The Clinch Rifles served during the Civil War as Company A, 5th Regiment, Georgia Volunteer Infantry.
The Battle of Chickamauga (September 19-20, 1863) was a costly success for the Confederacy. The cost to the 5th Georgia was 55% casualties. The regiment waited out the next two months atop Missionary Ridge hoping the Siege of Chattanooga would prove successful. On November 24, 1863 their hopes were dashed when the Federal army captured Lookout Mountain and drove the Confederates from Missionary Ridge. Pressed by superior numbers, the 5th Georgia was forced from its position along with the Army of Tennessee….By December of 1863 the war had exacted its toll. The regiment was now down to 161 men.
The time in South Carolina had a devastating effect on morale as the unit saw little action and they were assigned to serve as prison guards. Saved from despair, the unit moved to the South Carolina Coast in late 1864.
In December, 1864, the 5th Georgia was in the thick of it again. Rushed to protect the Charleston & Savannah Railroad the 5th fought head to head with members of the Federal XIV Corps. Unable to stem the tide, the 5th was forced to retreat but not before the loss of its battle flag. This marked the second time the battle flag of the 5th was lost in battle.
1865 dawned with the Confederate army in retreat. By March 1865, the 5th Georgia had crossed into North Carolina, Sherman’s army nipping at their heels. On March 19, 1865 the last major battle of the American Civil War was fought at Bentonville, North Carolina. The 5th Georgia launched an assault against the Federal XX Corps. They encountered murderous fire and soon the assault ground to a halt. This marked the last valiant effort the 5th would make.
By early April word of Lee’s surrender to Grant reached the Army of Tennessee. The end came on April 26, 1865, with the surrender of the Army of Tennessee