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The Anderson Intelligencer

The Anderson Intelligencer

May 26, 1914

Page 32







            The ordinance of secession was passed on the 30th of December, 1860 and from that date there were military organizations of the State in service at Charleston, but they were chiefly detachments from the city organizations until Maxey Gregg’s regiment was formed in January, 1861 after that the volunteering began in earnest all over the State.  Governor Pickens made a call for one company out of every battalion of the old militia organizations, which procured ten regiments of 1.100 men each from the entire State—an army of 10,000 mostly young men varying from 18 to 25 years of age.


            It was my fortune to belong to a company that was organized in Anderson on the 14th of August, 1860 under the name of the “Palmetto Riflemen” which marched out as one man to Haynie’s old field, four miles south of Anderson, when volunteers were called for at the muster ground of the fourth regiment, South Carolina militia in February, 1861.  Each battalion furnished a company besides which made three companies from the militia regiments which exceeded the call of the governor.  The ____ militia regiment embraced that territory on the north side of the country which also furnished companies; Pickens supplied its quota and Greenville sent three companies making 11 companies to compose the Fourth South Carolina Volunteers, which was the official designation.

            The field officers were elected by the companies and Col. John D. Ashmore of Anderson, who had succeeded John L. Orr in the congress of the United States was chosen the commanding officer.  Fort Sumter was fired upon on the 13th of April and Colonel Ashmore received orders on the 13th to rendezvous his regiment at Columbia.  He had previously arranged to send out his orders to the company commanders and I had the honors of taking the official orders to Capt. James Long of Company D, who lived near Greenville.

            I was also instructed to notify the leader of the Piercetown band, which had volunteered as the regimental orchestra to bring his men with their instruments to Anderson on the next day.  The leader was Sam Elrod and he lived quite near the road.  The ____ had been on duty at a battalion ____ter the day previous and when I rode up to the door Sam came out in full regimentals and I delivered the message from his commanding officer.  He immediately asked what it meant and the reply was that Fort Sumter had been fired upon.  Thereupon he wanted further information and he wanted to know “Who fired on her?”  To which reply was made, “Why, our folks, of course,” which seemed to agitate Same and he asked rather vehemently, “What in the h—l did they fire on her for?”  I was unable at the moment to make a satisfactory answer, and reminding Sam of his duty, I went on to Capt. Long’s and thence to a hospitable residence near old Slabtown, where my horse was accustomed to hitch, and where dwelt subsequently captured by an officer one of the fairest of the fair, who ___ of the Hampton Legion, but that is really another story.

            The Anderson companies assembled on Sunday, April 14th, and Col. Ashmore had a difficulty with a citizen the next day which resulted in his resignation.  The command then devolved on Col. J. B. E. Solan, and under his charge the regiment started to Columbia on the 15th, halting at Belton for the night owing to the lack of transportation and reaching Columbia on the afternoon of the 1_th, with Sam Elrod and his corps leading the procession.  The Butler Guards of Greenville, a crack military company which was heartfully well formed, was assigned to quarters in the vacant Catholic “nunnery” on the corner of Main and Richland streets, one square above the postoffice.  It was an elegant building and the _____ next to it was owned by Samuel McCully, who had lovely grounds extending to Laurel street, if I am not mistaken.  The Palmetto Riflemen were given quarters in the storeroom on the same side of Main street, a block and a half north of the Butler Guards, over which resided Father O’Connell, to whom the property belonged, and who was always held in grateful remembrance by every member of our company for his constant kindness and thoughtful attention, especially to the sick.  The remainder of the regiment was quartered in stores and warehouses in “Cottontown,” as that part of the city was then called.

            The Third South Carolina was camped at the fair grounds when first reaching Columbia, and was afterwards sent to Lightwood Knot strings.  Our dress parades were held on Boundary street and although the men were not drilled or disciplined or uniformed, except the Butler Guards and the Palmetto Riflemen, they were not long in acquiring the appearance of soldiers and the ladies of Columbia came to the dress parades in large numbers.  Drilling was almost incessant and the company officers for the most part needed it as much as the men.  Cadets from the Arsenal were appointed to drill the officers and I remembered that Robert Aldrich and the late Geo. C. Wells frequently were assigned to the duty.

            Squad drill was almost a constant pastime at certain hours of the day, especially when “extra duty” was imposed for violations of the army regulations, with which most of us were not acquainted and of which we had little desire to know more.  After we had been in Columbia several weeks and had obtained some knowledge of our camp duties, I ventured with a squad of men down on Blanding street, quite near to the Preston mansion, now the Presbyterian College for women.  I halted the squad under the shade of a large oak in the middle few of trees.  It was between three and four o’clock when we dined sumptuously upon baker’s bread and soup with a few extras thrown in.  Presently one of the boys called my attention to the fact that a servant was approaching with a large waiter which might demand an attack on our part, but we were resolved not flinch from duty.  The servant took off the snowy white cloth which concealed the _____ of this most estimable woman whose kindness and hospitality were proverbial among our soldiers in 1861.  Mine was the first squad in the company to receive such hospitality on the street, but the Blanding street residents joined with Mrs. Brice in bestowing favors of one kind or another upon the boys in gray, and it was an exceedingly popular desire to go there.  I remember the homes; Thornwells, Clarksons and others contributed to the happiness of the men in this way, but acts of kindness were appreciated more highly than the refreshments, though the latter were not despised by any means. 

