Jacob Benjamin Sellers

Jacob Benjamin Sellers was Richard White's 2-great grandfather... his father's mother's father's father.   Along with his oldest son, George W. Sellars (sic), Jacob Benjamin Sellers was enrolled as Private Jacob B. Sellers in Company E (Ponchitla Guards) of the 51st Georgia Infantry Regiment, in Calhoun County, Georgia on 4 March 1862. 

This is information is from a record that I have sought for almost 30 years, fruitlessly, because of lack of knowledge as to Jacob Benjamin Sellers' whereabouts.  The breakthrough came when I recently happened across record of a "Ja___ Sellers" and Georgia Sellers obtaining letters of dismissal from the Ebenezer Baptist Church at Ellaville in Sumter (now Schley) County, Georgia.  For more facts about places of residence, over the years, of the Jacob Benjamin Sellers and Georgia Ann Joiner Sellers family which I recently uncovered, click here.  But now that Jacob Benjamin Sellers' Confederate service record has been found... paradoxically that record reveals extraordinarily little.  It consists only of two Woodruff file cards of information extracted from rolls.  The first such card was the initial muster roll of Company E of the 51st Georgia Infantry Regiment dated 5 March 1862.  That card contained the soldier's name written as "Jacob B. Sellers" and his unit designation, but besides that it contained only a notation that "Name does not appear in column of signature"... in other words, I take it that the muster roll was signed by most men who were enrolled in the 51st Georgia Infantry Regiment at that time, but not by Jacob Benjamin Sellers.  The other card was an extract from the "Post Register, Albany Georgia."   It showed the name "J A. (sic) Sellers" and the date "May 20" (no year stated).  I believe that this is an indication that Jacob Benjamin Sellers had died (probably before 20 May 1862) with some balance of pay or funds due to him.  When his son George W. Sellars died, his name also appeared on the Post Register at Albany, Georgia with an annotation of "Amount of money left $10.70".

I can think of a number of possible situations that might be entailed in that unfinished state of the enrollment record.  It could an indication that the enrollment was incomplete, Jacob Benjamin Sellers having decided not to go through with it.  It could be that the absence of any signature (or mark) was a minor clerical oversight, that he did serve in the unit, and that later records were created but were subsequently lost or destroyed.   It could also indicate that Jacob Benjamin Sellers died before enrollment was completed.  Oral history from my father says that he died, and dying on or before 20 May 1862, is consistent with the chronology suggested in the oral history.

My search for information about Jacob Benjamin Sellers began at a time when his name was still unknown to me but my father had told me a story about him as the father of my great grandfather, Richard M. Sellers, saying that Richard M. Sellers ran away from home and joined the Confederate Army never to return home or see his mother again, because his father (who I now know to have been Jacob Benjamin Sellers) had "died in the war" .  Given the strength and certainty of the place in the way that story was related, of the father's death, it is my opinion most probable that is exactly what happened.  Further, the time line shown in the scanty documentation that has been found supports the possibility of that chain of events having happened.  Jacob Benjamin Sellars was enrolled on 4 March 1862 and the lack of further documentation about him suggests that if he did indeed die in Confederate military service, that happened fairly soon after he was enrolled.  The Confederate service record of his son, Richard M. Sellers, is rather backwards in state of incompleteness from his in that it lacks any information about Richard M. Sellers' enrollment in the unit... but does contain a discharge certificate.  The earliest document in Richard M. Sellers' Confederate service record was an entry on a "receipt roll" pertaining to "Commutation of Rations", and that roll was dated for the period of  7 - 24 May 1862.  For Richard M. Sellers to learn of his father's death, run away from home, enroll in the 11th Georgia Infantry Regiment, and be transported from Georgia to Virginia, would take some time.  From perhaps April till early or mid-May sounds about the right amount of time for all of that.  Unless other documentation is uncovered demonstrating otherwise, I believe that this skimpy record, in fact, loosely substantiates the oral history... the original story of my dad.  It certainly does not contradict the oral history  by documenting any other, different, story.

NOTE:  The Mercer University Press, Macon, Georgia, published: Keep All My Letters: The Civil War Letters of Richard Henry Brooks, 51st Georgia Infantry, edited by Katherine S. Holland, in 2003.  This thin volume including acknowledgments, introduction and index, runs to only 132 pages all told, but it is an almost a unique opportunity to look inside of the mind of one Confederate soldier, and though he was not from the same county or in the same company as Jacob Benjamin Sellers and George W. Sellars, he was in the same regiment and to some extent the story of the regiment can be seen in his letters.  I would recommend this book to anyone with the slightest interest in the history of Confederate Georgia.  If nothing else, Brooks names and identifies by name the astonishing array of fatal illnesses running rife within the regiment when he joined it late in May of 1862.  Though this does nothing towards proving that Jacob Benjamin Sellers died from one of these diseases, it highlights how very probable that was.

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This page was created by Richard White on 20 January 2004.
Changes to this page were last made by Richard White on  30 June 2005.