infantry. Most of the 50th was made up of men from the South Georgia area. The original commander was Col. W. R. Manning. The 50th fit into the Military Organization, Department of Georgia, CSA on 30 Apr 1862 as follows: Major General, JC Pemberton Commander of South Carolina , Georgia, and Florida, Brigadier General Alexander Lawton Commander of Georgia, Brigadier General H.W. Mercer 2nd Brigade.
In this Brigade along with the 50th were 1st, 13th, 25th, 26th, 29th, Georgia Infantry Regiments, 3rd Georgia Cavalry, 8th and 11th Georgia Battalions, Savannah Guards, Chatham Light Horsemen, Effingham Hussars, Hardwich Mounted Rifles, Georgia Artillery Company D, and Stanton Hill Virginia Artillery.
John Jackson Griffin received training beginning in Calhoun. The 50th was then later sent to the Savannah area. On 17 July 1862 Major General J.C. Pemberton ordered Manning and the 50th from Savannah via railroad to Richmond to join forces with Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia. When the 50th arrived in Richmond they fit into the Organization of the Army of Northern Virginia under command of Robert E. Lee, General James Longstreet's 1st Corps, Major General David R. Jones Division, Brigadier General Thomas F. Drayton's Brigade. At this time Drayton's Brigade was made up of the 50th & 51st Ga, 15th SC, and Phillip's Legion. They were in the first Maryland campaign, serving at the Second Battle of Manassas. The 50th battled at Boonesborough (South Mountain) 14 Sept 1862, Crampton Gap, Harpers Ferry, Sharpsburg (Antietam) 16-17 Sept 1862, and Sheperdstown Ford. Surgeons reports from these battles reports the 50th had 29 killed and 97 wounded.
On the morning of 15 Sept 1862 the 2nd and 20th Ga units were ordered to a position to defend the Antietam Creek Bridge. Half a company from Jenkin's Brigade and the 50th were assigned as support for these units. The enemy began forming on the opposite side of the creek. The Confederate units took heavy artillery fire until dark on the 16th, but had little damage. On 17 Sept intense cannon fire resumed and the Union forces battled to take control of the crossing. About 403 men repulsed this attack as reported by MG Jones, Division commander, in his report. The 50th in a support role did not experience as intense fighting as did the other units. (OR I, 19, pg 886) In a report from Brig. Gen. Robert Toombs, the 50th here numbered 100 muskets and were ordered to the right side of the 2nd Ga, in support. They "held their position with fidelity and firmness" while being outnumbered about 5 to 1. (OR I, 19, pg 887) During Oct 26-Nov 10 1862 they participated in operations in Loudon, Faquier, and Rappahannock Counties in Virginia.
On 26 Nov 1862, the 50th was re-assigned to the brigade of Brig General Paul J. Semmes, along with the 10th, 51st, and 53rd Georgia Regiments by order of General Robert E Lee. This brigade was included in the division of Major General Lafayette McLaws of General James Longstreet's 1st Corps.
John Jackson Griffin is found on the Clothing Receipt roll for the 4th quarter of 1862 (Oct-Dec). January-February 1863 Payroll by Major JE Davis QM through Dec 31 1862. Receipt Roll for Clothing, 1st Quarter 1863 date of issue 11 March 1863. A notation was made that he was absent, sick when returns made.