            One day there was a lad watching our drill on that street and he followed us to the quarters, which led to his being a constant and welcome visitor.  On further acquaintance he wanted to become a soldier, but he was dissuaded from his purpose at that time on account of his ______ youth and very reluctantly saw us march off to Virginia without him.  Later on he threw down his books and entered the service, still a mere boy, and there is no man in the State who is more devoted to the Confederate reunion than Rev. James H. Thornwell, D. D. of Fort Mill, the chaplain of the South Carolina division, who was the lad that became such a general favorite with the Palmetto Riflemen.

            I do not recall the occasion or the purpose in view, but I remember another incident which impressed us very strongly as to the patriotic conduct of the women in Columbia.  A committee from our company was appointed to request the assistance of several ladies, possibly on behalf of the sick, and among other places visited was the home of Col. F. W. McMaster, not very far from our barracks.  Introducing ourselves the readiness with which Mrs. McMaster complied with the request was altogether charming, and her generous offer to take the matter in charge relieved the committee of any further trouble.  On learning my name she promptly advised me that one of my relatives had married into her family’s connection, and on that _____ she claimed my friendship which was most freely given the remainder of her lovely and unselfish life.  Mrs. McMaster was the type of woman whose daily lives are the unbounding benediction to this world and her graciousness to the Confederate soldier never ceased.


            Another visit was made on behalf of the company which occasioned a friendship with one of South Carolina’s worthiest and noblest heroes, Capt. W. H. Humphries, Lieut. C. E. Earle and myself were deputed to pay a visit to Col. Wade Hampton, who was then organizing his famous legion and ascertain if the company could be accepted as part of his infantry, but we were just one day too late and he had secured the six companies of infantry already.  The next time I saw Col. Hampton was two days after the first Manassas, as I was returning from the hospital at Culpepper, Va. where I had been sent with wounded comrades the day before.  I was then trudging along from the station, and in the midst of the battlefield I saw some horsemen coming towards me, the foremost of which I recognized as Colonel Hampton, but did not dream that he would remember me.  His head was bandaged from a wound he had received on Sunday if I am not mistaken.  I saluted him and was about to pass, when he called my name and took me by the hand inquiring about the company, naming several of his friends among them one of his kinsmen, who was mortally wounded and whom I had taken to Culpepper, one of the most intimate companions, who died in a few days at the home of a generous and hospitable family of Virginians where I had left him.  Hampton’s soldiers will readily recognize this incident as characteristic of the man.

            One thing that was indelibly fixed upon my mind during our stay in Columbia was the absence of young men who belonged there.  The governor’s guards and the Richland volunteers were already in service and possibly another company.  The young men remaining so closely that they were hardly ever seen at our dress parades and probably this may be accounted for as brass buttons were immensely popular, about that time.  It was part of my duty every morning to take the morning report to the headquarters of Gen. A. C. Garlington, who commanded the brigade and whose office was in Janney’s Hotel on the site of the recently burned Jerome.  During the month of May the streets looked deserted, with only now and then a soldier, and the stores all wearing an air of complete dullness for lack of customers.  McKenzie’s and Heises soda fountain seemed to be the principle attractions and the soldiers patronized them liberally.  Hotels were doing a thriving business for the relatives of the soldiers came there in large numbers and the young ladies who came to see brothers were gladly welcomed by the brothers of the other young ladies at home.  I remember that the dark eyed beauty from old Slabtown was among the number and it was there she met the handsome young officer of the Legion, who was my guest in Greenville some years ago, and I called on them afterwards in California, this returning the visit made to Columbia in 1861.


            Camp life in Columbia was full of attractions compared with the realities of war as seen in Virginia only a few weeks afterwards.  Each mess had its negro cook, who belonged to one of the boys, and who fared splendidly at the hands of the others.  The commissary department was not very well organized, but that a small matter for boxes were continually arriving from the up-country and every fellow had some money with which to supplement the scant allowances of army regulations, as we then viewed it.  Then the city hotel furnished a good square meal for a small consideration.  It stood where the post-office now stands, very convenient to the quarters.

            When Virginia seceded there were great demonstrations in Columbia.  There was a torchlight procession and the regiments were marched through Main street to the inspiring strains of Sam Elrod’s orchestra.  There was speech-making and rejoicing over the final action of Virginia and every one felt that the theatre of war was to be established there.  My recollection is that the speaking took place in front of the Columbia athenaeum, an institution projected for the benefit of the public by William C. Preston, the man of eloquence and genius, the scholar, the patriot, the Christian gentleman, who had been president of South Carolina college.

            Only a few weeks elapsed until the orders came for the regiment to leave for Virginia.  We had been in the service of the State up to that time, and were now mustered into the provisional army of the Confederate States of America, which took place early in June.  The mustering officer was Gen. Bernard E. Bee who was killed at the first Manassas only a few weeks afterwards.  On the 15th of June we boarded a train via Wilmington, N. C. for Richmond and we reached our destination on the night of the 17th we remained there three days.  Columbia was a thing of the past.  When we got into camp at the Fair grounds, and there was ahead of four years of hardship and struggle which was to end in defeat at Appomatox.

            It was more than a year before I saw Columbia again.  I had been in half a dozen battles receiving slight wounds and knew a great deal more about war.  Columbians were mourning the loss of loved ones, and instead of the glittering pomp there was the stern reality on every hand, which was to terminate in the destruction by the vandal hands of the beautiful, peaceful, restful Columbia, the pride and boast of our State.


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