Reminiscences of John Baylis Lewis
1st Regiment of State Troops
As to my personal experience and unsuccessful efforts to get in the Confederate
Service during the War for Southern Rights, I will endeavor to give you some of
the facts as I recall them from memory alone, and after the lapse of more than
sixty years, therefore, I beg that you will not consider this sketch to be
altogether correct in detail, but in the main it is true and reliable.
This sketch begins during the latter days of 1864, when the State of South
Carolina had called into service the militia of the State that embraced all
ages of able-bodied boys and men, from sixteen to sixty years of age, or, as
the call was sometimes termed, "from the cradle to the grave."
Prior to this call the militia were on duty as Home
Guards and in other lines of local duty, and you can well imagine the unrest
and dread suffered by the women and children who were to be left at home,
practically without protection.
It is worthy to note and pay a just tribute to the faithful negroes who were
left to perform the duties of labor in the cultivation of the crops and to
provide the necessary food and supplies for the use of their owners, but is
true that they performed these services without the least exhibition of
resentment and continued to be obedient to the end.
At last, I was sixteen years old, or young, as you may prefer to call it; and
was among those who were called to field service. You may imagine my pride and
satisfaction, the dangers and hardships of camp and field had never entered my
The Fourth Regiment of South Carolina Militia was ordered to mobilize. I was
appointed to the position of Aide de Camp on the staff of General James W.
Harrison of Anderson. This honor conferred upon me by the Commanding General
of the Brigade was a compliment, indeed, and my duty was to "muster in" the
troops of the Regiment, which was embraced within that part of Anderson
District lying south of the town, that contained about one hundred boys and men
between the ages of sixteen and sixty years of age.
On the day appointed, we met at Belton, S.C., a point on the Greenville and
Columbia Railroad about ten miles east of Anderson, that was easily accessible
from all parts of the District. There were about seventy-five boys and only
four men who reported for duty and these were formed into a Company that were
officered with Professor Thomas Hall as Captain, James B. Burris, First
Lieutenant, S. S. Newell, Second Lieutenant and Asa Hall, Third Lieutenant;
with Jeremiah Yeargin, Orderly Sergeant, and the appointment of a full
complement of other Non-ommissioned Officers.
Captain Hall was a graduate of West Point and a Professor in the Johnson Female
Academy at Anderson. The other Commissioned Officers were citizens from the
rural districts of Anderson.
Orders were published and a day was appointed for us to entrain at the
different stations on the railroad for Columbia, S.C.
On arriving at Columbia, we received additional orders to report to the
Adjutant General at Charleston, S.C., to which place we were transported via
the Southern Railroad, where we went into camp near the old depot, on Line
Being without cooking utensils, tents or other equipment, and having consumed
the rations brought from our homes, I was supposed to make an effort to find
the Quarter-Master and arrange for rations for the Company, having been
appointed Third Sergeant.
At the Commissary of the Company, I secured the necessary requisition and
received three days' rations for about eighty men which, when divided out among
the mess sergeants, amounted to one quart of corn meal, half pint of the
blackest molasses, per man, and a quarter of beef to be divided among the
several messes, according to the number of men in each mess.
We were without arms or ammunition, for which reason we were given permission
to take in the sights of the City, among which were the Battery, Magnolia
Cemetery, the Forts and Batteries along the waterfront, and other places of
interest, all of which was a bit show and wonderful sights to the boys, the
majority having never been to Charleston before this.
After a few days spent in camp, we received orders one afternoon to entrain for
Aiken, S. C., where it was reported that a raiding party was expected to attack
the town, and we were all excited, with a quarter of beef on hand, and no
vessels in which to cook it. The question was, what could we do with a quarter
of beef and no salt, and no cooking vessels to cook it in?
Finally, we decided to sell the beef and, as luck seemed to be with us, we
found a purchaser in a family who were camping in boxcars near our camp. The
duty of making the sale fell on me and, after we explained our reason for
disposing of the meat, we soon struck a bargain and sold it for cash in
We were ordered to entrain for Aiken and were soon aboard the South Carolina
Railroad and on our way via Branchville to the rescue of the town. Upon
reaching there, we found that the raid scare had not materialized and, after
spending the night on the railroad cars, we were transported to our camp at
Charleston. The Federal gunboats were then shelling the City almost
continually, night and day, and the sound of bursting shells carried
consternation to the ears of the untrained boys at camp, though very little
real damage was done in that part of the city where we were stationed. To me,
this was not a matter of concern as I had visited Charleston prior to this and
the excitement caused by being under fire did not disturb me greatly.
But we were soon to be nearer the enemy and were ordered to entrain again via
the Charleston and Savannah Railroad to a point where the enemy was landing
from their gunboats, with the intention of destroying the railroad bridge at
Tuilifinny Creek, and cut off our means of communication with Savannah, Georgia.
We arrived at Tullifinny just in time to get under fire from the Federal
gunboats, their attack having been unsuccessful at Honey Hill; being defeated
and driven back to the shelter of their big guns of the fleet lying near, they
seemed to be willing to retire from the land attack.
Our Regiment, known as the First Regiment of South Carolina Militia, was
commanded by Colonel Griffin, and we were camped at Grahamville, a small town
about two miles from the Railroad, our duty being to guard the lines in front
of our camp that extended from the railroad toward the lines of the Federal
forces. We were soon removed to a point immediately on the Railroad where there
was a battery stationed, being supported by the cadets of the South Carolina
Military Academy at Charleston, S.C., under the command of Major Benjamin
White, and a complement of officers who were members of the corps of Professors
of that Institution.
This battalion of cadets had received their baptism of fire in the recent
battles fought at Honey Hill and Tullifinny Creek, and they were officially
complimented for their daring bravery and splendid fighting qualities as shown
in that battle. I had previously applied for appointment as a cadet, for
admission to the Arsenal Academy, the preparatory department of the South
Carolina Military Academy at Columbia, S.C., and while in camp with my Company
at Tullifinny, I received the documents from the Governor, W. J. Magrath,
transferring me from the Militia Regiment to the Arsenal Academy and with
several other appointees, under the care of Sergeant Murdock of Company A,
Citadel Battalion, we boarded the cars for Charleston, where we spent a night
at the Citadel Barracks, this being the first night that we had slept in a
house since we had left our homes.
From Charleston, we were transferred to Columbia, to begin studies at
United Daughters of the Confederacy
Elloree, S. C.
RECOLLECTIONS AND REMINISCENCES 1861-1865
SC Divison, UDC
Pages 27 - 35
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