John C. Carter
Mon Apr 30 23:49:10 2001
The Provost Guard which was breaking up was probably just the 9th Alabama's. William Cowan McClellan, who had been in the Provost Guard for Anderson's Division and for the 9th Alabama for the last half of the war, wrote home to his brother in September, 1864 that he expects the Provost Guard will be broken up. After that there is no mention in his letters of the Guard- only where they are in the front lines at Petersburg. William Eppa Fielding of CO F went home to Alabama on furlough in February 1865 and left a detailed account of his travel home- there was no mention of the presence of the Guard in his travels.
The 9th had suffered a significant number of desertions during the late summer of 1864, including Lt. Fuller and 25 men of CO H (which drew the attention of Robert E. Lee in a report). McClellan reported that the 9th Alabama had only 50 men fit for duty out of 500 on the roles- many were at home. His numbers may be a little off, but the best numbers I have seen for the 9th during that time was 100 men. J. C. Featherston also mentioned the reduced numbers of his company (15-20) as one of the reasons he was offering his resignation (along with poor health and the fact that he had not been home in 3 years and that he had had only had one furlough). The 9th desperately needed men in the line.
According to Kenneth Radley, in "Rebel Watchdog," even the 5th Alabama Battalion had many of its Provost Guard in Petersburg pulled from duty in September, 1864 and put into the trenches to fill a gap in the lines. (p. 227) I suspect the 9th Alabama's Provost Guard was in the same situation- they were being put into the line more and more.