Heroes of the old Camden District, South Carolina, 1776-1861. an Address to the Survivors of Fairfield county, delivered at Winnsboro, S. C., September 1,1888.

by Col. Edward McCrady, Jr.
It is no disparagement of the rest of the troops of the State, in the late war, to say that the Sixth, Twelfth and Seventeenth Regiments, which were raised mostly from the districts of York, Chester, Lancaster, Fairfield and Kershaw, that constituted the old Camden district at the time of the Revolution, were pre-eminent for their gallantry and soldierly qualities and esprit de corps; nor is this to be wondered at when we recollect that the people of this section, from which these regiments were formed, are perhaps the most homogeneous of the State—a people possessing in a marked degree all those qualities which go to make brave men and good soldiers.

This old town of Winnsboro has been twice the headquarters of an invading army, once burned, and twice ravaged by an enemy. In each instance the excuse was that its inhabitants were in rebellion; but as they ultimately succeeded in the first, history has been so kind as to substitute the term ‘Revolution’ for that of ‘Rebellion’; as they failed in the second, it has left them to that

foul dishonoring word,
     Whose wrongful blights so oft has stained
The holiest cause that tongue or sword
     Of mortal ever lost or gained.

But whether ‘Rebellion’ or ‘Revolution,’ so it has happened that twice this section of the State from Camden to the North Carolina line has been trodden by a devastating foe, whose march has been marked by burned homesteads and blackened chimney-stacks left standing alone amidst the ruins around them. In both instances these invasions followed the fall of Charleston and disaster to our arms elsewhere. The first, however, ultimately ended with the surrender [4] of the British under Cornwallis at Yorktown and the independence of the United States. The latter culminated at Appomattox and ended in the loss of our cause and the failure of the Confederate States. In the first, the invaders found the men of the country present to resist if not repel, and were repaid in some degree at least for their vandalism. In the latter, the men—the descendants of those who rose upon the British—were far away fighting in Virginia; while their families were burned out of their houses by the enemy who had penetrated their rear—having failed to overcome them in front.

Colonel Chesney, the able English military critic, comparing these two invasions of this section, is inclined to attribute Sherman's success in the late war to the Federal navy rather than to any greater skill or better conduct on Sherman's part than that of Lord Cornwallis. He thinks that it was the French fleet under Count de Grasse which compelled Cornwallis' surrender, and that had it not been for the command of the ocean by the Federal navy, which gave Sherman communication at Wilmington, the result to him might have been different. He says1: ‘Such a free communication as the Federal fleets had along the coast of the revolted States during the Civil war was equally needed in Cornwallis' case—without it, Sherman's overland march from Savannah made eighty years afterwards might have had little better issue than that of Cornwallis through the same district. With such aid the modern commander “established his fame, as the elder for lack of it came nigh to ruin his.” ’

But, however interesting the consideration of this subject would be, it is not that to which I would invite your attention this morning. I would talk to you to-day rather of the character and conduct of the people of this section in these two wars, than linger to think what might have been had we been able to get those vessels afloat for which we spent so much money in England and France. I will not stop now to discuss professional theories of the grand tactics by which Sherman's march ended in victory and Cornwallis' in defeat. My theme to-day is a homelier one.

The Rev. Dr. Foote in his sketches of North Carolina-claiming that to that State belongs the imperishable honor of being the first in declaring that independence which is the pride and glory of every American, and giving an account of the declaration for independence by the people of Mecklenburg county, the first public declaration, [5] it is claimed, by the constituted authorities of a State, May 27th, 1776—asks who were the people of Mecklenburg, and whence did they come? What were their habits and the manners by which they were characterized? What were their religious principles? These questions are quite as interesting to us to-day as they were when Dr. Foote discussed them forty years ago; for you, my comrades, the survivors of this county, belong to the same people who rose upon Cornwallis when he thought that by his victory at Camden he had put an end to the cause of liberty in South Carolina—to the same people, who at Hanging Rock, Cowpens and King's Mountain, avenged Tarleton's slaughter of Bufort's men at the Waxhaws and the destruction of Sumter's force at Fishing Creek—to the same people who lit again the lamp of liberty, the light of which had been put out at Charleston, and kept its feeble rays alive during the disastrous time from Gates' defeat at Camden to the surrender at Yorktown of Cornwallis. You belong to the same people, and the names which your forefathers had made honorable in the successful war of the Revolution you have rendered still more honorable in the unsuccessful war of Secession.

The State of South Carolina was peopled by two distinct tides of immigration. The Englishmen and the Huguenots had come into the province by the sea, and had pushed their way into the interior, following the courses of the rivers, but their settlements did not extend beyond the points we now know as Camden, Columbia and Hamburg. The upper country, which lay beyond the Sandy Ridge, once described as the desert and which we now call the Piedmont section, was settled later by a different class of people.

It was eighty years after the first settlement on the coast that parties of Scotch-Irish from Pennsylvania and Virginia began to come down to this province—a movement which was greatly accelerated by the defeat of Braddock in 1755, which left the frontiers of those States exposed to the incursions of the Indians.

These new immigrants were a peculiar and remarkable people. They were brave, energetic, industrious and religious. They were frontiersmen who carried the rifle, the axe and the Bible together. They were a people who, while clearing the forests and defending themselves from massacre, found time to teach their children. The meeting-house and the school-house, rough structures it is true, were built together. The extent of their instruction was, no doubt, limited, but the children were taught to speak the truth and to defend it, to keep a conscience and to fear God—the foundation of good [6] citizens and great men. They did not dispute that the liberties of the subject might consist with royal authority, but the religious creed of these immigrants was made part of their politics, and they held that no law of human government ought to be tolerated in opposition to the expressed will of God. They claimed the right to choose those who should frame their laws, contending that rulers as well as the meanest subjects were bound by law. These principles, brought with them to America and modified by experience, were the republican principles of the Scotch-Irish who settled this section of the State.2

I have dwelt upon the eminently religious character of these people because it was this trait which perhaps led them to take the part they did in the Revolution. It is true that some of them, notably those in Mecklenburg led by the Alexanders, Brevards, McKnitts and others, who joined in the famous declaration of independence, were foremost in resistance to British rule. But these people generally were rather disposed to side with the Loyalists. The very isolation of their position and condition had kept them out of the contentions which had been growing up between the colonists on the coast and the mother country.

Granville's trade laws, the enforcement of the restrictions placed upon colonial commerce for the protection of English manufactures, and the attempt to enforce the regulations against smuggling in violation of these laws, which so roused the patriotism of New England, had not perceptibly affected them. The Stamp Act and the tax on tea had not pressed upon them. In fact, they probably knew of and cared little for these things living upon their own resources, unaccustomed to ask or receive protection or assistance from the government on the coast, whose authority theoretically extended over them, they felt little attachment to it, while their loyalty induced them to stand rather to the government abroad, whose exactions and oppressions they had not felt. Except, therefore, where the American or Irish influence predominated, the sentiments of these people favored the cause of the Loyalists.3


as Judge Johnson, in his Life of Greene, says, ‘fortunately the enemy were too confident in themselves or had too much contempt for their opponents to act with moderation or policy.’ As the dissenters of New England had the reputation of having excited the war, dissenters generally became objects of odium to the enemy. [7] Hence their meeting-houses were often burnt or destroyed. One of them in Charleston was converted into a horse stable, and in the Waxhaws their minister was insulted and his house and books burnt, and war was declared against all Bibles which contained the Scotch version of the Psalms. ‘Great,’ says this writer, ‘were the obligations of the American cause to the licentiousness and folly of the British commander.’

It was amongst these people that on the 29th May, 1780, Tarleton burst like a summer's storm into the Waxhaws settlement and massacred there Bufort's force, which was on its way from Virginia to assist Governor Rutledge in raising the siege of Charleston. Too late to help Charleston they came but to their own destruction. One hundred and thirteen were killed and one hundred and fifty wounded. The wounded were abandoned to the care of the people in the neighborhood, and the old Waxhaws meeting-house was converted into a hospital. There Esther Gaston, then only eighteen years of age, and her sister Martha day and night tenderly nursed the wounded,4 and there too Mrs. Jackson, the mother of Andrew Jackson, ministered to their comforts and necessities, and there for many days Andrew Jackson and his brother, Robert, first saw what war was.5

Then came Lord Rawdon from Camden and encamped with a large body on the north side of the Waxhaws creek, demanding of every one a formal promise to take no further part in the war. Mrs. Jackson and the boys, and the Crawfords, and a majority of their neighbors abandoned their homes rather than enter into a covenant so abhorrent to their feelings.

