The spelling inconsistencies of the original have been preserved in this e-text.
HISTORY OF KERSHAW’S BRIGADE
With Complete Roll of Companies, Biographical Sketches, Incidents, Anecdotes, etc.
D. AUGUSTUS DICKERT
[Illustration: LT. COL. AXALLA JOHN HOOLE Eighth South Carolina Volunteer Regiment Kershaw’s Brigade October 12, 1822-September 20, 1863]
For three reasons, one purely personal (as you will soon see), I am pleased to play even a small part in the reprinting of D. Augustus Dickert’s The History of Kershaw’s Brigade … an undertaking in my judgment long, long, overdue.
First, it is a very rare and valuable book. Privately published by Dickert’s friend and neighbor, Elbert H. Aull, owner-editor of the small-town weekly Newberry (S.C.) Herald and News, almost all of the copies were shortly after water-logged in storage and destroyed. Meantime, only a few copies had been distributed, mostly to veterans and to libraries within the state. Small wonder, then, that Kershaw’s Brigade … so long out-of-print, is among the scarcest of Confederate War books–a point underscored by the fact that no copy has been listed in American Book Prices Current in fifty years. Only one sale of the book is recorded in John Mebane’s Books Relating to the Civil War (1963), an ex-library copy which sold for $150. More recently, another copy, oddly described as “library indicia, extremely rare,” was offered for sale by second-hand dealer for $200. Under these circumstances it is difficult to determine why, amidst the ever-increasing interest in the irrepressible conflict, this unique book has had to wait seventy-five years to make its reappearance on the American historical scene.
My second reason is that, in company with other devotees of the Confederacy, I consider Kershaw’s Brigade … one of the best eye-witness accounts of its kind, complete, trustworthy, and intensely interesting. Beginning with the secession of South Carolina on December 20, 1860, Dickert describes in detail the formation, organization, and myriad military activities of his brigade until its surrender at Durham, N.C., April 28, 1865. During these four years and four months, as he slowly rose in rank from private to captain, Dickert leaves precious little untold. In his own earthy fashion he tells of the merging of the Second, Third, Seventh, Eighth, Fifteenth, and Twentieth regiments and the Third Battalion of South Carolina Volunteer Infantry into a brigade under the command of General Joseph Brevard Kershaw, McLaws’ division, Longstreet’s corps, Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. First Manassas was the brigade’s, baptism of fire. Seven Pines, the Seven Days, Second Manassas, Harper’s Ferry, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg followed. And when the enemy began knocking at the back door of the Confederacy in late 1863, it was Longstreet’s corps that Lee rushed to the aid of Bragg’s faltering Army of Tennessee. After the victory at Chickamauga and a winter in Tennessee, the corps was recalled to Virginia–and to the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, and the Shenandoah Valley. Then, once again, as Sherman’s mighty machine rolled relentlessly over Georgia and into South Carolina in 1865, Kershaw’s Brigade was transferred “back home,” as Dickert proudly put it, “to fight the invader on our own native soil.”
But Kershaw’s Brigade … is much more than a recounting of military movements and the ordeals of battles. It is at once a panorama of the agonies and the ecstacies of cold-steel war. Few such narratives are so replete with quiet, meditative asides, bold delineations of daily life in camp and on the march, descriptions of places and peoples, and–by no means least–the raucous, all relieving humor of the common soldier who resolutely makes merry to-day because to-morrow he may die. Thus, to young Dickert did the routine of the military become alternately matters grave or gay. Everything was grist for his mill: the sight of a pretty girl waving at his passing troop train, the roasting of a stolen pig over a campfire, the joy of finding a keg of red-eye which had somehow fallen–no one knew how–from a supply wagon; or, on another and quite different day, the saddening afterthoughts of a letter from home, the stink of bloated, rotting horses, their stiffened legs pointed skyward, the acrid taste of gun-powder smoke, the frightening whine (or thud) of an unseen sharpshooter’s bullet, and the twisted, shoeless, hatless body of yesterday’s friend or foe.
E. Merton Coulter, in his Travels in the Confederate States: A Bibliography (1948), called Dickert’s “a well-written narrative, notably concerned with the atmosphere of army life,” adding that “there is no reason to believe that he embellished the story beyond the general outlines of established truth.” Douglas S. Freeman considered Kershaw’s Brigade … a reliable source for both his R.E. Lee (1934-1935) and Lee’s Lieutenants … (1942-1944), and Allen Nevins et al., in their Civil War Books: A Critical Bibliography (1967), described it as “a full, thick account of a famous South Carolina brigade,” alive with “personal experiences of campaigns in both East and West.”
With these comments I agree. The book is indeed intimate, vigorous, truthful, and forever fresh. But, as I stated earlier, there is a third and personal reason why I am proud to have a hand in the republication of Kershaw’s Brigade…. My grandfather, Axalla John Hoole, formerly captain of the Darlington (S.C.) Riflemen, was lieutenant colonel of its Eighth Regiment and in that capacity fought from First Manassas until he was killed in the Battle of Chickamauga, September 20, 1863. (His photograph is inserted in this edition and Dickert’s tributes to him are on pages 278, 284-285.)
Two days before his death Hoole pencilled his last letter to his wife. Previously unpublished, it frankly mirrors the esprit de corps of the men of Kershaw’s Brigade on the eve of battle. En route from Petersburg to Chickamauga by train, the men of the Eighth Regiment passed through Florence, just ten miles from their homes in Darlington. Upon arrival at Dalton, Ga. on September 18 Hoole wrote “Dear Betsy”:
I don’t know how long we will remain here, so I am hurrying to write you a few lines, with the sheet of paper on my knee to let you know that I am as well as could be expected under [the] circumstances…. I feel pretty well. I heard yesterday that [General W.S.] Rosecrans had fallen back, so there is no telling how far we may have to march or how long it will take before we have a battle here…. Oh, my dear wife, what a trial it was to me to pass so near you and not see you, but it had to be. About 40 of our Regt. stopped, and I am sorry to inform you that all of Company A, except the officers, were left at Florence. That company did worse than any other…. But I know with some it was too hard a trial to pass. There were some, however, who left, who had seen their families in less than a month….
We left our horses at Petersburg to follow us on. I left Joe [his servant] in charge of mine, and I don’t know when they will come up. I feel the need of Joe and the horse, as I can’t carry my baggage, and fare badly in the eating line. [We] took our two days rations and went to a house last night to have it cooked, but I can’t eat it. The biscuits are made with soda and no salt and you can smell the soda ten steps…. If I can’t buy something to eat for the next two days, I must starve…. I made out to buy something occasionally on the way to keep body and soul together…. I must close, as I may not be able to get this in the mail before we have to leave here…. Kiss my dear little ones for me, tell all the Negroes howdy for me…. Write as soon as you get this. Direct it to me at Dalton, as I expect this will be our post office for the present. Do my dear wife don’t fret about me. Your ever loving Husband….
D. Augustus Dickert, the author of Kershaw’s Brigade … was born on a farm near Broad River, Lexington County, S.C., in August, 1844, the son of A.G. and Margaret (Dickinson) Dickert, both from nearby Fairfield County. In June, 1861, at age seventeen, he enlisted as a private in Company H, Third Regiment, South Carolina Volunteers, made up of men mostly from Fairfield, Lexington, and Newberry counties. Wounded four times (at Savage Station, Fredericksburg, the Wilderness, and Knoxville), he was gradually promoted to captain and during the latter part of the war, according to his friend Aull, “he was in command of his regiment acting as colonel without ever receiving his commission as such.”
After the war Colonel Dickert, as he was best known, returned to his farm, and took an active part in community life, including leadership in the local Ku Klux Klan. Meantime, he read widely to improve his education–as a boy he had attended a country school for only a few months–and by middle-age had become “better educated than many college graduates.” Well versed in history, astronomy, and literature, he turned to writing as an avocation, producing numerous stories which were published in the Herald and News and several magazines. One of his stories, A Dance with Death, considered by his contemporaries “one of the most thrilling narratives,” was based on true experiences which earned him the reputation of being a “stranger to danger and absolutely fearless.” His Kershaw’s Brigade … was written, as he announced, at the request of the local chapter of the United Confederate Veterans and published by Aull “without one dollar in sight–a recompense for time, material, and labor being one of the remotest possibilities.”
Dickert was married twice. By his first wife, Katie Cromer of Fairfield County, he had four children, Roland, Claude, Alma, and Gussie; and by his second, Mrs. Alice Coleman, also of Fairfield, one child, Lucile, now Mrs. A.C. Mobley of Denmark, S.C.
Dickert died suddenly at his home of a heart attack on October 4, 1917, aged seventy-three, and was buried in Newberry’s Rosemont Cemetery.
University of Alabama
W. Stanley Hoole
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In preparing this preface I have enjoyed the assistance of Mrs. Lucile Dickert Mobley, Dickert’s only surviving child; Mrs. A.S. Wells, a niece, of 1120 West 46 St., Minneapolis, Minn.; Mrs. Kathleen S. Fesperman, librarian of Newberry College; Inabinett, librarian, South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, and his student aide, Miss Laura Rickenbacker; and Robert J. and Mary E. Younger, owners of the Morningside Bookshop, Dayton, Ohio. Besides the letter (which I own) and the books mentioned in the text I have also used The Dictionary of American Biography, X, 359-360 (New York, 1933); Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, ed. by Robert U. Johnson and Clarence C. Buell, III, 331-338 (New York, 1884-1888); James Longstreet, From Manassas to Appomattox … (Philadelphia, 1896); The Photographic History of the Civil War, ed. by Francis T. Miller, II, III, X, passim (New York, 1911); W.A. Brunson, Glimpses of Old Darlington (Columbia, 1910); and Elbert H. Aull, “D. Augustus Dickert” in the Newberry Herald and News, Oct. 5, 1917.
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More than thirty-four years have passed away since the soldiers who composed the Second South Carolina Regiment of Infantry, the Third South Carolina Regiment of Infantry, the Eighth South Carolina Regiment of Infantry, the Fifteenth South Carolina Regiment of Infantry, the Twentieth South Carolina Regiment of Infantry, and the Third South Carolina Battalion of Infantry, which commands made up Kershaw’s Brigade, laid down their arms; and yet, until a short time ago, no hand has been raised to perpetuate its history. This is singular, when it is remembered how largely the soldiers of this historic brigade contributed to win for the State of South Carolina the glory rightfully hers, by reason of the splendid heroism of her sons in the war between the States, from the year 1861 to that of 1865. If another generation had been allowed to pass, it is greatly feared that the power to supply the historian with the information requisite to this work would have passed away forever.
The work which assumes to perpetuate the history of Kershaw’s Brigade should not be a skeleton, consisting of an enumeration of the battles, skirmishes, and marches which were participated in–with the names of the commanding officers. What is needed is not a skeleton, but a body with all its members, so to speak. It should be stated who they were, the purposes which animated these men in becoming soldiers, how they lived in camp and on the march, how they fought, how they died and where, with incidents of bravery in battle, and of fun in camp. No laurels must be taken from the brow of brave comrades in other commands; but the rights of the soldiers of Kershaw’s Brigade must be jealously upheld–everyone of these rights. To do this work, will require that the writer of this history shall have been identified with this command during its existence–he must have been a soldier. Again, he must be a man who acts up to his convictions; no toady nor any apologist is desired. If he was a Confederate soldier from principle, say so, and apologize to no one for the fact. If he loved his State and the Southland and wished their independence, say so, and “forget not the field where they perished.” Lastly, he ought to have the ability to tell the story well.
