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Full text of "History of the Fourth regiment of South Carolina volunteers, from the commencement of the war until Lee's surrender. Giving a full account of all its movements, fights and hardships of all kinds. Also a very correct account of the travels and fights of the Army of northern Virginia ... This book is a copy of letters written in Virginia at the time by the author and sent home to his family ... With a short sketch of the life of the author"

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Fourth Regiment 



Commencement of the War until 
Lee s Surrender. 


SHANNON & CO., Printers and Stationers, 
Greenville, S. C. 

Entered according to the Act of Congress in the year 1891, by JK SSK 
WAI/TON REID, in the office of the Librarian of Congress at Washing 
ton, D. C. 


DEAR READER : The Fourth Regiment of South Caro 
lina Volunteers was made up principally from Green 
ville, Anderson and Pick ens (which then enbraced what 
is now Oconee) Counties. 

The field officers were J. B. E. Sloan, Colonel; Charles 
S. Mattison, Lieutenant-Colonel, James Whitner, Major. 
Samuel Wilkes was Adjutant, A. C. Cooley, Surgeon, 
Burnham. Assistant Surgeon, Henry Cauble. Com 

The Captians of Companies were Kilpatrick, Hum 
phreys, Dean, Anderson, Pool, Hawthorne, Long, Hol- 
lingsworth, Griffin and Shanklin, with a full quota of 
Lieutenants and non-commissioned officers. 

This Regiment was called out April 14th, 1861, and 
went to Columbia, S. C., from which place I wrote my 
first letter home, and from that time on 1 endeavored 
to give an account of our travels until the Regiment 
ceased to be even a battalion, in July, 1862. As the 
reader will see, I wrote a great many letters to my 
family during this period, which were all taken care of 
and which I have here copied from the originals, leaving 
nothing out, except a few things of a private nature. 
I have also used precisely the same language that I did 
in the letters, because I could use no better 

In writing the letters at that time I stated nothing 
but facts in regard to our movements, or what I 
thought to be facts, and I can also say that I still think 
them facts. 

A goodly number of my old companions in arms and 
others, knowing that these letters had been preserved, 
have urged me for several years back to have them 


published. I have at length concluded to do so, hoping 
they may to some extent interest the reader and bene 
fit the writer. Please pass over all errors, as I have 
never studied grammar a day in my life, and am by no 
means a learned man. I hope that grammar is not 
what you want, but a plain statement of facts. These 
pages are written so the most illiterate person can un 
derstand, and if so, most assuredly a scholar can. 
Without further remarks, I will say, "Such as I have, 
give I unto thee." 

Very respectfully yours, 
Greenville Co., S. C. J. W. REID. 




COLUMBIA, S. C., June 8, 1861. 

There has nothing important transpired since I wrote 
you a few days ago. Since the taking of Fort Sumter 
I have heard of 110 more fighting, but as the ball has 
opened there is no telling at present how or when it 
may end, but it cannot reasonably be doubted by any 
one that is familiar with the present situation of affairs, 
that there will be fighting to do, and a great deal of it. 

I have no doubt in my mind but that we will be sent 
on to Virginia soon. Everything seems to point that 
way. Virginia is where the Federal army is concentrat 
ing its forces, and there is where I think we will meet 
them ; and if we do go I will try to keep you posted on 
our movements, our ups and downs, our outs and ins 
at least, so long as I am able to do so until hostili 
ties cease, should I be spared through it all. Let our 
united prayers be that I may be spared. 

Since coming to Columbia I have met up with a great 
many of oar friends aad acquaintances from Greenville 
and some of our relations ; also, some from Pendletoa 
and other places. Your brother Robinson Tripp s two 
eldest sons, William and Elias, are here, and your 
cousin, Ware Childers. David Keesler of Pendleton is 
also here. I shall not at present give you the names 
of acquaintances that I have formed here. I may 
have occason in future letters to refer to some of them, 
and sad to contemplate, it is probable that I may have 
to chronicle the death of some of them. 

Our boys here are very jubilant over the taking of 
P ort Surnter, and so am I. But the the taking of Fort 
Snmter is not exactly taking or whipping into submis- 

8 History of the Fourth Regiment 

sion the Yankee nation, or Yankee army. That thing 
remains to be done hereafter, if at all. It will not be 
done in a day. Big men seem willing to drink all the 
blood that will be spilled in this war. I do not feel 
quite drouthy enough to do so myself, and I think 
they will have to be as big as they feel before they do 
so. They may possibly be able to drink all they them 
selves have shed, but I fear they will not be able to 
take the whole bottle. Time will show. 

We are still drilling every day, but so far as I am con 
cerned I could drill them as well as they can drill me, 
as you know I have been a commissioned officer ever 
since I was eighteen years old, and already understand 
military tactics and army regulations very well. Never 
theless I drill with the balance of them. When we are 
not drilling the time is pretty much taken up by drink 
ing popskull, frying pan cakes and bruising around gen 
erally. You may ask: Why fry pan cakes ? Ans: Be 
cause the dough sticks to our hands and we don t know 
how to get it off. Please send me a receipt. We make 
the latter with a spoon. 

Most of the boys here think that we are just going to 
have a frolic. I think so too, but I fear that we will 
have to dance something besides hornpipes and jigs. 

It reminds me of 

" A Highland laddie heard of war, 

Which set his heart in motion ; 
He heard the distant cannon roar 

And saw the smiling Ocean." 

Our immediate neighbors are mostly all well. Mr. J. 
J. Land is sick, but not dangerously so. I will write 
soon, Providence permitting. 

Yours as ever, J. W. REID. 

NOTE. I had written two or three letters to my wife before thi one, 
but as I had given her no instructions to keep them, they were therefore 
not taken care of as those I wrote afterwards. However, they contained 
nothing that would interest the reader of to-day. Neither will those 
that will follow the preceeding letter for some time, but in order to pre- 

South Carolina Volunteers. 9 

serve a connected account of the movements of the glorious Fourth, they 
are inserted. It ceased to be even a battalion in the latter part of 1862, 
When I ariive at that point I will inform you as near as I can of what 
became of the few that were left of the " Bloody Old Fourth," as it was 
familiarly known. Now, dear reader, follow m and get it all. 

COLUMBIA, S. C., June 14, 1861. 

Everything and everybody is in commotion here to 
day. We have orders to make ready to start to Vir 
ginia to-morrow. I suppose there is no doubt but that 
we will go, and if so, the Lord alone knows when we 
will get back. Most assuredly, with some of us at least, 
that time will never come. But don t let the thought 
of that disturb you at all. Try to think that I will be 
among those who will get back, and I will try and think 
the same; in fact I do think I will. There seems to be 
something within me that assures me that I will get back, 
and still I am by no means certain of it; neither can I be, 
but still I feel as as though 1 would. Since coming to 
Columbia I have visited all the places of note in the city; 
and although I had been here often before, I had never 
been to the lunatic asylum before. I expect I should have 
been there long ago. It may be that they can bring in 
sane persons to sanity there. I can t say, but I can say 
that it would work the other way with me. for I was not 
there but a short time, and in less than three hours after 
wards I hardly knew whether I was a rebel soldier or an 
Irish Yankee. There is, however, a glimmering possibility 
that going to the ayslurn was not th^ prime cause of my 
insanity, as several of the boys swear that they have seen 
me so before from causes too delicate to mention. At any 
rate I did not again visit the ayslum, but I did visit Hunt 

There were several herefrom about home and from Green 
ville to see us off in the morning. If we do go you will 
hear of it in a day or two. I send you rny carpet bag and 
contents by Mr. E. J. Earle. He can tell you more than I 
now have time to write. I send you my likeness by Mr. 
Earle also. 

10 History of the Fourth Regiment, 

I musj: now close and prepare for my journey. I will 
write again at the first opportunity. 

Yours as ever, 

J. W. REID. 

NoTK. We went the next day as anticipated. 

CAMP NEAR RICHMOND, VA., June 18th, 1861. 
When I last wrote to you we were preparing to leave 
Columbia, S. C. Accordingly on the next day, the 15th, 
we left our native State, and on the night of the 17th 
reached Richmond. I shall say but little about our trip 
here. It was, to say the least, quite an unpleasant trip, 
as we came the most of the vvay in open dirt coaches. We 
came by the way of Wilmington, N. C. At every depot and 
town we passed the ladies and gentlemen had gathered to 
give us a welcome. Flags and handkerchiefs were waved in 
profusion; every one seemed to be in hiirh spirits. We 
were treated to all we could eat and drink (and that was 
considerable) at every place we stopped at. Some time 
before we reached Petersburg the Captain of the company 
to which I belonged Thomas Dean by name telegraphed 
on to Petersburg to have dinner ready for his entire com 
pany when we arrived there. We were to pay Captain 
Dean afterwards. Accordingly when we arrived the dinner 
was ready, and so were we; but before eating the most of 
us took as an appetizer a doze of rot-of-pop-skull. I don t 
know that I ever saw 7 men come so near eating the worth 
of their money before in my life. A corn-husking or log 
rolling would look like a fast day by the side of it. I do 
think that Bill - - ate at least two chickens, and other 
things in proportion, and then filled every pocket that he 
had, except the one his flask was in, with pies, cakes and 
other desserts, and then took a baked chicken off in his 
hat. After we had been on the train a while, at an un 
guarded moment, for some unkowri cause, he took off his 
hat, and out fell cold speck on the floor. As you were 
never at a shooting match where they were shooting for 
mutton, and the mutton an eye witness to the proceedings, 

South Carolina Volunteers. 11 

of course you don t know how he looked, but I do. Rich 
mond is a good, big place, and is situated at the head of 
tide water on the James River. I don t suppose that we 
will remain here long-, but will go further North, w r here we 
will meet our brethren of the North, and it is more than 
likely that we will fall out and fight before we are together 
very long. 

