The Anderson Intelligencer
May 26, 1914
COLUMBIA WAS RENDEZVOUS
FOR UP-COUNTRY TROOPS
A STORY OF THE HALCYON DAYS OF THE NEWBORN
CONFEDERACY—LIGHTWOOD KNOT SPRINGS A FAMOUS CAMPING GROUND—FRAGMENTS OF S. C.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.