The friends of Captain D. Augustus Dickert, who commanded Company H of the Third South Carolina Regiment of Infantry, are confident that he possesses all the quality essential to this work. He was a splendid soldier–brave in battle, clear-headed always, and of that equilibrium of temperament that during camp life, amid the toil of the march, and in battle the necessity for discipline was recognized and enforced with justice and impartiality. He was and is a patriot. His pen is graceful, yet strong. When he yielded to the importunities of his comrades that he would write this history, there was only one condition that he insisted upon, and that was that this should be solely a work of love. Captain Dickert has devoted years to the gathering together of the materials for this history. Hence, the readers are now prepared to expect a success. Maybe it will be said this is the finest history of the war!
Y.J. POPE. Newberry, S.C., August 7, 1899.
History of Kershaw’s Brigade. By D. Augustus Dickert. (9×5-3/4, pp. 583. Illus.) Elbert H. Aull Company, Newberry, S.C.
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The name of Kershaw’s Brigade of South Carolinians is familiar to all who wore the gray and saw hard fighting on the fields of Virginia, in the swamps of Carolina and the mountains of Tennessee. This was “the First Brigade of the First Division of the First Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia,” and many of its members volunteered for service before the first gun was fired at the Star of the West, while its ragged regimental remnants laid down their arms at Greensboro not till the 2d of May, 1865, nearly a month after the fateful day of Appomattox. Its history is a history of the war, for, as will he seen, there were few pitched battles in the East that did not call forth its valor.
The author of the book is D. Augustus Dickert, who, at the age of 15, ran away to fight and surrendered as captain in the Third South Carolina Volunteers. He was a gallant soldier all through, and he has written a good book, for the broader lines of history are interwoven with many slight anecdotes and incidents that illustrate the temper of the times and impart to the narrative a local coloring. The following is a good example of its style: “The writer was preparing to enter school in an adjoining county. But when on my way to school I boarded a train filled with enthusiasts, some tardy soldiers on their way to join their companions and others to see, and, if need be, to take old Anderson out of his den. Nothing could be heard on the train but war ‘taking of Sumter,’ ‘old Anderson’ and ‘Star of the West.’ Everyone was in high glee. Palmetto cockades, brass buttons, uniforms and gaudy epaulettes were seen in every direction. This was more than a youthful vision could withstand, so I directed myself toward the seat of war instead of schools.” Although somewhat theatric, this is an accurate presentation of those early days.
The chief merit of Captain Dickert’s book is that it presents the gay and bright, as well as the grave side of the Confederate soldier’s experience. It is full of anecdote and incident and repartee. Such quips and jests kept the heart light and the blood warm beneath many a tattered coat.
The student of history may wish a more elaborate sketch. But the average man who wishes to snatch a moment for recreation will be repaid as he takes up this sketch. There are some faults of style and some of typography; but, all in all, this is a hearty, cheery, clean book. It extenuates some things, maybe; but it sets down naught in malice. As a local history it is an interesting contribution to the chronicle of the period. R. MEANS DAVIS. S.C. College. 10-31-01
CAPT D. AUGUSTUS DICKERT. Company H 3d S.C. Regiment.
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Comrades: Years ago I was asked by the members of a local camp (James D. Nance Camp, United Confederate Veterans, Newberry, S.C.,) of Veterans to write a history of Kershaw’s “Old First Brigade in the Civil War,” in order that the part taken by you in that memorable struggle might be transmitted to posterity through the instrumentality of a proud and loving participant in all the events that went to make up the life of an organization second to none, that has ever stood face to face with an invading foe upon the face of earth.
This request was not based upon a supposition of superior educational qualifications on my part, for the parties who made it know that my school days ended at twelve, and that the time usually devoted to instruction of youth was spent by many of us, from ’61 to ’65, on the northern side of Richmond. Consequently, to the love that I treasure in my heart for the “Old First” is due whatever of distinction attaches to the position of recorder of actions which prove the worth and heroism of each constituent part of the brigade. In accepting this trust I shall repress all desire for rhetorical display. I will not even attempt to do that justice, which is beyond the power of mortals; but shall simply try to be your faithful chronicler or recorder of facts as they appeared to me and others, who have so kindly assisted me in the compilation of these records, and shall confine myself to the effort to attain my highest ambition–absolute correctness. It is true that inaccuracies may have crept in; but these will be found to be mostly among proper names–due in a great measure to the illegibility of the manuscripts furnished me by correspondents. Again, apparent errors will be explained, when it is recalled to your minds that no two men see the same circumstance from the same standpoint. Honest differences will appear, no matter how trivial the facts are upon which they are based.
I have endeavored to be fair and just, and in so doing have laid aside a soldier’s pardonable pride in his own regiment, and have accorded “honor to whom honor was due.” Despite all that maybe alleged to the contrary, ours was not a “War of the Roses,” of brother against brother, struggling for supremacy; but partook more of the nature of the inhuman contest in the Netherlands, waged by the unscrupulous and crafty Duke of Alva at the instance Philip (the Good!), or rather like that in which the rich and fruitful Province of the Palatine was subjected to fire and rapine under the mailed hand of that monster of iniquity–Turenne.
How well the men of Kershaw’s Brigade acted their part, how proudly they faced the foe, how grandly they fought, how nobly they died, I shall attempt not to depict; and yet–
Could heart and brain and hand and pen But bring to earth and life again
The scenes of old,
Then all the world might know and see; Your deeds on scrolls of fame would be
Inscribed in gold
I am indebted to many of the old comrades for their assistance, most notably Judge Y.J. Pope, of the Third South Carolina; Colonel Wm. Wallace, of the Second; Captain L.A. Waller, for the Seventh; Captains Malloy, Harllee, and McIntyre, of the Eighth; Captain D.J. Griffith and Private Charles Blair, of the Fifteenth; Colonel Rice and Captain Jennings, of the Third Battalion, and many others of the Twentieth. But should this volume prove of interest to any of the “Old Brigade,” and should there be any virtue in it, remember it belongs to Y.J. Pope. Thrice have I laid down my pen, after meeting with so many rebuffs; but as often taken it up after the earnest solicitation of the former Adjutant of the Third, who it was that urged me on to its completion.
To the publisher, E.H. Aull, too much praise cannot be given. He has undertaken the publication of this work on his individual convictions of its merit, and with his sole conviction that the old comrades would sustain the efforts of the author. Furthermore, he has undertaken it on his own responsibility, without one dollar in sight–a recompence for time, material, and labor being one of the remotest possibilities.
D. AUGUSTUS DICKERT.
Newberry, S.C., August 15, 1899.
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Its Causes and Results.
The secession bell rang out in South Carolina on the 20th of December, 1860, not to summon the men to arms, nor to prepare the State for war. There was no conquest that the State wished to make, no foe on her border, no enemy to punish. Like the liberty bell of the revolution that electrified the colonies from North to South, the bell of secession put the people of the State in a frenzy from the mountains to the sea. It announced to the world that South Carolina would be free–that her people had thrown off the yoke of the Union that bound the States together in an unholy alliance. For years the North had been making encroachments upon the South; the general government grasping, with a greedy hand, those rights and prerogatives, which belonged to the States alone, with a recklessness only equalled by Great Britain towards the colonies; began absorbing all of the rights guaranteed to the State by the constitution, and tending towards a strong and centralized government. They had made assaults upon our institutions, torn away the barriers that protected our sovereignty. So reckless and daring had become these assaults, that on more than one occasion the States of the South threatened dissolution of the Union. But with such master minds as Clay, Webster, and Calhoun in the councils of the nation, the calamity was averted for the time. The North had broken compact after compact, promises after promises, until South Carolina determined to act upon those rights she had retained for herself in the formation of the Union, and which the general government guaranteed to all, and withdrew when that Union no longer served the purposes for which it was formed.
Slavery, it has been said, was the cause of the war. Incidentally it may have been, but the real cause was far removed from the institution of slavery. That institution existed at the formation of the Union, or compact. It had existed for several hundred years, and in every State; the federation was fully cognizant of the fact when the agreement of the Union was reached. They promised not to disturb it, and allow each State to control it as it seemed best. Slavery was gradually but surely dying out. Along the border States it scarcely existed at all, and the mighty hand of an All-wise Ruler could be plainly seen in the gradual emancipation of all the slaves on the continent. It had begun in the New England States then. In the Caribbean Sea and South America emancipation had been gradually closing in upon the small compass of the Southern States, and that by peaceful measures, and of its own volition; so much so that it would have eventually died out, could not be denied by any who would look that far into the future, and judge that future by the past. The South looked with alarm and horror at a wholesale emancipation, when they viewed its havoc and destruction in Hayti and St. Domingo, where once existed beautiful homes and luxuriant fields, happy families and general progress; all this wealth, happiness, and prosperity had been swept away from those islands as by a deadly blight. Ruin, squalor, and beggary now stalks through those once fair lands.
A party sprang up at the North inimical to the South; at first only a speck upon the horizon, a single sail in a vast ocean; but it grew and spread like contagion. They were first called agitators, and consisted of a few fanatics, both women and men, whose avowed object was emancipation–to do by human hands that which an All-wise Providence was surely doing in His own wise way. At first the South did not look with any misgivings upon the fanatics. But when Governors of Northern States, leading statesmen in the councils of the nation; announced this as their creed and guide, then the South began to consider seriously the subject of secession. Seven Governors and their legislatures at the North had declared, by acts regularly passed and ratified, their determination “not to allow the laws of the land to be administered or carried out in their States.” They made preparation to nullify the laws of Congress and the constitution. That party, which was first called “Agitators,” but now took the name of “Republicans”–called at the South the “black Republicans”–grown to such proportions that they put in the field candidates for President and Vice-President of the United States. Numbers increased with each succeeding campaign. In the campaign of 1860 they put Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin forward as their standard bearers, and whose avowed purpose was the “the liberation of the slaves, regardless of the consequences.” This party had spies all over the Southern States, and these emissaries incited insurrection, taught the slaves “that by rising at night and murdering their old masters and their families, they would be doing God’s will;” that “it was a duty they owed to their children;” this “butchery of the sleeping and innocent whites was the road to freedom.” In Virginia they sent down armed bands of whites, roused the negroes at night, placed guns, pikes, and arms of every kind in the hands of the poor, deluded creatures, and in that one night they butchered, in cold blood, the families of some of the best men in the State. These cold blooded butcheries would have done credit to the most cruel and blood thirsty of the primeval savages of the forest. These deeds were heralded all over the North as “acts of God, done by the hands of men.” The leader of this diabolical plan and his compeers were sainted by their followers and admirers, and praises sung over him all over the North, as if over the death of saints. By a stupendous blunder the people of the South, and the friends of the Union generally, allowed this party to elect Lincoln and Hamlin. The South now had no alternative. Now she must either remain in a Union, where our institutions were to be dragged down; where the laws were to be obeyed in one section, but not in another; where existed open resistance to laws in one State and quiet obedience in another; where servile insurrections were being threatened continuously; where the slaves were aided and abetted by whites at the North in the butcheries of their families; or secede and fight. These were the alternatives on the one part, or a severance from the Union and its consequences on the other. From the very formation of the government, two constructions were put upon this constitution–the South not viewing this compact with that fiery zeal, or fanatical adulation, as they did at the North. The South looked upon it more as a confederation of States for mutual protection in times of danger, and a general advancement of those interests where the whole were concerned. Then, again, the vast accumulation of wealth in the Southern States, caused by the overshadowing of all other commodities of commerce–cotton–created a jealousy at the North that nothing but the prostration of the South, the shattering of her commerce, the destruction of her homes, and the freedom of her slaves, could answer. The wealth of the South had become a proverb The “Wealthy Southern Planter” had become an eyesore to the North, and to humble her haughty pride, as the North saw it, was to free her slaves. As one of the first statesmen of the South has truly said, “The seeds of the Civil War were sown fifty years before they were born who fought her battles.”