The war of the Revolution was now transferred to this section of the State. Let us recall some of its stirring scenes in this neighborhood.

General Richard Winn, in whose honor this town is named, was then a major. He had served in General Richardson's expedition against the Tories the year before, and had distinguished himself under Thompson on Sullivan's Island on the famous 28th June, 1776, when Moultrie repulsed the British fleet off Charleston harbor. Colonel William Bratton, of York, was his associate, friend and adviser in all his measures opposed to the British forces. Both John McLure, of Chester, and Bratton and Winn concerted and conducted an attack in June, 1780, upon a large body of Loyalists at [8] Mobley's meeting-house in Fairfield district, and defeated and dispersed them.

A strong detachment of British troops under Colonel Turnbull was then stationed at Rocky Mount in Chester district, just over the Fairfield line, for the purpose of overawing this portion of the colony. The news of the success of Bratton, Winn and McLure drew down upon them the vengeance of the British officers, and Captain Houk was detached at the head of four hundred British cavalry and a considerable body of Tories, all well mounted, ‘to push the rebels.’ On the 11th July, Houk came with his whole command to the house of Bratton, against whom the British ire seems most to have been excited, and ordered Mrs. Bratton to provide a repast for himself and his troopers. He asked her where her husband was, to which she fearlessly replied ‘in Sumter's army.’ He then proposed to her if she would get her husband to come in and join the Royalists he should have a commission in the royal service. She answered with heroic firmness she would rather he should die in the service of her State. For this patriotic and heroic reply one of Houk's soldiers attempted to take her life. The troops were removed and quartered for the night at James Williamson's house adjoining Bratton's, sentinels were placed in a lane before the house, the rest of the party slept—the soldiers in their tents and the officers in the house.

Colonel Bratton, who was then with Sumter at Mecklenburg, having heard of this movement, concluded that it was aimed at him and his associates in the attack at Mobley's. He gathered his neighbors, who were with him at Mecklenburg, and they hastened with all dispatch to prevent the impending mischief. He arrived in the neighborhood after dark with but seventy-five men. Concealing themselves in an adjoining swamp they waited for dawn to commence the attack. In the meantime Colonel Bratton himself reconnoitered the position and actually passed through the line of sentinels, satisfying himself of their positions and negligence. He then selected his men, placing one against each sentinel of the enemy. With his personal knowledge of the place and of the British station, he advanced at the head of half of his men down one end of the lane and penetrated between the sentinels of the British into their very camp before the alarm was given. Captain McLure with the other half advanced from the other end of the lane with equal silence and success. They cut off the troopers from their picketed horses and opened so brisk a fire as to prevent the British forming a line for action. Houk and Ferguson, who was with him, succeeded in mounting their horses, [9] but they were shot and fell in sight of both parties, whereupon the British dropped their arms and fled. The battle continued about an hour and many of the British were killed and wounded, with but little damage to the Whigs, only one of whom was killed—his name was Campbell. Houk was shot by John Carrol, who, with his brother Thomas, was among the foremost in action. There were also two brothers named Ross, two named Hanna, and two named Adair—one of these subsequently was greatly distinguished and became General Adair. There were also four sons of John Moore and five sons of James Williamson, at whose residence the battle was fought. There were three brothers Bratton present. This little victory was the first check given to the British after the fall of Charleston—the first time that regulars had been opposed in an engagement by undisciplined militia. It had a most salutary effect on the destinies of the State. The accounts of this affair I have taken from Dr. Johnson's Traditions. Colonel Lee—Light Horse Harry, whose memoirs were edited and re-published by his nephew, our beloved leader, Robert E. Lee—tells us that Houk, who was killed, was notorious for his cruelties and violence. Colonel Lee adds, ‘these breezes of fortune fanned the dying embers of opposition.’

Virginia and North Carolina were now called upon by Congress to hasten reinforcements to South Carolina. Baron DeKalb was ordered here also, and Gates, to whom Burgoyne had surrendered, was appointed to the command of the Southern department.

The advance of Gates into South Carolina roused into action all the latent energies of the State. Marion, and Sumter, and Andrew Pickens—himself from the Waxhaws—took the field. Gates advanced upon Rawdon at Camden, with Marion on his left and Sumter on his right.

Sumter commenced his inroads upon the British by attacking their posts at Rocky Mount and Hanging Rock in succession. Rocky Mount, as you know, is in the southeast corner of Chester county, just above the Fairfield line, about seventeen miles from this town, and Hanging Rock is across the Catawba, in Lancaster, about nineteen miles from Rocky Mount. Sumter sent Davie with his corps of Waxhaw men to watch the enemy at Hanging Rock, while he advanced with the main body upon Rocky Mount. Near Hanging Rock Davie fell in with three companies of British Loyalists, just returning from an excursion, and completely routed them. All but a few were killed and wounded, and the spoils of victory safely brought off, consisting of sixty horses and one hundred muskets and rifles. [10]

Sumter attacked Rocky Mount with his characteristic impetuosity, but the British officer was found on his guard, and his position was one of great strength. Three times did Sumter attempt to carry this stronghold, but without success. He drew off, however, undisturbed, having lost few of his followers.

Undaunted, Sumter was soon again in the saddle. Quitting his retreat on the Catawba, with Davie, J. Erwin Hill, and Lacy he darted on the British line of communication, and on the 6th of August fell on the post at Hanging Rock. Then ensued a bloody battle—the contest grew fierce and the issue doubtful. The infantry of Tarleton's Legion and Bryan's North Carolina Loyalists were forced back, but Brown's regiment held their ground until nearly all the officers and a great proportion of its soldiers had fallen. The British, then falling back, formed a hollow square in the centre of their position. Sumter advanced to strike their last point of resistance, but the ranks of the militia had become disordered and the men scattered from success and the plunder of the British camp, so that only two hundred infantry and a few dragoons could be brought into array. Sumter could not, by all his exertions, bring his troops to close action. The spoils of the camp and the free use of spirits lost Sumter the fruits of his brilliant victory.

Most of our wounded were taken immediately home from the field of battle. To those who remained on the field, Esther Gaston was again the ministering angel.6 Captain McLure was killed; Colonel Hill, Major Winn, and Lieutenant Crawford, and young Joseph Gaston, but sixteen years of age, were wounded.

Parton, in his Life of Jackson, tells us that the Jackson boys— Andrew, then thirteen years of age, and his brother Robert, a little older—rode with Davie on this expedition. The future hero of New Orleans had seen the effects of war when assisting his mother to attend the wounded at Waxhaw church in May. Here, at Hanging Rock, in August, he first saw battle itself.

Then followed the disastrous battle of Camden, but it is not within my purpose this morning to follow the details of that unfortunate affair. These belong rather to general history. None of the people of whom I am speaking were there; nor, indeed, can I find that in the battle proper there were any South Carolinians. General Isaac Huger was present, but commanded, I believe, a Virginia brigade, and Major Thomas Pinckney, an aid-de-camp to General Gates, was [11] wounded and taken prisoner; but our heroes were away again with Sumter on one of his bold, and this time, for a while at least, successful expeditions.

Sumter, with Colonel Thomas Taylor and a detachment of the Maryland Line, under Colonel Woodford, had succeeded in capturing the British convoy near Camden Ferry, against which he had been sent on the very day upon which Gates, with the army sent for the relief of South Carolina, was defeated.

Flushed with victory, but encumbered with the spoils he had secured and the prisoners he had captured, Sumter was himself approaching danger as he was hastening to get his valuable capture beyond the reach of recovery. As soon as Lord Cornwallis, after his victory over Gates, received the intelligence of the capture of his convoy and the route by which Sumter was retreating with it, he detached Colonel Tarleton with his Legion and a corps of mounted infantry to pursue him, and to take the road over Rocky Mount Ford, and dispatched orders also to Colonel Turnbull, then stationed at Little river, to interrupt him if he could and bring him to action. But Major Davie, who had been engaged in escorting the wounded at Hanging Rock to Charlotte, hastening to return to the general rendezvous at Rudgley's, met the first part of our flying troops about four miles from the battlefield. Pressing on with the hope of being useful in saving soldiers and baggage, he continued to advance when meeting General Huger driving his tired horse before him, he learned the probability of Sumter's ignorance of Gates' defeat and the consequent danger to which he and his party were exposed. Captain Martin and two dragoons was at once dispatched by Davie to inform Sumter and to urge him to take care of his corps. Captain Martin reached Sumter at Rocky Mount the following night. Sumter immediately decamped with his prisoners and booty. Turnbull's attempt to intercept him failed by the celerity with which Sumter had moved, but Tarleton came in sight of his camp fires the night before Sumter left Rocky Mount.

