15 March 2009 by Published in: Confederate Cavalry 17 comments

Col. J. Fred WaringI’ve decided to profile a couple of my favorite forgotten Confederate cavalrymen this week. Both ended the war as colonels, but both temporarily commanded brigades at times. Today’s profile is of Col. J. Fred Waring of the Jeff Davis Legion Cavalry, long a favorite of mine for the excellent diary of the last fourteen months of the war that he left behind. Thanks to old friend Paul F. Mullen for visiting the Georgia Historical Society in Savannah to get a couple of items on Waring for me. Finding biographical material on Waring is a challenge–he died young during a massive epidemic, so there is no obituary, and not much detail on his life has ever surfaced. What follows is the most detailed biography of him ever assembled or possible given the information that is presently available.

Joseph Frederick Waring was born in Savannah, Georgia on February 13, 1832. He was the son of William R. Waring, M.D. and Ann (Johnston) Waring. He had a brother named James J. Waring. Young Fred enrolled in Yale University, graduating in the class of 1952. He studied law in Philadelphia for a year and a half after graduation and then spent a year traveling around Europe. When he returned to Georgia, he became a successful planter, and also served as a city alderman in Savannah. He was married to Louise (Early) Waring.

He served in an elite militia unit from Savannah called the Georgia Hussars. Organized in 1749, the Georgia Hussars represented Savannah in all wars from colonial times through 1994. Waring became captain of Co. F of the Hussars. He took his company to Virginia a few weeks later, reporting for duty in Richmond upon arrival. Co. F was originally assigned to become part of the 6th Virginia Cavalry when they arrived in Richmond, but this did not last long. Captain Waring was wounded in the face on December 4, 1861 while leading a nighttime raid to try to capture Federal pickets near Annandale. He received “a ugly gash of an inch or an inch and one half to his right cheek from a buckshot. His head grazed by another. The skin taken off the knuckles of his right hand, twelve holes through the cape of his overcoat.”

Three days later, Waring’s company of Georgia Hussars was assigned to become Company F of the Jeff Davis Legion, which was also called “The Little Jeff.” The Jeff Davis Legion was a hodgepodge—its companies included men from Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama. Waring was promoted to major early in 1862, and then, after participating in the Peninsula and Maryland Campaigns, was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the Jeff Davis Legion Cavalry on December 2, 1862. Waring became the regimental commander that December when Col. William F. Martin, the original commander of the Legion, was promoted to brigadier general and was transferred to the Western Theater. Waring commanded the Little Jeff for the rest of the war.

His unit served in Hampton’s Brigade, under the command of Brig. Gen. Wade Hampton, a gifted South Carolinian who eventually became the highest-ranking officer in the entire Confederate mounted arm. Waring ably led his unit through all of the major cavalry battles of the Eastern Theater, including Brandy Station, Gettysburg (where he was wounded for the second time), and Trevilian Station. In July 1864, he was promoted to colonel of the Legion, and that fall, he temporarily commanded Brig. Gen. Pierce M. B. Young’s brigade (which included the Little Jeff). Waring was a “brave and gallant” officer, but was unpopular with his command. Some of his men remembered him as “the type of a perfect knight, he was as tender of the rights of others as he was jealous of his own spotless honor,” and recalled him as “a leader of rare merit.”

When Hampton was promoted to lieutenant general and sent to South Carolina in February 1865, his division, including the Jeff Davis Legion, went with him. Waring served through Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign, including the March 10, 1865 Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads, and surrendered at Bennett Place with the rest of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s command six weeks later.

The war over, Waring returned to Savannah, where he took a job as forwarding agent for the Georgia Central Railway Co. He also became the commanding officer of the Georgia Hussars, a position that he held until his death in 1876. “In peace firm and upright, just and generous, prompt and untiring, he achieved success and deserved it,” recalled a friend.

He returned to his post from a northern vacation just as a yellow fever epidemic reached its height. His job duties required him to be in the City of Savannah, and the disease struck him on September 30. He died of yellow fever at Whitesville, Georgia on October 4, 1876. He was only 44 years old when he died.

The men of the Georgia Hussars eulogized their fallen leader. “He was the pride of our Troop. Upon him centered our hopes, our love, our trust. The record of his life is our precious inheritance,” they declared. “In the prime of manhood, in the full maturity of every excellence, with the apparent promise of years of usefulness, he has been taken. But he has not lived in vain if his life leads us to aim at his high standard. He has not died too young, whose name is already famous.

