04 February 2010

Robert J. Anderson, Confederate Soldier at Gettysburg

Robert J. Anderson was a dealer in Sewing Machines. He also was a tax receiver for Bibb County, Georgia. These things you would never know just by looking at his gravestone in the Eglantine Square section of Rose Hill Cemetery -- a simple granite marker with the following epitaph:

Robert J. Anderson, Sr.
Jan 12, 1841 Abbeville, S.C.
Feb 26, 1920 Macon, Ga.
At Rest

Something else you would not know about Robert without doing a little research -- he fought in the Confederate Army and lost an arm at Gettysburg.

According to Ancestry's U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, Robert Jackson Anderson enlisted as a private 17 May 1861 in Company A, 20th Georgia Infantry Regiment (Benning's Brigade). He was promoted to full 3rd Corporal 2 July 1862.

Benning's Brigade, including Robert Anderson, fought at the famed Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863. Here is a portion of the after battle report by Col. J. D. Waddell, 20th GA Infantry:
Sir: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part borne by the Twentieth Regt. Georgia Volunteers in the battle at and near Gettysburg, Pa., on July 2 and 3:

In the order of attack, Longstreet's corps was assigned to the right, and Hood's division occupied the right of the corps. Benning's brigade, in the order of battle, supported, at the distance of 400 yards, Law's, whose position was on the extreme right. In the brigade formation, the Twentieth Regt. occupied the left center. Before reaching the point from which to make the attack, it was necessary to move by the right flank a distance of nearly 3 miles. The enemy's guns commanded a considerable portion of this distance, and opened a heavy fire of shell upon us for more than a mile of the way.

About 5 p. m., having reached the intended point, we advanced in line of battle to the assault, the regiment moving in excellent order and spirit. We had not advanced far before it was ascertained that there was a considerable space intervening between Law's and Robertson's brigades, unoccupied by any Confederate troops save very few belonging to the First Texas Regt. Near to the center of this comparatively unoccupied ground, upon a steep, rocky, rugged hill, the enemy had posted a battery of six guns, from which a destructive and vigorous fire was poured into our ranks.

To cover this ground and to support Brig.-Gen. Robertson, who was pressed severely at the time, a left and oblique movement was made and continued until the Twentieth Regt. fronted this battery, when the brigade was ordered to advance forward.

The order was obeyed by the regiment with promptness and alacrity, and the charge upon the hill and battery executed courageously and successfully. In the space of fifteen minutes the hill was carried, and three 10-pounder Parrott guns captured. They were brought off that night, and the next day turned against the enemy in that terrible artillery fight. Some 25 prisoners were captured and sent to the rear... After the enemy were driven from the hill, they poured upon us a terrific and incessant fire from the steep mountain side directly to our front, their advance line of infantry being distant about 500 yards, and pretty well protected by large rocks and stones heaped together.

About 6 o'clock, a regiment was moved to get to our left flank. A shot from Private John F. Jordan, of Company G, unhorsed the officer leading it, when their ranks were broken, and they retreated in wild disorder and confusion, my regiment adding no little to their panic by opening a telling volley into their scattered ranks. No other advance was attempted by them upon the hill we occupied while we held it.

Our loss in the charge was very heavy...

...The Twentieth held the hill until nearly 7 p. m. on the 3d, under a dangerous but desultory fire of the enemy, mainly infantry, when we were ordered to fall back to a more tenable position about 1 mile to our left rear, the withdrawal of troops on our left making such order necessary. Indeed, the enemy had well nigh gained our left flank before it was known that we were without supports there to meet him. Owing to a misunderstanding of orders as to the point aimed at, and as to the manner in which the retreat should be conducted, considerable disorder attended its inception; but the regiment was formed again upon the first favorable ground, and good order soon restored.