Alas! Sumter seemed to have indulged a belief that he was safe, and having passed Fishing Creek, in Chester, some eight miles, he halted for rest. His arms were stacked; his men were lying around, some bathing, some reposing—he himself with his arms laid aside and coat off—when down came Tarleton upon him as he had upon Bufort three months before. Of Sumter's force, which was estimated at eight hundred, some were killed, others wounded, and the rest dispersed. Sumter himself escaped in his shirt sleeves with about three hundred [12] and fifty of his men, leaving all his spoils again in the hands of the enemy from whom he had taken them. A second time the fruits of a brilliant achievement were lost by accident or recklessness. Tarleton, it is true, is inclined to acquit Sumter of blame in this affair, and to attribute his own success somewhat to fortunate circumstances.7

Cornwallis reached Charlotte, but just as he was prepared to advance into North Carolina he received the unwelcome news of our great victory at King's Mountain. Would that we had the time to recall here again to-day the deeds and glories of the heroes of that great victory, Campbell, Cleveland, Williams, Sevier and Shelby. But did time allow, it would be but to repeat the story so recently and so eloquently told by the great Virginia orator, Daniel.

The security of his conquest in South Carolina thus threatened by the sudden incursions of the mountain warriors, and endangered by the activity of Sumter, Marion and Pickens, Cornwallis was compelled to fall back and retreated to this place, Winnsboro, from which he might watch the threatened points of Camden, Granby and Ninety-Six. His headquarters were in this town until Greene, with Gates' army reorganized, advanced into South Carolina for its recovery.

But while Cornwallis was here, an opportunity was allowed Sumter to repay Tarleton at Blackstocks for his surprise at Fishing Creek, and to avenge the slaughter there.

Then followed our great victory at Cowpens under Morgan, which transferred the seat of war from this part of our State, and left it rest until peace and independence were secured.

I have said that the people who settled this part of the country carried with them the axe, the rifle, and the Bible, and that the meeting-house and the school-house were put up together. We have seen that they knew well how to use the rifle, and it is not inappropriate here to observe in passing that not even in all these disturbances of revolution and war was the education of youth neglected.

The Mount Zion school, which is still open and, I trust, in a prosperous condition, is as old as the town itself. The Mount Zion Society was incorporated in the midst of the Revolution, in 1777, the year after the battle of Fort Moultrie. Its object was to provide the means of education for ‘the orphan left forlorn and the children of [13] indigent parents in the remote parts of the State.’ In the list of its members will be found, for the first time in the history of the State, commingled the names of the upper and lower country—Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, Huguenots, and Churchmen combining in the midst of war in the cause of education.

Its first president was Colonel John Winn, and its directors were General William Strother and Captain Robert Ellison. Colonel Thomas Taylor and Captain Thomas Woodward were among the first signers of the Constitution. Among the names of its members were Andrew Pickens, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, and four sons of Anthony Hampton—Henry, Edward, Richard, and Wade—and the brother of Anthony, John Hampton. The teacher at this time was, it is believed, Mr. William Humphreys. Dr. Howe, in his History of the Presbyterian Church, says: ‘At what time this school was discontinued is not known, but it was probably about the time when Lord Cornwallis moved his headquarters to Winnsboro, in 1780.’ Two years after the end of the war, i. e., in 1783, a committee of the Society reported ‘that the temporary school had been broken up by the enemy, but the buildings were safe and in the custody of Colonel Richard Winn.’ Lands were given by Colonel Winn and Colonel John Vanderhorst in the year 1784, and the school placed under the charge of the Rev. Thomas Harris McCaule, and enlarged into a college. The Mount Zion College, the Charleston College, and the College at Cambridge, Ninety-Six, were incorporated by the same act in 1785. Jackson went to school to Dr. Humphreys in the Waxhaws during the Revolution, and Dr. Joseph Alexander kept one open there, and there was another at Bullock's Creek, York county, during this period; and there was also a school at Fishing Creek, kept open by Mrs. Gaston, the wife of Justice John Gaston. Inter arma leges silent, but letters were not allowed to sleep even though war was waging around the school-houses. Is it any wonder that the old Waxhaws have produced Andrew Jackson; Stephen D. Miller, the great jurist and statesman; James H. Thornwell, the great theologian; and J. Marion Sims, the greatest surgeon of this country? Judge William Smith, who succeeded Judge Gaillard in the United States Senate, was educated with Andrew Jackson at this time by Dr. Alexander at the Bullock's Creek school.

Surely, my comrades, you who were born and bred amidst the scenes of the historic events to which we have alluded, and who must have heard of them at your mother's knees and imbibed their lessons [14] from your earliest youth, must have received from them some inspiration of heroism.

Who could live in a land abounding in scenes of such ennobling reminiscences and not be touched by the fire of patirotism. The great old English philosopher, Dr. Johnson, in his Journey to the Western Islands, has observed that ‘that man is little to be envied whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona.’ Was it to be expected, then, that the patriotism of those, who grew up around Rocky Mount and Hanging Rock and Blackstocks and King's Mountain and Cowpens, could be cold? Could the sons of the men who were led by Sumter, and the Brattons and the McLures fail to answer the call of their country?

Mr. Parton, in his Life of Jackson—describing that strange and lonely place, the old graveyard at Waxhaws, with its rude old stones that were placed over graves, when, as yet, a stone-cutter was not in the province; with its stones upon which coats of arms were once engraved, still partly decipherable; with stones which are modern compared with these, but yet record the exploits of Revolutionary soldiers; with its stones so old that every trace of inscription is lost—says that when the stranger stands in that churchyard among the old graves, he has the feeling of one who comes upon the ancient burial place of a race extinct. This was written by Mr. Parton in 1860. Would he go to that burial-place to-day he would see that the race of heroes was not extinct when he was last there. For he would find there, my comrades, new tombs, perchance of some of the Sixth, or Twelfth, or Seventeenth regiments. Under those solemn old trees he would find fresh stones, which tell of heroes as great as any of their forefathers of a century before. Let him, who thinks the race of the heroes of the Revolution extinct, but refer to the records of the Confederate soldiers from Fairfield, and Kershaw, and York, and Chester, and Lancaster.

The moment the State seceded, the people of this section rose at once to her defence, and furnished many of the very best troops which marched under the leaves of the Palmetto.

Fairfield volunteers—Gregg's First regiment.

In response to the very first call, nay, indeed, before any call, upon the passage of the Ordinance of Secession in January, the Fairfield volunteers under Captain J. B. Davis at once offered their services, [15] and were accepted by Colonel Maxcy Gregg as one of his original regiment, organized under the ordinance of that Convention. With Gregg's regiment the company served on Morris' Island during the winter and spring of 1861, and was present at the battle of Fort Sumter. From Fort Sumter it went with Gregg to Virginia as a part of the ‘Veterans from Sumter,’ and was engaged under him at the small affair in Virginia on the Alexandria line.

Upon the reorganization of that regiment, Captain J. B. Davis' company was transferred to the Fifteenth regiment, in which it served throughout the war. Captain Davis became colonel upon Colonel DeSaussure's death at Gettysburg, and the regiment, under his command, served in Kershaw's brigade throughout the Tennessee campaign, and from the Wilderness to the surrender.

The Sixth regiment.

The General Assembly, on the 17th December, 1860, passed an act providing for an armed military force of ten regiments, to be organized into a division of two or more brigades. One of these regiments, the Sixth, was raised from the counties of Chester and Fairfield. The officers were Colonel James H. Rion, Lieutenant-Colonel A. J. Secrest and Major Thomas W. Woodward.