The men of the 50th were now on line for the Second Maryland Campaign and next battled at Fredericksburg and later Chancellorsville.The report of Brig. Gen. Semes, 20 May 1863 regarding Chancellorsville states the enemy crossed the Rappahannock the morning of 29 Apr 1863 near the Pratt House. The 50th under command of Lt. Col Kearse along with the 53rd Ga were sent forward in a reserve position. 30 Apr 1863 the 50th & 53rd are moved up and remain at the forward post until sunset. 1 May 1863 at midnight the units are ordered forward in pursuit of union troops in the area. They march and skirmish for 1 mile. The 50th is ordered to halt at the edge of the woods near an open field. The enemy is repulsed and the units take up pursuit again for another 2 miles. As they approach Chancellorsville they find union units entrenched. The 50th & 53rd are ordered to help fight a frontal diversion. Lt. Gen. Stonewall Jackson's Corps will then outflank the union forces and attack from the rear. As Jackson's troops attack, it drives the union soldiers head on to the 50th & 53rd. They are reported as performing their duty. Next the 50th & 53rd are ordered to move forward to support Kershaw's Brigade on the turnpike towards Fredericksburg. The 50th and 53rd took position under a storm of bullets. The position was never more gallantly taken or persistently and heroically held according to the report. (Battle of Salem Church). They fought for 2 hours with the union main attack directly at the 50th & 53rd. They were pressed for reinforcements. This battle was the most severely contested of the war to date. Every regiment of the brigade gave their full measure of duty. The brigade was ordered back to regroup, but the 50th & 53rd did not receive the order as they were hotly engaged with the enemy and exhibited unsurpassed stubbornness and gallantry under repeated assaults of a greatly superior number, driving the enemy from the field and closing the fight. It was noted that the colors of the 2nd Rhode Island Volunteers was one enemy regiment. Later the 50th mounted a fence 60 years from the enemy line in a gallant style. Lt. Col. Kearse reported that the 50th was running low on ammunition. He was ordered to try to replenish his supply, fight until completely out, then retreat. The 50th fought on until the ammunition was gone. They began to pull back 30 yards and reform, but noticed that the enemy had disappeared. Fighting ceased. They took 595 prisoners, 1489 small arms and 1136 accouterments. (OR I, 25, pg 833-837) Surgeons report from Chancellorsville lists 17 killed and 153 wounded from the 50th. (OR I, 25, pg 806)
On 2 July 1863 we find John Jackson Griffin fighting with his regiment in the Wheatfield area in Gettysburg. Semmes brigade is on the right flank of Kershaw's brigade. To the right of the 50th towards the Devil's Den area are Hood's Division including the brigades of Anderson, Benning, Robertson and Law. Semmes brigade is in opposition to the Union Fifth Corps including the 1st brigade of Col William Tilton (18th & 22nd Massachusetts, 1st Michigan, and 118th Pennsylvania) and 2nd brigade of Col. Jacob Sweitzer (9th & 32nd Massachusetts, 4th Michigan, and 62nd Pennsylvania) , with John C. Caldwell Division from Second Corps of 4 brigades in reserve for the front from the Wheatfield to Devils Den.
A union musket ball hits John Jackson Griffin slightly above the left knee, shattering the lower femur bone. This is 3 years to the day of the anniversary of the death of his beloved first wife. Family lore states that he was attempting to rescue a fallen comrade when he himself was struck down. As he laid in agony from his wound, he was taken as a prisoner of war by union troops. His wound required that the left leg be amputated above the knee. One dated item stated on 5 July 1865. Another entry I have found states 2nd of July as capture date. Since two researched entries are in conflict of each other the exact date can not now be determined. I believe that the 5 July date was an error indicating the day the form was filled out rather than the date of actual capture. If the July 2nd date could be verified, it would indicate that his leg may have been amputated by Union surgeons. I have a reference to that the leg was amputated by Union surgeon 2-3 July 1863, pg 249, Vol XI of Medical & Surgical History of the Civil War. #338 is Griffin, JJ, Private, Co I, 50th Ga, age 27, left flap amputation , recurrent hemorrhage, exchanged 12 Nov 1863. (also see Table XXXII "Primary amputation of the lower third of the femur for shot fracture.) This would indicate that he was taken from the battle ground late in the day/evening and later treated at an Union Hospital. The operation occuring during the 2nd of July, but not completed until the early hours of July 3rd.
Griffin appears on a roster of sick and wounded in hospitals in and about Gettysburg, Pa. after the battle of July 1-3, 1863. Complaint listed as leg amputated; remarks secondary hemorrhage occurred 20 times between July and August, checked by phosphate of Iron. On Pennsylvania Register 556 Gettysburg page 28.
