Thursday, February 6, 2020

The Georgia Guard in Rome

By Maj. William Carraway
Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

On February 3, 2012, the Georgia Army National Guard’s 1160th Transportation Company was federally recognized in Rome Georgia. The 1160th, which continues in service today, is just the latest unit of Citizen Soldiers to be welcomed by the Rome community. 

A squad Citizen Soldiers of the Rome-based Company E, 122nd Infantry Regiment secure a key intersection during training in Floyd County, Ga. 
in April 1950. Georgia Guard Archives.

The American Civil War and the Rome Light Guards

The Wheatfield at Gettysburg, The Rome Light Guards moved
across this field on July 2, 1863. Photo by Maj. William Carraway
In June 1861, the Rome Light Guards assembled as Company A, 8th Georgia Volunteer Infantry, commanded by Col. Francis Bartow.[1] This regiment fought at the First Battle of Bull Run where Bartow, then a brigade commander was killed. Bartow County is named in his honor. Bartow’s regiment soldiered on with the Army of Northern Virginia and was engaged in the storied battles of the eastern theater of the American Civil War. The 8th fought in the Seven Days, 2nd Manassas, Fredericksburg, Antietam and the Wheatfield at Gettysburg where the regiment suffered fifty percent casualties.[2] The 8th ended its Confederate service with the surrender at Appomattox Court House.[3] Out of more than 100 men who joined the Rome Light Guards only 11 remained when the 8th Georgia surrendered at Appomattox.[4]

The Rome Light Guards were mustered back into state service June 17, 1872. The company served in the Georgia State Troops until disbanded in 1903.[5]

The Hill City Cadets and Phillip G. Byrd

Brig. Gen. Phillip G. Byrd. Georgia Guard Archives
The Hill City Cadets were organized Sept. 23, 1879 and served in the Georgia State Troops until 1907.[6] On June 8, 1891, Phillip G. Byrd became captain of the Cadets. A Rome resident, Byrd had enlisted in the Rome Light Guards upon graduating from the University of North Georgia in 1879. He served as captain of the Cadets for three years during which time he also served as editor of the Hustler of Rome, which he billed as “the only afternoon paper between Atlanta and Chattanooga.”[7]

On December 4, 1894, Byrd was appointed aide de camp to the governor of Georgia with the rank of lieutenant colonel.[8] Due to the declining health of Georgia’s adjutant general, Brig. Gen. John McIntosh Kell, Byrd was appointed assistant adjutant general Jan. 1, 1899 with the rank of colonel. Byrd served as the acting adjutant general until the death of Brig. Gen. Kell Oct. 5, 1900. General Order No. 19 issued by Governor Allen D. Candler appointed Byrd Adjutant General of the Georgia State Troops Oct. 11, 1900. Byrd’s official term as adjutant general was short lived as Governor Candler appointed James W. Robertson to succeed him Nov. 11, 1900. Byrd reverted to his previous position and rank as assistant adjutant general.

World War I

While the Georgia Guard did not have a unit stationed in Rome during World War I, Floyd County citizens still entered the ranks of Georgia Guard units. Two of them paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Private Giles Parsons and Pvt. Lonzo Stager of Rome, Ga. Georgia Guard Archives.
Giles Parsons of Rome was inducted into Company F, 328th Infantry Regiment Sept. 20, 1917 at the age of 25. He was transferred to the Georgia National Guard’s Company G, 122nd Infantry Regiment Oct. 14, 1917 and remained with the 122nd until June 1918 when he began his transfer to Company B, 9th Infantry Regiment. He fought at St. Mihiel, Blanc Monte and the Argonne. He was killed in action at Beaumont, France Nov. 4, 1918.

Lonzo L. Stager of Rome enlisted in Company, F 325th Infantry Regiment Oct. 1, 1917 and transferred to the Georgia National Guard’s Company F, 122nd Infantry Regiment Oct. 14, 1917. In June 1918, McGinnis transferred from the 122nd and was ultimately assigned to Company B, 102nd Infantry Regiment. He was killed in action in France July 22, 1918 at the age of 22.