The companies from Fairfield were: Fairfield Fencibles, Captain John Bratton; Boyd Guards, Captain J. N. Shedd; Little Run Guards, Captain J. M. Brice; Buck Head Guards, Captain E. J. Means; Cedar Creek Rifles, Captain J. R. Harrison.

The companies from Chester were: Chester Blues, Captain E. C. McLure; Captain G. L. Strait's company, Captain J. A. Walker's company, Captain O. Harden's company, and Captain J. Mike Brown's company.

Colonel Rion resigned in June, 1861, and the regiment went to Virginia under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Secrest. Upon the application of the regiment, Colonel Charles S. Winder (who afterwards became brigadier-general and was killed at Cedar Run on the 9th August, 1862, while commanding the Stonewall Brigade under Jackson,) was assigned to the command and did much to perfect its organization. But it was under Lieutenant-Colonel Secrest, who had been a distinguished officer of the Palmetto regiment in Mexico, that the regiment was to make its first fight and win its first laurels. Though the Sixth was not in time to take part in the First Manassas, it was to be the next regiment from this State to be able to style [16] itself veteran. It was engaged in the battle of Dranesville on the 20th December, 1861, under General J. E. B. Stuart, afterwards our great cavalry leader, and this is his report of its conduct:

The Sixth South Carolina and the First Kentucky were, I regret to say, too much screened from my view to afford me the privilege of bearing witness by personal observation of individual prowess; but that the Sixth South Carolina under the fearless Secrest did its whole duty, let the list of killed and wounded and her battle-flag bathed in blood, with the staff shivered in the hands of the bearer, be silent but eloquent witness. Their Major (Woodward) was painfully wounded, but bore himself heroically notwithstanding.

Rebellion Records, Series , Vol. V, p. 490.

The regiment lost in this, its first, battle eighteen killed and forty-five wounded—sixty-three.

Upon the reorganization of the regiment in the spring of 1862, John Bratton was elected Colonel; James M. Steadman, Lieutenant-Colonel, and Edward C. McLure, Major.

Colonel Bratton had come, as we have seen, from an heroic family, and well did he maintain the reputation his ancestors had established for natural military talent and personal gallantry. It has been the custom to point to General Bratton as a conspicuous instance of the singular adaptability, if not genius, of Southern men for military command. A quiet country gentleman and planter, without the slightest military education or experience, who in all probability had never seen a regiment manoeuvered or a thousand men in ranks, goes into the war as a captain, soon becomes colonel and then general, and fills each position with ease and honor to himself, and satisfaction to those above him and with the affection of those under him. But as we have seen, my comrades, this military talent did not exhibit itself for the first time in the Bratton family when the colonel of the Sixth distinguished himself, not only in the command of a regiment, but as well in command of a brigade, and added the brigadier's wreath to the colonel's stars. He had inherited military ability as well as courage. He was but exhibiting the same talent with which his ancestor, Colonel Bratton of the Revolution, planned and successfully carried out the attack upon the British Captain Houk at the Williamson residence in 1780. Worthy son of heroic sire, it was indeed your fortune, survivors of the Sixth, to have been led by so gallant and able an officer and so pure and true a citizen.

The Sixth was next engaged at the battle of Williamsburg, May [17] 5, 1862. General Bratton, in an account published in the Southern Historical Society Papers, which he wrote in 1868, after all his great experience on so many battlefields during the rest of the war, writes of his old regiment on that occasion: ‘I have never on any field during the war seen more splendid gallantry exhibited than on that field of Williamsburg.’ He adds, ‘This was the first and last time I ever asked for a place in a charge—a pardonable folly I hope at that stage of the war.’8

Then came the battle of Seven Pines, in which the Sixth was again conspicuously engaged and in which it suffered so terribly. Colonel Bratton himself was severely wounded and fell into the hands of the enemy.

The blood of other Revolutionary stock was poured out in this battle in the ranks of the Sixth. Upon the reorganization of the regiment, Joseph Lucien Gaston had been elected captain of the Chester Blues. A younger brother and himself were killed in a few feet of each other at Seven Pines. We have seen how Esther Gaston and her sister had nursed the wounded at Bufort's massacre and at Hanging Rock. These gallant sons of her family died on the field before such tender ministrations could be made to them.

Captain Gaston was a man of the highest order and the most scrupulous integrity. His mind was strong and well balanced. He was highly cultivated. How could he be otherwise, coming from a family which even in the midst of the Revolution had not failed to teach the youth around them. He was a young lawyer of great promise, and had the fairest prospects of attaining the highest honor of his profession. His aged relative and partner has often been heard to say that Mr. Gaston was the best man he ever knew, and came as near perfection as poor human nature can attain to. He was a hero indeed. For he was one of those who was not carried into the war by the rushing tide of enthusiasm; he was one of those true martyrs to our cause, who conscientiously and decidedly opposed to secession, yet, when the State in her sovereignty had acted, did not hesitate to obey her, but was amongst the very first to step to the front in her defence. To such men, what meed of praise can we award adequate to their self-sacrifice?

There fell, too, in this battle Captains Phinney, W. B. Lyles and J. W. Walker; and Sergeant-Major Beverly W. Means, Librarian of the South Carolina College, was mortally wounded. [18]

Then followed the battles around Richmond, the Second Manassas and the Pennsylvania campaign, in all which this regiment bore its part with its accustomed gallantry. Then your winter of 1862-‘63 at the Blackwater, thereby missing Chancellorsville; then your return to the Army of Northern Virginia, the Pennsylvania campaign and the battle of Gettysburg, and your transfer with Longstreet's corps to the Army of Tennessee.

On the 28th October, 1863, you were in the battle of Lookout Mountain, where Bratton commanded Jenkins' brigade, before it became his own; then the Knoxville campaign and siege, and your return to Virginia; then you took part in that wonderful campaign from the Wilderness to Cold Harbor, in which, from the 5th of May to 30th June, the armies of the Potomac and of the James under Grant lost a greater number than there were men in the Army of Northern Virginia under Lee; and then the long siege of Petersburg, ending with Appomattox.

General Bratton made a report on the 1st of January, 1864, of the operations of his brigade from the Wilderness to that date, which comprises the history of its active operations while under his command. He concludes with a statement, that out of 2,016 present at the beginning of the campaign, your losses during it were 1,688, including many of the noblest and best in your ranks.9

The Twelfth regiment.

In the summer of 1861, the Confederate Government called upon the State of South Carolina for six regiments of volunteers for the war; that is, for the whole war. The regiments which were accepted under this call were Gregg's old First Regiment (reorganized), Orr's First Rifles, the Twelfth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth regiments. Gregg's brigade was constituted of the first five of these. The Fifteenth regiment was added to Kershaw's brigade.

Of these, the Twelfth regiment was composed, with the exception, I believe, of two companies from Oconee, of companies raised from York, Lancaster, Kershaw, and Fairfield. From Fairfield there were two companies, Company C, Captain H. C. Davis, and Company F, Captain Hayne McMeekin.

The regiment was organized by the election of Colonel R. G. M. Dunnovant, of Chester, as Colonel; Dixon Barnes, of Lancaster, as [19] Lieutenant-Colonel; and Cadwalader Jones, of York, as Major. Colonel Dunnovant had been Lieutenant-Colonel of the Palmetto regiment in Mexico.

The Twelfth, with the Thirteenth and Fourteenth, commenced its service on the coast, and was present at the bombardment of Hilton Head, but was not actively engaged. In April, 1862, it was ordered to Virginia with the Thirteenth and Fourteenth, then constituting Gregg's brigade, and proceeded to Milford Station, where it formed a part of what was known as the Army of the Rappahannock under General Joseph R. Anderson. This was an army of observation of McDowell's force at Fredericksburg, which was intended to cooperate with McClellan by an advance upon Richmond from the north. This plan Jackson frustrated by his victories in the Valley, and in the last of May the Army of the Rappahannock fell back to Richmond. On reaching Richmond, Major-General A. P. Hill was assigned to its command, and the Army of the Rappahannock became, what I trust it is not immodest for those of us whose fortune it was to serve in its ranks to say, ‘the famous Light Division.’ The division was moved out to take part in the great battle of Seven Pines on the 31st May, 1862, but was not actually engaged. The first actual engagement of the Twelfth was in the Seven Days battles around Richmond. It was the fortune of the First, which had (with Orr's rifles) joined Gregg's brigade just before those battles, and the Twelfth to commence together the battle of Cold Harbor on the 27th June, 1862; and from that time to the close of the war there was a feeling of mutual confidence and regard between these two regiments, which was increased as the exigencies of the service again and again threw them together in the most desperate conflicts. The loss of the brigade in this battle was 854 out of about 2,500 men carried into action. In the Twelfth, Lieutenant J. W. DeLancy was killed and Captains Bookter, Miller, McMeekin and Vorlandigham were wounded. The loss of the regiment was 138— 17 killed and 121 wounded. At Frazier's Farm on the 30th the regiment lost seven wounded. The brigade was not engaged at Malvern Hill. Its losses in these battles was altogether 971 out of the 2,500 with which it commenced them.