A convention was called to meet in Columbia, in December, 1860, to frame a new constitution, and to take such steps as were best suited to meet the new order of things that would be brought about by this fanatical party soon to be at the head of the government. Feeling ran high–people were excited–everywhere the voice of the people was for secession. The women of the South, who would naturally be the first sufferers if the programme of the “Agitators” were carried out, were loud in their cries for separation. Some few people were in favor of the South moving in a body, and a feeble opposition ticket for the delegates to the convention was put in the field. These were called “Co-operationists,” i.e., in favor of secession, but to await a union with the other Southern States. These were dubbed by the most fiery zealots of secession, “Submissionists” in derision. The negroes, too, scented freedom from afar. The old cooks, mammas, house servants, and negro eavesdroppers gathered enough of “freedom of slaves,” “war,” “secession,” to cause the negroes to think that a great measure was on foot somewhere, that had a direct bearing on their long looked for Messiah–“Freedom.” Vigilance committees sprung up all over the South, to watch parties of Northern sentiment, or sympathy, and exercise a more guarded scrutiny over the acts of the negroes. Companies were organized in towns and cities, who styled themselves “Minute Men,” and rosettes, or the letters “M.M.,” adorned the lapels of the coats worn by those in favor of secession. The convention met in Columbia, but for some local cause it was removed to Charleston. After careful deliberation, a new constitution was framed and the ordinance of secession was passed without a dissenting voice, on the 20th of December, 1860, setting forth the State’s grievances and acting upon her rights, declaring South Carolina’s connection with the Union at an end. It has been truly said, that this body of men who passed the ordinance of secession was one of the most deliberate, representative, and talented that had ever assembled in the State of South Carolina. When the news flashed over the wires the people were in a frenzy of delight and excitement–bells tolled, cannons boomed, great parades took place, and orators from street corners and hotel balconies harangued the people. The ladies wore palmetto upon their hats or dresses, and showed by every way possible their earnestness in the great drama that was soon to be enacted upon the stage events. Drums beat, men marched through the streets, banners waved and dipped, ladies from the windows and from the housetops waved handkerchiefs or flags to the enthusiastic throng moving below. The bells from historic old St. Michael’s, in Charleston, were never so musical to the ears of the people as when they pealed out the chimes that told of secession. The war was on.
Still with all this enthusiasm, the sober-headed, patriotic element of the South regretted the necessity of this dissolution. They, too, loved the Union their ancestors had helped to make–they loved the name, the glory, and the prestige won by their forefathers upon the bloody field of the revolution. While they did not view this Union as indispensable to their existence, they loved and reverenced the flag of their country. As a people, they loved the North; as a nation, they gloried in her past and future possibilities. The dust of their ancestors mingled in imperishable fame with those of the North. In the peaceful “Godsacre” or on the fields of carnage they were ever willing to share with them their greatness, and equally enjoyed those of their own, but denied to them the rights to infringe upon the South’s possessions or rights of statehood. We all loved the Union, but we loved it as it was formed and made a compact by the blood of our ancestors. Not as contorted and misconstrued by demagogueism and fanaticism. We almost deified the flag of the Union, under whose folds it was made immortal by the Huguenots, the Roundheads, the Cavaliers, and men of every faith and conviction in the crowning days of the revolution. The deeds of her great men, the history of the past, were an equal heritage of all–we felt bound together by natural bonds equal to the ties of blood or kindred. We loved her towering mountains, her rolling prairies, her fertile fields, her enchanting scenery, her institutions, her literature and arts, all; all were equally the South’s as well as the North’s. Not for one moment would the South pluck a rose from the flowery wreath of our goddess of liberty and place it upon the brow of our Southland alone. The Mississippi, rising among the hills and lakes of the far North, flowing through the fertile valleys of the South, was to all our “Mother Nile.” The great Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada chained our Western border together from Oregon to the Rio Grande. The Cumberland, the Allegheny, and the Blue Ridge, lifting their heads up from among the verdant fields of Vermont, stretching southward, until from their southern summit at “Lookout” could be viewed the borderland of the gulf. In the sceneries of these mountains, their legends and traditions, they were to all the people of the Union what Olympus was to the ancients. Where the Olympus was the haunts, the wooing places of the gods of the ancient Greeks, the Appalachian was the reveling grounds for the muses of song and story of the North and South alike. And while the glories of the virtues of Greece and Rome, the birthplace of republicanism and liberty, may have slept for centuries, or died out entirely, that spirit of national liberty and personal freedom was transplanted to the shores of the New World, and nowhere was the spirit of freedom more cherished and fostered than in the bright and sunny lands of the South. The flickering torch of freedom, borne by those sturdy sons of the old world to the new, nowhere took such strong and rapid growth as did that planted by the Huguenots on the soil of South Carolina. Is it any wonder, then, that a people with such high ideals, such lofty spirits, such love of freedom, would tamely submit to a Union where such ideals and spirits were so lightly considered as by those who were now in charge of the government–where our women and children were to be at the mercies of a brutal race, with all of their passions aroused for rapine and bloodshed; where we would be continually threatened or subjected to a racial war, one of supremacy; where promises were made to be broken, pledges given to be ignored; where laws made for all were to be binding only on those who chose to obey? Such were some of the conditions that confronted South Carolina and her sister States at this time, and forced them into measures that brought about the most stupendous civil war in modern or ancient times.
To sum up: It was not love for the Union, but jealousy of the South’s wealth. It was not a spirit of humanity towards the slaves, but a hatred of the South, her chivalry, her honor, and her integrity. A quality wanting in the one is always hated in that of the other.
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ENROLLMENT OF TROOPS.
Troops Gathered at Charleston–First Service as a Volunteer.
The Legislature, immediately after the passage of the ordinance of secession, authorized the Governor to organize ten regiments of infantry for State service. Some of these regiments were enlisted for twelve months, while Gregg’s, the First, was for six, of, as it was understood at the time, its main duties were the taking of Sumter. The first regiments so formed were: First, Gregg’s; Second, Kershaw’s; Third, Williams’; Fourth, Sloan’s; Fifth, Jenkins’; Sixth, Rion’s; Seventh, Bacon’s: Eighth, Cash’s; Ninth, Blanding’s; besides a regiment of regulars and some artillery and cavalry companies. There existed a nominal militia in the State, and numbered by battalions and regiments. These met every three months by companies and made some feeble attempts at drilling, or “mustering,” as it was called. To the militia was intrusted the care of internal police of the State. Each company was divided into squads, with a captain, whose duties were to do the policing of the neighborhood, called “patrolling.” They would patrol the country during Sundays, and occasionally at nights, to prevent illegal assemblies of negroes, and also to prevent them from being at large without permission of their masters. But this system had dwindled down to a farce, and was only engaged in by some of the youngsters, more in a spirit of fun and frolic than to keep order in the neighborhood. The real duties of the militia of the State consisted of an annual battalion and regimental parade, called “battalion muster” and “general muster.” This occasioned a lively turn-out of the people, both ladies and gentlemen, not connected with the troops, to witness the display of officers’ uniforms, and bright caparisoned steeds, the stately tread of the “muster men,” listen to the rattle of the drums and inspiring strains of the fifes, and horns of the rural bands.
From each battalion a company was formed for State service. These companies elected their captains and field officers, the general officers being appointed by the Governor. Immediately after the call of the Governor for troops, a great military spirit swept the country, volunteer companies sprang up like magic all over the land, each anxious to enter the service of the State and share the honor of going to war. Up to this time, few thought, there would be a conflict. Major Anderson, U.S.A., then on garrison duty at Fort Moultrie, heard of the secession of the State, and (whether by orders or his own volition, is not known and immaterial,) left Fort Moultrie, after spiking the guns and destroying the carriages; took possession of Fort Sumter. The State government looked with some apprehension upon this questionable act of Maj. Anderson’s. Fort Sumter stood upon grounds of the State, ceded to the United States for purposes of defence. South Carolina now claimed the property, and made demands upon Maj. Anderson and the government at Washington for its restoration. This was refused.
Ten companies, under Col. Maxey Gregg, were called to Charleston for the purpose of retaking this fort by force of arms, if peaceful methods failed. These companies were raised mostly in towns and cities by officers who had been commissioned by the Governor. College professors formed companies of their classes, and hurried off to Charleston. Companies of town and city volunteers offered their services to the Governor–all for six months, or until the fall of Sumter.
On the 9th of January, 1861, the State was thrown into a greater paroxism of excitement by the “Star of the West,” a Northern vessel, being fired on in the bay of Charleston by State troops. This steamer, laden with supplies for Sumter, had entered the channel with the evident intention of reinforcing Anderson, when the Citadel guards, under Captain Stevens, fired several shots across her bow, then she turned about and sped away to the sea. In the meantime the old battalions of militia had been called out at their respective “muster grounds,” patriotic speeches made, and a call for volunteers made. Companies were easily formed and officers elected. Usually in selecting the material for officers, preference was given to soldiers of the Mexican war, graduates of the military schools and the old militia of officers. These companies met weekly, and were put through a course of instructions in the old Macomb’s tactics. In this way the ten regiments were formed, but not called together until the commencement of the bombardment of Sumter, with the exception of those troops enlisted for six months, now under Gregg at Charleston, and a few volunteer companies of cavalry and artillery.
The writer was preparing to enter school in a neighboring county when the first wave of patriotism struck him. Captain Walker’s Company, from Newberry, of which I was a member, had been ordered to Charleston with Gregg, and was stationed at Morris’ Island before I could get off. Two of my brothers and myself had joined the company made, up from the Thirty-ninth Battalion of State militia, and which afterwards formed a part of the Third S.C. Volunteers (Colonel Williams). But at that time, to a young mind like mine, the war looked too remote for me to wait for this company to go, so when on my way to school I boarded a train filled with enthusiasts, some tardy soldiers on their way to join their companies, and others to see, and if need be, “take old Anderson out of his den.” Nothing on the train could be heard but war, war–“taking of Sumter,” “Old Anderson,” and “Star of the West.” Everyone was in a high glee–palmetto cockades, brass buttons, uniforms, and gaudy epaulettes were seen in every direction. This was more than a youthful vision could withstand, so I directed my steps towards the seat of war instead of school. By this time the city of Charleston may be said to have been in a state of siege–none could leave the islands or lands without a permit from the Governor or the Adjutant and Inspector General. The headquarters of Governor Pickens and staff were in the rooms of the Charleston Hotel, and to that place I immediately hied and presented myself before those “August dignitaries,” and asked permission to join my company on Morris’ Island, but was refused. First, on account of not having a permit of leave of absence from my captain; secondly, on account of my youth (I then being on the rise of 15); and thirdly, having no permission from my parents. What a contrast with later years, when boys of that age were pressed into service. The city of Charleston was ablaze with excitement, flags waved from the house tops, the heavy tread of the embryo soldiers could be heard in the streets, the corridors of hotels, and in all the public places. The beautiful park on the water front, called the “Battery,” was thronged with people of every age and sex, straining their eyes or looking through glasses out at Sumter, whose bristling front was surmounted with cannon, her flags waving defiance. Small boats and steamers dotted the waters of the bay. Ordnance and ammunition were being hurried to the island. The one continual talk was “Anderson,” “Fort Sumter,” and “war.” While there was no spirit of bravado, or of courting of war, there was no disposition to shirk it. A strict guard was kept at all the wharves, or boat landings, to prevent any espionage on our movements or works. It will be well to say here, that no moment from the day of secession to the day the first gun was fired at Sumter, had been allowed to pass without overtures being made to the government at Washington for a peaceful solution of the momentous question. Every effort that tact or diplomacy could invent was resorted to, to have an amicable adjustment. Commissioners had been sent to Washington, asking, urging, and almost begging to be allowed to leave the Union, now odious to the people of the State, without bloodshed. Commissioners of the North came to Charleston to treat for peace, but they demanded peace without any concessions, peace with submission, peace with all the chances of a servile war. Some few leaders at the North were willing to allow us the right, while none denied it. The leading journal at the North said: “Let the erring sisters depart in peace.” But all of our overtures were rejected by the administration at Washington, and a policy of evasion, or dilly-dallying, was kept up by those in authority at the North. All the while active preparations were going on to coerce the State by force of arms. During this time other States seceded and joined South Carolina, and formed the “Confederate States of America,” with Jefferson Davis as President, with the capital at Montgomery, Ala.
