Green Berry Haven

Green Berry Haven was Richard White's great-great uncle.

Green Berry Haven, who was known as R.G.B., G. B. or Green B. Haven, was the younger son of John Shepard Haven.  He was born on 27 January 1848 in Thomas County, Georgia.

During the early part of the war Green Berry Haven served with a Florida unit which was variously known as the Leon Light Artillery,  the Florida Light Artillery, and Gamble's Artillery (after it's commander Robert H. Gamble) although he was only about 15 years old at the time.  Gamble's Light Artillery served during this period at and around the old Spanish Fort San Marcos de Apalachee (renamed Fort Ward in August 1864), at St. Marks, Florida.  In May 1863 Gamble's Light Artillery split.  Part of it remained in the St. Marks area under Captain R. H. Gamble and part became the Kilcrease Light Artillery under the command of Captain Fred L. Villipigue who was promoted from lieutenant under Gamble, to take that command.  The Kilcrease Light Artillery was sent first to Jacksonville and then to North Carolina, although they came back to Florida and participated in the Battle of Olustee (as did Gamble's Light Artillery) in early 1864.  The Kilcrease Light Artillery, under the command of Captain Patrick Houstoun, also participated in the Battle of Natural Bridge, south of Tallahassee on 6 March 1865.

Campbell's Independent Georgia Siege Artillery Company was also formed in May 1863 to man heavy artillery which had already been in place for some time, plus some additional heavy guns, at St. Marks.  Apparently most of these heavy guns had been removed from Fort Marion (Castillo de San Marcos) at St. Augustine in the early days of the war.  The company's commander, Captain Charles Campbell of Decatur County, Georgia, had organized the Decatur Guards, Company D, 17th Georgia Infantry, in August 1861 and had commanded that unit until medically discharged in January 1863.  ( Henry Rehberg died at Drewry's Bluff under Campbell's command in 1862 and James C. Haire also served under Campbell in the 17th Georgia.)  Green Berry Haven was enrolled as a private with Campbell's Independent Georgia Siege Artillery on 9 July 1863 and served with that unit until the end of the war.

Most of Florida was sparsely settled.  Remote and lightly settled parts of the state below Gainesville were largely left to their own devices or to the Union if it wanted to take them.  Most of the men of prime military age and condition in the state were recruited into Confederate units very early in the war, and these units left the state almost immediately.  Such of the war as was fought in Florida was fought mostly by the young, the old, and invalids.  And except for the heavy artillery at St. Marks, which by its nature and location in a salt marsh was virtually immobile, this was a highly mobile war.  In fact, all fixed-position Confederate coastal defenses in Florida, except that at St. Marks, were either captured by the Union or had been abandoned as untenable by 1863.  The actual tactical situation at St. Marks was well pointed out in a report of the commander of the District of Middle Florida, General Howell Cobb on 9 December 1862.  He wrote: "If the enemy should attempt a movement in that quarter... their policy would be to land their troops either at Shell Point or the west side of the St. Marks River or at the light house on the east side..." [Gerrell, p. 59]  In other words, the fixed position defense would be bypassed easily, as it actually was when Union troops finally came ashore in strength before the Battle of Natural Bridge in March, 1865.

Major of Artillery G. W. Mayo inspected batteries in Middle Florida in December 1862.  Of an inspection on 15 December he reported: "The Florida Artillery, commanded by Captain R.H. Gamble, is composed of two 6 pounder (bronze) one 12 pounder howitzer and one 3 inch rifle.  The left section, commanded by 2nd Lieut Edward Gamble (two 6 pounder bronze) on St. Marks River, has, for present use, a sufficient quantity of ammunition, but, from want of tarpaulins and frequent airing, fourteen of the charges have become damaged.  The right section, in from Goose Creek, has a number of rifle projectiles, the fuzes of which are damaged.  I would respectfully recommend that they be condemned entirely and a projectile with a wrought iron cup submitted, those now at the battery being used with long wooden sabot attached to a projection, about two inches in length, at the base of the shot.  The wood work of the carriages is defective, having been made of bad timber.  It needs paint and tarpaulins.  The battery requires new sponge heads.  The horses are in fair condition.  The harness needs repair and oil.  There are no leather, thread or needles, which should be provided.  The drill of the battery is not efficient, but Captain Gamble informs me that, continued sickness in camp prevents exercise in this particular.  In the present condition of Captain Gamble's battery I do not consider it efficient for service."  [Gerrell, p. 59]