Then followed the great battle of the war of Gregg's brigade, the second day of the Second Manassas, in which the most of the fighting on the Confederate side was done by this brigade, and of which a Northern military writer describing this battle has said: ‘In Southern histories and by Southern firesides the brave deeds that Southern [20] soldiers had on this day achieved were to mark it as the bloody and glorious day of the 29th August.’ In this battle Colonel Dixon Barnes greatly distinguished himself. It was the Twelfth which drove out the New England brigade, which, under Grover, had penetrated our lines by a charge second only to that of Pickett's division at Gettysburg. In this battle the brigade had nine out of eleven field-officers killed and wounded, and 619 out of 1,500 men carried into action. Colonel Barnes and Major McCorkle were among the wounded. The Twelfth regiment lost 145—killed, 24, and wounded, 121. A few evenings after, at Ox Hill, its adjutant, W. C. Buchanan, was killed and eleven men wounded.10

Then followed the capture of Harper's Ferry and the battle of Sharpsburg, in which the Twelfth sustained the irreparable loss of Colonel Barnes, and in which Captains J. L. Miller and H. C. Davis and Lieutenant R. M. Kerr were wounded. The Twelfth lost 102 of the 163 killed and wounded in the whole brigade. It was more fortunate at Shepherdstown, in which it had but one wounded, and scarcely less so at Fredericksburg, where it lost but eight out of the 336 killed and wounded in the brigade. A most gallant young officer from Fairfield was, however, killed in the First, Captain T. H. Lyles, who commanded Co. B, from Newberry. The regiment had been commanded by Colonel Cadwalader Jones in these battles. He resigned after Fredericksburg and was succeeded by Colonel John L. Miller. Colonel Miller's first battle was Chancellorsville, which was followed by an incident worthy of note. The Twelfth, with but 340 guns, was put in charge of over 2,000 Federal prisoners and marched them safely through to Richmond without the loss of one of them. Then followed Gettysburg, in which the Twelfth lost 20 killed, 105 wounded, and 5 missing—among the killed was Lieutenant A. W. Prag, and in the wounded Captains J. A. Hinnant, J. M. Moody, Lieutenants J. R. Boyles, J. A. Watson, M. R. Sharp, A. W. Black, W. J. Stover and J. M. Jenkins. At Hagerstown and Falling Waters the regiment lost eighteen killed, wounded and missing. [21]

Then came the great campaign of 1864, and in its first battle, the Wilderness, the Twelfth had another gallant colonel killed, Colonel John L. Miller, and with him fell Lieutenants J. L. McKnight and J. A. Gavin. Lieutenant-Colonel E. F. Bookter and Lieutenants J. A. Watson and J. A. Beard were wounded. There were sixteen killed, sixty-four wounded and five missing in this regiment. Then again the regiment suffered most heavily at Spotsylvania. It entered the Bloody Angle at the point of greatest danger—just at the break. They lost fearfully but fought nobly, 28 were killed, 38 wounded and 52 missing—118. Lieutenants J. B. Blackman and J. R. Faulkenburg were killed, and Captain W. J. Stover, Lieutenants Wade Reeves and W. B. White wounded. In the affairs from the 12th of May to 1st of July, 1864, the Twelfth lost 2 killed, 21 wounded and 11 missing—34. Major T. F. Clyburne and Lieutenant W. H. Rives were wounded. Lieutenant N. R. Bookter was killed before Petersburg. At Fussell's Mills the regiment lost 1 killed, 12 wounded and 5 missing—18.

At the battle of Jones' Farm, 30th September, 1864, the regiment lost its third colonel killed in battle-Colonel Edwin F. Bookter, of Richland. Mr. Caldwell, in his History of Gregg's Brigade, pays a glowing, but justly deserved, tribute to this noble officer. He had been severely wounded at Cold Harbor, 27th June, 1862, again seriously at Manassas, 29th August, 1862, and for a third time, and as it was supposed mortally, at the Wilderness, 5th May, 1864. He survived all these to die at the head of the regiment he loved so well and which loved him so well, in that brilliant, if small, affair. The regiment lost two killed, eighteen wounded and three missing. Among the wounded was Lieutenant Cadwalader Jones, of York.

Then followed the winter of 1864-‘65 in the trenches around Petersburg. The engagements on the 25th and 26th March, in which the Twelfth lost one killed and five missing. The fight at Gravelly Run on the 31st March, when General McGowan, with Gracie's Alabama brigade and ours, achieved so brilliant a success, and in which the regiment lost one killed and seventeen wounded; then Sunderland Station, in which a large part of the brigade was captured, including Captain R. M. Kerr, who commanded the Twelfth. Captain W. S. Dunlop, who had commanded the sharpshooters of the brigade after Captain W. T. Haskell's death at Gettysburg, and Lieutenant W. H. Rives were wounded and fell also into the hands of the enemy. And then the end at Appomattox!

In this regiment during the war there were 230 deaths from [22] wounds, and wounds not mortal 652—making 862 wounds received. There were 414 deaths from disease, which added to the 230 deaths from wounds makes 644 deaths in the regiment. So that probably more than half of all who entered the regiment died during the war.11

The Seventeenth regiment.

The Seventeenth regiment, which was organized in the early part of 1862 (with the exception of but two companies from Barnwell), was composed entirely of men from York, Chester, Lancaster and Fairfield. These were: Three companies from York, Captains Meacham, Wilson and Whitingan; two companies from Chester, Captains Culp and Caskey, and two companies from Fairfield, Co. B, Captain W. P. Coleman and Co.—, Captain James Beatty. It was organized by the election of Governor John H. Means as Colonel, F. W. McMaster as Lieutenant-Colonel, and Julius Mills as Major, with Robert Stark Means as Adjutant.

This regiment's first service was on the coast of South Carolina, but it was to be its fortune, with the rest of its brigade, first under Evans, then under Elliot and then under Wallace, to serve in almost every State in the Confederacy. It belonged to what might be called, not disrespectfully, ‘the tramp brigade.’ It saw service in South Carolina. It fought in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and Mississippi. It traversed Alabama and Georgia, and served for some time on the Island of Hope, in the latter State, including in its service a term of bombardment in Fort Sumter. It might be said to have been ubiquitous.

Its first battle was the Second Manassas, and in this battle it lost in proportion to its numbers more than any other regiment from this State during the whole war did in any single engagement. There were but three other regiments in the Confederacy which had a greater percentage of loss in any single battle. Its loss was 189 killed and wounded out of 284 carried into action. But this loss, great and terrible in its numbers as it was, did not cover its calamity to the State. At the head of this regiment fell one of South Carolina's noblest citizens.

I have spoken of Captain Gaston, of the Sixth, who fell at Seven Pines, as a hero indeed, because he went into the service without [23] hesitation upon the secession of the State, though he had been opposed to such action. Governor Means, on the contrary, had been earnest in its advocacy. He had been elected governor in 1850 on that issue, and he had constantly advocated secession. But when it came he was an elderly man, beyond the age even of reserve duty. With his age, too, his physique had become such as to unfit him for the field. The dignity of his position as an ex-governor of the State would seem to have excused him had his age and physical condition fitted him for active service. His family, too, were fully represented in the army. All these considerations might well have persuaded him that the proper sphere of action was at home where, by his countenance, he might have encouraged his people in their adversities and by his wisdom have aided them in their necessities. So he might have reasoned, if indeed he had felt himself called upon to reason at all, why he, a man advanced in life, should not go into the field. But so he did not reason. He reasoned, on the contrary, thus: I have been advocating secession all my life; by my conduct I have done much to bring it about; now it has come, age or not, I will myself go with them and share the dangers to which the boys have been brought by my advice. And go he did, noble man as he was.