Being determined to reach my company, I boarded a steamer, bound for Morris’ Island, intending, if possible, to avoid the guard. In this I was foiled. But after making several futile attempts, I fell in with an officer of the First South Carolina Regiment, who promised to pilot me over. On reaching the landing, at Cummings Point, I was to follow his lead, as he had a passport, but in going down the gang plank we were met by soldiers with crossed bayonets, demanding “passports.” The officer, true to his word, passed me over, but then my trouble began. When I reached the shore I lost my sponsor, and began to make inquiries for my company. When it was discovered that there was a stranger in the camp without a passport, a corporal of the guards was called, I was placed under arrest, sent to the guardhouse, and remained in durance vile until Captain Walker came to release me. When I joined my company I found a few of my old school-mates, the others were strangers. Everything that met my eyes reminded me of war. Sentinels patrolled the beach; drums beat; soldiers marching and counter-marching; great cannons being drawn along the beach, hundreds of men pulling them by long ropes, or drawn by mule teams. Across the bay we could see on Sullivan’s Island men and soldiers building and digging out foundations for forts. Morris’ Island was lined from the lower point to the light house, with batteries of heavy guns. To the youthful eye of a Southerner, whose mind had been fired by Southern sentiment and literature of the day, by reading the stories of heroes and soldiers in our old “Southern Reader,” of the thrilling romances of Marion and his men, by William Gilmore Simms, this sight of war was enough to dazzle and startle to an enthusiasm that scarcely knew any bounds. The South were “hero worshipers.” The stories of Washington and Putnam, of Valley Forge, of Trenton, of Bunker Hill, and Lexington never grew old, while men, women, and children never tired of reading of the storming of Mexico, the siege of Vera Cruz, the daring of the Southern troops at Molino del Rey.
My first duty as a soldier, I will never forget. I went with a detail to Steven’s Iron Battery to build embrasures for the forts there. This was done by filling cotton bags the size of 50 pound flour sacks with sand, placing them one upon the top of the other at the opening where the mouths of cannons projected, to prevent the loose earth from falling down and filling in the openings. The sand was first put upon common wheel-barrows and rolled up single planks in a zig-zag way to the top of the fort, then placed in the sacks and laid in position. My turn came to use a barrow, while a comrade used the shovel for filling up. I had never worked a wheel-barrow in my life, and like most of my companions, had done but little work of any kind. But up I went the narrow zig-zag gangway, with a heavy loaded barrow of loose sand. I made the first plank all right, and the second, but when I undertook to reach the third plank on the angles, and about fifteen feet from the ground, my barrow rolled off, and down came sand, barrow, and myself to the ground below. I could have cried with shame and mortification, for my misfortune created much merriment for the good natured workers. But it mortified me to death to think I was not man enough to fill a soldier’s place. My good coworker and brother soldier exchanged the shovel for the barrow with me, and then began the first day’s work I had ever done of that kind. Hour after hour passed, and I used the shovel with a will. It looked as if night would never come. At times I thought I would have to sink to the earth from pure exhaustion, but my pride and youthful patriotism, animated by the acts of others, urged me on. Great blisters formed and bursted in my hand, beads of perspiration dripped from my brow, and towards night the blood began to show at the root of my fingers. But I was not by myself; there were many others as tender as myself. Young men with wealthy parents, school and college boys, clerks and men of leisure, some who had never done a lick of manual labor in their lives, and would not have used a spade or shovel for any consideration, would have scoffed at the idea of doing the laborious work of men, were now toiling away with the farmer boys, the overseers’ sons, the mechanics–all with a will–and filled with enthusiasm that nothing short of the most disinterested patriotism could have endured. There were men in companies raised in Columbia, Charleston, and other towns, who were as ignorant and as much strangers to manual labor as though they had been infants, toiling away with pick and shovel with as much glee as if they had been reared upon the farm or had been laborers in a mine.
Over about midway in the harbor stood grim old Sumter, from whose parapets giant guns frowned down upon us; while around the battlements the sentinels walked to and fro upon their beats. All this preparation and labor were to reduce the fort or prevent a reinforcement. Supplies had been cut off, only so much allowed as was needed for the garrison’s daily consumption. With drill every two hours, guard duty, and working details, the soldiers had little time for rest or reflection. Bands of music enlivened the men while on drill, and cheered them while at work by martial and inspiring strains of “Lorena,” “The Prairie Flower,” “Dixie,” and other Southern airs. Pickets walked the beach, every thirty paces, night and day; none were allowed to pass without a countersign or a permit. During the day small fishing smacks, their white sails bobbing up and down over the waves, dotted the bay; some going out over the bar at night with rockets and signals to watch for strangers coming from the seaward. Days and nights passed without cessation of active operations–all waiting anxiously the orders from Montgomery to reduce the fort.
General G.T. Beauregard, a citizen of Louisiana, resident of New Orleans, a veteran of the Mexican War, and a recent officer in the United States Engineering Corps, was appointed Brigadier General and placed in command of all the forces around Charleston. A great many troops from other States, which had also seceded and joined the Confederacy, had come to South Carolina to aid in the capture of Sumter. General Beauregard was a great favorite with all the people, and the greatest confidence felt in his skill and ability by the soldiers. The State officers and troops obeyed him cheerfully, and had implicit faith in his military skill. As he was destined to play an important part in the great role of war that was soon to follow, I will give here a short sketch of his life. General G.T. Beauregard was born near the city of New Orleans, May 18th, 1818. His first ancestors were from Wales, but engaging in an insurrection, they were forced to flee from their country, and sought an asylum in France. In the last of the thirteenth century one of them became attached to the Court of Philip the IV, surnamed the “Fair.” He then married Mademoiselle de Lafayette, maid of honor to the sister of Philip. When Edward, King of England, married the sister of Philip, he followed with his wife the fortunes of the English King, and became a member at the Court of St. James. He was afterwards assigned to a British post on the continent. And again this family of the early Beauregards, then called Toutant Beauregard, became citizens of France. Jacques Beauregard came to Louisiana from France with a colony sent out by Louis XIV. The grandson of this Jacques is the present Gustav Toutant Beauregard. At the early age of eleven years he was taken to New York and placed under a private tutor, an exile from France, and who had fled the Empire on the downfall of Napoleon. At sixteen he entered West Point as a cadet, and graduated July 1st, 1838, being second in a class of forty-five. He entered the service of the United States as Second Lieutenant of Engineers. He served with distinction through the Mexican War, under Major General Scott, in the engineer corps. For gallant and meritorious conduct he was twice promoted–first to the Captaincy and then to the position of Major. For a short time he was Superintendent of the West Point Military Academy, but owing to the stirring events just preceding the late war, he resigned on the first of March, 1861. He entered the service of the Confederate States; was appointed Brigadier General and assigned to the post of Charleston. Soon after the fall of Sumter he was made full General, and assigned to a command on the Potomac, and with J.E. Johnston fought the memorable battle of Bull Run. He was second in command at Shiloh with A.S. Johnston, then the “Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.” With J.E. Johnston he commanded the last remnant of a once grand army that surrendered at Greensboro, N.C. He returned to his old home in New Orleans at the close of the war, to find it ruined, his fortune wrecked, his wife dead, and his country at the feet of a merciless foe. He took no further part in military or political affairs, and passed away gently and peacefully at a ripe old age, loved and admired by his many friends, and respected by his enemies. Such, in brief, was the life of the man who came to control the destinies of South Carolina at this most critical moment of her history.
On March 6th he placed Morris’ Island under the immediate command of Brigadier General James Simonds, while the batteries were under the command of Lieutenant Colonel W.G. DeSaussure. Sullivan’s Island was under the command of General R.G.M. Dunovant, and the batteries of this island were under Lieutenant Colonel Ripley. Captain Calhoun commanded at Fort Moultrie, and Captain Thomas at Fort Johnston. A floating battery had been constructed by Captain Hamilton, and moved out to the western extremity of Sullivan’s Island. This was under command of its inventor and builder. It consisted of very heavy timbers; its roof overlaid with railroad iron in a slanting position, through which trap doors had been cut for the cannon to project. The Stevens’ Battery, as it was called, was constructed on the same principle; was built at Cummings’ Point, on Morris’ Island, and commanded by Captain Stevens, of the Citadel Academy. It was feared at this time that the concussion caused by the heavy shells and solid shots striking the iron would cause death to those underneath, or so stun them as to render them unfit for further service; but both these batteries did excellent service in the coming bombardment. Batteries along the water fronts of the islands were manned by the volunteer companies of Colonel Gregg’s Regiment, and other regiments that had artillery companies attached.
On the 8th of April a message was received at Montgomery to the effect that a fleet was then en route to reinforce Sumter, “peaceably if they could, but forcibly if necessary.”
General Beauregard was instructed to demand the immediate evacuation of the fort; Anderson failing to comply with this demand, he was to proceed to reduce it. The demand was made upon Major Anderson, and was refused. General Beauregard had everything in readiness, only waiting the result of the negotiations for the surrender or evacuation, to give the command to fire. The night of the 11th was one of great excitement. It was known for a certainty that on to-morrow the long looked for battle was to take place. Diplomacy had done its work, now powder and ball must do what diplomacy had failed to accomplish. All working details had been called in, tools put aside, the heating furnaces fired, shells and red-hot solid shot piled in close proximity to the cannon and mortars. All the troops were under arms during the night, and a double picket line stretched along the beach, and while all seemed to be life and animation, a death-like stillness pervaded the air. There was some apprehension lest the fleet might come in during the night, land an army on Morris’ Island in small boats, and take the forts by surprise. Men watched with breathless interest the hands on the dials as they slowly moved around to the hour of four, the time set to open the fire. At that hour gunners stood with lanyards in their hands. Men peered through the darkness in the direction of Sumter, as looking for some invisible object. At half past four Captain James, from Fort Johnston, pulled his lanyard; the great mortar belched forth, a bright flash, and the shell went curving over in a kind of semi-circle, the lit fuse trailing behind, showing a glimmering light, like the wings of a fire fly, bursting over the silent old Sumter. This was the signal gun that unchained the great bull-dogs of war around the whole circle of forts. Scarcely had the sound of the first gun died away, ere the dull report from Fort Moultrie came rumbling over the waters, like an echo, and another shell exploded over the deserted parade ground of the doomed fort. Scarcely had the fragments of this shell been scattered before General Stevens jerked the lanyard at the railroad battery, and over the water gracefully sped the lighted shell, its glimmering fuse lighting its course as it, too, sped on in its mission of destruction. Along the water fronts, and from all the forts, now a perfect sheet of flame flashed out, a deafening roar, a rumbling deadening sound, and the war was on. The men as a whole were alive to their work; shot after shot was fired. Now a red-hot solid shot, now a shell, goes capering through the air like a shower of meteors on a frolic. The city was aroused. Men, women, and children rush to the housetops, or crowd each other along the water front of the battery.
