>
Reminiscences of John Baylis Lewis
1st Regiment of State Troops
Junior Reserves
Company H
Anderson District
>

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 head.

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 Street.

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 Confederate money.

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 The Arsenal.

Source:
Elloree Chapter
United Daughters of the Confederacy
Elloree, S. C.

Published:
RECOLLECTIONS AND REMINISCENCES 1861-1865
SC Divison, UDC
Pages 27 - 35

Regimental Page >

>
If you have any information about these troops or these units, please contact
>
Bil Brasington