Pvt William Thomas Overby

Pvt William Thomas Overby

Dunwoody, DeKalb County, Georgia, USA
Death 23 Sep 1864 (aged 23–24)
Front Royal, Warren County, Virginia, USA
Burial Sharpsburg, Coweta County, Georgia, USA
Memorial ID 13378985 · View Source
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Known as "The Nathan Hale of the Confederacy."
April 1840-1864
Co. D 43 Bn. Va. Cav.
43rd Virginia Cavalry, Mosby's Rangers

"Captured with five others in a skirmish outside Front Royal, Pvt. Overby & his compatriots, instead of receiving humane treatment accorded prisoners of war, were ordered to be executed. Reviled and beaten by his captors, Pvt. Overby could only watch as three of his fellow prisoners were wrenched away, dragged through the streets , and summarily shot. Knowing he had no change against such a mob, Pvt. Overby nevertheless remained arect and defiant. Despite a noose around his neck, he refused to give his executioners vital information that could compromise his battalion - even in exchange for his life - and instead, with his last words, issued a dark prophecy of revenge."
Residence Coweta County GA;
Enlisted on 5/31/1861 as a Private.
On 5/31/1861 he mustered into "A" Co. GA 7th Infantry
(date and method of discharge not given)
He was listed as:
Wounded 8/30/1862 2nd Manassas, VA
POW 9/23/1864 Front Royal, VA
He also had service in:
"D" Co. VA 43rd Bttn Cavalry

~Offered his life in exchange for betraying his comrades. Refused and was hanged as a spy September 1864~
Overby was one of the six Mosby's Men executed at Front Royal by orders of General George Custer on Friday, September 23rd, 1864. Overby and Love, were hung to a tree in sight of the town of Front Royal, and a paper pinned on the breast of one read: "Such is the fate of all of Mosby's gang."

The remains of the Mosby's Ranger often called the "Nathan Hale of the Confederacy" lie once again in the soil of his native Georgia. William Thomas Overby was given a hero's reburial January 5, 1997, in Oakhill Cemetery in Newnan, Georgia, southwest of Atlanta.

His body had lain the past 132 years in a rural Virginia Cemetery near where he was hanged on September 23, 1864, for refusing to reveal the whereabouts of the headquarters of his commander Confederate Cavalry Colonel John Singleton Mosby.

Overby was the son of a Coweta County, GA, planter, and was wounded at 2nd Bull Run while with the 7th Georgia Infantry.

In 1864 he was a 27 year old member of Company D, of Mosby's Rangers. He was captured near Front Royal, VA, with 5 other rebels. All six were executed, and Overby was one of the last two to die. His captors offered to spare his life if he would reveal Mosby's whereabouts, but he was refused and was hanged from a walnut tree. His last words were reportedly: "Mosby will hang 10 of you for every one of us."

Mosby did indeed retaliate: he hanged seven captured Union troops, attaching a note to the body of one of them with words to the effect that he would hang no more prisioners if Yankee commander George Custer desisted from hanging anymore captured Confederates. The hangings ceased.

Overby was buried in Markham, Virginia, in the family cemetery of one of the other men executed that day, according to the Atlanta Constitution. The Sharpsburg Sharpshooters Chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Coweta County made numerous attempts in recent years to have Overby's body returned, but without success. They finally got permission when the owner of the Virginia graveyard died and the new owners, descendants and judges in both states were amenable.

Overby's few remaining bones were retrieved on the weekend of December 20-21, 1996, by members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), and returned to Newnan, GA. There, they were placed in a pine period coffin and lay in state on January 4, 1997, in the Coweta County Courthouse. The coffin was draped in a Confederate flag and topped with a framed photo of Overby under a pair of Confederate swords. An honor guard of Confederate reenactors stood vigil, wearing black armbands over their left sleeves. The following day, a Sunday, Overby's casket was transported to Oakhill Cemetery via a horse-drawn artillery caisson, accompanied by more than 300 reeanctors while about 300 spectators looked on.