I will close this letter. I will doubtless write again 
soon. Yours as ever, 

J. W. REID. 

NOTE. This .trip from Columbia to Richmond, at that time, beat 
anything that I ever saw for non-discipline and insubordination in 
soldiers. It seems that every man in the regiment mistook himself for 
Commander-in-Chief of the regiment. Whiskey was plentiful and 
cheap ; every man had as much as he wanted, and a great many had a 
great deal more than they needed. I suppose that there was some few 
that did not drink any ; but if so, your humble servant, the writer of 
this note, had not the pleasure of their acquaintance. I was truly glad 
when we got to Richmond, where we had a partial rest. We still 
had whiskey in abundance, but it was not long before it was less 
plentiful and harder to get at, and I was truly glad of it, and then times 
went on more smoothly, and it was for the better of us all. 

LEESBURG, LOUDON Co., VA., Jan. 24th, 1861. 
When I last wrote you I was at the City of Richmond. 
In that letter I stated to you that I did not think we 
would remain there lonjr, and such really turned out to be 
the case. We left Richmond on the 20th, and arrived at 
Manassas Junction the 21st, but only remained there a 
few hours, and then went on some eight or ten miles to a 
little place called Gainesville, and remained there all night. 
On the 22d we for the first time took up the line of march 
on foot, and on the 23d arrived at this place. On our 
route we passed the old homestead of President Monroe, 
a very beautiful place. We are camped here, near the 
town of Leesburg, which is on the Potomac River. We 
are at an advanced post, being in advance of our main 
army. We are said to be only twenty-seven miles above 
the City of (Abraham) Washington. This is a rich and 

1 2 History of th e Fo urth Reg im en t 

beautiful country and a great place for cattle, and the 
land literally flows with milk and honey. So we are by no. 
means suffering for rations, as provisions of all kinds are 
plentiful here and easily obtained. We are now in plain 
view of the mountains, and nearly in view of the men we 
came to see, as they are just on the other side of the river, 
and our business here now is to try to keep them from 
crossing over; but if they do succeed in crossing the Poto 
mac River, some of them at least will have to cross Jor 
dan, and some few of them may have to cross over another 
noted stream, called the River of Styx, and that is the last 
watering place this side of Hades. 

Whilst in camp near Richmond I found a beautiful little 
money purse. I took it away off in the woods to examine 
my fortune. With trembling hand and palpitating heart 
I opened it; it contained a negro woman s pass and two 
copper cents. Is it possible that I can ever lack for money 
again. I got me a new pair of shoes while at Richmond, 
and if I have to travel much more in them I will have 
corns to dispose of. The Virginians here say that^he 
Yankees are as afraid as death of South Carolinians. I 
don t know about that, but I do know that South Caro 
linians are not afraid of them. 

Called to drill. Yours as ever, 

J. W. REID. 

LEESBUKG, LOUDON Co., YA., June 30th, 1861. 
Nothing new of import has occurred here since I wrote 
to you on the 24th inst. The Yankee Doodles have not 
as yet crossed the river as I have heard of, but as I have 
before said, if they do cross we will try our best to make 
them recross. They are nearly in sight of us, but they are 
in Maryland and we in Virginia, the river being the line. 
They may and no doubt will cross, but if not I feel prett} 
certain that we will not cross over to them. I am no gen 
eral, corporal or scoundrel, but my private opinion is that 
it would be very bad logic in us to cross over to them, as 
I don t think we should be the invaders. It is an accepted 

South Carolina Volunteers. 13 

fact here now that we will have some hard fighting to do 
before a great while. If so I say let it come; that is what 
we came here for, and the sooner we go at it perhaps the 
sooner it will end, and I mean to do what fighting I have 
to do as soon as possible and get back home to Dixie. 

Since commencing this letter I have been put on guard. 
I was put on at eight o clock this morning and will be 
relieved at eight to-morrow morning. I am now writfng 
on my knee at the guard house, when off of post, w T hich is 
two-thirds of the- time; so excuse bad writing, for my 
chances at writing are very bad. Make yourself no uneas 
iness about me if you can help it. 1 will try. and do the 
best I can for No. 1. I have not missed a roll call since I 
came into the service. I send my best wishes to Colonel 
Parke, E. J. Earle, A. M. Holland, and all inquiring 
friends. I hope the neighbors will treat you well. I have 
come here and left everything that is dear to me on earth 
to fight and suffer all manner of hardships to protect 
their property, not my own, w 7 hilst many of them who 
have property are still at home with their families in fact 
they are the ones as a general rule that stay at home; and 
I think honor dictates and justice demands that they 
should see to the families of the poor horny-handed sol 
diers who are doing their fighting, hundreds of miles frarn 
home and friends. Will we poor soldiers ever be recom 
pensed for what we are doing? I fear not. I now go on 
post. Yours as ever, 

J. W. REID. 

NOTE. In the above letter, written nearly thirty years ago, you will 
see that I doubted the poor soldiers ever getting anything for what 
they were then undergoing for the wealthy men of the South. I know 
very well that there has been several theoYies advanced as being the 
cause of the war, and it cannot be successfully denied but that it was 
the negro, and nothing but the negro, a fact which any chuckle- 
headed school boy is familiar with. But as to the poor soldier ever 
getting anything, I am about of the same opinion now that I was thirty 
years ago. It don t seem to matter how old or how poor and infirm a 
soldier may be, he can t get anything unless he was nearly killed in 
time f of the war. It reminds me of an anecdote that I will here relate : 
A man that in former times did a great deal of hauling to Augusta, 
Ga., was in the habit of having something crank to say to persons that 

14 History of the Fourth Regiment 

he would pass. On one occasion his son John was driving the wagon 
and he was walking behind. He passed an old man sitting in a door 
shoemaking, but said nothing to him, but a little further on he came 
to a stout-looking young man chopping wood. " Is that your father 
back yonder that was shoemaking," he added. " Yes," replied the 
young man. " You had better go to your father, for he dropped dead 
just as we passed the house." The young man dropped his axe and 
ran to the house, but soon returned, cursing and abusing the man in 
a dreadful manner. The man called out, "John, come back here quick ; 
this man is cursing me all to pieces because his daddy is not dead." 
So they don t give the poor, infirm soldier anything because he was 
not killed in the war. The poor, infirm soldier should get something 
after he becomes of a certain age. 

[This letter is rather a continuation of the preceding 
one, written June 30th, 1861.] 

Next Thursday will be the Fourth of July, and on that 
day the United States Congress will meet, arid then it will 
soon be known what we may depend upon. The universal 
opinion here is that we will be pushed forward. As to my 
own part I feel confident that such will be the case. There 
was a false alarm here last night. It was reported that 
the enemy had crossed the river in large numbers. We 
were ordered to pack up every thing and cook up two days 
rations, in case we should have to fall back to our main 
army, in the vicinity of Manassas Junction, which we un 
doubtedly would have had to do if the report had proved 
true, for our regiment, if they are South Carolinians, could 
not long continue against the whole Federal army. We 
remained up all night with our equipments on and our 
muskets at our sides ^ but the report proved false, if in 
deed there was such a report at all. I think it Avas done 
to try our pluck. I am confident there is none of the 
enemy on this side of the river in this vicinity. There 
were some ladies here the other day from Maryland, and 
they say that if we never die till the Yankees kill us that 
we will live till we turn to mules and jackasses. I hope 
not, for some of us are too much like the latter aifimal 
already. The ladies of Leesburg and vicinity corne here 

South Carolina Volunteers. . 15 

every day by hundreds and bring us all kinds of good 
things to eat, milk and honey, butter and eggs, and 
almost any and everything you could mention. These 
ladies are quite nice looking, and some of them are said 
to be quite wealthy. Tf you could be here on those occa 
sions you would think that there was not a married man 
in the regiment but me. A great many of them are mar 
ried men, but they are not obliged to say so. 

We all went out yesterday to try our guns. We shot at 
a barrel, two or three hundred yards off, placed on a fence. 
Jim Loftin and myself, and one or two more, was all that 
hit the barrel, of my company. If our men shoot at the 
enemy like they did at that barrel, they will not kill very 
many of the enemy unless they climb like squirrels or get 
in the ground like moles; for those that did not hit the 
tree top hit the ground about half way to the target. 
I will finish when preaching is over. 

EVENING, 2 O CLOCK. Just as I stopped writing this 
morning it set in to raining, and is raining yet; so we 
have no preaching. I went over to Leesburg the other 
day, and amongst other things I got was a fine comb, but 
of course I did not need it, for I don t believe that there is 

one in my head. You may perhaps say there may be 

some on it. You say that you don t feel like you would 
ever see me again. My dear, banish all such thoughts. 
Far from you I feel quite the reverse. Try and feel the 
same way. All dangers are not deaths. Keep all the 
letters that I send you, as I may want to refer to them at 
some future time. 

Direct to "Tudor Hall, Leesburg, Loudon County, Va." 

Yours as ever, 

J. W. REID. 

LEESBURG, VA., July 2d, 1861. 

I did not intend writing again quite so soon, but having 
an opportunity of sending a letter by hand, I will there 
fore scribble a few lines more, as I am well aware that I 
write none too often. So far as you are concerned there 

16 History of the Fourth Regiment 

has nothing important occurred since I wrote to you last, 
June 30th. We have all sorts of rumors here, but none of 
them have any foundation whatever, and therefore I will 
not report them here. I have been reading and writing 
letters for the boys nearly all day. I undoubtedly write 
more letters than any other man in the regiment. 

