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Carolina Cadets. [from the Richmond, Va., Dispatch, April 6, 1902.]

Part they played in the war between the States.

account of Lieutenant Iredell Jones.
Many of the boys served as privates in the ranks, with self-sacrificing devotion and patriotic zeal.

The following in reference to the South Carolina College Cadets in the Confederate war has been handed to the bureau by one familiar with the subject:

It is to be regretted that the very interesting historical account of the South Carolina College Cadets, written by Lieutenant Iredell [139] Jones, and published in the News and Courier, December 19, 1901, could not have been made complete.

Upon the refusal of Governor Pickens to muster into service the company of South Carolina Cadets, of which Professor Charles S. Venable was captain, many of the students, when the college closed after the June examinations (1861), went to the front and joined themselves to other South Carolina companies then in service in Virginia.

Among these was Lieutenant Jones, who was subsequently wounded at the battle of First Manassas, and so was unable to return to college when the exercises were resumed in October, 1861. His absence from college at that time furnishes a sufficient reason for his not having a more familiar knowledge of that company to which he refers as Company No. 3.

In October, 1861, the college was opened at the appointed time, and many of the students returned to their post. Several of those who had, during the summer vacation, joined other commands, remained permanently in the army, Upon the opening of the college the company was again organized with the following list of commissioned officers, viz: E. Dawkins Rodgers, captain; William T. Gary, first lieutenant; Washington A. Clark, second lieutenant, and George M. Stony, third lieutenant.

Unfortunately no roll of this third company has been preserved. The list, however, of non-commissioned officers was, with some exceptions, about the same as that company which went to Charleston in April. The rank was very largely recruited by students who had then for the first time entered college. The war fever was then intense, and so the company devoted very much of their time to drill and preparations for field service into which they were eager to go.

On November 7th the Union fleet, consisting of seventeen vessels, under the command of Commodore Du Pont, and a large army, under General Sherman, entered Port Royal harbor. The Confederate works on Hilton Head were, after an action which lasted for four hours, reduced and captured. This put that entire portion of the coast of the State in the possession of the Federal army, and created panic among the people. We were totally unprepared to meet such an attack and the loss to the Sea Island planters of that section, who were large patrons of the South Carolina College, was very great; in fact in many instances the loss was total. Many of the planters escaped, leaving everything behind, and so that entire [140] section was given up to the enemy. This created intense feeling over the State, in which the college students participated.

On the next day, November 8th, the company, by a unanimous vote, offered their services to Governor Pickens for coast defence. The faculty of the college, however, violently opposed this movement, and used every argument in their power in order to influence Governor Pickens not to accept the company. On the afternoon of the same day the company left Columbia for Charleston on their way to Port Royal to report to General Drayton, who was then in command of the forces at that place. Upon reaching Charleston, however, the company was detained there by the Governor, with a flattering statement that they were retained as his body guard. The company was then temporarily stationed on the Washington race course, and attached to one of the Charleston regiments then in camp and under the command of Colonel Peter C. Gaillard.

Dr. LaBorde, in his History of the South Carolina College, on page 459, gives this account of the incident:

November 8. A committee of the students presented a communication to the faculty from the Governor of the State, expressing his willingness to allow the College Cadets to report to General Drayton for military duty, provided they bear the permission of any of the faculty.

The faculty unanimously resolved that they had no authority to disband the college. There was a general meeting of the students, and they resolved to leave for the scene of war. The president waited on the Governor and made the most strenuous efforts to prevent it. But it was in vain.

The Federal forces, however, did not press their victory as vigorously as was expected, and so military operations on the coast of the State were rather inactive for several months. During this time the College cadets remained in camp in the ordinary routine of daily drill and camp life, but all were preparing for the more active duties of the field, which they felt in view. The professors, however, in the meantime, anxious to preserve the life of the College, spared no efforts to insure their return upon the opening of the College in January. The quiet which ensued the fall of Port Royal afforded the Governor a good pretext, and so on the 10th day of December the company was mustered out of service and the students ordered to prepare themselves to return to College on the 1st of January. The students, however, felt that the time had come when [141] duty required that they should be at the front, and so, fired by their patriotic zeal, most of them at once joined other commands and became regularly enlisted in the army.

The action of the Governor at this time in disbanding the company defeated the hopes which the students had entertained of going to the front in a body. In fact, the faculty of the College, as well as State officials, deemed it inexpedient that they should do so, fearing that the ardor of youth would prove rather a disadvantage, and preferred that the students should go as individuals and be incorporated in commands under older heads.

Upon the opening of the college in January, 1862, but few of the students returned. Of this an interesting account will be found in Dr. LaBorde's history of the college on page 471. The exercises of the college were continued, however, with rather unsatisfactory results through the months of January and February, and until the 8th of March, 1862, on which day the college was closed for the war. (See LaBorde's History of South Carolina College, pages 471, 472.)

It was the ambition of the students to go to the front in an organized body, and it will be seen that three separate attempts were made to accomplish this end. In these efforts they were defeated by the more conservative views of the faculty and trustees, who, in their desire to save and preserve the college, thought it best that it should be otherwise. The privilege of displaying their patriotic zeal in an organized body was thus denied them, but history will show an equal patriotism on the part of the individual student. Many gave their lives a sacrifice for the cause. Many rose to positions of distinction.

Many as privates in the rank served their country with a self-sacrificing devotion and patriotic zeal worthy of the cause for which they were willing to lay down their lives.

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