But Sumter remained silent, grim, defiant. All there seemed to be in peaceful, quiet slumber, while the solid shot battered against her walls, or the shells burst over their heads and in the court yard below. Round after round is fired. The gunners began to weary of their attempt to arouse the sleeping foe. Is the lion so far back in his lair as not to feel the prods of his tormentors? or is his apathy or contempt too great to be aroused from his slumber by such feeble blows? The grey streaks of morning came coursing from the east, and still the lion is not angry, or is loath to take up the struggle before he has had his morning meal. At seven o’clock, however, if there had been any real anxiety to rouse his temper, it was appeased. The stars and stripes ran up the flag staff, and from out the walls of the grim old stronghold burst a wreath of smoke–then a report, and a shot comes whizzing through the air, strikes the iron battery, and ricochets over in the sand banks. He then pays his respects to Moultrie. From the casements and barbette guns issue a flame and smoke, while the air is filled with flying shot. The battle is general and grand. Men spring upon ramparts and shout defiance at Sumter, to be answered by the crashing of shot against the walls of their bomb-proof forts. All day long the battle rages without intermission or material advantages to either side. As night approached, the fire slackened in all direction, and at dark Sumter ceased to return our fire at all. By a preconcerted arrangement, the fire from our batteries and forts kept up at fifteen-minute intervals only. The next morning the firing began with the same vigor and determination as the day before. Sumter, too, was not slow in showing her metal and paid particular attention to Moultrie. Early in the forenoon the smoke began to rise from within the walls of Sumter; “the tort was on fire.” Shots now rain upon the walls of the burning fort with greater fury than ever. The flag was seen to waver, then slowly bend over the staff and fall. A shout of triumph rent the air from the thousands of spectators on the islands and the mainland. Flags and handkerchiefs waved from the hands of excited throngs in the city, as tokens of approval of eager watchers. Soldiers mount the ramparts and shout in exultation, throwing their caps in the air. Away to the seaward the whitened sails of the Federal fleet were seen moving up towards the bar. Anxiety and expectation are now on tip-toe. Will the fleet attempt the succor of their struggling comrades? Will they dare to run the gauntlet of the heavy dahlgreen guns that line the channel sides? From the burning fort the garrison was fighting for their existence. Through the fiery element and hail of shot and shell they see the near approach of the long expected relief. Will the fleet accept the gauge of battle? No. The ships falter and stop. They cast anchor and remain a passive spectator to the exciting scenes going on, without offering aid to their friends or battle to their enemies.
General Beauregard, with that chivalrous spirit that characterized all true Southerners, when he saw the dense curling smoke and the flames that now began to leap and lick the topmost walls of the fort, sent three of his aids to Major Anderson, offering aid and assistance in case of distress. But the brave commander, too proud to receive aid from a generous foe when his friends are at hand yet too cowardly to come to the rescue, politely refused the offer. But soon thereafter the white flag was waving from the parapets of Fort Sumter. Anderson had surrendered; the battle was over; a victory won by the gallant troops of the South, and one of the most miraculous instances of a bloodless victory, was the first battle fought and won. Thousands of shots given and taken, and no one hurt on either side.
A remarkable instance of Southern magnanimity was that of W.T. Wigfall, a volunteer aide to General Beauregard. As he stood watching the progress of the battle from Cummings’ Point and saw the great volume of black smoke curling and twisting in the air–the storm of shot and shell plunging into the doomed walls of the fort, and the white flag flying from its burning parapets–his generous, noble, and sympathetic heart was fired to a pitch that brooked no consideration, “a brave foe in distress” is to him a friend in need. Before orders could be given to cease firing, or permission granted by the commanding general, he leaped into a small boat, and with a single companion rowed away to the burning fortress, shells shrieking over his head, the waves rocking his frail little craft like a shell in a vast ocean, but the undaunted spirit of the great man overcame all obstacles and danger, and reached the fort in safety. Here a hasty consultation was had. Anderson agreed to capitulate and Wigfall hastened to so inform General Beauregard.
It was agreed that Major Anderson should leave the fort–not as a prisoner of war, but as a brave foe, who had done all in human power to sustain the dignity of his country and the honor of his flag. He was allowed to salute his flag, by firing a number of guns, and with his officers and troops and all personal belongings placed upon a transport, was carried out to the fleet.
The only melancholy event of the memorable bombardment was the sudden death of one of the soldiers of the garrison, caused by the premature explosion of a shell while firing the salute to the flag.
The prominence given to Wigfall’s exertion, and erratic conduct at the time, and his meritorious career during the existence of the Confederacy, prompt me to give a short sketch of this meteoric character. He was born in Edgefield County along in the first quarter of the century of good old South Carolina stock, and educated in the common schools and in South Carolina College. His large means, inherited from a long line of wealthy ancestors, afforded him opportunities to enjoy life at his pleasure. He was full of that fiery zeal for honor, hot headed and impulsive. His hasty and stubborn nature caused him many enemies; yet his charitable disposition and generous impulses gave him many friends. He could brook no differences; he was intolerant, proud of his many qualities, gifted, and brave to rashness. In early life he had differences with Whitfield Brooks, the father of Preston S. Brooks, Congressman from South Carolina, but at that time a student of South Carolina College. While the son was in college, Wigfall challenged the elder Brooks to a duel. Brooks, from his age and infirmities, refused. According to the rules of the code duello, Wigfall posted Brooks at Edgefield Court House, and guarded the fatal notice during the day with a loaded pistol. A relative of Brooks, a feeble, retiring, and unassuming young man, braved the vengeance of Wigfall, and tore the degrading challenge from the court house door in spite of the warning and threats of the Knight of the Code. A pistol shot rang out, and the young champion of Brooks fell dead at his feet. Preston Brooks, hearing of the indignity placed upon his father, the death of his kinsman and defender of his family honor, now entered the list, and challenged the slayer of his father’s protector. Wigfall accepted the challenge with eagerness, for now the hot Southern blood was thoroughly aroused, and party feelings had sprung up and ran high. The gauge of battle was to be settled at Sand Bar Ferry, on the Savannah River near Augusta, Ga., the noted duelling ground of the high tempered sons of Georgia and the Carolinas. It was fought with dueling pistols of the old school, and at the first fire Brooks was severely wounded. Wigfall had kindled a feeling against himself in the State that his sensitive nature could not endure. He left for the rising and new born State of Texas. Years rolled by, and the next meeting of those fiery antagonists was at the Capital of the United States–Brooks in Congress, and Wigfall in the Senate.
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Reorganization or the Troops–Volunteers for Confederate Service–Call from Virginia. Troops Leave the State.
INCIDENTS ON THE WAY.
There was much discussion at the time as to who really fired the first gun at Sumter. Great importance was attached to the episode, and as there were different opinions, and it was never satisfactorily settled, it is not expected that any new light can be thrown on it at this late day. It was first said to have been General Edmond Ruffin, a venerable octogenarian from Virginia, who at the secession of South Carolina came to this State and offered his services as a volunteer. He had at one time been a citizen of South Carolina, connected with a geological survey, and had written several works on the resources and possibilities of the State, which created quite an interest at that day and time. He was one of the noblest types of elderly men it has ever been my fortune to look upon. He could not be called venerable, but picturesque. His hair hung in long silvery locks, tied in a queue in the fashions of the past centuries. His height was very near six feet, slender and straight as an Indian brave, and his piercing black eyes seemed to flash fire and impressed one as being able to look into your very soul. He joined the “Palmetto Guards,” donned the uniform of that company, and his pictures were sold all over the entire South, taken, as they were, in the habiliments of a soldier. These showed him in an easy pose, his rifle between his knees, coat adorned with palmetto buttons closely buttoned up to his chin, his hair combed straight from his brow and tied up with a bow of ribbon that streamed down his back, his cap placed upon his knee bearing the monogram “P.G.,” the emblem of his company, worked in with palmetto.
The other aspirant for the honor of firing the first gun was Captain George S. James, afterwards the Colonel of James’ Battalion, or “Third Battalion,” as it was known in Kershaw’s Brigade. It has been said that this honor was granted him, at his special request, by Captain Stephen D. Lee, on General Beauregard’s staff (afterwards a Lieutenant General of the Confederate Army). Captain James’ claim appears to be more valid than that of General Ruffin from the fact that it is positively known that James’ company was on duty at Fort Johnston, on James’ Island, while the Palmetto Guards, of which General Ruffin was a member, was at the railroad battery on Morris Island. However, this should not be taken as conclusive, as at that time discipline was, to a certain extent, not strictly enforced, and many independent volunteers belonged to the army over whom there was very little, if any control. So General Ruffin may have been at Fort Johnston while his company was at Cummings Point. However, little interest is attached to this incident after the lapse of so many years.
Perhaps never in the history of a State was there such a frenzy of excitement–not even in the days of Indian insurrections or the raids of the bloody Tarleton–as when the news flashed over the country that Sumter was being bombarded, and a call was made for all the volunteers to assemble in Charleston. There were not the facilities in those days as now for the spreading of news, there being but few telegraph lines in the State. Notwithstanding this, every method possible was put into practice for gathering in the troops. There were no assemblages of troops outside of Charleston. Men were following their daily vocations. Extra trains were put in motion; couriers dashed with rapid speed across the country. Private means, as well as public, were resorted to to arouse the men and bring them to the front. Officers warned the private, and he in turn rode with all the speed his horse, loosed from the plow, could command, to arouse his comrades. It was on Saturday when word was first sent out, but it was late the next day (Sunday) before men in the remote rural districts received the stirring notice. Men left their plows standing in the field, not to return under four years, and many of them never. Carpenters came down from the unfinished roof, or left their bench with work half finished. The student who had left his school on the Friday before never recited his Monday’s lesson. The country doctor left his patients to the care of the good housewife. Many people had gone to church and in places the bells were still tolling, calling the worshippers together to listen to the good and faithful teachings of the Bible, but the sermon was never delivered or listened to. Hasty preparations were made everywhere. The loyal wives soon had the husband’s clothes in the homemade knapsack; the mother buckled on the girdle of her son, while the gray haired father was burning with impatience, only sorrowing that he, too, could not go. Never before in the history of the world, not even in Carthage or Sparta, was there ever such a spontaneous outburst of patriotic feeling; never such a cheerful and willing answer to the call of a mother country. Not a regret, not a tear; no murmuring or reproaches–not one single complaint. Never did the faithful Scott give with better grace his sons for the defense of his beloved chief, “Eric,” than did the fathers and mothers of South Carolina give their sons for the defense of the beloved Southland.
The soldiers gathered at the railroad stations, and as the trains that had been sent to the farthest limits of the State came along, the troops boarded them and hurried along to Charleston, then the seat of war. General M.L. Bonham had been appointed Major General of State troops and called his brigades together. Colonel Gregg was already in Charleston with the First Regiment. Col. Joseph B. Kershaw with the Second, Colonel James H. Williams with the Third, Colonel Thomas Bacon with the Seventh, and Colonel E.B.C. Cash with the Eighth, formed their regiments by gathering the different companies along at the various railroad stations. The Second, Seventh, and Eighth came on to Charleston, reaching there while the bombardment was still in progress, but not early enough to take active part in the battle. Colonel Williams with the Third, for want of transportation, was stopped in Columbia, and took up quarters in the Fair Grounds. The other regiments went into camp in the suburbs of Charleston and on the islands. After the surrender of Sumter the troops on the islands and mainland returned to their old quarters to talk upon the incidents of the battle, write home of the memorable events and to rejoice generally. Almost as many rumors were now afloat as there were men in the army. It was the generally conceded opinion of all that the war was at an end. A great many of the Southern leaders boasted of “drinking all the blood that would be shed in the war.” The whole truth of the entire matter was, both sections underrated each other. The South, proud and haughty, looked with disdain upon the courage of the North; considered the people cowardly, and not being familiar with firearms would be poor soldiers; that the rank and file of the North, being of a foreign, or a mixture of foreign blood, would not remain loyal to the Union, as the leaders thought, and would not fight. While the North looked upon the South as a set of aristocratic blusterers, their affluence and wealth having made them effeminate; a nation of weaklings, who could not stand the fatigues and hardships of a campaign. Neither understood the other, overrating themselves and underrating the strength of their antagonists. When Lincoln first called for 50,000 troops and several millions of dollars for equipment and conduct of the war, the South would ask in derision, “Where would he get them?” When the South would talk of resistance, the North would ask, “Where are her soldiers?” “The rich planters’ sons cannot fight.” “The poor man will not do battle for the negroes of the rich.” “The South has no arms, no money, no credit.” So each mistook the strength, motives, spirits, and sentiments that actuated the other. A great change came over the feelings of the North after the fall of Sumter. They considered that their flag had been insulted, their country dishonored. Where there had been differences before at the North, there was harmony now. The conservative press of that section was now defiant and called for war; party differences were healed and the Democratic party of the North that had always affiliated in national affairs with the South, was now bitter against their erring sisters, and cried loudly for “Union or coercion.” The common people of the North were taught to believe that the Nation had been irretrievably dishonored and disgraced, that the disruption of the Union was a death knell to Republican institutions and personal liberty. That the liberty and independence that their ancestors had won by their blood in the Revolution was now to be scattered to the four winds of heaven by a few fanatical slave holders at the South. But up to this time the question of slavery had not been brought into controversy on either side. It was not discussed and was only an after thought, a military necessity.