Appearing on a roll of prisoners of war at Seminary Hospital, Gettysburg Pa, 10 Aug 1863, Griffin is listed as captured at Gettysburg 5 July 1863, remarks state amputation of right leg (mistake made by recorder as it was the left leg.) He is later transferred as we find him on a hospital entrance admission to Camp Letterman US Army General Hospital in Gettysburg Pa, admitted 4 Sept 1863, complaints listed wounds above left knee, amputation at thigh, sent to General Hospital 14 Oct 1863.
He next appears on a Roll of Prisoners of War in Hospitals in and about Gettysburg, captured July 1-3 in Gettysburg County, remarks, transferred to General Hospital Baltimore, 3 Nov 1863. A letter accompanying this roll is dated 2 Dec 1863
John Jackson Griffin was paroled by the Federals on 17 Nov 1863 and appears on a Roll of Prisoners of War at Wests Buildings Hospital Baltimore Maryland 12 Nov 1863 transferred to City Point, Virginia Hospital, with the where captured listed as Gettysburg 2 July 1863. The Rolls endorsed "received City Point, Va, 17 Nov 1863 of Major John E, Mulford, 2nd Inf. NY Vol, comander under flag of truce." On these rolls 350 paroled confederate prisoners of war, less one dead.
He also appears as admitted to 2nd Division General Hospital, Camp Winder, Richmond, Va. 18 Nov 1863, When furloughed 28 Nov 1863 Time says 60 days for furlough remarks marked P.P. (paroled prisoner) and on a Hospital muster roll of sick and injured 2nd Division General Hospital, Camp Winder, Richmond, Va. Nov 1863 and on a recipet roll for clothing 2nd Division General Hospital, Camp Winder, Richmond, Va., 19-20 Nov 1863 listed as a paroled prisoner granted furlough until exchanged.
On the Company Muster Roll John Jackson Griffin is listed on Feb 29-Aug 31 1864 last paid by H Hegan though June 30 1863, as absent-sick, wounded, Sept Oct 1864 last paid by H Hegan through June 30 1863, as absent-sick, wounded, Nov-Dec 1864 last paid by H Hegan though June 30 1863, as absent-sick, wounded and Jan-Feb 1865 last paid-Unknown, was absent-sick, wounded.
John Jackson Griffin is home with family in the Berrien-Irwin County, area of Georgia for Christmas of 1863. Again family lore says he walked the entire distance with his crutches and received kindness from many folks along the way home. He continues to live in this part of Georgia until his death on 1 July 1889, 26 years after the start of the battle of Gettysburg. He is buried on his father's old home-place in Irwin County, Georgia. This is referred to as the Old Ben Griffin Cemetery about 9 miles South of Ocillia, off of the Lax-Ocillia road, (Highway 90). Heading towards Ocilla (north) the cemetery is on the right hand side of the road just before crossing the Willachooche Creek bridge. The cemetery is about 1/2 mile behind a home near the highway. It is on the west end of the field. behind the house. The cemetery has a chain link fence surrounding the graves. John Jackson Griffin is buried next to his father Benjamin Daniel Griffin. His mother Sarah (Henderson) Griffin lies next to her husband Benjamin. There are many marked (10-15) graves of family members and several unmarked (10-15) graves are reported in the same area including John's first wife Martha Giddens. John Jackson Griffin's headstone reads: "J.J. Griffin, Died July 1, 1889, Rest in Peace." It is shaped in sort of an inverted arrowhead design.
On 23 March 1997 a special dedication ceremony was held by the SCV camps of Moultrie (J.K. McNeill Camp #674) and Ocilla (Jefferson Davis Cowboys Camp #682) to honor Private John Jackson Griffin. A government headstone and an SCV grave marker were installed in his final resting place.
The above was compiled by John Griffin If you have additions, corrections, or comments, please contact him.