The first Confederate unit mustered from the state of Georgia, the Sixth Regiment was organized at Atlanta in May 1861. Alfred Colquitt was elected the first colonel of the unit, which included men from Baker, Butts, Crawford, Dade, Houston Mitchell, Oglethorpe, Taylor and Twiggs counties.
The regiment garrisoned Yorktown, Virginia from June 1861 until the spring of 1862, experiencing its first combat in April in defense of that location. The Sixth then fought at Seven Pines and in the ensuing Seven Days Battles before Richmond. Although it missed Second Manassas, at Antietam the unit suffered extremely heavy casualties, estimated at more than 200 of the 250 men engaged (including the regiment's lieutenant colonel and major).
John T. Loftin was elevated to colonel after Antietam and led the Sixth at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. In the latter battle the Georgians participated in Stonewall Jackson's famous flank attack that smashed the Union Eleventh Corps. Following Chancellorsville the Sixth was sent to Kingston, North Carolina and then to Charleston, South Carolina. From July 1863 until February of the next year it manned the defenses of Charleston Harbor, fighting at Battery Wagner and helping to garrison Fort Sumter.
In early February the regiment started for Florida, arriving in time of the fight at Olustee, where it was commanded by Lt. Colonel William M. Arnold. The Sixth fought on the extreme left of the Confederate line, losing five killed and fifty-six wounded. Like the other regiments in Colquitt's Brigade, the sixth held its position during part of the battle despite running low on ammunition. "In this engagement," reported a unit officer, "the regiment was detached from the brigade and fought on the extreme left of the line of battle."
At one time, for at least half an hour, the regiment was without ammunition, except as it was obtained from the cartridge boxes of the killed and wounded. Under a heavy fire the regiment stood its ground, not giving an inch. When almost the last round of ammunition was expended, and the bravest began to despair, a supply of ammunition was received.
Remaining in Florida for several months after Olustee, Colquitt's Brigade then returned briefly to South Carolina. In May 1864, however, the troops were sent to Petersburg, Virginia, in time to stop a Union thrust against the city. The Sixth then played a prominent role at Cold Harbor and in the protracted siege of Petersburg. By late 1864 it had lost a total of nearly 900 men killed and wounded. The regiment returned to North Carolina near the end of the war, fighting at Bentonville before the final surrender.
External Web sites related to the Battle of Olustee
6th Georgia's battle colors
Muster Roll of Company C - "Beauregard Volunteers"
Muster Roll of Company G - "Butler Van Guards"
Confederate Order of Battle
Battle of Olustee home page