Virginia, three days after the fall of Sumter, joined her sister State. This act of the old commonwealth was hailed in the Gulf States with great rejoicing. Bells tolled and cannon boomed and men hurrahed. Until now it was not certain what stand would be taken by the Border States. They did not wish to leave the Union; neither would they be a party to a war upon their seceding sisters. They promised to be neutral. But President Lincoln soon dispelled all doubt and uncertainty by his proclamation, calling upon all States then remaining in the Union to furnish their quota of troops. They were then forced to take sides for or against and were not long in reaching a conclusion. As soon as conventions could be assembled, the States joined the Confederacy and began levying troops to resist invasion. Tennessee followed Virginia, then Arkansas, the Old North State being the last of the Atlantic and Gulf States to cross the Rubicon into the “plains of Southern independence.” The troops that had been called for six months were now disbanded, and those who had enlisted for twelve months for State service were called upon to volunteer in the Confederate Army for the unexpired time. They volunteered almost without a dissenting voice. Having left their homes so hurriedly, they were granted a furlough of a week or ten days to return to their families and put their houses in order. They then returned and went into a camp of instruction.
General Bonham had not gotten all of his regiments together up to this time. The Second, Seventh, and Eighth were around Charleston, while the Third was at Lightwood Knot Spring, four miles from Columbia. This camp was called “Camp Williams,” in honor of their Colonel. That in Columbia was called “Camp Ruffin,” in honor of General Ruffin. It was customary to give all the different camps a name during the first year’s service, generally in honor of some favorite officer or statesman. Colonel Gregg’s regiment remained on Morris Island until early in May, when it was sent to Norfolk, Va., to take charge of the large amount of government property there, now very valuable to the South.
At the reorganization of the First Regiment I came to Columbia and joined the company I had before enlisted in. I had two older brothers there, and I was given a place as Second Sergeant in the company.
At the secession of South Carolina, Colonel Williams was in Arkansas, where he had large estates, but on being notified of his election, he joined his regiment while at Lightwood Knot Springs. He was met at the railroad by his troops with great demonstrations of joy and pride. Stalwart men hoisted him upon their shoulders and carried him through the camp, followed by a throng of shouting and delighted soldiers. The regiment had been commanded up to that time by Lieutenant Colonel Foster, of Spartanburg, with James M. Baxter as Major, D.R. Rutherford as Adjutant, Dr. D.E. Ewart Surgeon, John McGowan Quartermaster.
Cadets were sent from the Citadel as drill masters to all the regiments, and for six hours daily the ears were greeted with “hep-hep” to designate the “left” foot “down” while on the drill. It took great patience, determination, and toil to bring the men under military discipline. Fresh from the fields, shops, and schools they had been accustomed to the freedom of home life, and with all their patriotism, it took time to break into the harness of military restraint and discipline these lovers of personal freedom. Many amusing incidents occurred while breaking these “wild colts,” but all took it good humoredly, and the best of feelings existed between officers and men. Some few, however, were nettled by the restraint and forced obedience to those whom they had heretofore been accustomed to look upon as equals, but now suddenly made superiors. The great majority entered upon the duties of camp life with rare good will. All were waiting patiently the call to Virginia. Here I will give a short description of the regiments and their officers up to the time that all were brought together as a brigade. After that time we will treat them as a whole.
The regiments were uniformed by private donations, each neighborhood uniforming the company raised in its bounds. The tents were large and old fashioned–about 8 x 10 feet square, with a separate fly on top–one of these being allowed to every six or seven men. They were pitched in rows, about fifty feet apart, the front of one company facing the rear of the other. About the first of June all the regiments, except the Second, were ordered to Manassas, Va. The regiments were formed by companies from battalions of the militia from various counties, one company usually being formed from a battalion. These companies were organized into regiments, very much as at present, and like the old anti-bellum militia. At times some ambitious citizen would undertake to raise a volunteer company outside of those raised from battalions, and generally these were called “crack companies.” Afterwards a few undertook to raise companies in this manner, i.e., selecting the officers first, and then proceeding to select the men, refusing such as would not make acceptable soldiers, thus forming exclusive organizations. These were mostly formed in towns and cities. At other times old volunteer companies, as they were called, of the militia would enlist in a body, with such recruits as were wanted to fill up the number. In the old militia service almost all the towns and cities had these companies as a kind of city organization, and they would be handsomely uniformed, well equipped, and in many cases were almost equal to regular soldiers. Columbia had at least three of these companies in our brigade–the Governor’s Guards, Richland Rifles, and one more, I think, but on this point am not positive. Charleston had two or more, the Palmetto Guards and others; Greenville, the Butler Guards; Newberry, the Quitman Rifles; while the other counties, Abbeville, Anderson, Edgefield, Williamsburg, Darlington, Sumter, and almost all the counties represented in our brigade had one of these city volunteer companies. When all the companies called for had been organized, they were notified to what regiment they had been assigned, or what companies were to constitute a regiment, and were ordered to hold an election for field officers. Each company would hold its election, candidates in the meantime having offered their services to fill the respective places of Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel, and Major. After the elections thus held, the returns would be sent up to the Adjutant and Inspector General’s office and there tabulated, and the result declared. The candidates for field officers were generally Mexican War Veterans, or some popular citizen, whom the old men thought “would take care of the boys.” At first the qualification of a commander, be it Colonel or Captain, mostly required was clemency. His rules of discipline, bravery, or military ability were not so much taken into consideration.
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SECOND SOUTH CAROLINA REGIMENT.
Early in May or the last of April four companies of the Second Regiment, under Colonel Kershaw, volunteered for Confederate service, and were sent at once to Virginia. These companies were commanded by–
Captain John D. Kennedy, Kershaw County. Captain W.H. Casson, Richland County. Captain William Wallace, Richland County. Captain John Richardson, Sumter County.
They were afterwards joined by companies under–
Captain Ferryman, of Abbeville County, (formerly of the Seventh Regiment). Captain Cuthbert, Charleston. Captain Rhett, Charleston. Captain Haile, Kershaw. Captain McManus, Lancaster. Captain Hoke, Greenville.
These were among the first soldiers from the “Palmetto State” to go to Virginia, and the regiment when fully organized stood as follows:
J.B. Kershaw, Colonel, of Camden. E.P. Jones, Lieutenant Colonel. Fred Gaillard, Major. A.D. Goodwin, Adjutant.
Company A–W.H. Casson, Richland. Company B–A.D. Hoke, Greenville. Company C–William Wallace, Richland. Company D–T.S. Richardson. Company E–John D. Kennedy, Kershaw. Company F–W.W.Perryman, Anderson. Company G–I. Haile, Kershaw. Company H–H. McManus, Lancaster. Company I–G.B. Cuthbert, Charleston. Company K–R. Rhett, Charleston. Surgeon–Dr. F. Salmond, Kershaw. Quartermaster–W.S. Wood, Columbia. Commissary–J.J. Villipigue. Chaplain–A.J. McGruder.
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THIRD SOUTH CAROLINA REGIMENT.
The Third Regiment had originally twelve companies enlisted for State service, but in transferring to Confederate Army only ten were allowed by the army regulations. Two companies were left out, viz.: Captain J.C.S. Brown’s, from Newberry, and Captain Mat. Jones’, from Laurens. The privates, however, enlisted in the other companies as a general rule, for the companies were allowed a maximum number of 100. The Eighth and Third made no changes in their companies or officers from their first enlistment in the State service until their second enlistment in 1862, only as occasioned by resignations or the casualties of war. The two regiments remained as first organized, with few exceptions.
The Third stood, when ready for transportation to Virginia, the 7th of June, as follows:
James H. Williams, Colonel, Newberry. B.B. Foster, Lieutenant Colonel, Spartanburg. James M. Baxter, Major, Newberry. W.D. Rutherford, Adjutant, Newberry.
Company A–B. Conway Garlington, Laurens. Company B–S. Newton Davidson, Newberry. Company C–R.C. Maffett, Newberry. Company D–T.B. Furgerson, Spartanburg and Union. Company E–James D. Nance, Newberry. Company F–T. Walker, Newberry and Laurens. Company G–R.P. Todd, Laurens. Company H–D. Nunnamaker, Lexington. Company I–Smith L. Jones, Laurens. Company K–Benj. Kennedy, Spartanburg. Surgeon–Dr. D.E. Ewart, Newberry. Quartermaster–John McGowan, Laurens. Commissary–Sergeant J.N. Martin, Newberry. Chaplain–Rev. Mayfield.
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SEVENTH SOUTH CAROLINA REGIMENT. Colonel, Thomas G. Bacon.
The following companies were from Abbeville:
Company A, Captain W.W. Perryman. Company B, Captain G.M. Mattison. Company C, Captain P.H. Bradley. Company D, Captain S.J. Hester.
The following companies were from Edgefield:
Company E, Captain D. Dendy. Company F, Captain John S. Hard. Company G, Captain J. Hampden Brooks. Company H, Captain Elbert Bland. Company I, Captain W.E. Prescott. Company K, Captain Bart Talbert.
Captain Perryman with his company, the “Secession Guards,” volunteered for the Confederate service before the other companies, and left for Virginia on April 28th and joined the Second South Carolina Regiment. Captain Bland took his place with his company in the regiment as Company A.
The companies of the Seventh came together as a regiment at the Schutzenplatz, near Charleston, on the 16th of April. In about two weeks it was ordered to Edgefield District at a place called Montmorenci, in Aiken County. While here a company came from Edgefield County near Trenton, under Captain Coleman, and joined the regiment. But this company failed to enlist.
The Seventh Regiment elected as officers: Colonel, Thomas G. Bacon, of Edgefield District; lieutenant Colonel, Robert A. Fair, of Abbeville; Major, Emmet Seibles, of Edgefield; Adjutant, D. Wyatt Aiken, of Abbeville. All the staff officers were appointed by the Colonels until the transfer to the Confederate service; then the medical department was made a separate branch, and the Surgeons and Assistant Surgeons were appointed by the Department. Colonel Bacon appointed on his staff: B.F. Lovelass, Quartermaster; Fred Smith, Commissary; afterwards A.F. Townsend.
Surgeon Joseph W. Hearst resigned, and A.R. Drogie was made Surgeon in his stead, with Dr. G.H. Waddell as Assistant Surgeon. A.C. Stallworth, Sergeant Major, left for Virginia about the first of June and joined the Second a few days afterwards.
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EIGHTH SOUTH CAROLINA REGIMENT.