Post WWII Reorganization and Return to Rome

The Georgia Guard was reorganized following World War II. The reorganization established the 48th Infantry Division, which was comprised of units from Georgia and Florida. On May 8, 1947, the 122nd Infantry Regiment was organized and assigned to the 48th.[9] The 122nd was comprised of companies in sixteen north Georgia communities. Company E of the 122nd was assigned to Rome.

1955-2010: The Era of Armor and Cavalry

In 1955, the 48th Infantry Division was reorganized as an armor division. This unit reorganized in 1955 as Company A, 163rd Tank Battalion beginning a long association with armor forces in Rome.

In 1990, the Georgia Army National Guard’s 48th Brigade was activated in anticipation of service during Desert Storm. Rome’s Company A, 108th Armor Regiment mobilized and trained at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. but the war ended before the brigade mobilized overseas.
Company A, 108th Armor in 1991. Georgia Guard Archives.

In 2005, Rome’s Guard unit was again mobilized, this time in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The unit completed combat missions in and around Baghdad before returning to the United States in 2006. In 2008, the 108th Armor converted to the 108th Cavalry. Troop A, 108th remained in Rome.

The 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team was mobilized for service in Afghanistan in 2009 and Floyd County’s Citizen Soldiers were again called to serve in overseas combat operations. Two of them would pay the ultimate sacrifice.
Specialist Isaac Johnson and Sgt. Jeffrey Jordan. Georgia Guard Archives
Sergeant Jeffrey Jordan enlisted in the Georgia Army National Guard in 2006. He left his job with the Floyd County Prison to mobilize with the 48th IBCT. He was killed in action June 4, 2009 during combat operations in Kapisa, Afghanistan. The Sgt. Jeffrey W. Jordan GED Plus Complex at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock, Ark. was dedicated in his memory in 2010.

Isaac Lee Johnson enlisted in the Georgia Army National Guard in 2005 in the Rome-based Troop A, 1st Squadron, 108th Cavalry. On July 6, 2009, Johnson was killed in action in Kunduz, Afghanistan. He was 24.

Upon its return from Afghanistan, Troop A, 108th Cavalry relocated to Cedartown, Ga. Subsequently, the 1160th Transportation Company was assigned to Rome. Since that time, the 1160th has responded to state emergencies prompted by winter storms and hurricanes. Today, the 1160th continues the long connection between Floyd County, Rome, and the National Guard.


[1] Lyle, Thomas E., Larry O. Blair, Debra S. Lyle, and J. Harmon. Smith. Organizational Summary of Military Organizations from Georgia in the Confederate States of America. Marietta, Ga. (192 Sequoia Dr., N.E., Marietta, GA 30060-7214): T.E. Lyle, L.O. Blair, D.S. Lyle, 1999, 92.
[2] Wilkinson, Warren, and Steven E. Woodworth. A Scythe of Fire: a Civil War Story of the Eighth Georgia Infantry Regiment. New York: Perennial, 2003, 253.
[3] Sifakis, Stewart. Compendium of the Confederate Armies: South Carolina and Georgia. New York, NY: Facts on File, Pub., 1995.
[4] Southern Historical Society Papers Volume XV Paroles of the Army of Northern Virginia. Richmond, VA: The Society, 1887, 97.
[5] The Adjutant General, State of Georgia. Official Register of the National Guard of Georgia for 1916. 1916, 82.
[6] Ibid, 80.
[7] Georgia National Guard Archives. Hill City Cadets file: Correspondence of Phill G. Byrd. May 1, 1893.
[8] The Adjutant General, State of Georgia. Report of the Adjutant General of Georgia, 1900., 62
[9] The Georgia Guardsman. The 48th Infantry Division: a condensed history of the Georgia-Florida organization. May 1950, 3.

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