It is quite cool here to-day. I am wearing my coat all 
day. This is quite a healthy place here. Our regiment is 
enjoying very good health here at present. I doubt very 
much if one could take the same number of persons any 
where in the country arid find less sickness amongst them 
than is to be found in our regiment. We are all anxiously 
awaiting the Fourth of July; it is only two days off. 
After it is over it will not be long till we know what to 
depend upon. A great many men here seem to flatter 
themselves that there will be but little fighting done. I 
can t say how it may be, but I very much doubt that doc 
trine. We will all soon know r more about it. Now, in 
giving yon my ideas about things, don t take it for 
granted that I am right. I may not be. I only give you 
my private opinion about those things; but what I do 
state to you for a fact you may at all times be assured 
that such is a fact. At all events I shall state nothing 
as a fact unless I have the best of reasons for believing 
it. When I write you that such and such is a rumor, 
you may put it down as a rumor; neither need you pufc 
much confidence in rumor, for old Dame Rumor is a noto- 
rions liar. She will actually tell a lie when the truth would 
answer the best purpose. 

I will write again soon. 

Yours affectionately, 

J. W. REID. 

LEESBURG, LOUDON Co., VA., July 5, 1861. 

Nothing of importance has occurred since I wrote to 
you last. 

Night before last some of our men got with a negro 
who lives near here, and told him they were Yankees, and 
made arrangements with him to poison the whole regi- 

South Carolina Volunteers. 17 

merit. He agreed to put poison in pies, cakes and the 
like, and distribute them amongst us all he could, and I 
understand that he was preparing to do so when he was 
arrested. He was tried this morning and found guilty of 
intended murder. He has just now finished taking the 
most powerful whipping that I ever saw any human being 
take. He has just now gone home. Was our men justi 
fiable in what they done? Every one can answer this 
question in their own way. On yesterday, the Fourth, 
the ladies and gentlemen of Leesburg and surrounding 
country came here in great numbers. The ladies pre 
sented us with a beautiful flag. A Virginia officer made 
the presentation speech, in the name of the ladies. The 
acceptation speech was made by Warren D. Wilkes, of 
Anderson, in the name of the regiment. We all agreed 
that it should never trail in the dirt. The Fourth is over. 
We will soon know what to depend upon. May the God 
of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the 
God of all mankind, be with you and with us all. 

Yours as ever, 

J. W. REID. 


NOTE. In those letters from Leesburg I wrote a great many things 
that I am now leaving out, as they would be of little interest to the 
reader of the day. I will therefore hurry on to times and things more 
exciting. Although an\- one still living who was in the old Fourth 
Regiment at that time, will look back to these times that I am now 
writing about with more pleasure than at any period of the war ; for at 
Leesburg we not only lived like kings but had the company and the 
sympathy of as fine a set of ladies as lived on God s green earth. If 
these writings should ever find their way into the hands of any of the 
old citizens about Leesburg, I presume they will recollect the Fourth 
of July, 1861. Our flag never did trail in the dust 

1 o clock, July 7th, 1861. } 

As I don t expect to close this letter for several days, I 
shall not say anything about the war to-day. We are 
camped here within one mile of the town of Leesburg, and 
in plain view of the Maryland mountains, distant about 

18 History of the Fourth Regiment 

ten miles. We are camped in a- beautiful grove of oak, 
hickory and other forest trees. The grove contains some 
five or six acres. All around except on one side are old 
fields, grown up with grass and clover, on which are graz 
ing a great many fine cattle. It is stated here that this 
beautiful grove was once a Methodist camp ground, and 
a more beautiful place could not have been selected. It is 
also said to have once been the camping ground of Gen 
eral Braddock during the English and French Avar. I 
have just returned from preaching. An old Virginia 
preacher preached for. us. The opening hymn was, "Am I 
a Soldier of the Cross," &c. His text was 12th chapter 
Romans, llth verse: "Not slothful in business, fervent 
in spirit, fearing the Lord." He preached an excellent 
sermon. It made me think of home. I am truly glad that 
we can still hear the Gospel preached here, if we are in the 
army. God is everywhere. He is looking over us here, 
just the same a& he would under our own vine and fig tree. 
As much as I regret it, I will have to inform you that 
it was a funeral occasion. Death has already entered our 
ranks. There has been three of our regiment to die this 
past week. A Mr. Pilgram, of Captain Long s company; 
a Mr. Martin, of the same company, and a Mr. Anderson, 
of Captain Griffin s company. They all three died this 
past week. Our Adjutant, Samuel Wilkes, is sick, but 
I don t think he is dangerously sick. 1 will now stop 
writing for the present. 

EVENING, 5 O CLOCK. I have just returned from preach 
ing again. Our Chaplain, Mr. Guin, preached this evening 
a very good sermon. Mr. Gnin is an old acquaintance of 
mine. He lives at Greenville; his wife is Laura Guiu. I 
found a beautiful pearl-handled knife the other day that I 
intend giving to you some day if I don t find the owner of 
it. I must now stop and write for others. 

nite from Washington yet. Report says that Lincoln in 
his address to Congress advises the raising of a large 
army. I expect this is true. I could not tell vou the 

South Carolina Volunteers. 19 

tenth part of the rumors that are now going: the rounds, 
some of which, if we believed them, would make us think 
that we would soon be at home again. Other reports, if 
believed, would make us doubt if we ever got home or 
not, Now, this is the same old dame that I told you was 
such a liar. I will stop again for more rumors. 

portant. I expect to write a letter to Colonel Parks in a 
day or two. You will doubtless hear from me when he 
gets it. 

thing in an uproar. We are preparing to leave here. We 
are going down the river; trouble is before us. No doubt 
all dangers are not deaths. I must now close this long, 
uninteresting letter, and prepare to go I know not 
where. Yours as ever, 

J. W. REID. 


, July 12th, 1861. 
I closed my last letter in a hurry, to prepare to move. 
,YVe left Leesburg the same day and came on to this place, 
some twenty-five miles. We were nearly t^n days coming. 
I don t know how long we \ull remain here, but I hope it 
will not be long, for I do not like the place at all. Tell 
Colonel Parks to read the letter to you that I sent him ; 
telJ him that the Louisiana Battaiion that I wrote to him 
about has left us and gone, it is said, to Faifax Court 
House. It is also said that we will go there shortly; I 
don t profess to know whether it is true or not. It is 
also said that the Butler Guards, of Greenville, are there. 
If so I would like to see them, as I am acquainted with 
nearly every man in the company. One of the men of 
Wheat s Battalion had his leg cut off before they left us. 
He is now dying. Report (who is nearly as bij; a liar as 
rumor) says that some of the enemy is now occupying our 

20 History of the Fourth Regiment 

old position at Leesburg. I don t believe it; but if they 
are there, I want to go and drive them back to Maryland, 
or somewhere else. I shall say but little more at present, 
as it has been but a day or two since I wrote to you. 
Direct your next letter to Manassas Junction, Va. 

Yours affectionately, 

J. W. REID. 

NOTE. Wheat s Battalion did not go to Fairfax Court House, but 
halted about one mile from us. Neither did we go back to L/eesburg. 
The man I spoke of as having his leg cut off died that evening. 

FRYING PAN, VA., July 13th, 1861. 

I now commence another letter to you, and may not 
finish it for several days. 

We were alarmed last night about dark by a report 
that we were surrounded by about twenty thousand of 
the enemy, and that our only chance of escape was to cut 
our way through them, and make our way as best we 
could to Manassas Junction, where General Beauregard is 
with our main army. Our officers told us that if we failed 
in this we would all be cut to pieces or captured. We 
were ordered by General Evans to prepare for action. 
Provided an attack should be made in ten minutes all 
was ready. Each man drew forty-five rounds of cart 
ridges, and had everything in wagons ready for an emer 
gency. We thought that twenty thousand, and five 
thousand of them cavalry, rather too much for eight or 
nine hundred of us, although it was our determination to 
fight our way through them. A large picket was sent out 
to examine the situation. They returned this morning, 
and report no enemy in this immediate vicinity; perhaps 
none nearer than Alexandria. However, there is no doubt 
in my mind but that we will have hard fighting to do 
before long. Everything points in that direction. 

Two more men of Wheat s Battalion got killed acci 
dentally yesterday. W T heat s Battalion and our regi 
ment and one hundred and eighty mounted men are all the 
troops we have in this vicinity. I will now stop a while. 

South Carolina Volunteers. 21 

JULY 14TH. All is excitement arid confusion here at pres 
ent. Yesterday, just after I stopped writing, we got the 
news that two of our regiments had started to join us, 
and that the enemy had got in between them and us, and 
that they were retreating back towards Manassas Junc 
tion ; so we were ordered to pack up and move imme 
diately. In a few minutes we were en route for this place, 
distant some two or three miles. We call this place Camp 
Holcomb. I hope that we have not jumped out of the 
frying pan into the fire. I like this place better, provided 
an attack is made, than I did frying pan, as there is an 
old railroad cut here, some twenty feet deep, which will be 
greatly in our favor, if they come on us here. Ten o clock, 
and our pickets still fail to find a foe near us. Some of 
old Rumor s tales I reckon. We heard some cannonading 
last night in the direction of Alexandria, where Mr. Rumor 
says there are twenty thousand of the enemy and fifteen 
thousand Confederate troops. I have heard several re 
ports from there to-day, all without foundation. If the 
fight comes on I will do the best 1 can. I am determined 
not to run unless the boys all run with me. I will die in 
the battle field first. I will stop a while again. 

man here to-day from Alexandria. He says we are as safe 
here as we would be in the middle of South Carolina. I 
w r ould much rather risk it there than here, so far as I am 
personally concerned. There are some men here who try 
to make themselves and everything else look as big as 
possible, and every rumor that they hear they \vrite it 
home as facts, and that is calculated to keep the people 
at home always excited and uneasy. Don t listen to every 
thing you hear, but what I write to you shall be facts, as 
near as possible. Another thing I warn you against, and 
that is, what you see in the papers. A great many take 
what they read in the papers as gospel truths. The papers 
are like the men ; they publish every rumor as an estab 
lished fact. Don t believe any thing you hear, and only 
about half what you see. I will now stop again and wait 
for more lies. 