(reported by Joe Kirby, for the Civil War News, Route 1, Box 36, Turnbridge, VT

This is a second monument on the Courthouse Square in Newnan, GA. and is erected in memory of William Thomas Overby, Confederate Hero. He enlisted May 31,1861, into Co. A 7th Ga. Infantry. He was wounded at second Manassas, Aug. 30, 1862, then joined Co. D, 43rd Batln. Mosby's Rangers. They raided within Federal lines to embarrass the enemy, causing U. S. Grant to issue the order that "when found Mosby's men were to be hanged without trial." William Overby was captured at Front Royal, Va. on Friday, Sept. 23,1864. He was offered his life if he would reveal the hiding place of Mosby's men. This he refused, and was executed without trial. A federal said "He was the Nathan Hale of the Confederacy." Scott said, "He was a famous soldier and died unafraid." A lady, present at his death said, "He died a Christian-unafraid." William Overby suffered death rather than betray his friends. He is buried in Markham, Va. The monument reads: "Erected 1956 by Alfred Colquitt and Newnan Chapters UDC, Inscription by Col. Thomas Spencer. At the top of this granite Boulder are crossed battle flags.

Source: http://www.cowetaguards.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4&Itemid=3

Published Friday, September 23, 2011

Sons of Confederate Veterans:
Today is William Thomas Overby Day

The Sons of Confederate Veterans of Coweta County honored a man they called a "true Southern hero" with a memorial service at Oak Hill Cemetery last weekend.

"It's always an honor and a privilege to be here on William Thomas Overby Day," Mayor Keith Brady told the group of about 30 who were gathered -- many in period dress -- for the occasion Sept. 17.

William Thomas Overby was born in 1837 in Dunwoody, Va. In 1839, his family moved to the Newnan area. A Georgia Historical Commission historical marker is located on Highway 34, noting the place where Overby grew up.

Overby enlisted in the Confederate Army on May 31, 1861, in Co. A, 7th Regiment, Georgia Volunteer Infantry. He was wounded in Second Manassas in August, 1862, and taken to a hospital in Warrenton, Va. Overby then spent the next 18 months working as a nurse at hospitals in Virginia.

He joined with the 43rd Battalion, Virginia Cavalry, Mosby's Rangers, Co. D, in May, 1864, and participated in a number of raids.

On Friday, Sept. 23, 1864, Overby and four other Rangers, along with a 17-year-old who wanted to join the Confederates, were captured at Front Royal, Va. Overby was offered his freedom if he would reveal the hiding place of Mosby's Rangers. Refusing this, he was hanged without a trial within four hours of his capture. He was later posthumously awarded the Confederate Medal of Honor.

Brady and Coweta County Commission Chairman Paul Poole both read resolutions proclaiming Sept. 23 William Thomas Overby Day.

"We're blessed to have a city and county government that's so aware of history," said Mike Webb, commander of SCV Camp 715.

Webb said that Overby will always be remembered as the "Nathan Hale of the Confederacy" for "refusing to betray his comrades."

The participants in the ceremony said a pledge to the Georgia flag, saluted the Confederate flag, placed a wreath at Overby's grave, and gave an honor guard salute.

The purpose of the ceremony is to "remember the cause for which we fought," Webb said, and to honor the "ideals which made Overby glorious."

Dr. John Suttles, keynote speaker, asked why someone like Overby, "in the prime of his manhood, full of vigor and health," would "abandon all that he held dear" to go to war. It may not have been for any "lofty convictions" concerning state's rights, he speculated. Rather, the reasons have been more personal and immediate, and may be summed up in the words of Confederate President Jefferson Davis:

"They have repudiated the foolish conceit that the inhabitants of this Confederacy are still citizens of the United States, for they are waging an indiscriminate war upon them all with a savage ferocity unknown to modern civilization. In this war, rapine is the rule; private residences in peaceful rural retreats are bombarded and burnt; grain crops in the field are consumed by the torch; and when the torch is not convenient, careful labor is bestowed to render complete the destruction of every article of use or ornament remaining in private dwellings after their inhabitants have fled from the outrages of a brutal soldiery."

Unfortunately, we may never know the real reason Overby volunteered or gave his life, Suttles said, since Overby "left behind no biography, no speeches, not even a thorough diary, to my knowledge."

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  • Maintained by: Ancestral Sleuth
  • Originally Created by: Bev
  • Added: 17 Feb 2006
  • Find a Grave Memorial 13378985
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  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Pvt William Thomas Overby (1840–23 Sep 1864), Find a Grave Memorial no. 13378985, citing Cokes Chapel United Methodist Church Cemetery, Sharpsburg, Coweta County, Georgia, USA ; Maintained by Ancestral Sleuth (contributor 48171177) .