February 3, 1785
1786 Gov. Edward Telfair signed an act creating Greene County as Georgia’s 11th county. Created from portions of Washington County, the county was named in honor of Revolutionary War hero Gen. Nathanael Greene (who, incidentally, died four months later).
February 3, 1807
1807 Confederate general Joseph E. Johnston [photo] was born in Virginia. He attended West Point, graduating in 1829 in the same class as Robert E. Lee. In 1861, he resigned from the U.S. Army to offer his services to the Confederacy. In 1864, he commanded the Army of Tennessee during much of Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign before being replaced by John Bell Hood. In 1865, Lee named Johnston to again head the Army of Tennessee, with responsibility for Confederate forces in Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina. Johnston’s surrender to Sherman on April 26, 1865 resulted in the end of the Civil War for Georgia. He died March 21 1891 in Washington D.C.
February 3, 1824
1824 Confederate general George Thomas "Tige" Anderson was born in Covington, Ga. He served in the U.S. Army during the Mexican War, and again from 1855 to 1858. After Georgia seceded, Anderson became a colonel in the 11th Georgia, commanding a brigade during the Seven Days Campaign and the battles of Second Manassaas and Sharpsburg. In Nov. 1862, he was promoted to brigadier general, commanding his own brigade in Hood’s Division at the battles of Fredericksburg, Suffolk, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, and Knoxville. His brigade was transferred to Field’s Division for the battles of The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg. His brigade was present at Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. After the war, Anderson became a freight agent, police chief, and a tax collector. He died Apr. 4, 1901 in Anniston, Alabama.
February 3, 1842
1842 Poet Sidney Lanier was born in Macon, Ga. He graduated from Oglethorpe University in 1860, serving as a tutor there until the outbreak of the Civil War. In the spring of 1861, Lanier joined the Macon Volunteers. He was captured in 1864 and imprisoned in a Union prison in Maryland, where he contacted a lung disease. After the war, Lanier had a series of jobs, during which time he began writing novels and poems. His best works were written in 1869 and afterwards. Some, such as "Thar’s More in the Man Than Thar Is in the Land," were written in rural Georgia dialect, while others such as "The Marshes of Glynn" were more serious in nature. As his health continued to deteriorate, Lanier traveled to the mountains of North Carolina, where he died of tuberculosis in Lynn, N.C. on Sept. 7, 1881.
February 3, 1865
1865 Confederate vice president Alexander Stephens [photo] attended the Hampton Roads Peace Conference as one of three Confederate commissioners to discuss the possibility of ending the Civil War with U.S. Pres. Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward. The meeting, which took place aboard a ship off the coast of Virginia, ended in failure.
February 3, 1898
1898 Atlanta Constitution editor and publisher Ralph McGill was born in Soddy, Tennessee. Educated at Vanderbilt University, McGill began his career covering sports for the Nashville Banner. After leaving school he became the paper’s sports editor and also began writing political columns. It was these political writings that attracted the attention of Clark Howell, editor of the Atlanta Constitution. Howell brought McGill to Atlanta in April, 1939 to write on both sports and politics. McGill’s columns gradually became the centerpieces of the sports page insert into facts (title,body,publish,created_at,updated_at,date_specific,public,proofed,user_id,fact_date,sources) values ("Break O’ Days"), editorial page insert into facts (title,body,publish,created_at,updated_at,date_specific,public,proofed,user_id,fact_date,sources) values ("One Word More"), and finally on the front page, simply entitled "Ralph McGill." In 1942, McGill became editor of the Constitution, and by 1961 its publisher. McGill’s columns were timely, covering subjects from the Great Depression to the Vietnam War. His was a voice of moderation, yet support, during the civil rights struggle. While never outwardly advocating integration (knowing it would cost him his southern readers), still he urged cooperation and obeying federal laws. He openly took on Governor Eugene Talmadge and the Ku Klux Klan; his editorial decrying the bombing of Jewish temple and burning of a black school in 1958 earned him a Pulitzer Prize. McGill also traveled extensively, witnessing first hand many of the European developments from Hitler’s rise to power to the Nuremburg Trials. In the post war years he traveled and did stories from Russia, Africa and the Far East, including a three week stay with U.S. troops in Vietnam. All the presidents from Truman through Johnson consulted McGill on what he witnessed on his travels. He remained active until his death in Atlanta February 2, 1969.
February 3, 1924
1924 Former president Woodrow Wilson died at his home in Washington D.C.. Born Dec. 28, 1856 in Staunton, Va., Wilson spent part of his childhood in Augusta, practiced law in Atlanta, and married Ellen Louise Axson of Rome, Ga.
February 3, 1940
1940 University of Georgia football great Fran Tarkenton was born in Richmond, Va. After an outstanding career as Bulldog quarterback, Tarkenton went on to a record-breaking career in professional football as a quarterback for Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants. After retirement, he was elected to National Football League Hall of Fame.
February 3, 1972
1972 The U.S. Postal Service issued an 8-cent commemorating stamp honoring Georgia poet Sidney Lanier. First day of issue ceremonies were held in Macon, Ga.