In the very commencement of hostilities he hastened to Charleston and tendered his services as an aid to General Beauregard.

In the Seventeenth regiment he went into the field. A correspondent, writing to the Mercury of a visit to the regiment while it was on the coast, in April, 1862, thus speaks of his regiment: ‘I have seen nowhere else an intermingling of discipline with a courtesy and kindness of manner to the men that approaches paternal tenderness. No doubt, the antecedents of the commander, Colonel John H. Means, contributes much to his success. But few men are so gifted in manner, not the spurious coin, but the genuine emanation from kindness and generosity of temper.’

Is it any wonder that his men were not only proud of their colonel but loved him as a man? Nor was this feeling confined to his own regiment. It extended to the whole brigade. This is the account of his death written to the Mercury by an officer of another regiment:

Colonel Means, of the Seventeenth South Carolina volunteers, died this morning (September 1st) of a wound received in the battle of Manassas on the 30th August.

He fell in the thickest of the fight leading his regiment in a charge. The wound was severe, and as his gallant men pressed around him he said, “Push on! My boys, push on!” [24]

Governor Means was beloved by all of Evans' brigade, and his regiment feels as if they had lost a father. He had particularly endeared himself to his brother officers. An abler pen than mine will do justice to his memory. He died quietly and perfectly resigned to his fate. No nobler or better man ever lived or died.

General Evans, in his report of the battle, says:

Among the killed were the gallant Colonel J. H. Means, of the Seventeenth regiment South Carolina volunteers, and Colonel J. M. Gadberry, of the Eighteenth. These brave men were shot down while nobly leading their regiments into action. Colonel Gadberry was killed instantly. Colonel Means (mortally wounded) survived two days. It is but justice to the memory of these noble and gallant officers to mention my appreciation of their valuable services. Colonel Means, though much advanced in years, ever exhibited the energy of youth in battling against our ruthless foe and devoting his whole ability to our sacred cause. His death fully exemplifies his devotion to his country.

Colonel McMaster, in his report, thus tells of his death:

Then the regiment was again marched forward in line of battle up a hill in the direction of the Chinn House in face of a terrific fire of the enemy, which was concentrated from two batteries, one on each side, and a regiment of infantry a short distance in front. Near this place our noble chief, Colonel Means, was mortally wounded and died two days after, lamented not only by every man in his command but by every good citizen of South Carolina.

The next engagement of the Seventeenth regiment was in Maryland, at Boonesboro, on the 14th September, in which out of 141 present the regiment lost sixty-one killed, wounded and missing. In this battle Lieutenant-Colonel R. Stark Means was shot through the thigh, and Colonel McMaster reports that he had detailed four men to bear him off, but that Colonel Means refused to allow them to make the effort as the enemy was in a short distance of him and still advancing. Colonel Means died from the effects of the wound. Thus the son soon followed his father. At Sharpsburg, on the 17th, this regiment had been reduced by casualties and marching to but fifty-nine present, including officers, rank and file and ambulance corps. Of this small number nineteen were killed and wounded.

After the Maryland campaign Evans' brigade was ordered to North Carolina, where, on the 14th of December—the day after the battle of Fredericksburg, in which the Sixth and Twelfth were engaged— [25] the Seventeenth regiment fought in the battle of Kinston.12 I can find no report of its losses.

From North Carolina the brigade was sent to reinforce Vicksburg, and reported to General Joseph E. Johnston at Jackson on the 3d June,13 but did not reach Vicksburg. It was engaged in some skirmishing at Jackson, but nothing more. From Mississippi the brigade was ordered to the Isle of Hope, near Savannah, where it was encamped during the winter of 1863-‘64. From Savannah this regiment was sent to Charleston, where it furnished its details for the garrison at Fort Sumter, and thence it rejoined the Army of Northern Virginia in the spring of 1864 under the command of General W. S. Walker.

Stephen Elliot, who had so nobly defended Fort Sumter and fought it to the water's edge, was appointed brigadier-general, and assigned to the command of this brigade. It was while under his command that the fearful battle of the Crater took place on the 3d July, 1864, in which, as Colonel McMaster justly observed in his address at Chester on the 13th August, 1879, it seldom falls to the lot of a regiment to act such a conspicuous part in saving an army as did the Seventeenth on that occasion.14

Colonel McMaster is fully justified by General Humphreys, the distinguished Federal officer in that fair and admirable history of the Virginia campaign of 1864-‘65, published in the Scribner Series, in the estimate of the important services rendered by the Seventeenth regiment under his command on that terrible occasion.15

One-half of the regiment was lost at Fort Steadman on the 25th March, 1865. Colonel McMaster and twenty officers were captured. The remainder fought at Five Forks, where Lieutenant-Colonel Culp was captured. The three remaining officers of the regiment—Major Avery, Adjutant Fant and Captain Steele, of Lancaster—were each wounded on the day of the surrender.

Rion's battalion.

Colonel Rion, as we have seen, went into the service first as colonel of the Sixth. He resigned this command in June, 1861, but he could [26] not keep out of the service, and in 1862 he raised a company in Fairfield, and with Colonel P. H. Nelson, of Kershaw, formed a battalion, with Colonel Nelson as lieutenant-colonel and himself as major. With this battalion he served during the rest of the war. On the 14th July, 1863, he was complimented in general orders by General Beauregard for leading successfully an attack on Morris Island in which he was wounded by a bayonet. Going to Virginia with Hagood's brigade in the spring of 1864, on the 14th May, preceding the battle at Drury's Bluff, he drove back a line of battle with his skirmishers. He was wounded in the battle on the 16th May, but continued on the field during the whole day. At Petersburg, on 14th June, he again led, at night, a line of skirmishers of Hagood's brigade and drove back the advance of General Baldy Smith; again, on the 18th June, he led another attack.

He was twice offered and refused the command of the Twenty-second regiment, and after the battle of Bentonville was offered by General Johnston a commission as temporary brigadier-general.

Colonel Rion and his battalion served on the coast of South Carolina in Fort Sumter and battery Wagner, and in Virginia and North Carolina, and were engaged in twenty-two battles.

There were, besides these, two troops of cavalry from Fairfield. One troop in the First cavalry under Colonel J. L. Blacks, and another in the Sixth cavalry under Colonel Hugh K. Aiken, and another company in James' battalion. There were also soldiers from Fairfield in the Second, Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth regiments.

Colonel Aiken's life was another sacrifice for Fairfield in the cause of the South. He had been wounded at Trevillian's Station and was killed at Lynch Creek, in Chesterfield county, just before the surrender. Colonel Aiken was a gallant soldier and an estimable citizen. His distinguished brother, Colonel D. Wyat Aiken, colonel of the Seventh regiment, also was a native of this country and should be counted among her sons who served the State so well.

Bratton, the Meanses, the Aikens, the Davises, Rion, McMaster, Woodward and Black were heroes enough for Fairfield. But the heroism of our troops was not confined to their leaders. The descendants of those, who had fought under the Brattons and McLures in the Revolution, were as brave as their leaders and as conscientious in the discharge of their duty. [27]

In that old Waxhaw churchyard I have seen this quaint inscription upon a stone:

Here lies the body of William Blair, who departed this life in the sixty-fourth year of his age on the 2d July, A. D, 1821, at 9 P. M. He was born in the county of Antrim, Ireland, on the 24th March, 1759. When about thirteen years old he came with his father to this country, where he resided till his death.

He was a Revolutionary patriot, and in the humble station of private soldier and wagon master, he contributed more to the establishment of American independence than many whose names are proudly emblazoned on the page of history.

In the language of Pope,
     The noblest work of God is an honest man.

There was more truth in this old homely epitaph probably than in many more elegant and heroic inscriptions upon towering monuments to the great. But, however that may be, this we know that in the humble sphere of private soldiers, thousands and thousands of glorious spirits were sacrificed in our war. To this, my comrades, you can testify with me. Who of us cannot recall some man from the ranks who he hopes to see in another world glorified above generals and presidents and kings and potentates?