The Eighth Regiment was organized early in the year 1861, but the companies were not called together until the 14th day of April, arriving in Charleston in the afternoon of that day, just after the fall of Fort Sumter. It was composed of ten companies, as follows: Three from Chesterfield, two from Marion, two from Marlborough, and three from Darlington, with Colonel, E.B.C. Cash; Lieutenant Colonel, John W. Henagan; Major, Thomas E. Lucas; Adjutant, C.B. Weatherly.
Companies first taken to Virginia:
Company A–A.I. Hoole, Darlington.
Company B–M.I. Hough, Chesterfield. Company C–Wm. H. Coit, Chesterfield.
Company D–John S. Miller, Chesterfield. Company E–W.E. Jay, Darlington.
Company F–W.H. Evans, Darlington. Company G–John W. Harrington, Marlboro. Company H–R.L. Singletary, Marion.
Company I–T.E. Stackhouse, Marion. Company K–D. McD. McLeod, Marlboro.
After remaining in Charleston until the 4th of May it was moved to Florence. On the 1st of June the regiment re-enlisted for Confederate service. They were ordered to Richmond and arrived there on June 4th, and left on the 15th to join the Second then at Bull Run. On the 22nd of June they went into camp at Germantown, near Fairfax Court House, where all the regiments were soon joined together as Bonhams’ Brigade.
The first real exciting incident connected with the Third South Carolina Regiment–the first panic and stampede–happened as the troops were returning from their ten days’ furlough to their camp of instruction, near Columbia, just after their enlistment in the Confederate service. I record this occurrence to show what little incidents, and those of such little moment, are calculated to stampede an army, and to what foolish lengths men will go when excited. The train was rattling along at a good speed, something like ten or fifteen miles an hour, just above Columbia; a long string of box cars loaded with soldiers; the baggage of the troops scattered promiscuously around in the cars; trunks, valises, carpet bags, and boxes of all conceivable dimensions, holding the belongings of several neighborhoods of boys; spirits flowed without and within; congenial friends in a congenial cause; congenial topics made a congenial whole. When just below Littleton, with long stretches of lowlands on one side and the river on the other, the curling streaks of a little grey smoke made its appearance from under one of the forward cars. At first the merry good humor and enlivening effects of some amusing jest, the occasional round of a friendly bottle, prevented the men from noticing this danger signal of fire. However, a little later on this continuing and increasing volume of smoke caused an alarm to be given. Men ran to the doors on either side, shouted and called, waved hats, hands, and handkerchiefs, at the same time pointing at the smoke below. There being no communication between the cars, those in front and rear had to be guided by the wild gesticulations of those in the smoking car. The engineer did not notice anything amiss, and sat placidly upon his high seat, watching the fast receding rails as they flashed under and out of sight beneath the ponderous driving-wheels of the engine. At last someone in the forward car, not accustomed to, but familiar with the dangers of a railroad car by the wild rumors given currency in his rural district of railroad wrecks, made a desperate leap from the car. This was followed by another, now equally excited. Those in the front cars, clutching to the sides of the doors, craned their necks as far as possible outward, but could see nothing but leaping men. They fearing a catastrophe of some kind, leaped also, while those in the rear cars, as they saw along the sides of the railroad track men leaping, rolling, and tumbling on the ground, took it for granted that a desperate calamity had happened to a forward car. No time for questions, no time for meditation. The soldier’s only care was to watch for a soft place to make his desperate leap, and in many cases there was little choice. Men leaped wildly in the air, some with their heels up, others falling on their heads and backs, some rolling over in a mad scramble to clear themselves from the threatening danger. The engineer not being aware of anything wrong with the train, glided serenely along, unconscious of the pandemonium, in the rear. But when all had about left the train, and the great driving-wheels began to spin around like mad, from the lightening of the load, the master of the throttle looked to the rear. There lay stretched prone upon the ground, or limping on one foot, or rolling over in the dirt, some bareheaded and coatless, boxes and trunks scattered as in an awful collision, upwards of one thousand men along the railroad track. Many of the men thinking, no doubt, the train hopelessly lost, or serious danger imminent, threw their baggage out before making the dangerous leap. At last the train was stopped and brought back to the scene of desolation. It terminated like the bombardment of Fort Sumter–“no one hurt,” and all occasioned by a hot-box that could have been cooled in a very few minutes. Much swearing and good-humored jesting were now engaged in. Such is the result of the want of presence of mind. A wave of the hat at the proper moment as a signal to the engineer to stop, and all would have been well. It was told once of a young lady crossing a railroad track in front of a fast approaching train, that her shoe got fastened in the frog where the two rails join. She began to struggle, then to scream, and then fainted. A crowd rushed up, some grasping the lady’s body attempted to pull her loose by force; others shouted to the train to stop; some called for crow-bars to take up the iron. At last one man pushed through the crowd, untied the lady’s shoe, and she was loose. Presence of mind, and not force, did it.
Remaining in camp a few days, orders came to move, and cars were gotten in readiness and baggage packed preparatory to the trip to Virginia. To many, especially those reared in the back districts, and who, before their brief army life, had never been farther from their homes than their county seat, the trip to the old “Mother of Presidents,” the grand old commonwealth, was quite a journey indeed. The old negroes, who had been brought South during the early days of the century, called the old State “Virginy” and mixing it with local dialect, in some parts had got the name so changed that it was called “Ferginey.” The circus troops and negro comedians, in their annual trips through the Southern States, had songs already so catchy to our people, on account of their pathos and melody, of Old Virginia, that now it almost appeared as though we were going to our old home. Virginia had been endeared to us and closely connected with the people of South Carolina by many links, not the least being its many sentimental songs of that romantic land, and the stories of her great men.
The baggage of the common soldier at this stage of the war would have thrown an ordinary quartermaster of latter day service into an epileptic fit, it was so ponderous in size and enormous in quantities–a perfect household outfit. A few days before this the soldier had received his first two months’ pay, all in new crisp bank notes, fresh from the State banks or banks of deposit. It can be easily imagined that there were lively times for the butcher, the baker and candlestick maker, with all this money afloat. The Third South Carolina was transported by way of Wilmington and Weldon, N.C. Had there ever existed any doubts in the country as to the feelings of the people of the South before this in regard to Secession, it was entirely dispelled by the enthusiastic cheers and good will of the people along the road. The conduct of the men and women through South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, showed one long and continued ovation along the line of travel, looking like a general holiday. As the cars sped along through the fields, the little hamlets and towns, people of every kind, size, and complexion rushed to the railroad and gave us welcome and Godspeed. Hats went into the air as we passed, handkerchiefs fluttered, flags waved in the gentle summer breeze from almost every housetop. The ladies and old men pressed to the side of the cars when we halted, to shake the hands of the brave soldier boys, and gave them blessings, hope and encouragement. The ladies vied with the men in doing homage to the soldiers of the Palmetto State. Telegrams had been sent on asking of our coming, the hour of our passage through the little towns, and inviting us to stop and enjoy their hospitality and partake of refreshments. In those places where a stop was permitted, long tables were spread in some neighboring grove or park, bending under the weight of their bounties, laden down with everything tempting to the soldier’s appetite. The purest and best of the women mingled freely with the troops, and by every device known to the fair sex showed their sympathy and encouragement in the cause we had espoused. At Wilmington, N.C., we crossed the Cape Fear River on a little river steamer, the roads not being connected with a bridge. At Petersburg and Richmond we had to march through portions of those cities in going from one depot to another, union sheds, not being in vogue at that time, and on our entry into these cities the population turned out en masse to welcome and extend to us their greeting. Every private house stood open to the soldiers and the greatest good will was everywhere manifested.
Much has been said in after years, since misfortune and ruin overtook the South, since the sad reverses of the army and the overthrow of our principles, about leaders plunging the nation into a bloody and uncalled for war. This, is all the height of folly. No man or combination of men could have stayed or avoided war. No human persuasion or earthly power could have stayed the great wave of revolution that had struck the land; and while, like a storm widening and gathering strength and fury as it goes, to have attempted it would have been but to court ruin and destruction. Few men living in that period of our country’s history would have had the boldness or hardihood to counsel submission or inactivity. Differences there may have been and were as to methods, but to Secession, none. The voices of the women of the land were alone enough to have forced the measures upon the men in some shape or other. Then, as to the leaders being “shirkers” when the actual contest came, the history of the times gives contradictions sufficient without examples. Where the duties of the service called, they willingly obeyed. All could not fill departments or sit in the councils of the nation, but none shirked the responsibility the conditions called them to. Where fathers filled easy places their sons were in the ranks, and many of our leaders of Secession headed troops in the field. General Bonham, our Brigadier, had just resigned his seat in the United States Congress; so had L.M. Keitt, who fell at Cold Harbor at the head of our brigade, while Colonel of the Twentieth Regiment. James L. Orr, one of the original Secessionists and a member of Congress, raised the first regiment of rifles. The son of Governor Gist, the last Executive of South Carolina just previous to Secession, fell while leading his regiment, the Fifteenth, of our brigade, in the assault at Fort Loudon, at Knoxville. Scarcely was there a member of the convention that passed the Ordinance of Secession who had not a son or near kinsman in the ranks of the army. They showed by their deeds the truth and honesty of their convictions. They had trusted the North until trusting had ceased to be a virtue. They wished peace, but feared not war. All this idle talk, so common since the war, of a “rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight” is the merest twaddle and vilely untrue.
The men of the South had risked their all upon the cast, and were willing to abide by the hazard of the die. All the great men of South Carolina were for Secession, and they nobly entered the field. The Hamptons, Butlers, Haskells, Draytons, Bonhams, all readily grasped the sword or musket. The fire-eaters, like Bob Toombs, of Georgia, and Wigfall, of Texas, led brigades, and were as fiery upon the battlefield as they had been upon the floor of the United States Senate. So with all the leaders of Secession, without exception; they contributed their lives, their services, and their wealth to the cause they had advocated and loved so well. I make this departure here to correct an opinion or belief, originated and propagated by the envious few who did not rise to distinction in the war, or who were too young to participate in its glories–those glories that were mutual and will ever surround the Confederate soldier, regardless of rank.
After stopping a few days in Richmond, we were carried on to Manassas and Bull Run, then to Fairfax, where we joined the other regiments. The Third Regiment camped first at Mitchell’s Ford, remained at that point for a week or ten days, and from thence moved to the outpost just beyond Fairfax Court House. The Eighth and Second camped for a while at Germantown, and soon the whole brigade was between Fairfax and Bull Run.
* * * * *
Camp at Fairfax–Bonham’s Staff–Biography of General Bonham–Retreat to Bull Run. Battle of the 18th.
General Bonham had gathered around him, as staff officers, a galaxy of gentlemen as cultured, talented, and patriotic as South Carolina could produce, and as gallant as ever followed a general upon the battlefield; all of whom won promotion and distinction as the war progressed in the different branches of service.
Colonel Samuel Melton, one of the staff, writing in a pleasant mood, thirty-five years afterwards, says: “That with universal acclamation it may be said, that the retinue gathered around the General of the old First Brigade was a gorgeous one. I am proud of it ‘until yet.'”
This staff of General Bonham’s was the one allowed by the State service, and the appointments were made under State laws. However, all followed him into the Confederate service, and, with a few exceptions, remained until after the battle of Manassas, serving without pay. The Confederate Government was much more modest in its appointment of staff officers, and only allowed a Brigadier General three or four members as his personal staff.
The following is a list of officers who followed General Bonham to Virginia, or joined him soon after his arrival:
W.C. Morayne, Assistant Adjutant General, with rank of Colonel.
W.D. Simpson, Inspector General.
A.P. Aldrich, Quartermaster General. R.B. Boylston, Commissary General.
J.N. Lipscomb, Paymaster General.