22 History of the Fourth Regiment 

TUESDAY EVENING, JULY 16. No positive news yet. I 
understand, from a pretty reliable source, that there is a 
great many of the enemy whose time will soon "expire 1 , 
having only volunteered for six months. I believe this 
report to be true, and if so an attack is almost sure to be 
made before their time is out, as it will take some consid 
erable time to get others in their place and have them 
ready for service. I believe this to be precisely the state 
of affairs now ; and if so, we will most assuredly have them 
to fight soon. I am not uneasy, for I want it to come, 
because I want it over with; so I presume that Ave will 
have to whip 1hose that are here now, and then whip 
their new army next Spring, or let them whip us, as the 
case may be. I will now drop that subject and talk of 
something else. We are still getting plenty to eat, and 
that which is good enough for anybody. It is good 
enough for me. Again I stop for news. 

WEDNESDAY MORNING, JULY 17 r rn. All quiet along the 
Potomac. No exciting rumors to-day. My eyes are quite 
sore; otherwise I am well. I will now close this long letter 
before writing again. I think we will find something to 
do. Don t be uneasy. 

Yours as ever, 

J. W. REID. 

NOTE. In closing these letters I always stated the health of onr 
immediate neighbors naming each one of them which I omit now 
as of no importance. I generally taper off with a little honey and sugar 
talk to my wife, which I also omit here, as I don t believe it is any of 
your business if I did call her Snug. As to my children, I have but 
one and have but one yet a son, then going to school. His name is 
Washington Irving. Hereafter when I speak of Irving, you will know 
who I mean. In the latter part of the war, when I was an engineer 
officer, of which I will hereafter speak, this same Irving came to me in 
Virginia and remained till the end of the war, being present at the 
surrender; took the measles that very day, and was kept in the hospital 
at Farmerville until in May. Of this I will say more hereafter. 

South Carolina Volunteers. 23 

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, VA;, July 23d, 1861. 

" The sky was darkened ; we were hid from the sun ; 
The earth it did tremble, but the victory s won." 

I scarcely know bow to begin, so much has transpired 
since I wrote to yuu last; but thank God I have come 
through it all safe, and am now here to try and tell you 
something about the things that have just happened. As 
you have already been informed, we were expecting a big 
fight. It came; it is over; the enemy is gone. We left 
Camp Holcomb the day that I finished my last letter to 
you, the 17th inst., and by a rather forced march got to 
this place the same day. On the 18th a battle was fought 
four miles from here, at a place called McLane sFord, which 
would have been called a big battle in any of our previous 
wars. Our men drove the enemy back. I can t give any 
of the details, as our regiment was not in it, but bad as it 
was, it was only a skirmish by the side of the one we have 
just had at this place. On Saturday last, the 20th, it 
became evident that the long-looked-for battle was ap 
proaching. I need riot undertake to describe to you the 
terrors of a big battle, so that you could comprehend how 
awful the sight and how terrible the sound is or would be 
to you. The very best of historians, or writers of any 
kind, would fall short in doing so, and of course it could 
not reasonably be expected of me to do so; but Twill now 
proceed and give facts as they occurred under my own 
observation. On Saturday night I happened to be on 
guard. It also happened that I was on post (or vidette). 
Just before day, on Sunday morning, at which time those 
of us on post nearest the big road, heard the enemy ap 
proaching. We gave the alarm, and in a few minutes the 
regiment was formed in line of battle on the hill overlook 
ing Stone Bridge on Bull Run Creek. This was just about 
daylight. The enemy did not keep us long waiting. Just 
at six o clock they fired their first gun (a cannon). It 
went over us, and in a few moments afterwards a regular 
firing was going on. Language fails me in giving a de 
scription of last Sunday s work. It seems almost a 
miracle that I could remain ten long hours in such a 

24 History of the Fourth Regiment 

battle and now be here, unhurt, writing 1 to you ; but such 
is nevertheless the case. An unseen hand has carried me 
through safe. When the battle commenced the only troops 
on the ground were Wheat s Battalion, of Louisiana, and 
the Fourth Regiment of South Carolinians, commanded 
by Colonel J. B. E. Sloan, of which regiment you are 
aware that I am a member. These troops were placed as 
follows : Six companies of our regiment were placed on 
the hill as above stated ; Captain Dean s company, to 
which I belong, and Captain Humphries company were 
placed at the foot of the hill, some two hundred yards in 
rear of the regiment, to act as a referee. Captain Ander 
son s and Captain Kilpat rick s companies were placed 
the one above and the other below the bridge, in advance 
of the regiment, to act as skirmishers. Wheat s Battalion 
was placed a half mile or so up the creek to our left. This 
was precisely the position of what troops was here 
when the battle commenced, as above stated. About 
half-past seven a regular firing was going on, and our 
cannons were only two in number, all we had at that time. 
About this time it was ascertained that several thousand 
of the enemy had crossed the creek higher up and had 
attacked Wheat s Battalion in large numbers. At this 
juncture the six companies under Colonel Sloan were or 
dered by General Evans to go to Wheat s assistance. The 
two companies of regulars (to which remember I belonged) 
were ordered to occupy the position that had been occu 
pied by the other six companies on the hill. Just after 
this our reinforcements commenced coming in to Wheat s 
assistance, but none to our assistance on the hill over 
looking Stone Bridge. By this time the battle became 
pretty hot, the enemy still advancing in large numbers. 
Our reinforcements were also coming in rapidly by this 
time. The firing had not ceased for a moment from the 
time it first commenced; the balls and shells poured 
amongst us like hail. About twelve o clock two small 
cannons camp to our assistance (we on the hill). They 
fired a few rounds only, the enemy advancing in such 
overwhelming numbers that the ten cannons ceased firing, 

South Carolina Volunteers. 25 

and was compelled to fall back. The two companies above 
mentioned also fell back a few hundred yards. We had 
not left our position but a few minutes till the enemy was 
occupying the position that we had just left. All this 
time the battle was raging tremendously higher up the 
creek. The enemy had crossed the creek by thousands, 
but our men up there were standing their ground bravely. 
I did not know how or at what time Kilpatrick s and An 
derson s companies got away from the creek, but they did 
get away some how, and fought till the battle ended in 
another part of the field. A little after one o clock our 
two companies got around to where the hotest of the fight 
was going on. and there remained amid sulphur and 
smoke, balls and shells, death and carnage, until the 
battle ended, late in the evening, because we failed any 
longer to find a foe to fight. They were gone. The vic 
tory was complete. We are now occupying the same 
ground that we did before the battle. As this letter can t 
go before to-morrow I will finish in the morning. 

stated, I cannot give you an idea of the terrors of this 
battle. I believe that it was as hard a contested battle 
as was ever fought on the American continent, or perhaps 
anywhere else. For ten long hours it almost seemed that 
heaven and earth was coming together; for ten long hours 
it literally rained balls, shells and other missiles of destruc 
tion. The firing did not cease for a moment. Try to 
picture to yourself at least one hundred thousand men, 
all loading and firing as fast as they could. It was truly 
terrific. The cannons, although they make a great noise, 
w T ere nothing more than pop guns compared with the tre 
mendous thundering noise of the thousands of muskets. 
The sight of the dead, the cries of the wounded, the thun 
dering noise of the batttle, can never be put on paper. It 
must be seen and heard to be comprehended. The dead, 
the dying and the wounded ; friend and foe, all mixed up 
together; friend and foe embraced in death; some crying 
for water; some praying their last prayers; some trying to 

26 History of the Fourth Regiment 

whisper to a friend their last farewell message to their 
loved ones at home. It is heartrending. I cannot go any 
further. Mine eyes are damp with tears. I will now close 
this letter. Perhaps in my next I will say something more 
of the Waterloo of America. I should have stated above 
that Jefferson Davis, General Johnson and General Beau- 
regard all came amongst us late in the evening. We gave 
them a yell. 

Although the fight is over the field is yet quite red with 
blood from the wounded and the dead. 

