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The Wee Nee volunteers of Williamsburg District, South Carolina, in the First (Hagood's) regiment.

Major John G. Pressley, of the Eutaw Battalion, South Carolina Volunteers.
About the middle of August, 1861, it being their purpose to join the regiment of Colonel Johnson Hagood, many of the old members of the Wee Nee Volunteers and quite a number of recruits met in the courthouse, in pursuance of a call from the captain, and reorganized the company. No one thought of opposing the captain, but there was a spirited contest for some of the other places. The following was the result of the election: Captain, John G. Pressley; First Lieutenant, Thomas J. China; Second Lieutenant, Calhoun Logan; Junior Second Lieutenant, Henry Montgomery, Jr. [117]

Both Hagood's regiment and Gregg's were known as the First South Carolina volunteers. Colonel Gregg's was called the First because organized first in regard to time, and was the only regiment organized under the call of the Convention for troops for the Fort Sumter campaign. Upon its reorganization and reception by the Confederacy it was allowed to retain its name. Colonel Hagood's was organized under an act of the Legislature providing for the raising of ten regiments and in designating these regiments so raised, it was designated as the First. It was, in August, 1861, encamped at Summerville. Captain Pressley at once reported the organization of his company to Colonel Hagood, and soon after received orders to report for duty in Charleston.

The following letter from the regimental quartermaster may be of interest, as showing the preparation which soldiers were then required to make for service:

camp Hagood, Summerville, S. C.
Captain J. G. Pressley, Kingstree Postoffice, South Carolina:
Dear Sir,—I write to inform you that it will be well for each of your men to bring his blanket with him, otherwise he will have to supply himself out of the money allowed him to buy his clothes.

It is also advisable for each of the officers to come prepared with all his camp equipage except tents, axes, hatchets and spades, as these are the only articles allowed them. Yours truly, etc.,

G. B. Lartigue. August 27, 1861.

About the first of September the company took the train for Charleston, the most of them embarking at Kingstree. The men were all in high spirits. Joseph Ard, from the neighborhood of Clocktown, deserves special mention. Owing to a defect in his organs of speech, he could not make himself understood by one not accustomed to hearing him talk. Some days before the company took its departure he applied for membership, and was kindly, but firmly, refused by me, because of his infirmity. While standing on the platform superintending the embarkation of the men and their baggage, in the dim twilight of the morning, Ard approached me in company with one of his friends, who came with him to interpret. He tried to tell me something, which the interpreter said was that he was very anxious to go with the company. [118]


said I, ‘the government would not take you as a soldier. I am very sorry, but you cannot go.’

With tears in his eyes, Ard addressed something to the interpreter, at the same time giving me a most beseeching look. The poor fellow, no doubt, believed that it rested entirely with me whether he would be allowed to serve his country with his brother and neighbors, who were members of the company. I can remember now, after the lapse of more than twenty-one years, just how he looked. My heart was touched, and I felt that I could not resist his appeals.

What does he say?

I inquired.


said the interpreter, ‘he says if he can't be a soldier he can cook.’


said I, ‘if you are so anxious to go, get aboard.’

His face became at once radiant with joy, and my own heart was lightened by the knowledge that I had made a good, kind-hearted fellow happy. When the mustering officer came and the roll was called, Joe Ard was very particular in answering in accents which he had been practising so as to conceal his defect of speech. Perhaps I may have been guilty of a dereliction in duty in being a party to mustering him in, but he made such an excellent soldier that none of us, who were parties to the fraud (if it was a fraud), need have any qualms of conscience on that subject.

Upon their arrival in Charleston, the men were embarked on a steamboat at a point near the Northeastern Railroad depot, and were landed at Fort Johnson on James Island.

