Corporal William Thomas Combs
1839 - 1910
49th Georgia Infantry
William Thomas Combs was born on September 24, 1839 in Wilkes County, Georgia. He enlisted with the rank of Private in the Confederate States Army in Crawfordville, Georgia on March 4, 1862. His enlistment was for three years or the duration of the war. He was assigned to Company D of the 49th Georgia Infantry organized in November, 1861, with men from Wilkinson, Telfair, Washington, Irwin, Laurens, Pierce, and Pulaski counties.
Company D camped first at Camp McIntosh near Goldsboro, North Carolina. They were there from April 9 - May 24, 1862. It was here that Private Combs became ill and suffered from a chronic illness until August where he spent most of his time in the hospital.
The 49th marched to Camp Gregg, Fredericksburg, Virginia where William Combs was promoted to the rank of First Corporal in April, 1863. They engaged the Federal forces at Chancellorsville later that month and suffered a thirteen percent casualty rate. It was here that General Stonewall Jackson died as result of being accidentally shot by one of his own men.
The 49th engaged the Federal forces again at the Battle of Gettysburg. They lost twenty five percent of their men and Combs was taken prisoner on July 2, 1863. He was sent to the prison at Fort McHenry, Maryland. Corporal Combs was then moved to Fort Delaware, Delaware on July 6, 1863, and eventually transferred to Point Lookout, Maryland in October 1863.
On February 2, 1865 he was part of a prisoner exchange at Camp Lee near Richmond, Virginia and appointed to the rank of Second Corporal. When the war ended on April 9, 1865 the Confederate Army disbanded and William Combs began his trek home to Georgia on foot.
The family reported that when William arrived home he was so filthy and covered with body lice he refused to come inside the house. Instead he went to the woodshed, stripped off his clothes and had them burned. He then bathed to rid himself of the filth and lice before entering his home.
William Thomas died on July 16, 1910 and is buried in Carter's Grove Baptist Church Cemetery, 6080 Lexington Road Northwest, Crawfordville, Georgia.
(Sources: Campfires of Georgis's Troups, 1861-1865, W.S. Smedlund; Roster of Confederate Soldiers of Georgia, 1861-1865, Vol 5; O.R. Series I, Vol XXVII/2, Aug 1, 1863, The Gettysburg Campaign, No. 424 and 427.)