Yours as ever, 

J. W. REID. 

NOTE. Some years ago I read a history of the late war, written by 
some Northern man I don t recollect the author s name and in giving 
a description of this battle he says, that when the attack was made 
that morning, there were fifteen regiments of Confederate troops on 
the ground at the commencement. This statement I flatly deny. There 
are hundreds of men still living that will corroborate what I have stated 
that is, that Wheat s Battalion and the Fourth South Carolina Regi 
ment was all that was there at the beginning, or about fifteen com 
panies. It is true there were other troops not far off, but the battle had 
been opened some time before they commenced coming in. As before 
stated, there was but one regiment and one battalion on the ground, or 
fifteen companies, instead of regiments, and the future historian will 
put it so, if he puts it correctly. The same author, after going on in 
this erroneous fashion for some time, at length caps the climax by 
saying that late in the evening the Federal army gave way in good 
order. If that was good order I would like for the same author to tell 
me what it would take to constitute a rout ; for they ran as fast as fast 
as their legs could carry them, without any regard to discipline, army 
regulations, or anything else but self-preservation. They threw away 
everything they had, and then carried themselves away at the rate of 
ten knots an hour. Good order 1 Please let me hear from a regular 


PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, VA., July 28, 1861. j 
A few lines in a hurry, as we are preparing to leave this 
place for one where water will be more convenient. I will 
give you a few more items about our big fight before I 
leave the battle ground. It is said we fought about three 

South Carolina Volunteers. 27 

to one on the 21st. I am not in a position to know how 
many was killed and wounded on either side, but there 
was most assuredly a great many. I went over what I 
could of the battlefield the evening- after the battle ended. 
The sight was appalling in the extreme. There were men 
shot in every part of the body, from the crown of the head 
to the sole of the foot. Heads, legs, arms, and other parts 
of human bodies were lying scattered all over the battle 
field. The next day after the battle I went two or three 
miles out along the road that the enemy had traveled in 
their retreat. It seemed that what they did not leave on 
the battlefield they had thrown away after they started. 
The road was completely blockaded with wagons, cannon, 
caisons and other vehicles, as far as I went, and muskets 
were scattered about by thousands; knapsacks, haver 
sacks and the like literally covered the ground. I think 
we got all the cannon they had, which was something 
over sixty in number, including the famous Sherman Bat 
tery, and one very noted cannon called "Long Tom." I 
think we got about all the small arms they had. We 
also took a great many prisoners and sundries by the thou 
sand. It is said that it was their regular army that we 
fought. I don t think that we will have another big fight 
soon, as it will be next Spring before they can raise an 
other army and equip it ready for service. I talked with 
Colonel E. P. Jones, of Greenville, the day after the fight, 
and he and I both were of opinion that we ought to 
have followed the enemy when they retreated (in good 
order), but there are heads here that have more in them 
than is in ours, and in all probability more on them. 
There were a great many narrow escapes during the fight ; 
a great many had holes shot in their clothing, and some 
of them at several places. A young man of my company 
named Mathew Parker had two balls to go through his hat. 
It was an old fashioned bee giim hat, like the one that I 
wore off. We both swapped off our bee gum hats that 
evening. We had choice amongst thousands. We are 
both now wearing nice low crowned hats, but we don t 

28 History oi the Fourth Regiment 

know what they cost or who paid for them, neither do we 
care. I will have to stop, as we are ready to move. 

Yours as ever, 

J. W. REID. 

CAMP PETTUS, FAIRFAX Co., YA., July 30th, 1861. 
I have nothing interesting: to write at present. My main 
object in writing now is that you may know that I am 
still alive and enjoying good health; and I presume that 
is what you are more interested in and would rather 
hear than any news that could be written by me 
or any other person; therefore I shall say but little 
about the war at present, but will confine myself to 
other nmtters. 1 have already written you two letters pre 
vious to this one, since the battle, in which I gave you 
about all the details of the fight that I thought would in 
terest you. I did not give you a list of those killed in my 
company, as you are acquainted with them. I will not at 
present give their names. I sent the last letter that I 
wrote to you by Willis Dickson, who is gone to Cul pepper 
Court House to the hospital, sick; he may go home. In it 
I gave you the particulars of our fight the best I could 
under existing circumstances, and what I did state as 
facts you may depend upon as facts. I still have a strong 
presentiment that I will get home again, some time. It 
may be a good while, and there is no telling at present 
what I may have to go through before I come, if I do 
come, only that I will have to encounter war and its con 
sequences. Be that what it may, try and be as courage 
ous as you can, and I will do the same. I will try to watch 
passing events as closely as I can, and from my conclu 
sions accordingly I will on all occasions give you my 
opinion about things; but do not take my opinions as 
Gospel facts, but just take them for what you think they 
are worth. A few days after the fight I found out that 
the Hampton Legion was at Manassas Junction. I un 
derstood that they had been in the fight, but had went 
back to the Junction ; so I concluded to go and find out 

South Carolina Volunteers. 29 

whether my brother Reuben was still with them or not. 
I got leave from my betters and went on to hunt the 
Legion. I found it at the Junction, but Reuben and his 
Captain, Toliver Bozeman, both had got a discharge 
whilst at Richmond and gone back home. Reuben s com 
plaint was said to be heart disease. Heart disease is get 
ting very comrnou here the kind that I call chicken heart 
disease. That is not the kind, however, that Reuben has 
got. He has had heart disease for many years, as you 
are well aware. I found Jim Tarrant and Bill Thompson 
and several more of our Wilson Bridge neighbors that 
day. When I last wrote you we Avere still on the battle 
field. Yesterday morning, the 29th, we left there and 
came on to this place, six or seven miles nearer to Alexan 
dria and Washington City. It is said that all the carpen 
ters of this brigade, and perhaps others, are at work on 
a bridge between here and Alexandria; and there it is 
stated that we will cross and attack the enemy. I don t 
believe a word of it. If we intended to cross over at all 
we should have done so on the 21st. My opinion is that 
it would be bad policy to cross now or any other time in 
the future. We are just not going to do it. We are right 
here amongst several South Carolina regiments now, and 
I know that they will do to tie the grape vine of our canoe 
to. There are troops here from all parts of the Confederacy, 
from Dan even to Beersheba; so if we should havea.nother 
fight soon it will be some pumpkins; but I don t think we 
will, for the one we have just had ought to satisfy all 
parties concerned ; and 1 don t know but what it would 
be better to give them another little brush before they re 
cruit up again. I am on guard again, now writing on a 
drum head, the best place that I have had for a long 
time. I now have to go on post again. I am now off of 
post. Whilst on post I saw any amount of our old tea 
plant called ditna that you and I used to gather on the 
old Saluda hills when you and I were young, Polly. 
"Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought 
to mind." Direct to Manassas Junction, Va. 

Yours as ever, 

J. W. REID. 

30 History of the Fourth Regiment 

NOTE. With the above letter I sent the following lines, thinking it 
might amuse my wife or any one who might see it ; and as I have it 
now before me I will draw it off just as the original. Perhaps it may 
amuse the reader of to-day. 

Whilst I was sitting around about the guard house and 
off of post, there were several little squads hunkered about 
on rocks and stumps, some talking about one thing and 
some about another. I could only hear a few words at a 
time, first from one squad, then another. It was^ right 
amusing to me, and may be to you. It ran as follows: 

Squad No. 1. "Yes, it was Old Abe that recommended 
it. If he could have had his way he would have" 

Squad No. 2." His face greasy from ear to ear. He 
can eat more in one day than I could in" 

"Several years yet, but Idon t think it will last longer 

"Then my whiskers. I have not shaved since I left" 

"Noah s ark. Two and two of every kind of animals. 
Two lions, two elephants, two tigers, and two" 

"Dumplings! If I could just get them all the time I 
would soon fatten up and look as well as a" 

"Possom and taters is just as good as anything that I 

ever . Stuck my head in up to my eyes and got nearly 

drowned. I tried to call for " 

"A chew of tobacco, if you please. I have not had any 
since I left Stone Bridge. When I get some I will give 

"The d est whipping that a set of fellows ever got if 
they just fall into the hands of" 

"My wife and children I left with tears in their eyes, 
and told them not to look " 

"At that little upstart. Just gin a fool a little office 
and it soon makes" 

"Chickens and dumplings if I have to pay" 

"Five hundred thousand dollars and four hundred thou 
sand more to try to exterminate" 

South Carolina, Volunteers. 31 

" Every louse on my head, since I got that fine comb. 
I did have a good many till " 

"Dr. Cooley gave me some blue mass and some other 
stuff that made me throw up" 

"My commission and go home, where I can get" . 

"The worst kind of a bile right on my hip, but when I 
had it lanced it run " 

"For captain, but he got so badly beat that I don t 
think he will ever" 

"Double quick much for half a mile, and then halted 
right in front of" 

" Bill Smith s leg. They cut it off just above " 

" The top of the Blue Ridge. We had gone several miles, 
when we came to a place" 

" That stinks worse than a dead horse. I would almost 
perish before I would eat" 

" My new hat and shoes that I got at Richmond as we 
camj along; they just cost me" 

"My life is in his hands, if they do bring four hundred 
thousand " 

"Green flies over everything. They will just blew" 

" The bugle for drill directly, and then I hope that fellow 
yonder will quit sawing away on that" 

"Old woman and children; I do want to see them so 
bad I would gave any man " 

"The measles, the worst kind. There is several in my 
mess broke" 

" All to pieces, and its full of whiskey, so I lost bottle 
and all. It fell right on " 

"Sam Brown s nose. It was shot off right where it 

" Nova Scotia. It now belongs to England. It was dis 
covered by " 

" Long-heeled Jake, as we called him ; his leg was nearly 
in the middle of" 

" Hell or some other seaport town, and all the rest with 
him, and then I would be perfectly" 

"Blind. If it was not for that he would be the best 
horse in" 

32 History of the Fourth Regiment 

"This canteen and tin cup just holds" 

"The general impression here is that we have" 

" A baked goose for dinner, but it was not half done, 
and I believe it was" 

"Sixty-five years old when he came into the service, but 
he seems to stand it well, considering that he has" 

"A sucking babe not more than fifteen months old, and 
will soon be looking for another; if that is so" 

"I shall have to gun my blankets to-morrow, for we 
don t know at what moment we may have to go " 

"To the devil with your crackers. I had rather eat" 

"President Davis and General Beauregard both say 
" We must cook that mutton for dinner or it will spoil " 

" Our uniforms every evening at dress parade. At any 
other time we can wear" 

"My patience out talking so much. I had as leave 

"That big snoring of nights. It would keep any man 

"Running and jumping into the river head foremost, 
and staying under the water till he was nearly out of" 

"Something to eat. I have not had a bite since" 

"I was born, on the 4th of July, 1829. That makes 

me just" 

"Six o clock, and I must go on post again." 