Let me recall an instance in our own experience to show that the race of heroic teamsters was not extinct. Upon the retreat after the battle of Gettysburg the enemy's cavalry made a rush upon our wagon trains at Williamsport. The Confederate cavalry there were insufficient for the defence of the place, and the quartermasters were called upon for men to assist. About fifty were furnished by McGowan's brigade, and, no doubt, some of the Twelfth among them, and were placed under the command of Captain R. E. B. Hewitson, quartermaster of the First. A sharp fight ensued, but the detail of teamsters from our brigade charged the line opposed them, drove them back and held the ground until relieved at night. Two of our men were killed and five or six wounded. General Imboden called it ‘the battle of the teamsters.’

The humble private in our war did indeed do more to the establishment of our independence—if that had been so ordained of God— [28] ‘than many whose names are proudly emblazoned on the page of history.’ Justice has never been done him. But he has not wanted those who appreciated him. He was thus eulogized in a paper during the war:16

Among these private soldiers are to be found men of culture, men of gentle training, men of intellect, men of social position, men of character at home, men endeared to a domestic circle of refinement and elegance, men of wealth, men who gave tone and character to the society in which they moved, and men who for conscience sake have made a sacrifice of property, home, comfort, and are ready to add crimson life to the cause.

Without rank, without title, without anticipated distinction, animated only by the highest and noblest sentiments which can influence our common nature, the private labors, toils and marches and fights, endures hunger, thirst and fatigue; through watchings and weariness, sleepless nights and cheerless days, he holds up before him the one glorious prize, “Freedom of my country; independence of my home.”

Our losses in battle.

In a recent article published in the Century magazine entitled, ‘The Chances of being Hit in Battle,’ are two tables, one of the losses in Federal regiments during the war, in which the proportion of killed and wounded in a single engagement were over fifty per cent. of those present, and the other a like list of losses in the Confederate regiments. It is singular that in all there were twenty-five Federal regiments that lost in a single battle fifty per cent. and over, and almost exactly the same number in our service, we having one more, that is twenty-six regiments which lost more than fifty per cent in a single battle. The author says that these are instances of excessive loss, and that these lists represent the maximum loss and may be of interest to such historians as persist in telling of regiments that were all cut to pieces or commands which were annihilated. This table is of great interest to us of this State, for it shows that of the twenty-six regiments that sustained the heaviest losses on our side, six were South Carolina regiments, four were Georgia, four Tennessee, three Texas, three Alabama, three North Carolina, two Virginia and one Mississippi regiment. And it is of still greater interest to us here to-day, for, of these six South Carolina regiments, [29] two of them are represented by the survivors of Fairfield district. The list is as follows:

regiment.battle.Present in action.Killed and Wounded.Per Cent.
First TexasAntietam22618682
Twenty-first GeorgiaManassas24218476
Eighth TennesseeStone River44430669
Seventeenth South CarolinaManassas28418967
Twenty-third South CarolinaManassas22514966
Fourteenth GeorgiaMechanicsville51433565
Sixteenth MississippiAntietam22814463
Fifteenth VirginiaAntietam1287558
Eighteenth GeorgiaAntietam 17610157
Tenth GeorgiaAntietam1478356
Twelfth TennesseeStone River29216456
Sixteenth TennesseeStone River37720756
Third AlabamaMalvern Hill35420056
Seventh North CarolinaSeven Days45025356
Eighteenth North CarolinaSeven Days39622456
First South Carolina RiflesGaines' Mill53730656
Fourth North CarolinaFair Oaks67836954
Twelfth South CarolinaManassas 27014654
Fourth TexasAntietam20010753
Twenty-seventh TennesseeChaplin Hills21011253
First South Carolina Manassas28315153
Forty-ninth VirginiaFair Oaks42422452
Twelfth AlabamaFair Oaks40821552
Seventh South CarolinaAntietam26814052
Seventh TexasRaymond 30615852
Eleventh AlabamaGlendale 35718151

If this table is correct, and, no doubt, it is, it shows that Antietam, or Sharpsburg, was, on our side at least, the hardest fought field of the war, for of the twenty-six instances of greatest losses, seven of them occurred in that battle; but it shows, also, that for South Carolina troops the Second Manassas was the severest battle. Of the six instances of greatest losses among troops from this State, four of them were at Second Manassas, to-wit: The Seventeenth South Carolina, which lost 67 per cent. of those carried into action; the Twenty-third, which lost 66 per cent.; the Twelfth, which lost 54 per cent.; and the First, which lost 53 per cent. The general average of these four regiments being 60 per cent. lost of those engaged. Upon another occasion I have shown that in this battle South Carolina lost [30] more than 25 per cent. of all her troops engaged, to-wit: eighteen regiments, including seven colonels killed.17

Dignity and magnanimity alike demand, my comrades, that we, the survivors of the Confederate armies, who faithfully did our duty while we had arms in our hands, should refrain from all expression of vindictiveness and hardness of feeling to those who, with equal sincerity as ourselves, espoused the cause of the Union, and at the call of their States fought on the side in which their States had enrolled them. For myself, I can truly say that I have no feeling of hatred or animosity for the true Federal soldier. I can heartily join my Northern friends in their admiration and respect for McClellan and Meade, and Hancock and Humphreys, and many others. There are few men I would go further, personally, to serve than General Henry J. Hunt, the Federal chief of artillery in the Army of the Potomac. For the noble and generous promptings of Grant's heart in the first moments of his great triumph, and his magnanimous treatment of Lee, I feel the greatest gratitude, a gratitude which I will not allow to be diminished even by his after conduct as a politician, under the influence of party spirit at Washington; but for the malignity and brutality of Sherman, I can have nothing but indignation and resentment.

When our friends at the North, and, my comrades, we have warm and earnest friends there, beg us to forget and forgive the injuries necessarily incident to the war we ourselves dared, I heartily respond. But when I come across such a history of the war as Harper's Pictorial History of the Rebellion, and see there the pictures of the burning of Columbia and Winnsboro, and read the unpitying and exultant comments upon the misery they depict, I can feel it no part of Christian or patriotic duty to suppress the just indignation which fills my heart alike against the perpetrators and boastful recorders of such inhumanity.

There is there a picture of Winnsboro in flames, and on the next page there is one of Hanging Rock, Sumter's battle ground, and between them are pictures of Sherman's foragers and bummers coming in with their spoils and dividing their booty. With these pictures is the story that when Kilpatrick reached Hanging Rock he reported to Sherman that several dead bodies of Federal soldiers had been found in the road with a label by Hampton's cavalry, that such would be the fate of all ‘Foragers.’ Whereupon Sherman, it is said, [31] directed immediate retaliation, and is reported as having delivered himself of these heroic sentiments:18

‘We have a perfect right to the products of the country we overrun, and may collect them by forage or otherwise. Let the people know that the war is now against them, because their army flees before us and do not defend the country as they should. It is monstrous for Wheeler and Beauregard and such vain heroes to talk of warring against women and children. If they claim to be men they should defend their women and children and prevent us reaching their homes.’

Was there ever anything more false, more atrocious, and meaner than this pitiful excuse by Sherman of his barbarity? Taunting our men because they were not there to defend their women and children, when Grant himself had just declared that we were ‘robbing the cradle and the grave’ to fill our ranks against him, but which ranks, my comrades, of old men and children though they were, he had not yet been able to break!

As we have seen, Fairfield district sent into the service five companies of the Sixth, two companies of the Twelfth, two companies of the Seventeenth, one company of the First, and one company of Rion's battalion, one of James' battalion, and two of cavalry. The late General Manigault, who, as adjutant-general, did so much for the preservation of the history of the troops of this State by his faithful and zealous work under the act to provide for the preparation of the rolls of troops furnished by the State to the army of the Confederate States, estimated that each company from this State averaged one hundred and twenty-five men during the war. This would make 1,750 men furnished by Fairfield to the line, add to these the quota of staff officers and men in other commands, and we have no doubt Fairfield alone furnished 2,000 men. By the census of 1860 there were but 3,241 white males of all ages in this district, and but 1,578 between the ages of fifteen and fifty; so that the whole armsbear-ing population of the county was in the army. And yet Sherman attempts to cover his brutality by the falsehood and sneer, that these men would not fight.