J. Fred Waring was buried in Savannah’s Laurel Grove Cemetery.

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Comments

  1. Tue 17th Mar 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Eric,
    I recall the Georgia Historical Society in Savannah has in their collection some of Waring’s papers and a diary. Just curious if you’ve had a chance to look through that resource.

    Craig.

  2. Tue 17th Mar 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Craig,

    There is indeed, and I have the entire collection in my possession. That diary is one of my favorite sources.

    Eric

  3. Thu 19th Mar 2009 at 1:20 am

    Thank you for a fine profile, Eric! Another Sharpsburg veteran for the collection, too. I’ve started to look into Colonel Martin a little, thanks to you for surfacing him. All I knew before tonight were his first and middle initials (W.T.) …

  4. Thu 19th Mar 2009 at 7:50 am

    Thanks, Brian. I’m glad to hear that you found it useful.

    Wait for the next one….the subject of the next one was badly wounded at Quebec Schoolhouse…..

    Eric

  5. mike Kerney
    Tue 05th May 2009 at 3:05 pm

    Sir,
    I have found a light calavery sword that has the intials
    Capt W. T. ,Va. 1862 on handle, on the brass back strap of the grip. On the blade itself yhe name James
    Conning, Moble on one side and the other side C. S.
    1862. Do you have any ideas?
    Thanks
    Mike

  6. Guy Power
    Fri 02nd Jul 2010 at 3:12 am

    My Irish immigrant ancestor joined the Georgia Hussars 0n 17 Sep 1861 in Savannah, enlisted by noneother than Capt. J.F. Waring. John Augustine Power (sometimes misspelled Powers) was a private and became sick in Richmond, Oct ’61; his last (Nov ’61) pay card states he was still in hospital. His discharge certificate was dated 20 Jan 1862. I think he either rejoined after his illness, or joined another cavalry company (another John Powers was in Clinch’s 5th Ga Cav). Quite a nice obit was published in a Savannah paper stating John Power was a member of the Georgia Hussars, and the Georgia Hussars provided the pallbearers. The Hussars became sort of a Veterans of Foreign Wars (called the “Savannah Sabre Club”)type of social club after the War. Their post-war “club” flag was the Confederate battle flag, but the background color was a bit different. The Hussars’ Regimental Colors (regimental flag, dubbed “Troop’s Peace Standard” in the 1906 book) had a powder blue field with a cloud-like circle within which was a painting of a mounted hussar and background of trees. Below the “cloud” was a ribbon reading “Georgia Hussars.” Here is a modern painting of the uniform of 1872 & 1890, with the Hussar Flag and a painting of Col. Waring above the fireplace: http://www.hsgng.org/images/hussars.jpg

    An officer of the Hussars, 1st Lt. Alexander McCanlas Duncan, wrote “The Roll and Legend of the Georgia Hussars” in 1906. It’s a rare book, but can be found in some libraries. I borrowed one from the Library of Congress … it’s great. You can see a lot of it on the 5th GA Cavalry page at http://www.fifthgacavalry.info/5thcavalry/5thcav/troopa.htm
    Photos of the then extant flags (gone missing since the 1930s) are the “Peace Standard,” the “Flag of the Savannah Sabre Club, 1871,” the “Flag of Co. A, Georgia Hussars,” and the “Flag of the Jeff Davis Legion.”

    OOOHHHHH!!! I just found a scanned on-line version here: http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/georgiabooks/pdfs/gb5065.pdf … though, most of the images are reduced to half-tone; also, the page with the flags is missing!

    Kind regards,
    –Guy Power

  7. Guy Power
    Mon 19th Jul 2010 at 5:19 pm

    From the above-mentioned book.

    WARING, J. F., admitted April 9, 1855; Died Oct. 5, 1876.

    JOSEPH FREDERICK WARING.
    Captain from July 8, 1861, to March 1863, of Co. “A,”
    Georgia Hussars. Feb. 14. 1858, cornet. April 20, 1861, First Lieu
    tenant. Promoted Captain July 8, 1861. Alderman of Savannah,
    1859-60. Chief of Fire Department, 1868. Forwarding Agent of Cen
    tral Railroad from ———, 186-, to Oct. 5, 1876. Died Oct. 5,1876.
    For further record, see list of Confederate officers succeeding- and
    Record of Co. “A.”

    J. FREDERICK WARING.
    Captain from May 23, 1872, to Oct. 5, 1876. (See Record preced
    ing and that of Co. “A” succeeding.)