The drum beats arid end s the conversation. 

5rn, 1861. I had so many letters to write for other people 
yesterday that I did not get to write any for myself, but 
I don t know that it would make any material difference, 
as 1 have nothing worthy of your attention to write 
about at present. I will have to go on guard again this 
morning at eight o clock, and remain till eight to-morrow 
morning. I have not had a letter from you in two weeks. 

South Carolina Volunteers. 33 

I believe there is something wrong with the mail (not the 
female). I will try and send this letter on to Columbia or 
some other point on the railroad by hand. The war news 
is dull indeed. We hear nothing at all of another fight 
soon. Some seem to think that the enemy is pretty well 
satisfied, and others think (and me for one) that they are 
making all the preparations in their power to carry on 
the war. I still feel gallant and want you to try and feel 
buoyant. I want to do what fighting I have to do and 
get back to Dixie. Yours as ever, 

J. W. REID. 

CAMP PETTUS, FAIRFAX Co., VA., August 8th, 1861. 
I have received yours of the 31st of July, in which you 
inform me that you have attached yourself to the Church. 
The news is very gratifying to me indeed, and I hope you 
may live to see me a member also. I think I have known 
men as bad as I am to reform and join the Church. In 
fact the wicked ones are the only ones that are called on 
to reform. It is the sick that needs a physician. It is 
said in God s word that everything worketh together for 
good to them that believe. I think that I do believe, 
although I don t conform to what 1 profess to believe. I 
fear there are but few that do. Tell Irving that I have not 
forgotten him ; tell him to be a good boy and be governed 
by the advice that I gave him just before my departure. 
I have nothing at all important to write. I only write at 
this time merely that you may hear from me. We are 
still at Camp Pettus, between Manassas Junction and 
Alexandria. We will probably remain here, for some time. 
We cannot tell. Yours affectionately, 

J. W. REID. 

NOTE. My wife did live to see me a member of the Church, and 
there is nothing under Heaven that gives me as much satisfaction as 
that. She did live to see me a member ; she had prayed for it so long ; 
she lived to see her prayer answered. 

34 History of the Fourth Regiment 

CAMP PETTUS, FAIRFAX Co., VA., August llth, 1861. 
I have just received a letter from Mr. Dickinson, in which 
he states that you were all well. It was made last Sun 
day, the 4th inst. I have nothing definite to write about 
the war. We got orders yesterday to be ready at a mo 
ment s warning to march. Our commissary is ordered to 
keep on hand, at all times, three days rations, to carry 
with us, if we should have to march. It is said here to 
day that we will march to-morrow, but that, I think, is 
uncertain ; but I think it is certain that we will inarch 
soon, and where we will go to I cannot at present say, 
perhaps Washington City. It seems that some of the 
great European powers are beginning to look upon this 
war as being of some importance. This will be plain to 
you when I inform you that Prince Jerome Bonaparte has 
visited our country, and on last Friday reviewed our 
army. We were marched to Centreville, which is about 
one and a half miles from here, on Friday, the 9th inst., 
and was reviewed by him. But, by the way, I thought it 
the warmest day that I ever had seen ; it was perfectly 
suffocating. A great many men gave out and stopped 
before we got there, and a great many broke ranks after 
we got there. There were two men I know of who fainted. 
I came very near giving out myself. What made things 
worse, we had our thick woolen uniforms on, and our coats 
buttoned up. It was almost suffocating. It is said here 
that Bonaparte also reviewed the Federal army. His 
presence here is a matter of speculation to both parties. 
I have do more war news. Dame Rumor is still tattling. 
I arn sorry to say our ranks are being thinned by sick 
ness and death. Before this reaches you you will no doubt 
hear of the death of Claudius Earle, who died at Rich 
mond a few days ago. I fought within a few yards of 
him on the 21st of July. Our friend (Irving s teacher) 
Jesse Smith, is at the point of death. There are a good 
many others of my acquaintance sick at hospitals, and I 
have but little chance of hearing from them. My Captain 
(Dean) is sick, and gone to Culpepper Court House. Col 
onel Sloan has also gone off sick, and a great many others. 

South Carolina Volunteers. 85 

I am sorry to have to say that a good many are dying at 
the different hospitals. 1 hope the sickness will abate when 
the weather gets cooler, if not before. 

As it happens I am again on guard to-day, writing on a 
Yankee drum head, one that we took at Stone Bridge. I 
this morning put on my new blue flannel shirt that I took 
from Uncle Sam on the day after the battle. It is a perfect 
fit ; made on purpose for me. The reason that I put it on 
is this : My other shirts are wet ; I had them washed yes 

I will write again as soon as I can ; but if we do have to 
move it may be some time. I forgot to state that our 
present Brigadier General is named Jones. 

Yours as ever, 

J. W. REID. 

Wednesday Morning, 10 O clock, Aug. 14, 1861. [ 
In my last letter to you, the llth inst., I told you that 
there was a talk of our moving soon. Sure enough, on 
Monday, the 12th, we left Camp Pettus and came on to 
this place, German town, the same day, a distance of six 
or seven miles. We are now some nearer Alexandria and 
Washington than we were before. I think I told you in a 
former letter that we were but eight or ten miles from 
Alexandria. I was wrongly informed. It is said to be 
twelve or fifteen from here, and we are several miles nearer 
there now than we were then. We are one and a half miles 
from Fairfax Court House, where it is said that General 
Washington s will is recorded a,nd where he attended 
church. It is eighteen miles to Mount Vernon, where he 
lived and where he is buried. This little town here, Ger- 
mantown, is in ashes, the enemy having burnt it on their 
inarch to Richmond ; but they did not get very far south 
till the weather got too hot for them and they had to 
come back. The climate at Stone Bridge was entirely too 
near the Torrid Zone for them. We do not anticipate an 
other big fight soon, as the enemy is not yet ready to 
again advance on us, and I hardly think it probable that 

36 History ot the Fourth Regiment 

we will advance on them. I think it too late now for that. 
We should have done that in July, if at all. Some think 
that we will storm Arlington Heights pretty soon. I don t 
pretend to know, but I don t believe we will. This is only 
my opinion. But there is one thing I do know, or think I 
know, and that is. if we do take Arlington Heights it will 
cost us something. But as to Alexandria and Washing 
ton, I think we could take them easy enough if it was riot 
for their everlasting engines of destruction that are on 
Arlington Heights. I really have nothing to write about. 
I only write that you may hear from me, which I know 
you are anxious for at any time; but if any little thing 
does happen soon you shall hear from it, if I am able to 

Since writing the above I have heard some twenty or 
thirty cannon reports down towards Alexandria. I will 
not close this letter till I find out what it means. I don t 
think it is a regular fight. If it was we would be double- 
quicking down there. There is eight South Carolina regi 
ments all here together, and if we have to go down there, 

we will give them what paddy give the drum. Willis 

Dickinson has been at Culpepper hospital for some time. I 
can t hear from Jesse Smith. Sam Couch has the mumps. 

EVENING, 5 O CLOCK I have not as yet heard from that 
cannonading. It is still going on at intervals. Perhaps 
they are only trying their guns or trying to scare us, 
which they have everlastingly failed to do. 
I will write more when I know more. 

Yours as ever, 

J. W. REID. 

FAIRFAX COUNTY, VA., August 15th, 1861. f 
Nothing new since I wrote last. The cannonading that 
I spoke of turned out to be nothing. I have just heard of 
a battle fought above here the other day, at a place called 
Pan Handle. I hear so many different reports about it 
that I shall not attempt to say much about it at present- 

South Carolina Volunteers. 37 

I do not know how many were engaged in it, or how 
many killed and wounded, but report says a great 
many. I think though, from what I can find out, that 
our side got the best of it, as usual. I understand that 
our troops were commanded by General Wise, of Virginia 
(Governor Wise). I also understand that a battle has 
been fought somewhere out towards Missouri, the partic 
ulars of which I no positive information ; but report 
says our side got the best of it ; I can t say. They would 
tell us so here whether it was so or not. I hope, however, 
that it is so. It don t seem to me that the war ought to 
last long now, as both armies are pretty large now and 
pretty close together, and why not fight it out and be 
done with it. That would be the tactics of High Private 
J. VV. Reid. Each army seems to be waiting for the other 
to make the attack. The big officers on both sides are 
getting big pay, and I don t suppose that some of them 
are in a big hurry to go home. I mean no insinuation, 
but if the shoe fits wear it. 

I will pay the last cent I have in the world for postage 
on this letter; but when I write again Providence will 
provide for me. He always will. 

Our friend, Jesse Smith, is dead. I heard it last night. 
He has been dead several days. Colonel Sloan, Lieutenant 
Colonel Cha.rles Mattison and Major Whitner are all sick. 
My own Captain, Thomas Dean, and Lieutenant B. A. M. 
McAllister are both sick at the hospital, and a great many 
more officers and privates are sick at the different hospi 
tals; and I will here remark that most of the cases of 
sickness are not considered very dangerous. I think that 
the cases of bad sickness are few, considering our number. 
Take the same number anywhere else and you will doubt 
less find as much sickness. I am still in good health, and, 
as you well know, have the constitution of a nail machine. 
I hope I will still have good health, but still I may get 
sick as well as others; and if so, I will try to get leave of 
Dr. Cooley to remain in camp. I think I would fare better. 