On 28 January 1863, Captain H. Laurens Ingraham, Assistant Chief of Artillery for the Confederacy, made this report on Gamble's Light Artillery:  "The guns listed for the unit are 2 12-pounder Howitzers Bronze, 2 6-pounder guns, 2 3-inch rifled guns banded iron.  The number of commanding officers was 1 captain, 2 1st Lieutenants, 2 2nd Lieutenants.  There were 8 noncommissioned officers, and 6 corporals.  There were 141 privates and 2 buglers.  Present at the time of inspection 1 1st Lieutenant, 1 2nd Lieutenant, 2 sergeants and 3 corporals.  There were 62 privates, no buglers, 1 battery wagon, 1 traveling forge, 102 public horses, and 19 mules."

Ingraham's report continued: "The camp was in good order.  The battery had come from arduous duty on the coast which divided the company in sections.  The drill was good.  I however beg leave to report that the artillery horses were ridden by the noncommissioned officers and privates on their private business.  There were so few horses in camp on Thursday of inspection that I could drill but two sections.  The howitzers and six pounder guns have but 40 rounds of ammunition.  The rifled guns are well supplied.  Having obeyed my instructions I will return to Charleston." [Gerrell, p. 66]

One suspects that politics rather than sound military considerations kept a siege artillery battery at St. Marks.  But, so long as it was there the battery did attract the attention of the sort of ebullient Union naval officer who might see a chance at promotion over the bodies of a few of his men even though taking the fort without any ability to follow through was an exercise as useless as putting the fort there in the first place.

Witness this report from Union Navy Lieutenant Commander Crossman, commanding the U.S.S. Somerset after a sneak attack he had attempted up the St. Marks River was detected and thwarted in mid-July 1863.  The original plan had been to: "...pass up the St. Marks to the Wakulla River above the hospital, land, storm the battery and spike the guns, then embark, make a dash at Newport, capture the [Confederate ship] Spray, make prize of all the cotton in that neighborhood, burn the Government buildings, which are extensive and valuable, and come down the river in the Spray, whose two guns besides our own rifles would effectively scour the banks." [Gerrell, p. 78]

His revised plan ("Plan B"), was: "... with my men drilled as they are so as to be obedient to the bugle call when acting as skirmishers, I can whip the rebels off the point at St. Marks.  But to achieve any great result I would like 200 or 300 soldiers; with them and my own men I could march up to Newport, capture any quantity of cotton, perhaps 1,000 bales, then come down the river to St. Marks, storm the fort, cut the wires, tear up the track, and throw the guns into the river, returning to the ships in the Spray."  [Gerrell, p. 80]  No doubt Crossman's interest on the potential prize vessel and cotton was anticipation of gaining a share of the proceeds from their sale.

The Union's control of the seas gave it the initiative to attack at any point it chose, and Confederate defenders were poised to react... which they did as frequently as was called for.  Both sides tended to be wary of concentrating their forces.  Typically most actions that came about were small unit actions with few casualties, if any.  For instance, on 30 November 1862 Captain C. J. Jenkins was ordered to Goose Creek with his infantry company except for 40 men and 1 officer detailed for other duty.  His mission was to support a section of the Florida Artillery and to protect the salt works there.

A Union Army parole dated at Thomasville, Georgia, on 10 May 1865, and issued to R.G.B. Haven1 (sic) gives a physical description of him as 5 feet 8 inches in height, with "Light" hair, "Blue" eyes, and "Light" complexion.