    J. FREDERICK WARING.
    First Lieutenant from -, 1861, to July 8, 1861. Promoted
    Captain July 8, 1861. As First Lieutenant, commanded the Troop
    on a tour of thirty (30) days’ service at “Red House,” Skidaway
    Island. Sec Record of Co. “A.”

    J. FREDERICK WARING.
    Cornet from Feb. 4, 1858, to May —. 1861.

    WARING, J. FREDK., appointed [Second Sergeant] Dec. 22, 1857; Promoted Jan. 22,
    1858.

    WARING, J. FREDK., appointed [Fourth Sergeant] July 14, 1856; Promoted Dec. 22,
    1857-

    WARING, J. FREDERICK, of Savannah, Ga.
    Enlisted Sept. 17; Captain. Lieut. Col. Feb. ’63, of the Jeff Davis
    Legion. Wounded Dec. 4, 1861, in the “Bog Wallow Ambuscade,”
    Fairfax Co., Va. (See legend following.)

    J. FREDERICK WARING.
    Elected Cornet Feb. 4, 1858; on duty as Cornet with troop dis
    mounted at Fort Pulaski in January, 1861.
    Elected First Lieutenant April 20, 1861 (vice W. Gumming resigned).
    As First Lieutenant, commanded the Hussars during a
    thirty days’ tour of duty on Skidaway Island in the month of June,
    1861. On July 8, 1861, he was elected Captain, and by the terms of
    the resolution adopted by the company providing for the existence
    and organization c’f two companies, became Captain of Company
    “A,” Georgia Hussars. This company left Savannah for Virginia on
    Sept. 17, 1861, and on reporting to the Adjutant General of the
    “Confederate States Army,” it was ordered to report to Col. Chas.
    W. Field, commanding the Sixth Virginia Cavalry, and was by him
    designated Company “E” of that Regiment.
    Early in December, 1861, the company was transferred to the Jeff
    Davis Legion Cavalry, Major Wm. T. Martin, commanding, and was
    by him designated as Company “F” of that command. Under this
    designation the command continued until the close of the war, being
    a constituent part of the First Brigade of Cavalry of the “Army of
    Northern Virginia,” Brig.-Gen. J. E. B. Stuart, and continued to be
    a part of the First Brigade until the end, under its successive commanders.
    In February, 1863, Captain Waring was promoted Lieutenant Colonel
    of the Jeff Davis Legion (vice Martin, promoted Brigadier-
    General). Captain Waring was wounded in the “Bog Wallow” ambuscade
    on the Braddock Road, near Burke’s Station, Fairfax
    County, Virginia. On resumption by the Hussars of military functions
    and the consolidation of the two companies, “A” and “B,” into
    one troop, he was again elected on May 23, 1872, Captain, serving in
    that capacity until his death, Oct. 5, 1876.
    Before the war, a planter on Skidaway Island, and after the war
    General Forwarding Agent of Central Railroad of Georgia.
    ———–
    In his 1897 retelling the events of “Bog Wallow” Duncan writes to Edward S.E. Newbury,
    late captain of the 3rd New Jersey:

    “…CAPTAIN WARING—Wounded in the face, the ball furrowing
    his cheek. His clothes much riddled with buck-shot….”
    “…The purpose of the expedition [reconnaissance] as contemplated by Captain
    Waring, was to approach near to the picket line of the enemy and dismounting,
    leave ihe horses in some secluded thicket; to then proceed
    warily to within close proximity of the camp of the Third New
    Jersey, burst suddenly upon their slumbers and with a yell and discharge
    of firearms, surprise, startle and stampede, and in the midst
    of ensuing excitement, work what damage as could be wrought and
    retire away to horse…. The party consisted of Captain Waring, Lieutenants Waldhauer
    and Gordon, First Sergeant Dunham and twenty others, twenty-four
    total. Each one of the party, except Captain Waring, was armed
    with a double-barrelled shotgun, loaded with buck-shot.”
    “…Being yet some distance away from where they expected to come within hear
    ing of the enemy, some of the men were singing in subdued tones
    the comic song of “The little pigs lay with their tails all curled,”
    never dreaming that there lay perdu the little detail of the Third
    New Jersey with their guns all cocked, and in all readiness to
    “hurl” upon them a spirited recognition….”
    “…In consequence of this volley Waring uttered the order: ‘”Twos
    left about, charge,” which was intelligently interpreted by the “Hus
    sars” to mean “Get out of there,” which they executed by a right
    and left, about and dash backward toward Fairfax Station….”
    ——-
    Edward S.E. Newbury mentioned in one letter that he was surprised to hear
    “…that the shot that struck Captain Waring first struck the pommel of his
    saddle and so saved his life….”