Need those who had chased this same redoubtable hero from the first battlefield of the war desire his encomiums upon their courage? Need they boast that they were men who had fought and defeated McClellan and Pope, and Burnside and Hooker and Rosencranz; [32] who had driven McClellan to his gunboats and chased Pope to Washington; who had slaughtered Burnside at Fredericksburg and routed Hooker at Chancellorsville; who had held Fort Sumter against all comers; who had left their dead from Charleston to Gettysburg, from Gettysburg to Chickamauga, and from Chickamauga to Knoxville, and from Knoxville to the Wilderness; who had defeated a much greater man than Sherman—Grant himself—in every engagement from the Wilderness to Petersburg; had killed and wounded in a month more men in Grant's army than they had in their own; who had yielded at last, not to Grant, nor to Sherman—not to arms, but to starvation? As General Preston has so well expressed it:19

We surrendered no army of 200,000 equipped soldiers as at Sedan, but, at Appomattox, a starving skeleton, with scarce blood enough left to stain the swords of our conquerors; our surrender was not to New England, but to death!

It was on the wives and children of these men that Sherman warred.

In American histories ‘Tarleton's Quarter’ was, for near a century, the proverb for cruelty and barbarity. But when Tarleton crossed at Rocky Mount in pursuit of Sumter, and mercilessly slew his men at Fishing Creek, he did so when battling against men whom the rules of war justified his slaying when its fortunes placed them in his power. It remained for Sherman, at Hanging Rock, the scene of Sumter's great battle, to proclaim there war against women and children—women and children, the descendants of the heroes who had died on that very spot eighty years before for American freedom.

But, my comrades, I must not dwell on these things. Let us turn aside from them. Let us still strive to think of Rocky Mount and Hanging Rock as the glorious battlefields of our forefathers, rather than as the scenes of pillage of those who called themselves our countrymen. Let us think rather of Tarleton's massacre of Bufort's men at the Waxhaw and of the destruction of Sumter's at Fishing Creek; for however dreadful those deeds, and distressing to the recollection, they bring no tinge of shame or cry for vengeance, but only of pity for the slaughter of brave men who fell by the accidents of war. Dwell upon those horrors of the Revolution, rather than upon these deeds in our war of men calling themselves American—seeds committed under Sherman's sanction.

Yes, my friends, let us forget, if we can, these atrocities, though [33] we pass the scenes of them day by day. Let us forget them, if we can, for it is not only the part of wisdom but of patriotism to bury the remembrance of these great wrongs.

Lord Macaulay in his essay upon Hampden observes:

How it chanced that a country conquered and enslaved by invaders; a country of which the soil had been portioned out among adventurers, and of which the laws were written in a foreign tongue; a country given over to that worst tyranny, the tyranny of caste over caste, should have become the seat of civil liberty, the object of the admiration and envy of surrounding States, is one of the most obscure problems in the philosophy of history. But the fact is certain.

Will some future historian ponder how it chanced that the people of the South, conquered by the numbers and resources of the North; a people whose very soil had been in a great measure confiscated by alien adventurers, thieves and outcasts left in the wake of Sherman's plundering march; a people who had been given over to a tyranny of caste infinitely greater and more galling than that of which Macaulay wrote, because it was the tyranny of the inferior caste over the superior; became the restorers and guardians of civil liberty, the admiration of other people?

We may not yet say that however difficult it is of explanation, the fact is certain. But we can truly say that the Southern people are wisely and patiently and courageously dealing with problems as great, if not greater, than those solved by the English Commons under Hampden. Your victorious ancestors, my comrades, proved themselves equal to the task of building up a government designed to preserve the liberties they had won. That government was perverted from the purposes for which it was formed, and in your attempt to exercise the right your forefathers had reserved for you, to withdraw from the Union should it become oppressive, you were defeated. It remains to be proven whether the people of the South can turn their defeat into victory. In God's providence it has happened that no nation has ever risen to greatness except through adversity. True national greatness survives conquest. Mr. Leckie, the historian, in his work upon ‘England in the Eighteenth Century,’ wisely observes that it was probably a misfortune to Ireland that she never passed, like the rest of Europe, under the subjection of the Romans, and a calamity to her that the Norman conquest was not finally effected as in England by a single battle. Conquered England absorbed and changed and moulded her conquerors. Will this be our case? [34]

Wonderful progress has the South already made in sharing the intellectual government of the country; within twenty years after a crushing defeat—a defeat followed by ten years of alien misrule, she has already had the government of the country practically in her keeping for the last four years, and so wisely has she exercised it that not even in this year of a presidential election has it been said that she has abused her opportunities to the securing of spoils or the gratification of revenge.

Hampden led the English Commons in resistance to unjust taxation, and to-day the great commoner of this country, Mr. Mills, who is a South Carolinian and a native of Fairfield, has carried successfully through the House of Representatives the great measure of revenue reform.

It is admitted throughout the world that in the late war the South proved itself a people of wonderful military capacity, resource and enterprise, as well as courage. But it remains especially to the rising generation to show that in its hands the pen is equal to, if not mightier than the sword.

Three or four years ago I saw in a northern journal a warning to the young men of the North that a review of the collegiate terms just then ended showed a wonderful advance in Southern scholarship; that all over the North Southern boys were contending for the highest places in the educational institutions. The writer reminded the young men of the North that it was by the devotion to the education of her young men that the South had controlled the government for nearly eighty years from its commencement, and attributed its loss of control to the neglect of this means by which she had gained it, and warned the young men of the North that the renewed devotion of the South to education might again give to the South the government if the youths of the North should yield to the inertia of luxury. Since that article has appeared, South Carolina has had in the great national educational institution at West Point a contestant for the first place in three out of four graduating classes. In one of them the youthful representative of this State outstripped all his competitors, graduating with next to the highest record ever reached in that institution.20 Fairfield furnished the two others of the young men who have already done honor to the State.21

As Dr. Foote has written of the women of this section in earlier [35] days: an education, knowledge of things human and divine, they prized beyond all price in their leaders and teachers, and craved its passion for their husbands and brothers and sons. The Spartan mother gloried in the bravery of their husbands and fathers, and demanded it in their sons. ‘Bring me this or be brought back upon it,’ said one as she gave him his shield to go out to battle. But your mothers, my comrades, as Dr. Foote says, gloried in the enterprise and religion and knowledge and purity of their husbands and children and would forego comforts and endure toil that their sons might be well instructed enterprising men. Their daughters, the women of our day, with devotion not less than Spartan, buckled on the swords of their husbands and sons, who needed no injunction to return with them only with honor, and when they came not back, these same women devoted themselves to the education of the sons left dependent upon them.

Like Esther Gaston of old, they nursed the wounded fathers, and like the wife of Justice Gaston they educated the sons.

Of how many of their sons may it be said:

Happy he
With such a mother, faith in womankind
Beats with his blood, and trust in all things high
Comes easy to him, and though he trip and fall,
He shall not blind his soul with clay.

1 Military Biography of Cornwallis.—Chesney, p. 296.

2 See Foote's Sketches of North Carolina.

3 Parton's Life of Jackson p. 76.

4 Howe's History of the Presbyterian Church, p. 537, note.

5 Parton's Life of Jackson, p. 70.

6 Howe's History of the Presbyterian Church, p. 537.

7 Tarlelon's Memoirs, p. 115.

8 Vol. XIII, Southern Historical Society Papers, p. 119.

9 Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. VIII, p. 547.

10 In an address delivered by me before the survivors of the Twelfth regiment at Walhalla, S. C., on Gregg's brigade at Manassas (see Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. XIII, p. 1), it is stated that the First South Carolina volunteers was guided into the action by Lieutenant Fellows, of the Thirteenth. I am assured by Captain J. A. Hinnant, of the Twelfth, that the statement is a mistake, that it was he who did so, and I make this correction at his request.—E. McC., Jr.

11 For these statistics see Caldwell's History of Gregg's and McGowan's Brigades.

12 Rebellion Records, Series 1, Vol. XVIII, p. 112.

13 Johnston's Narrative, p. 190.

14 Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. X, p. 119.

15 The Virginia Campaign 1864-‘65.—Humphreys, p. 256.

16 Jackson, Mississippi, Crisis, Marginalia, p. 174.

17 See Southern Historical Papers, Volume XIII, p. 1.

18 Harper's Pictorial History of the Rebellion, Vol. II, p. 119.

19 Address before Survivors' Association, Columbia, 1870.

20 Henry Jervey, of Charleston.

21 Henry C. Davis and David St. P. Gaillard.

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