Green Berry Haven's Florida Confederate Pension application indicates that he resided in Florida starting in 1879.  He served as a justice of the peace in Madison County, Florida, and it was apparently in that capacity that he signed the municipal incorporation papers for the Town of Lee in Madison County in 1909.... and officiated at his father's marriage to his second wife Liddy Hester in Jackson County, Florida, in 1905.  He still reported living in Lee, Madison County Florida in 1908, when he first applied for a Confederate pension and also reported in that application that he owned 23 acres of land in Madison County.  But in 1914 he corresponded regarding his still-pending pension from an address in Gretna, Gadsden County, Florida.  My father, Herman White remembered Green Berry Haven as living with his grandfather, Richard Sellars, in Grady County, Georgia, and managing his farm for one year, about 1923.   However dad was unaware that Green Berry was his grandfather's brother-in-law (and my dad's great uncle) or that he died in that year.  Dad remembers Green Berry as being "about 50 years old" at the time, and I suppose it could have been another Green Berry Haven, but there was no other member of this Haven family named Green Berry.

Green Berry Haven, with his brother, Henry Haven, initiated the creation of the small town of Lee, in Madison County, Florida.  The Florida State Gazetteer for 1885-1886 listed Henry and G.B. (Green Berry) Haven as proprietors of a general merchandise store there and described Lee as follows:

"A new postoffice and way station on the Florida Central and Western Railroad, 8 miles from Madison court house.  Cotton is the chief product.  Mails daily."  The Gazetteer account went on to say that the post office at Lee was established in 1882, and that G.B. Haven was Justice of the Peace there.

The town was named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee, who had become the president of Washington College, now Washington & Lee.  A History of Madison County, Florida, by Elizabeth H. Sims contains the gazetteer information, as well as the following gem (to be found on page 112):

      Although there had been settlement in the area for many years, the town of Lee was not settled until after the end of the War Between the States: Edwin B. Browning told a story of its beginning:

       There is a very lovely story about the early beginnings of Lee, Florida...  Following the Civil War and, a bit further back, the construction of the railroad, a few pioneers clustered together on the site of the present town, and chose the name "Lee" for their budding community in honor of the great Confederate General and outstanding gentleman, Robert E. Lee.
       By this time General Lee had relinquished his sword in great honor to Ulysses S. Grant, and was striving to restore life to Washington and Lee University as its greatly beloved president.  Word came to him, it is said, that the people of the deepest south had named a village for him.
This touched the old warrior, now turned educator, and he came south at his earliest convenience and paid a few days visit to the community.
       The story has it that he literally revelled in the rural charms and that, on the day of leave-taking from the town, Mrs. Haven where he was
staying served him an old-fashioned plantation breakfast of grits, ham, eggs, marmalade, and coffee.  It is said that the great old man did full
justice to the delicious meal, and left greatly impressed by the hospitality of the people.

  Along with the good folks of Lee. I wish that could be proven a true story; but though I can throw against it only indirect evidence, I just don't see it as having more than the proverbial "ghost of a chance" reflecting anything close to truth.  What gives it credence, or at least an air of verisimilitude, is that in mid-April of 1870 (the year of his death), Robert E. Lee took a trip south to Cumberland Island, Georgia, to visit the grave of his father, "Light Horse Harry" Lee.  (The original grave site was at Revolutionary War General Nathaniel Greene's plantation "Dungeness" on Cumberton Island where "Lighthorse Harry" died.  The remains were moved to Virginia in 1913.)  R. E. Lee continued south to Jacksonville and even took a jaunt on the St. Johns River on down to Palatka.  However, although he faithfully recorded the trip in his diary, Lee made no mention of a side-trip by rail of more than 100 miles to the west, to Lee, and back.  But most tellingly, the 1870 census return shows Green Berry still living in his father's household, and it still located in the Blowing Cave District of Decatur (now Grady) County, Georgia.  Neither Green Berry nor his father John Shepard Haven left any record of having moved to Florida by April of 1870.  John Shepard Haven was quite specific.  In his 1909 Confederate pension application he stated that he moved to Florida on November 15, 1879.  In his 1908 application Green Berry was equally exact (to a slightly different date) and there was only a minor discrepancy with what his wife later said in her Confederate widow's Confederate pension application  In his Confederate pension application, Green Berry dated his residence in Florida to 12 December 1878.  His widow later said, "about December 1877".  In any case, none of the Havens dated their move to Florida any closer than 7 years after General Lee's last visit to Florida, and death.