Aides, with rank of Major: S.W. Melton, B.F. Withers, T.J. Davis, E.S. Hammond, S. Warren Nelson, Samuel Tompkins, W.P. Butler, M.B. Lipscomb.
Colonel S. McGowan, Volunteer Aide.
Dr. Reeves, of Virginia, was Brigade Surgeon.
Colonels Morayne and Boylston remained only a few weeks. Captain George W. Say, an officer of the Confederate staff, succeeded Colonel Morayne, and remained a short while, when he was promoted and sent elsewhere. Colonel Lipscomb became the regular aide, with rank of First Lieutenant.
When Captain Say left, S.W. Melton was put in his place as Assistant Adjutant General, without appointment or without pay, and discharged the duties of that office until August, when he left on sick leave. When he returned he was appointed Major and Assistant Adjutant General, and assigned to duty upon the staff of Major General G.W. Smith, commanding Second Corps of the Army of the Potomac. In 1863 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and assigned to duty in the war department.
William F. Nance, of Newberry, was appointed Captain and Assistant Adjutant General, and in September, 1861, was assigned to duty upon General Bonham’s staff, where he remained until the General’s resignation. In 1864 Nance was on duty in Charleston, where he remained on staff duty until the end.
S. McGowan and W.D. Simpson returned to South Carolina after the battle of Manassas, and assisted in raising the Fourteenth South Carolina Regiment of Volunteers, of which the former was elected Lieutenant Colonel and the latter Major. Colonel McGowan became Colonel of the regiment, and afterwards Brigadier of one of the most famous brigades (McGowan’s) in the Confederate Army. Colonel Simpson served in the Confederate Congress after his retirement from the army.
All the others of the staff filled prominent positions, either as commanding or staff officers, or serving in the departments in Richmond. I have no data at hand to give sketches of their individual services.
Fairfax Court House was the extreme limit at which the infantry was posted on that side of the Blue Ridge. Cavalry was still in advance, and under the leadership of the indefatigable Stuart scouting the whole front between the Confederate and Federal armies. The Third South Carolina was encamped about a mile north of the little old fashioned hamlet, the county seat of the county of that name. In this section of the State lived the ancestors of most of the illustrious families of Virginia, Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and Lee. It is a rather picturesque country; not so beautiful and productive, however, as the Shenandoah and Luray Valleys. The Seventh, Eighth, and Second Regiments were encamped several miles distant, but all in the hearing of one another’s drums. Our main duties outside of our regular drills consisted in picketing the highways and blockading all roads by felling the timber across for more than a hundred yards on either side of the roads. Large details armed with axes were sent out to blockade the thoroughfares leading to Washington and points across the Potomac. For miles out, in all directions, wherever the road led through wooded lands, large trees, chestnut, hickory, oak, and pine, were cut pell mell, creating a perfect abattis across the road–so much so as to cause our troops in their verdant ignorance to think it almost an impossibility for such obstructions to be cleared away in many days; whereas, as a fact, the pioneer corps of the Federal Army cleared it away as fast as the army marched, not causing as much as one hour’s halt. Every morning at nine o’clock one company from a regiment would go out about two miles in the direction of Washington Falls church or Annandale to do picket duty, and remain until nine o’clock next day, when it would be relieved by another company. The “Black Horse Cavalry,” an old organization of Virginia, said to have remained intact since the Revolution, did vidette duty still beyond the infantry. Their duties were to ride through the country in every direction, and on every road and by-way to give warning of approaching danger to the infantry. These were bold riders in those days, some daring to ride even within view of the spires and domes of Washington itself. On our outposts we could plainly hear the sound of the drums of the Federalists in their preparation for the “on to Richmond” move. General Bonham had also some fearless scouts at this time. Even some of the boldest of the women dared to cross the Potomac in search of information for the Confederate Generals. It was here that the noted Miss Bell Boyd made herself famous by her daring rides, her many escapades and hair-breadth escapes, her bold acts of crossing the Potomac sometimes disguised and at other times not, even entering the City of Washington itself. In this way she gathered much valuable information for the Confederate Generals, and kept them posted on the movements of the enemy. She was one of the best horsewomen of that day; a fine specimen of womanhood, and as fearless and brave as a stout hearted cavalier. She generally carried a brace of Colt’s revolvers around her waist, and was daring enough to meet any foe who was so bold as to cross her path. Bell Boyd was one of the many noble Virginia women who staked and dared all for the cause of the South. William Parley, of South Carolina, another bold scout, was invaluable to General Stuart and General Bonham. It was he that John Esten Cooke immortalized in “Surry of Eagle’s Nest” and was killed at the battle of Chancellorsville. He was a native of Laurens County.
The duties of picketing were the first features of our army life that looked really like war. The soldiers had become accustomed to guard duty, but to be placed out on picket or vidette posts alone, or in company with a comrade, to stand all day and during the dead hours of the night, expecting some lurking foe every moment to shoot you in the back, or from behind some bush to shoot your head off, was quite another matter. As a guard, we watched over our friends; as a picket, we watched for our foe. For a long time, being no nearer the enemy than the hearing of their drums, the soldiers had grown somewhat careless. But there was an uncanny feeling in standing alone in the still hours of the night, in a strange country, watching, waiting for an enemy to crawl up and shoot you unawares. This feeling was heightened, especially in my company, by an amusing incident that happened while on picket duty on the Annandale road. Up to this time there had been no prisoners captured on either side, and it was uncertain as to what would be the fate of any who would fall in the enemy’s hands. As we were considered traitors and rebels, the penalty for that crime was, as we all knew, death. The Northern press had kept up quite a howl, picturing the long rows of traitors that would be hung side by side as soon as they had captured the Confederate Army. That there was a good deal of “squeamishness” felt at the idea of being captured, cannot be doubted. So videttes were stationed several hundred yards down the road with a picket post of four men, between the outside sentinels and the company, as reserve. A large pine thicket was to our right, while on the left was an old field with here and there a few wild cherry trees. The cherries being ripe, some of the men had gone up in the trees to treat themselves to this luscious little fruit. The other part of the company lay indolently about, sheltering themselves as best they could from the rays of the hot July sun, under the trees. Some lay on the tops of fences, and in corners, while not a few, with coats and vests off, enjoyed a heated game of “old sledge.” All felt a perfect security, for with the pickets in front, the cavalry scouring the country, and the almost impassable barricades of the roads, seemed to render it impossible for an enemy to approach unobserved. The guns leaned carelessly against the fence or lay on the ground, trappings, etc., scattered promiscuously around. Not a dream of danger; no thought of a foe. While the men were thus pleasantly engaged, and the officers taking an afternoon nap, from out in the thicket on the right came “bang-bang,” and a hail of bullets came whizzing over our heads. What a scramble! What an excitement! What terror depicted on the men’s faces! Had a shower of meteors fallen in our midst, had a volcano burst from the top of the Blue Ridge, or had a thunder bolt fell at our feet out of the clear blue sky, the consternation could not have been greater. Excitement, demoralization, and panic ensued. Men tumbled off the fences, guns were reached for, haversacks and canteens hastily grabbed, and, as usual in such panics, no one could get hold of his own. Some started up the road, some down. Officers thus summarily aroused were equally demoralized. Some gave one order, some another. “Pandemonium reigned supreme.” Those in the cherry trees came down, nor did the “cherry pickers” stand on the order of their coming. The whole Yankee army was thought to be over the hills. At last the officer commanding got the men halted some little distance up the road; a semblance of a line formed, men cocked their guns and peered anxiously through the cracks of the rail fence, expecting to see an enemy behind every tree. A great giant, a sergeant from the mountain section, who stood six feet, three inches in his stockings, and as brave as he was big, his face flushed with excitement, his whole frame trembling with emotion, in his shirt sleeves and bareheaded, rushed to the middle of the road, braced himself, as waiting for some desperate shock, and stood like Horatio Cockles at the Bridge, waving his gun in the air, calling out in defiant and stentorian voice, “Come on, I’ll fight all of you; I’ll fight old Lincoln from here to the sea.” Such a laugh as was set up afterwards, at his expense! The amusing part of it was the parties who fired the shots at the time the stampeding was going on with us, were running for dear life’s sake across the fields, worse scared, if possible, than we ourselves. They were three of a scouting party, who had eluded our pickets, and seeing our good, easy, and indifferent condition, took it into their heads to have a little amusement at our expense. But the sound of their guns in the quiet surrounding, no doubt excited the Yankees as much as it did the Confederates. This was an adventure not long in reaching home, for to be shot at by a real live Yankee was an event in every one’s life at the time not soon to be forgotten. But it was so magnified, that by the time it reached home, had not the battle of Bull Run come in its heels so soon, this incident would no doubt have ever remained to those who were engaged in it as one of the battles of the war. The only casualty was a hole shot through a hat. I write this little incident to show the difference in raw and seasoned troops. One year later such an incident would not have disturbed those men any more than the buzzing of a bee. Picket duty after this incident was much more stringent. Two men were made to stand on post all night, without relief, only such as they gave each other. Half of the company’s reserve were kept awake all night. Orders were given that the utmost silence should prevail, the men were not even to speak above a whisper, and on the approach of anyone they were to be hailed with the command, “Halt, who comes there?” If a satisfactory answer was given, they were allowed to pass. If not, to remain standing, and an officer of the guard called. At night they were to call “halt” three times, and if no answer, they were to fire and retreat to the reserve.
One night, shortly after this, one of the companies from Spartanburg had been sent out about three miles to the intersection of a country road leading off to the left. Down this country road, or lane, were two pickets. They concealed themselves during the day in the fence corners, but at night they crawled over into a piece of timber land, and crouched down behind a large oak. The shooting incident of a few days before made the two pickets feel somewhat tender at thus being alone in the forest, when at any moment an enemy might creep upon them sufficiently near as to shoot them in the dark. Everything was as quiet as the grave. The stars, peeping faintly out from behind the clouds, midnight came, and each began to nod, when a twig breaks some distance in front, then another, then the rustling of dry leaves. Their hearts leap to their throats and beat like sledge hammers. One whispers to the other, “Whist, some one is coming.” They strain their ears to better catch the sound. Surely enough they hear the leaves rustling as if some one is approaching. “Click,” “click,” the two hammers of their trusty rifles spring back, fingers upon the triggers, while nearer the invisible comes. “Halt,” rang out in the midnight air; “halt,” once more, but still the steady tread keeps approaching. When the third “halt” was given it was accompanied by the crack of their rifles. A deafening report and frightful squeal, as an old female porker went charging through the underbrush like mad. The crack of the rifles alarmed the sleeping companions in reserve, who rushed to arms and awaited the attack. But after much good humored badgering of the two frightened sentinels, “peace reigned once more at Warsaw” till the break of day. The company returned next morning to camp, but the two sentinels who had fired on the old innocent porker were glad enough to seek the quietude of their quarters to escape the jests of their comrades.
A simple system of breastworks was thrown up just beyond our camp at Fairfax on a little eminence to the right of the road. This we thought sufficient to defeat quite an army, or at least keep them at bay. General Bonham had his headquarters at Fairfax Court House, but rode out daily to examine the work done on the entrenchments, or inspect the picket and outposts. General Bonham was one of the finest looking officers in the entire army. His tall, graceful figure, his commanding appearance, his noble bearing, and soldierly mien were all qualities to excite the confidence and admiration of his troops. He wore a broad-brimmed hat, with a waving plume floating out behind, and sat his horse as knightly as Charles the Bold, or Henry of Navarre. His soldiers were proud of him, and loved to do him homage. He endeared himself to his officers, and while he was a good disciplinarian as far as the volunteer service required, he did not treat his officers with that air of superiority, nor exact that rigid military courtesy that is required in the regular army. I will here give a short sketch of his life for the benefit of his old comrades in arms.