You say that you have religion. Don t let it make you 
melancholy. True religion, the kind that I hope you have, 

38 History of the Fourth Regiment 

will not do that. It will be more inclined to make you 
cheerful. Pray in faith, and your prayers will most assur 
edly be answered. He says they will, and He cannot lie. 
If your prayers are riot answered immediately, don t think 
that they will never be. God has His own time to do all 
things, and at the proper time He will do it ; for He can 
not lie, and He says He will answer any prayer prayed 

in faith. 

Yours as ever, 




Sunday Morning, 10 O clock, Aug. 18, 1861. ) 
Last night, after I laid down, Mr. Phillips called me up 
to read a letter for him that he had got from home. On 
opening it I found a few lines in it that you sent to me. 
It is unnecessary for me to say how magnificent it made 
rne feel. You say that yon were to trade with old Tom 
Appier for a cow. My advice is to do so if you can, for the 
cow would certainly be of more service to you than the 
horse. You also say that you have a good many water 
melons, but that they do you no good because I am not 
there to help eat them. Don t let that make any differ 
ence, for I have something here that 1 would like to divide 
with you; but as we can t divide what we have, we will 
strike off even, and each one partake of what we have, and 
eat it with as much relish as we can. I have a good mess 
of beans to-day, and can get more any time I want them 
by paying for them. I also have apple pie very often. 
Peaches are not ripe here yet. I also get plenty of roast 
ing ears. I have eaten beef till, if you were to see me, you 
would take me for a Virginia bull. In this letter I send 
you two kind of tomato seed ; one kind is as large as my 
fist; the other kind is small, and has a neck like daddie s 
powder gourd. I suppose that you think I write mighty 
often ; so I do ; but I also suppose that I don t write any 
oftener than you want to hear from me, and especially at 

South Carolina Volunteers. 

a time when there is so much sickness amongst us. The 
most fatal complaint among us now is measles, and 
as you already know I have had them. I have had 
the measles, the mumps, the whooping cough, the itch, the 
scald head, the hives, the thrash, and all those little fancy 
complaints; so I don t know that I need fear from any 
thing now but thunder, Yankee missiles and typhoid fever 
and hypocondria. My mess are all sick, more or less; 
the most of them less. Jim Loftin and myself are the only 
ones of my mess that are complaining of being well. I 
have no war news. Everything is as dry as a bone, and it 
is painfully hot. I have no doubt but you read a great 
many exciting things in the paper ; but let me assure you 
that all that is in the papers are not Gospel truths. I told 
you in my last letter that I was out of money, but that 
the Lord would provide, and so He did. He and Jeff Davis 
and company on yesterday drew five dollars in Virginia 
shinplasters that are not worth a fig outside of Virginia, 
but they will pay postage anyhow. I will write again 
soon. Yours as ever, 

J. W. KEID. 

NOTE. The tomato seed I mentioned got home safe, and some of 
their descendants are in the neighborhood yet, 1890. The letters that 
I am now drawing off ar not so important as afterwards when the times 
became more exciting, but as I have them before me I will draw them 
off, so as to give a full account of our travels. 

I wrote another letter from Germ an town, August 21st, 
but in it I wrote nothing of importance. I only give the 
names of those that were sick, and some other little mat 
ters not worth repeating. I wrote again on the 27th of 
August as follows : 

On Friday evening last we received information that a 
fight was going on at Fall s Church, a few miles below 
here; so we bundled up, leaving our tents under a guard, 
and ponied off for the scene of action, or rather the scene 
of inaction, for we only got about three miles, when we 
got orders to turn back. We instantly obeyed the order, 

40 History of the Fourth Regiment 

with a little more promptness than we had done when we 
started from camp. It was all a humbug. I think it was 
done to see how many of us there were that were able to 
travel. There were a great many that were not able, and 
then there were several taken very suddenly ill. About 
the time we got the orders to march, I tell you confidently 
that an order to march right to where a battle is going 
on is one of the most sickening things on earth. I have 
seen men, apparently in good health, get sick enough to 
throw up in a few minutes after an order to march. In 
fact I have known some officers that did throw up their 
commissions and go home, it made them so sick. Such 
news has never made me so very sick yet, but sometimes 
it makes me feel a little weak and puny-like. 

On Sunday night we were again started, we knew not 
where, but we only got to Fairfax Court House, about 
one mile and a half from here, and again we were ordered 
back. We promptly obeyed again. More sickness on the 
occasion. On yesterday morning we were ordered to strike 
tents and be ready to move at a moment s warning (quite 
sickly), but in the evening we were ordered to put up our 
tents again. (Sickness abating considerably). I can t 
say how long we will remain here, but if we start again I 
want to keep on. I am tired trotting backwards and for 
wards. I don t think that we will attack the enemy where 
they are now ; neither do we believe that they will venture 
to travel the same road that they did in July. It was too 
hot for them at that time, and I think it would be so 
again. I am sorry to say that our regiment is in a rather 
bad condition for fighting or marching at present. Of my 
mess of nine men all are sick but Jim Loftin and myself. 
Last Saturday I went four miles to our hospital to see the 
sick. 1 found one hundred and sixty of our regiment there. 
There are a great many of our regiment at other hospitals. 
Ten men were dying when I got there, one belonging to my 
own company, named AVilliam Bagwell, and another be 
longing to Griffin s company, named Hunt. They both 
died that day, TW T O of my company died at Culpepper 
last week, Thomas Bagwell and Marion Murray, all from 

South Carolina Volunteers. 41 

the effects of measles. Every case of pneumonia or fever 
that I have heard of originated from measles. Every one 
that has took pneumonia or fever took it after going to 
the hospital. Judd Me Lees took the measles here, and I got 
Dr. Cooley to let him remain in camp with me. I have 
now got him up and about again. If I get sick I will 
remain in camp if possible. 

There are not as many deaths at Culpepper now as there 
were a week or two ago. It is getting some colder now, 
and I hope times will soon be better. It is a very dark 
time now. 

EIVE O CLOCK, EVENING. Great preparations are going 
on for some purpose I know not what, but I positively do 
hope that is for another fight, for I am anxious to do what 
fighting I have got to do and be done with it. To tell the 
truth I am getting tired of this way of living. I will now 
close for the present. 

Yours affectionately, 

J. W. REID. 

FAIRFAX COUNTY, VA., September 1, 1861. J 
I have no news. Everything is quiet for the present. 
The two armies are close together, arid could go to fight 
ing at any time; but it seems that each party dreads to 
attack the other party, and well they may ; for let the at 
tack be made by whom it may, somebody will get hurt, 
for I have found out long ago that the other party is 
about as good fighting stock as we are. We are all chips 
of the old block. We never know when we will fight till 
we go at it. Colonel Sloan and three or four others have 
got back to camp, but Lieutenant Colonel Mattison has 
been sent off sick ; so that I can t see that there is much 
improvement in the health of our regiment as yet. James 
and Willis DickiNson are both sick. Phillips, the two Earles, 
Stacks, Herron, Couch, Loftin and Jefferson, all of my 
company but the two Earles, are well. Tell Mr. Dickinson 

42 History of the Fourth Regiment 

to address his letters to me for the present, and I will send 
them to the boys. I will keep myself informed of how the 
boys are coming on, and let him know in my letters to 
you about them. 

We have had two more deaths at our country hospital 
this week. They were men you are not acquainted with. 
The good "Lord has carried me safe thus far, for some pur 
pose unknown to me at present; and I hope He will carry 
me safely through all the changes that daily surround me. 
Bad as 1 am, and bad as I may appear to others, still I 
have implicit confidence in Providence. There is unfortu 
nately a great many here who cannot write, and they keep 
me almost all my time, when off of duty, writing letters 
for them. I cannot deny them. Only a day or two ago I 
had written letters till I was tired out, when Lige Herring 
came to me, with paper and ink in hand, requesting me to 
write a letter for him. I refused. He walked off a few 
steps and looked up and down the street, undecided what 
to do. He looked to me like his heart would break. I 
called him back and wrote his letter, reflecting how it 
would be if I could not write to you. "As ye would have 
others do unto you, do ye so even unto them," came into 
rny mind at the time, and 1 am not ashamed to say that 
I acted accordingly. 

I would be glad if you would send me by mail my gloves 
and a good big needle, as I have to do my own patching 
and ironing. The ironing, however, goes minus. 

The bell is now ringing for preaching. I will go and 
hear the sermon and then write. 

FOUR O CLOCK P. M. I went and heard our Chaplain 
preach, Rev. Mr. Guinn, of Greenville. He preached a 
very touching sermon ; it brought tears to my eyes, if I 
am a soldier. It makes me feel quite serious to hear so 
many voices singing and not a female voice among them. 
Will I ever hear that sweet music again ? I hope so. 

I have just been handed a letter from the hospital. Our 
sick ones are no better. I got a letter yesterday from our 
esteemed brother-in-law, John A. Cargill. Your mother 
and family are all well. John speaks of coming out here 
to me soon. I will now stop a while. 

South Carolina Volunteers. 43 

enough for frost. Please don t forget gloves and needle. 

Yours affectionately, 

J. W. REID. 

NOTE. The reader must understand that I do not commence and 

end those letters as I did at the time, as I sometimes used some very 
sympathetic language to my wife in beginning and closing my letters, 
and I will not repeat it here in drawing them off, as I don t wish to set 
you all crying. Everything else is just precisely as I wrote it at the 
time, un grammatical as it was and is yet. 