On the 7th of September I wrote a letter, from which I extract the following:

I arrived here safely, after a very fatiguing journey, on the day that I left home. We are in the old barracks, prepared here for the accommodation of the United States soldiers, and we are tolerably comfortable. I find my hands very full with a large company of very green men to drill (many of the company were recruits). A large number joined us, on our way down, from the neighborhoods of Graham's Cross-Roads, Kingstree and Gourdin's. Many of them I did not know were coming. They are mostly poor men, and will, when drilled, make good and self-sacrificing soldiers. They seem all to be in high spirits, except one or two who are sick. One is very sick and, as we have no means here of taking proper care of the sick, I intend sending him to Charleston to the hospital this evening, where he can receive proper attention. A lady, living in the village here, sent him a dish of soup, but the poor fellow was too sick to eat [119] it. One of my men is without shoes, but I have sent to Charleston to buy him a pair. There are a good many of them who will suffer this winter, unless the people of Williamsburg will do their duty and supply them with clothing suitable for cold weather. We have no regular communication with Charleston. There comes a boat occasionally. I expect a steamer down this evening to bring another company. I hear that we are to have regular communication by means of a sail boat in a day or two. I do not suppose that we will be here very long, I think we will go to Cole's Island.

On the 9th day of September, 1861, Captain P. K. Molony, Adjutant of Colonel Hagood's First regiment South Carolina volunteers, came to the post and the company was by him regularly mustered into the Confederate service.

The company was drawn up in line, the muster-roll called by the mustering officer, and each man answered to his name. The following pledge was signed by the officers and men:

We, the undersigned, hereby agree to be mustered into the Confederate service, unconditionally, until the 12th day of April, 1862.

And the Wee Nees were soldiers of the Confederate States of America. The twelfth day of April was fixed as the limit, because the term of service of the regiment expired on that day.

With the men mustered in by Captain Molony, and those who afterwards joined, the Wee Nees numbered four commissioned officers, nine non-commissioned officers, and eighty-two privates. They were, while in this regiment, designated as Company E.

A relief society was started in the neighborhood of Kingstree for the purpose of furnishing to the soldiers in the field such supplies as they most needed. I wrote, on the 14th September, 1861, from Fort Johnson, a letter, from which I extract the following:

My company is getting on very well, improving very fast in drill, and are a very quiet, obedient set. I do not think that I shall have much trouble with them. A good many of them are poorly provided with clothing, and I hope the ladies who are at work will remember them. I think four-fifths of them are making great sacrifices to serve their country.

Unremitting attention was paid to drill and instruction in the duties of the soldier. On the 16th of September I wrote, ‘My soldiers are getting on pretty well. Some of them have been sick, but are all better. They improve very fast, and will soon be able to take the field.’

About the 18th of September, the company was transferred to [120] Cole's Island, near the mouth of the Stono river, and there joined the regiment. The trip from Fort Johnson was made by steamer, and was a very pleasant one. We embarked early one morning, passed up the bay through Wappoo Cut and into Stono, down that river to a point near its mouth, and up a creek which separates Folly from Cole's Island. After landing, we were assigned our position in the regimental camp next to the St. Matthews Rifles, a company from Orangeburg district and one of the best in the regiment. My friend, Olin M. Dantzler, was then First Lieutenant of that company. His agreeable companionship and that of Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas J. Glover, are among my most pleasant recollections of Cole's Island. The Confederacy had no braver or more patriotic soldiers than were these two officers, both of whom laid down their lives, in the later years of the war, for the cause they loved so much.

Colonel Johnson Hagood was in command of all the troops on the island. His command consisted of his own regiment and a battalion of regulars, under the command of Major J. J. Lucas. Lieutenant Thomas J. Glover, assisted by Major O'Cain, commanded the First regiment. There were several heavy batteries of artillery on the island. One was near the lower end and, with one in an old circular work, said to have been built by the Spaniards, about midway of the first island, commanded the Stono river. There was a line of breastworks that ran lengthwise across the island, and was about a couple of hundred yards from the river. I never could understand why these breastworks were not located as near the water as they could have been built. They were constructed by officers of the Engineer Corps, and perhaps it would not be in good taste for a line officer, as I was at that time, to criticise them. Perhaps these officers had been taught a system different from that which I studied at the military academy.

I heard the remark jocularly made, that ‘the design was to let the Yankees land so we could “bag” all we did not kill.’

These breastworks were flanked by a battery of very heavy guns on the creek which separates the island which we were on from the small pine-covered island next above. The breastworks were not parallel to the beach, but receded as they ran up the island, and these heavy guns were several hundred yards from the river, up which, from the ocean, the enemy's ships were expected to come. I never heard who was responsible for the engineering. I am satisfied that Colonel Hagood was not, because, like myself, he had a leaning towards the system taught us at the Citadel, and had never learnt the [

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