Profile (Confederate History Month)
April is Confederate History and Heritage Month. Each week during the month, your local Sons of Confederate Veterans will profile Confederate soldiers with special relevance to Candler County. [As appeared in The Metter Advertiser, April 2004.]
GOVERNOR ALLEN DANIEL CANDLER: CONFEDERATE COLONEL
Candler County bears the name of a small, grizzled, rugged, mountaineer who was neither born, nor ever lived here. He chewed tobacco “recklessly” and had no left eye.
Conversely, he was a graduate of Mercer (University), a state senator and two-time Governor of Georgia. He also holds the distinctive honor of being the last native Georgian to serve as Governor of Georgia, who also fought for The Confederacy. Nat Harris was the last Confederate Veteran to serve as Georgia’s Chief Executive, but he “hailed from The Volunteer State.” Harris was Governor during the time that The United States entered The First World War.
Allen Daniel Candler is best known today for the compilation of 21 volumes of Georgia’s Colonial Records, 3 volumes of Revolutionary War Records, and 5 volumes of Confederate Records of Georgia. He also collaborated with former Confederate General Clement A. Evans (namesake of neighboring Evans County), on a 3 volume Encyclopedia of Georgia. He diligently labored on these records from 1903 until his death in 1910.
Future-Governor Candler was born on November 4, 1834 in rural Lumpkin County, Georgia. Being “a plowboy” on a Pigeon Roost Farm did not seem like much of a future to young Candler, so he obtained an education. In 1859, he graduated from Mercer and began teaching school in Banks County. A couple of years later, he resigned his teaching position and “answered The Call of The Confederacy.
Exactly one month after Fort Sumter was fired upon, Professor Candler became Private Candler. Five days later, he was elected First Lieutenant of Company H of the 34th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment. This unit was comprised of men and boys from Banks County. He was 26 when he marched off to war.
The 34th Georgia was initially in Eastern Tennessee and was involved in protecting the railroad lines and strategic passes through The Cumberland Mountains. Maintaining control of the city of Chattanooga was vital to The Confederacy for many reasons.
In late April of 1862, the 34th was involved in a skirmish near Bridgeport, Alabama --an important township located about 35 miles Southwest of Chattanooga. Bridgeport was located on the railroad, as well as lying on The Tennessee River. There were at least four ways to reach Chattanooga from this crucial spot. Although no details of this encounter are available, it appears that the Union Forces were unable to gain control of Bridgeport in April of 1862.
Even though Tennessee had seceded from The Union, there were hordes of “Tories,” or Northern Loyalists living in the mountains of Eastern Tennessee. This proved to be hostile terrain for “The Boys in Gray.” Yankee Bushwhackers and Guerillas were a constant threat. It was definitely considered enemy territory.
During this time, the 34th became part of General Kirby Smith’s Army of Eastern Tennessee. Georgia Regiments and Battalions composed a significant portion of this fighting force.
In the late summer and early fall of 1862, the 34th participated in Kirby Smith’s Invasion of Kentucky. During this time, The Army of East Tennessee became known as The Army of Kentucky.
Despite Southern victories at Richmond (Smith) and Montfordville (Braxton Bragg), the Confederates retreated into Tennessee after The Battle of Perryville. Their quest to recruit Kentuckians, as well as to make “The Land of Bluegrass’ the twelfth state to leave the Union was unsuccessful. It was doubly demoralizing to Southerners at all levels because it came less than a month after The Army of Northern Virginia suffered a similar fate in Maryland. But, there was still hope. The Kentucky Campaign had resulted in the capture of thousands of small arms from The Federals. The “Boys in Butternut” would soon put these “to good use!”
On October 26, 1862, after the exhausted and famished Rebels had passed back into Tennessee and were safely South of Cumberland Gap, Lt. Candler was promoted to Captain.