    Regards,
    –Guy Power

  8. Linda Waldhauer
    Sun 19th Sep 2010 at 10:35 pm

    My husband name is David H Waldhauer jr. His Great-Grandfather is Capt David Waldhauer. [‘little Davie”] My husband was born and raised in Savannah. I read the book Little Jeff Cavary. Do you have any other information. My son is also David. Captain David Waldhauer did not name his son David. David started again with his Grandson. My son is David H. Waldhauer the 3rd

  9. Renee L. Waring
    Sat 09th Oct 2010 at 10:48 pm

    My father, when a child visited the Gettysburg site with his class from Clearfield Co, PA. He will swear upon any Bible (and trust me, that’s something he takes very seriously) that he saw a bronze statue of a Col. Waring on a horse in a thicket. To this day I have never been able to find it, and we have been there several times. I have even asked the park rangers and they say there is no such statue. I would like to know why it is missing. I believe it was dedicated to Joseph Frederick Waring. The only thought that crosses my mind is that the park melted down some of the southern statues to help pay for the land around the park. It does make me very upset to think that but what am I to think? Any thoughts?

  10. Renee L. Waring
    Sat 09th Oct 2010 at 10:50 pm

    I’m not sure I’ll find my way back to this site because I study about 18,000 Waring names, so could you respond to Reneelwaring@aol.com and please let me know? Seriously, I wouldn’t put it past the Yanks to do that.

  11. Mike Mitchell
    Sat 19th Mar 2011 at 3:38 pm

    At the time of Martin’s promotion in Dec., 1862, Joseph Dunbar Shields of Company A wrote in his letters home that the men had circulated a petition, passed along to the president and secretary of war, requesting a transfer to Mississippi to continue serving under Martin’s command, in part because the men regarded their current major, not named, but I assume it would have to be Waring, as “not at all competent.” Granted, Dunbar first regarded Martin as too strict and too fond of drilling, but definitely changed his opinion. Maybe his change of heart occurred after Martin housed him in his quarters while he was jaundiced. Dunbar has neither kind nor disparaging words about Waring in any of the remaining letters up to the time of his death in August or September of 1863. The eulogies about Waring seem to make it clear that their opinion of him clearly changed. Any ideas what changed their mind? Was it a gradual respect or did he earn their admiration in his first action as commander?

  12. Sat 19th Mar 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Mike,

    Good question, and thanks for the information.

    Waring was a good soldier, and he brought most of his men home. It’s also easy to speak kindly of the dead.

    Beyond that, I don’t know. Good question, though.

    Eric

  13. Thomas Stafford
    Mon 13th Jun 2011 at 6:28 pm

    My Second G-grandfather, Francis “Frank” Ross Goulding was a member of the “Little Jeff” from 8/1861 to 12/1863. Anywhere we can find more information on him or his exploits?

  14. Mike Mitchell
    Thu 20th Oct 2011 at 5:26 pm

    @Thomas Stafford,
    The Waring manuscript collection at the Georgia Historical Society [MS 1275] includes items on the Jeff Davis Legion, series 2, boxes 18-23. No idea if the information contained within is any good. I just made a research request of my own hoping to discover how good some of the mini-bios and record of events are.

  15. Jerry A Lake
    Mon 25th Jun 2012 at 4:12 pm

    My Grandfather William p lake served under J Fred Waring for most of the War. On the Roll of honor at Upperville and Brandy Station. I have my grandfather’s copy of Duncans Book “The Roll and Legend of the Georgia Hussars” How could i get a copy of J Fred Waring’s Diaries (my grand father is noted in the diary) ?
    Jerry

  16. Tim nieman
    Sun 03rd Feb 2013 at 6:21 pm

    You mistakenly put william F Martin, it should be william T Martin on Dec 2 1862

  17. Bruce Dunham
    Wed 24th Sep 2014 at 1:26 pm

    A distant cousin of mine – Thomas Hendrix Dunham- was a Sgt. in the Georgia Hussars and also shot in the face and taken prisoner at the same instant that Fred Waring was shot in the face. Thomas survived the war and lived in the Savannah area but died by about 1874. Do you know of him?

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