Why the 3rd Georgians Wore Blue Coats

at the Battle of South Mills



“The rebels had taken up their position on a road that ran perpendicular to the one we approached by skirting a wood having cleared land in front. All the roads in this country have deep ditches along the side, and this, with a rail fence in front, gave them an admirable rifle pit and breast work. We got in along by a rail fence running perpendicular to their position, about 200 or 250 yards from them. A few skirmishers opened on them and they gave us a regimental volley. Our wishes and prayers have come at last. We had met the 3d Georgia, but as they wore blue overcoats (captured on the Fanny) some one cried out we were firing on our own men. The colors were ordered to be raised, and such a storm of bullets it has never been my luck to bear. It sounded to me like hail on a window glass. The colors were lowered, and we went to work. It was hot work, and bloody. Three of our own Company were wounded – they were dropping all around.”    - Capt. Linn, 51st Pennsylvania


The 3rd Georgians were posted on Roanoke Island in the autumn of 1861. On September 29th, Col. Hawkins, commanding the Union forces at Hatteras Inlet, dispatched 600 men of the 20th Indiana under Col. W.L. Brown to the northern end of Hatteras Island to establish a base at Chicamacomico, present day Rodanthe. Hawkins feared the Confederates would land a large force on the northern end of the island and march down to his position at the southern end. On October 1, the armed tug Fanny was sent to Chicamacomico with supplies for the regiment. These supplies included new blue winter overcoats.


Colonel Wright of the 3rd Georgia Volunteers had been working on a plan to capture the Fanny to gather information as to the Yankees intentions concerning Roanoke Island. Together with Flag Officer W.F. Lynch, commander of the North Carolina Squadron ( dubbed the “mosquito fleet”), Wright came up with a plan to capture the Fanny. A six-pound field gun was mounted on the canal tug Junaluska and a thirty-two pounder from one of the forts plus a field gun were mounted on the former passenger ship Curlew. These two ships were to join the CSS Raleigh in the attack on the Fanny. The guns were to be manned by men from the 3rd Georgia as Lynch lacked enough men to form the gun crews. These men drilled for just two days before setting out to do battle.


The Fanny was sighted late in the afternoon on October 1st. Three companies of 3rd Georgians were loaded aboard the three “mosquito fleet” ships as they set out to capture the Fanny. After a short battle, the Fanny struck her colors. The Fanny and her cargo were worth over $100,000. Colonel Wright forwarded the much needed supplies to Gosport Navy Base in Portsmouth after appropriating the coats for his men on Roanoke Island. (Winter was fast approaching and his men lacked coats.) They were still wearing these blue coats on April 19th, 1862, during the battle of South Mills.