MOULTRIE — What started as an interest in family history has turned into quite a bit more for Glen Spurlock of Moultrie.

Spurlock, a north Georgia native, was turned on to genealogy by his great-aunt, who compiled a history of his paternal grandmother’s side of the family, self-published it and distributed it to the family. The book included stories, such as when her grandfather — Spurlock’s great-great-grandfather — hid the family horses to keep the invading Union Army from confiscating them.

An avid reader, Spurlock was already interested in history, and the book pushed him to try to learn more about his paternal grandfather’s side of the family. He met with limited success.

“I don’t think they ever signed a legal document in their lives,” he lamented, “[at least] not in Georgia.”

Spurlock considered getting a college history degree, but instead majored in geography with a minor in history.

“I had hoped to be a military officer through ROTC in college,” he said, “but because of a bad knee I had to seek gainful employment.”

“Gainful employment” in Spurlock’s case meant becoming a caseworker for the Department of Family and Children Services in Newton County, east of Atlanta, in April 1971. He survived 15 months.

“A lot of people get burned out as caseworkers,” he said.

Just as Spurlock was taking all he could take at DFCS, Gov. Jimmy Carter reorganized state government, placing DFCS and other agencies under the Department of Human Resources. The change opened a position in records management, and Spurlock made the move. Not too long afterwards, he changed jobs again to manage records at the state Department of Education.

Spurlock went back to college, getting his master’s and six-year certification in school library media. He was working on his doctorate in 1983 when his son was born. He decided Atlanta wasn’t a good place to raise children, so he sent out resumes to school systems throughout the state. Colquitt County hired him as school librarian at the junior high (later Willie J. Williams Middle School). He transferred to the high school in the 1997-98 school year, and last year he became an instructional technology specialist.

Some of Spurlock’s family came from South Georgia — his great-grandfather was from Blakely — and as he continued to delve into his family history, he made a few discoveries.

First, he found he was related to most of South Georgia by blood or marriage.

“Just about anywhere you go, you’re going to find somebody you’re related to or who knows your family,” he said.

Second, he found several of his ancestors fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. Many were in the 51st Regiment — a sister unit to the 50th Regiment, from which the CCHS band gets its name. He started researching that unit, but got bogged down and turned his attention to another: Cobb’s Legion.

Col. Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb raised the legion during the summer of 1861 in Georgia. During the Civil War, a legion consisted of a unit of cavalry, a unit of infantry and a unit of artillery, totaling about 3,000 men.

“The concept was they would fight together and be mobile, but the truth was you could only move as fast as your slowest unit, which was the infantry — some say the artillery,” Spurlock said.

Cobb’s Legion was one of the most famous such units of the war, at least in part because of a fictional member: Ashley Wilkes, a character in “Gone with the Wind.” But Spurlock said it was little researched.

One reason for the lack of information, Spurlock said, was confusion of nomenclature. The legion consisted of seven infantry companies, labeled Company A through G; 11 cavalry companies, labeled A through I plus K and L; and the Troup Artillery, named for former Gov. George M. Troup. So, Cobb’s Legion had two Company A’s, two Company B’s and so on up to Company G — seven pairs of similarly named companies. The Civil War soldiers and sailors website, maintained by the National Park Service, had lumped all the men from each pair of companies into a single unit.

Spurlock set to work sorting them out. When he began, he had about 2,400 names in one pile. Now, he said, all but 800 are in the right places. Probably 10 of the men in the unit also have places in Spurlock’s family tree, he said.

His work attracted the attention of Ruth Messic, who was writing a book about Cobb’s cavalry. She asked if he would share what he’d found.

“Which was all right with me because I was more interested in the infantry,” he said.

Messic’s book is completed, and she acknowledges Spurlock’s help in its foreword.

Spurlock said he may yet write his own book on Cobb’s infantry. He’s been planning it for a long time, but it hasn’t come together yet.

“It’ll only hold my interest for so long, then I’ll move to something else,” he said.

In the meantime, he’s made presentations on the legion to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the United Daughters of the Confederacy and to history classes at Colquitt County High School.

The genealogy research and delving into American history have taught Spurlock one other thing, too, he said.

“Most people are average people who try to make a go at whatever they try to do,” he said. “Kind of like it is now.”

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