Mark Hardin Blandford

Mark Hardin Blandford        Mark Hardin Blandford was born to affluent planter parents in Warren County, Georgia, July 13, 1826. He was educated at Mercer University, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1844 before he was eighteen years old, which required a special act of the Georgia legislature. He had practiced law for only two years - first in Hamilton, then in Tazewell, Georgia - when the Mexican War broke out. He immediately volunteered and served as a sergeant with the First Georgia Regiment for almost a year. He returned home in 1847 and opened a new law practice and store in Buena Vista, both of which he thrived. He was also a large planter and had significant holdings in the Kinchafoonie District of Marion County. He was quite active politically and an eloquent speaker. Blandford was appointed as a county commissioner for the Wiggins district in 1850, and then became a leader of the American party in Marion county in 1855. In March of 1860 he was appointed as a delegate to the Democratic convention in Milledgeville.

        As soon as Georgia seceded from the Union in January 1861, Blandford raised the "Marion Guards" and served as their captain. They then became Co. K, 12th Georgia Infantry, aka the "Bloody Twelfth" regiment. It served under Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's command during the Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1862 and participated in the Battle of McDowell, Virginia, on May 8. It was during this engagement that Blandford was shot in the right arm, which had to be amputated at the shoulder. He returned home, and while his wound was still healing in April 1863, Jefferson Davis appointed him to a judgeship of the Confederate military court, with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He served in this capacity until October, when he ran for election to the Second Congress from Georgia's Third District and easily defeated the incumbent, Hines Holt, who had already resigned his seat.

        As congressman, Blandford demonstrated a strong commitment to Confederate military strength. In November 1864, he proposed a law that would eliminate all class exemptions from military service; the use of troops thus raised would be the president's prerogative. This led to strong protest from state rights adherents in and out of Congress, and final passage of an exemption act came only in March 1865 in much amended form. Only on certain economic measures did Blandford protest too much central power on the part of the Davis administration. He urged Congress to repeal a ban on imported luxury items and to enact a law stipulating that only specifically appointed agents be authorized to carry out impressments. Neither proposal ever passed.

        Blandford remained in Congress until the government in Richmond collapsed. He returned to his law practice and mercantile operation in Buena Vista until 1869, when he moved to Columbus. In 1872 when Martin J. Crawford died, Blandford was named by the legislature as his replacement on the Georgia Supreme Court. He followed that term with a full term of his own, serving on the bench until 1881. "Judge Blandford was one of the most profound lawyers in Georgia, and his decisions while an associate justice rank with the best. Judge Blandford possessed a wonderful memory. He was a generous, noble-hearted man, and was esteemed and beloved all over Georgia by bench and bar." (from The Constitution Atlanta, Ga.). He then returned to Columbus and resumed his law practice, which he continued until his death on January 31, 1902. He is buried at Linwood Cemetery, Columbus, along with daughter Lucy.