1st Alabama Cavalry - Est. 1862
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It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of Glenda McWhirter Todd. She passed away on September 3, 2017 surrounded by her family. She was a historian, genealogist, and author who prided herself on being a descendant of Andrew Ferrier McWhirter of the 1st Alabama Cavalry, USV. Her work over the past two decades and her dedication to the 1st Alabama Cavalry has created a legacy that will last for years to come.

Her life's work has touched thousands of people through the years, and I am glad that I had the pleasure to work with her as long as I did. My hope is that her work will live on for years to come to educate and inspire a new generation.

Stories about Troopers from the 1st Alabama

Picture Tombstone Combined Service Record

George L Godfrey
From The History of Polk County, Iowa

George Lucious Godfrey, Enlisted May 4, 1861 (2nd Iowa Infantry), fifth sergeant, promoted to fourth sergeant, June 1st, 1861; to second lieutenant December 5th, 1861; to first lieutenant June 22d, 1862; to adjutant June 22d, 1862; to lieutenant-colonel, First Alabama cavalry October 18th, 1863.

At this point the record of this gallant and brave soldier drops out of the record of Iowa patriots. When Sherman's forces had got well into the South, a regiment of brave Union men was formed in Alabama, and Adjutant Godfrey was assigned to it as lieutenant-colonel and subsequently promoted to colonel. They were a noble body of men, who not only took their own lives in their hands, but also staked that of their own kith and kin at home, and all the prosperity, they possessed. The incendiary torch, and the assassin's knife or shot-gun wreaked a rapid vengeanee on all these noble patriots left behind them.

The regiment operated with Sherman's army through the Carolinas. Col. Godfrey was selected to bear important dispatches from Gen. Sherman to the rebel General Johnson, after Lee's surrender.

Arriving at Wade Hampton's headquarters, that General refused to permit him to pass through his lines to Johnson's army headquarters. "All right," replied Col. Godfrey, "I will return and report the matter to Gen. Sherman." Hampton offered to send the dispatches to Johnson, but he failed to catch the Colonel in that way. "My orders were to deliver the dispatches to Gen. Hampton," said Colonel Godfrey; "I propose to do so."

He then called an adjutant to accompany the Colonel to Johnson's headquarters, but the Colonel fell back on his dignity and army etiquette, and refused to accept any officer below his own rank as escort. A staff officer was finally sent with him.

He also was the bearer of the dispatches from Gen. Grant to Gen. Johnson, proposing the place of meeting between the two generals for the arrangements of the final surrender of the Confederate army and the Confederacy, and he was present at the consultation.

When the Confederacy "busted" he was near Raleigh, North Carolina. Wade Hampton, who had occupied that city, moved out and sent word to Col. Godfrey that he might enter the city and protect the government and its citizens.

The Colonel selecting a few of his staff officers and several line officers, started in advance of the column, at the solicitation of the governor of the State, mayor of the city, and prominent citizens, to prepare the way and also to hoist the stars and stripes over the State house. As they were riding through the streets they were fired upon by a band of desperadoes, who had broken loose from Hampton's army. Col. Godfrey gave the order to catch the devils if they could, but they all escaped except one, and when the regiment entered the State house yard, the assassin was swinging from the limb of a tree.

Entering the State house, the Colonel found the janitor, an antiquated negro, who was nearly white with fright: "Uncle Sam," said the Colonel, "Where are the flags?" " I dunno, massa, 'spects deys all toted off," replied the negro. "The Yanks are here," said the Colonel, " the rebs are all gone, and we want the flags; hunt them up." "Well," said the negro, I reckon you'll find suthin' in dat ar' box," pointing to a long narrow box. "Well, open it quick," said the Colonel. The old negro hustled about, with a broad grin on his face, opened the box, and enclosed therein were twenty-one Union flags, which had been captured, and several tattered and torn rebel flags.

The Union flags were, by the Colonel, quickly spread along the fence about the State house to greet the Union column.

It was while at Raleigh the preparations were made for the march to Washington for the grand review. The Colonel's regiment cared more for home and friends than the review and desired to return to Huntsville, Alabama, and be mustered out at once. They had received tidings of friends assassinated, homes burned, and they were anxious to know the worst, and gather together their scattered families. Gen. Sherman protested against the movement as a dangerous one, as the march would be through the enemy's country, through which the Union army had just passed.

The Colonel determined to go with the men who had served so nobly and faithfully, and the regiment marched across the country to Huntsville without molestation. There they were paroled and sent to their homes, and the Colonel was mustered out Oct. 26, 1865.

He, therefore, was not present at the grand review at Washington; failed to receive his brevet-brigadier-general's commission, and little silver star as a badge of honor and promotion.

Col. Godfrey was wounded at Ft. Donelson, Feb. 14th, 1862. At the battle of Corinth he received special mention for his coolness and bravery; one horse was shot dead under him, and a second, a favorite animal, was knocked down. The Colonel left him lying flat on the earth, supposing he was a dead equine, but what was his surprise soon after, as he was passing along the line encouraging his men, to see his pet horse following him.

George Godfrey was born on the 4th of November, 1833, in Orleans County, Vermont. In the fall of 1855, he came to Iowa, stopping at Dubuque, where he engaged in school teaching, and in 1859 took up his permanent residence in Des Moines. He began his law studies with Judge C. C. Cole and was admitted to the bar just before the War of the Rebellion began. In May, 1861, he enlisted in Company D, of the famous Second Iowa Volunteer Infantry and in December was promoted to second lieutenant and in June, 1862, became first lieutenant and adjutant of the regiment. He served with distinction in the great battles of Fort Donelson and Shiloh, and marching to Corinth with Grant's army he bore a conspicuous part in the two days' desperate battle in that famous town, having two horses shot under him. When the First Alabama Cavalry was organized from Union men Captain Godfrey was commissioned major, in 1863, and was soon after promoted to lieutenant-colonel. In this regiment he served with distinction in Sherman's famous march to the sea. At the close of the war he was mustered out with his regiment at Huntsville, Alabama. Before his return to Iowa Colonel Godfrey was elected a member of the House of the Eleventh General Assembly on the Republican ticket. In the spring of 1866 he completed his law course at the State University at iowa City and began the practice of his profession. He served as city solicitor and assistant United States District Attorney for several years. In 1876 he was one of the presidential electors chosen by the Republicans. In 1870 he was appointed receiver of the United States Land Office at Des Moines. In 1882, upon the creation of the Utah Commission, Colonel Godfrey was appointed a member. The object of the Commission was the suppression of polygamy in the Territory. The Commission consisted of five members appointed by the President, was non-partisan and had supervision of all elections. The membership was changed from time to time, with the exception of Colonel Godfrey who served during three administrations and was for four years president of the Commission. When the Commission was established to superintend the erection of monuments on the battle-field of Shiloh, Governor Shaw appointed Colonel Godfrey one of the members. In 1903 he was appointed surveyor of the port of Des Moines.

Database created and maintained by Ryan Dupree.

Service records compiled by Glenda Todd and used with her permission. This and other information about the history of the First and the men who fought with the unit can be found in her book, First Alabama Cavalry, USA: Homage to Patriotism.

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