The loss on this retreat was 17 men, some of whom are known to have been killed and others wounded... The men generally were almost worn down by hard marching, harder fighting, constant watching, loss of sleep, hunger, and almost intolerable heat. Nevertheless, buoyed up by the unconquerable spirit of men who deserve to be free, they bore it all with the fortitude, constancy, uncomplaining devotion and patriotism which have distinguished them in so many campaigns and avouched their soldierly character and merit upon so many fields of triumph and glory. Upon reaching the hill designated, hasty breastworks were constructed and the command kept under arms; but the enemy did not choose to attack us, and the struggle terminated here.

Instances of individual valor and gallantry were many and splendid; the coolness and courage of every man seemed equal to his opportunity, and where all, so far as I could observe, performed their full duty manfully and well, I should do injustice to many by specially commending a few whose conduct and bearing happened to fall within the scope of my own observation.

...It will be seen that our losses in the battle of Thursday were, in killed, 2 officers and 21 men; wounded, officers, 4; men, 73; missing, 4; and on Friday the total missing is 17, making an aggregate of 121.

It may be proper to add that our battle-flag is marked with 87 holes, 38 of which seem to have been made by Minie balls, the remainder, from the character of the rents, by fragments of shell.
Robert J. Anderson received a pension for his service from 1880 - 1919. His widow, Julia F. Anderson, received a deceased soldier pension in 1920.

Robert's pension file states: "Robert J. Anderson of the county of Bibb, State of Georgia, who, being duly sworn, deposes and says that he was... a bona fide resident of this state; that he enlisted in the military service of the Confederate States... as a Private in Company A, 20th Regiment of Georgia Volunteers, that while engaged in such military service, to-wit: at the battle of engagemenr of Gettysburg in the State of Pennsylvania on the 2nd day of July 1863, he was wounded in the Arm, and that the same was amputated above the elbow..."

His application also states he moved to Georgia in 1856.

Robert J. Anderson married Julia F. Coley 3 October 1867 in Bibb County, Georgia. Julia, daughter of J. A. B. and Mary Coley, was laid to rest next to her husband in Rose Hill. Her dates: Apr 9, 1846 Coley's Station, Ga ~ Aug 31, 1920 Macon, Ga.

Census records and a lot search at RoseHillCemetery.org suggest Robert and Julia had at least eleven children:

- Robert Coley Anderson (Oct 8, 1868 Macon, Ga ~ Mar 31, 1918 Augusta, Ga; buried same lot)
- Felicia W. Anderson (in 1880 census)
- Julia Leila Anderson (Jan 1, 1874 Macon, Ga ~ Jan 28, 1960 Macon, Ga; buried same lot)
- John Rebel Anderson (July 13, 1875 Macon, Ga ~ Mar 14, 1955 Macon, Ga; buried same lot)
- Appleton Frank Anderson (Dec 27, 1878 Macon, Ga ~ Feb 12, 1948 Macon, Ga; buried same lot)
- Charley B. Anderson (Sept 12, 1880 ~ Oct 22, 1930; buried same lot)
- Nona Anderson (May 14, 1882 ~ Dec 24, 1932; buried same lot)
- William W. Anderson (1900, 1910, 1920 census)
- Louisa Anderson (June 22, 1887 ~ Jan 28, 1975; buried same lot)
- Robert J. Anderson, Jr. (Apr 13, 1892 Macon, Ga ~ Aug 10, 1917 Macon, Ga; buried same lot)
- Mary Mason Anderson (August 6, 1870 ~ August 31, 1871; buried same lot)

Robert J. Anderson, Sr. purchased his lot in Eglantine Square in 1871, likely upon the death of his daughter Mary. Two other individuals are buried in the R. J. Anderson lot -- (1) Eleanor B. Anderson (wife of Charley; Apr 1, 1884 ~ Apr 28, 1973), and (2) Robert J. Anderson, III (son of Charley and Eleanor; BM2 US Navy, WWII, May 29, 1925 ~ Dec 7, 1993).


  1. Found this site while researching genealogy. Turns out, the wife of Robert J. Anderson, Julia Coley is a long lost relative. Love the site.


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