So where did the story come from?  The documented source doesn't exactly say that Green Berry was its originator... but where else would a story about General Lee visiting his house and eating his wife's grits, ham and eggs come from...?!!!  It doesn't matter if you look at it as Green Berry being a "typical Florida real estate promoter" or as him falling into the time-honored tradition as a veteran telling a "war story" of sorts...  I can't really say in any objective sense, but subjectively I can only see this as a deliberately told "tall tale", no doubt directed at people who knew better than to believe it... but... Oops, there must have been someone within earshot... perhaps a child2... who heard it, didn't know it was "a whopper" and years later passed it on as gospel.  It's very clear that Green Berry could engage in puffery.  Examples of his business letterhead preserved in his half-brother William Sampson Johnson's Florida Confederate Pension application file testify to that.  However, I seriously doubt that he (if the story did originate with him) intentionally deceived anyone with this "Lee spent the night and had breakfast at my house" tale, or even that he could have had he seriously wanted to.  If anything, Green Berry's own Confederate pension record is fairly quiet about his actual military service and it credits him only... basically, by the time it was whittled down by various bureaucrats in Washington and Tallahassee... with perhaps as little as only a few days military service at the very end of the war.  The surviving records of Confederate units that operated in Florida are very, very thin and spotty, however, and though it is possible that there was one or more "breaks" in his service... contemporary documents show that he served as early as 1863, in Gamble's Florida Light Artillery, when he was approximately 15 years old.  But in his pension application Green Berry did not mention serving in 1863, or serving under Robert Gamble.

Green Berry Haven died in Madison County, Florida, on 6 August 1923.  Green Berry and his wife Cornelia A. Haven were buried in the southwest corner of the old part of the cemetery at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church on U.S. Highway 90 between the towns of Lee and Madison, in Madison County, Florida.

This account owes much to Allen R. Gerrell, Jr.'s Civil War in and around St. Marks, Florida, 1991.  Mr. Gerrell's book contains extensive quotes from a variety of primary source materials.  Green Berry Haven's service in Gamble's Florida Light Artillery is recorded in Soldiers of Florida in the Seminole Indian-Civil and Spanish-American Wars, Board of State Institutions, page 299.  His service in Campbell's Independent Georgia Siege Artillery Company is recorded in the Compiled Confederate Service Records which were organized by the U.S. War Department and are available on microfilm from the National Archives.

The photo of Captain Robert H. Gamble is from the Florida State Archives, Florida Photographic Collection.


1.  Often called "Greenberry" by others, so far as I have discovered he always signed his name as "G. B. Haven" and his printed letterhead business stationery was also headed:

         OFFICE OF
(followed by a list of his business enterprises)

His Union parole is the only exemplar I have found indicating that "Greenberry" was his middle name and that his first name started with "R".  With no further information... the "R" could have stood for "Right", Roscoe, Rastus, Remus... or who knows what?!!!  Even if I knew it to be Richard, which is just one of the many possibilities, that still wouldn't prove anything, but if it was Richard, it might be a pointer back to descent from the progenitor of the New England Havens, Richard Haven (1620-1702) of Lyme, Massachusetts.  But no, it's interesting to see that he had a first name that he didn't like or use... ever; but even if we knew what it was, and it was Richard, that wouldn't prove anything.

2.  I find no adults named Edwin B. Browning in pertinent census records for Madison County through 1910, the most recent date that I have indexed access to.  The closest that I have found is Elmer B. Browning who was a 6-month old child living in the household of W. H. Browning in the Hamburg District of Madison County in 1900; or Eddie Browning, a 16-year old residing in the household of Robert Browning in the Withlacoochee District of Madison County, also in 1900.  Hamburg is NW of the county seat, the town of Madison, thus fairly far from Lee.  Withlacoochee is just to the east of the town of Lee, so I vote for Robert Browning's son"Eddie" as the most likely transmitter of the Robert E. Lee tale.


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This page was created by Richard White on 11 April 1997.
Changes to this page were last made by Richard White on  14 February 2010.