In Mid-December of 1862, General Carter Stevenson’s Division (including the 34th Georgia, which was in General Alfred Cumming’s Brigade), of 9000 men was transferred to General Pemberton’s Command in The Trans-Mississippi Department. This kept them from participating in the sanguinary encounter at Stones River, but later placed them at Bakers Creek and ultimately in the besieged city of Vicksburg. General Pemberton’s entire army was forced to surrender, but the troops were paroled and exchanged shortly afterward. Most would fight again.
In late November of 1863, the 34th would see action at Missionary Ridge. In The Atlanta Campaign, they were at Resaca, Cassville, and Kennesaw Mountain. Captain Candler was wounded at Kennesaw, but returned to fight at the actual Battle of Atlanta.
On May 20, 1864, he was transferred to The 4th Regiment of Georgia Reserves and promoted to Lt. Colonel. This occurred about a month before his wounding at Kennesaw Mountain.
On September 1, 1864, he lost the sight in his left eye when he suffered yet another wound at The Battle of Jonesboro. It was never regained.
Five months later, Candler attained the rank of “Full Colonel.” During this time, his command participated in The Savannah Campaign and saw some detached duty at the infamous Andersonville Stockade (Camp Sumter). Finally, in May of 1865, they surrendered in North Florida. They were en route to Tallahassee, which was the only Confederate (state) Capital East of The Mississippi River which did not “fall into enemy hands” during The War.
After The War, he made the statement that he was quite fortunate: "He had one wife, one baby, one dollar, and one eye." In 1866, he returned to Jonesboro --the battle site that had cost him his left eye-- and served as Mayor.
In 1870, he became involved in the lumber business. Afterward, he served as a general contractor and built several railroads. In 1877 (after reconstruction finally ended), he served as one of Georgia’s State Senators.
The year that Teddy Roosevelt and His Rough-Riders charged up San Juan Hill, Georgia Democrats nominated Candler for Governor. The year was 1898. He called himself “the one-eyed plough boy from Pigeon Roost”. He won handily, defeating J.
R. Hogan of the soon-to-be-defunct Populist Party. He collected over 70 % of the popular vote. In 1900, he was re-elected, with only minor opposition from The Populists. In those days, the term of Governor was only two years.
Not seeking re-election, he was appointed in 1903 to edit Georgia’s Colonial Records. Until his death in 1910, he worked on these records, Revolutionary War Records, Confederate Records, and documents relating to The Reconstruction Period. The results of his labors were published in some 37 volumes.
He was quite popular in these parts, having been the speaker at an old Confederate Veterans’ Reunion held in Statesboro in 1902. That was his last year as Governor.
On October 26, 1910, Colonel/Governor Candler passed away. He finally lost a long, lingering, battle with "Brights Disease." His kidneys finally failed to function. He was 9 days shy of his 76th birthday. He is buried in Gainesville, Georgia.
After his death, his Widow was quite instrumental in helping the citizens of Metter, “form their own county.” In return for her help, the new county was to be the namesake of her late husband. In 1914, it finally happened: Candler County was formed and named for “The old, one-eyed, Plowboy of Pigeon Roost”.
In 1914, there were still a few Confederate Veterans around Candler County to enjoy the new county founding. They included Allen Wilkinson (who died in August of that year), John Turner, Jacob Rocker (a German Immigrant who spoke at the dedication of The Confederate Monument in Statesboro), Jasper Brown (who lived to see the U.S. drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima), Allen Jones, and Francis Marion Warren. To those old, Gray, Warriors, the name chosen for their county was more than just a name. Because of his uniquely common background, it was also a tribute so many brothers, fathers, friends, and cousins who made the ultimate sacrifice during the War. Colonel Candler was the last Governor of Georgia who was both a native Georgian and a Confederate Veteran. Students of Candler County history should always be reminded of his unique place and his unparalleled contribution to the preservation of Georgia’s historical record. In 1956, a marker was placed in front of the Candler County courthouse by the Georgia Historical Commission in preparation of the Confederate Centennial and to remind citizens of Governor Candler's contribution to history.
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