Alexander Smith Erwin

Alexander Smith Erwin (1843-1907), a veteran of the Confederate army and a prominent Athenian jurist, is remembered for advancing further than any other Confederate soldier during Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. He joined Athens’ social and economic elite when he married into the prominent Cobb family.

Born in Habersham County on July 19, 1843, Alexander Erwin enlisted in the Confederate army at Clarkesville. Georgia, and eventually rose to the rank of captain in Phillips’ Legion. During the three days of battle at Gettysburg, he gained fame as the soldier who penetrated furthest into the Union lines during Pickett’s Charge. Two months later, Phillips’ Legion fought in the Battle of Chickamauga where Confederate forces inflicted the worst defeat suffered by Union forces in the western theater during the war. Erwin, leading Company C of the Legion sustained a serious wound during the fighting which left him unfit for service during the balance of the war.

Following the war, Erwin became an attorney and in 1872 married Mary Ann Lamar Cobb, the daughter of Howell and Mary Ann Cobb, at the bride’s home. The couple established their residence in a large house on Hill Street – just a short distance from the bride’s widowed mother. The union produced nine children. Erwin joined his brothers-in-law in the firm of Cobb, Erwin, & Cobb. He served as justice on the Superior Court of Georgia’s Western Judicial circuit. He died on June 7, 1907, of “an attack of acute indigestion followed by heart failure.”

< Return to Notables & Select Biographies page.