September 4th, 1861. J 


I have two pocket knives one a white pearl handle, the 
other a black handle. I aim the white handle for you, the 
other for Irving. The white-handled one I found while at 
Leesburg, and could find no owner; the black-handled one 
I got as follows: I was walking over what I could of the 
battlefield, late in the evening, after the battle, and came 
across a Federal soldier shot through the bowels. The 
knife was laying close to him. I picked it up and offered 
it to him. His reply was, fc Keep it, friend ; I shall need it 
no more; I am mortally wounded arid cannot live to see 
another sunrise." I gave him a drink of water from my 
canteen, which T had just filled, and told him that I had 
some of my friends to see after that evening. He then 
gave me a package of letters, requesting me to destroy 
them. I promised to do so and did so. He said that I 
had given him his last drink of water. Next morning 1 
found him dead, with another letter lying on his breast. 
I opened and read it, and from the tone of it supposed it 
to be from his wife; it was at least some female, who ad 
vised him to meet her in Heaven, if they never met ou 
earth again. They never met. I hope they may meet in 
Heaven. He told me that he was a regular from the State 
of Maine, but I cannot recollect his name. Could it be pos 
sible that my bullet hit him. I hope not, but I fought 

44 History of the Fourth Regiment 

right in front of where he was. I left him for other scenes 
equally distressing-, and destroyed his last and, I suppose, 
most cherished letter. This is some of the history of our 
cruel war. When will it ever end? Our advanced pickets 
are within five miles of Washington City, and are skir 
mishing every day with the pickets of the enemy. There 
is no telling what it may lead to. I at this moment hear 
cannor: firing in that direction. O, dear me, I have a kind 
of dull headache. If I have to close this letter abruptly 
vou rnav know where I am. 

EVENING, 5 O CLOCK. I have news from that firing. It 
was some of our men trying to drive a portion of the 
enemy from a position that they were occupying between 
here and Washington. They succeeded in doing so. I 
have not heard what the loss was on either side. 

Yours as ever, 

J. W. REID. 

NOTE. The knives that I spoke of I did send home. My wife kept 
hers for a great many years. My boy dropped his in the ocean, near 
Charleston, in 1863, and that was the end of the knife that I got from a 
dying Federal soldier. 


GERMANTOWN, FAIRFAX Co., VA., Sept. 11, 1861. j 
I have just received a letter from W. P. Brown, in which 
he informs me that you are well and doing well. I also 
got a letter from Silas Crow. He informs me that he saw 
you on the 31st of August. He also says that you are 
well. Everything about us is as it was when I wrote last, 
all quiet; but it cannot remain so always, and the sooner 
it changes the better; for if I remain in this place inactive 
much longer, I will turn to a high land terrapin or an 
oyster. My idea is that the sooner we fight the better. 
There is bigger and perhaps lousier heads here than mine, 
but still I have head enough to form my own conclusions 
and my own ideas about things. I am glad cool weather 
is coming. The first thing we all know Christmas will be 

South Carolina Volunteers. 45 

here, and then it will not be very long till the glorious 
14th of April will be here. 

As to my own part I am ready, willing and wanting to 
take another crack or two at the Yankee Doodles and let 
them take a crack at rne. 

Just as I wrote the above we were called out to drill, 
and here is a list of those of my company present: Peter 
Brown, John Manning and J. W. Reid. Sergeant G. W. 
Belcher was our officer in command. Such as this is a 
little disheartening, even to a soldier, but I am well aware 
that the greater portion of the men are not dangerously 
sick. Quite the reverse. But those on guard yesterday 
and the guard of to-day were excusable, according to army 
regulations, from drilling; so that there were about ten 
in all that were able and willing to drill or do duty of any 
kind. I will be on guard to-morrow. 

If you don t mind I will be as good a cook when I come 
home as you are. I am chief cook and bottle washer here 
now. I now have some pig, or mule I don t know which 
on cooking for dinner. I am going to stew it down, so 
that lean have some sop vulgarly called gr^vy. I 
always want to use the best language that I can, and 
therefore I call it by its true grammatical name, sop. 

night we got orders to cook up two days rations and be 
ready to move at a moment s warning. We cooked till 10 
o clock last night, but are not gone yet, and may not go 
at all. If we do go I don t know which way we will go ; 
neither do I care much. I send these lines in a letter, 
backed to W. P. Brown. He will hand it to you. I will 
write again as soon as I can find something to write 
about. Yours forever, 

J. W. REID. 

September 16th, 1861. J 

We did riot go as anticipated, but are still here. Our 
advanced pickets and the advanced pickets of the enemy 

46 History ofth? Fourth Regiment 

are in sight of each other and firing on each other almost 
continually, but no great damage has been done as yet, 
unless it has been done this morning. 

LATER. We have this moment received orders again to 
cook up three days rations, and be ready to march, but 
I have been fooled so often that I shall not believe we are 
going till we get half way to Washington or Alexandria. 
It is the general opinion whether it is the opinion of the 
General or not that another big battle will come off 
soon. Well, let it come. Of one thing I am pretty cer 
tain, and that is, that if it don t come pretty soon it will 
not come at all before next Spring. I do wish it would 
come, for I am perfectly sick and tired of hearing it talked 
of so much and nothing done. The weather will be too 
cold here this Winter for active operations. Of this I am 
certain. There is no telling what may occur before this 
reaches you. As before stated, we have an advanced 
guard all the time. Several regiments go off at a time 
and remain several days, and then are relieved by other 
regiments. Perhaps it is our time to go now. I will now 
stop and try to find out what is up. 

EVENING, 4 O CLOCK. We have finished cooking rations 
and are waiting for further orders. I can hear nothing 
definite from that heavy firing this morning. It must 
have been of some importance, as the firing continued for 
several hours. I think we are all right now, though at a 
critical point in our history. The time is near at hand 
when we must stand or fall as a nation. Right here now 
are two of the largest and best disciplined armies that have 
ever been raised in modern times, and composed of men 
on both sides that will fight to the death. General Beau- 
regard has moved his headquarters (and hind quarters 
too) to Fairfax Court House, one mile and a half below 
here. We have a pretty large army in this vicinity at 
this time, from all parts of Dixie, Kentucky and Mary 
land not excepted. Had a dream last night that I started 
for home, and when near there came across Irving and 
c he dog, about to catch a possum. It was just night, and 

South Carolina Volunteers. 47 

Irving 1 kissed me a thousand times. Pie had grown so 
much that 1 scarcely knew him. When I got to the house 
all my sisters were there, and they all kissed me, but I 
thought you would hardly speak to me. It came so near 
breaking my heart that I awoke, and here I was lying on 
the ground, on the Potomac River, nearly a thousand 
miles from home. What a lie to dream ! I know that you 
would be the first among ten thousand to welcome me 
home. Will stop till I hear more news. 

SEPTEMBER I?TH. That firing yesterday was some of 
our men firing on some vessels in the Potomac River. 
Not much damage was done. It is ascertained that we 
will go on picket somewhere between here and Washing 
ton. I may not write any more till we get back, but will 
if I can. Will inform you of passing events w r henever I 
can. Yours as ever, 

J. W. REID. 

NOTE Although what I am writing at this time may not interest the 
reader, still it is a time that will always be remembered by those who 
were present as one of the darkest times to us that we had during 
the war ; more than a thousand miles from home, over half our men 
sick, and looking for an attack every day. Dark ! Dark ! Dark ! 

FALL S CHURCH, VA., September 20th, 1861. 
In my last I informed you that we were expecting to 
leave camp soon. Accordingly, on Tuesday, at 3 o clock 
in the evening, we started for this place. We had but just 
started, when it commenced a very hard rain, and rained 
on for two or three hours. We made no stop till we got 
here, which was about 9 o clock at night. We lay on the 
wet ground, in our night clothes, all night. I slept but 
very little. On Wednesday morning I wrote a letter to 
Mr. Dickinson about his boys, and requested him to read 
it to you. Presume he did so. On the same day (Wed 
nesday) we took possession of a church, which we still 
occupy, and suppose will remain in till we go back to 
camp. We are very comfortably situated here, and I do 

48 History of the Fourth Regiment, 

not think that there is one among us but what would 
rather remain here than go back to camp art German- 
town. There are several regiments here, and they take it 
by turns going out on vidette or picket post. My regi 
ment went yesterday, and has just returned. I did not 
get to go, as it was known that I was (free) stone mason, 
and was detailed to build a big bake oven, ten feet wide and 
twelve feet long, intended to bake bread for the whole 
congregation. Almost every day there are some com- 
iug and some leaving here. I suppose we will return 
in a few days. This morning I went out to the furthest 
point occupied by our troops to a place called Monson s 
Hill, and there I could easily see all creation. I could see 
Washington City and Alexandria ; at the latter could see a 
a United States flag as high as Trinity monument; also 
partially see Arlington Heights. I will go back there if I 
can. Could see the enemy s position better perhaps than 
they could see ours from their ba.lloon. The Potomac 
River is literally covered with vessels, the masts of some 
of them extending up considerably nearer Heaven I fear 
than the occupants of the vessels will ever be. While I 
was there I saw a balloon go up three times at Washing 
ton City. Suppose it went up to see what (I) we were 
doing. Could see their line of tents for miles up and down 
the river. It was really a beautiful sight. 

We are now in as pretty a town as we have ever seen. 
The inhabitants all gone, being friendly to the Union; 
so we have full control here at present. I am now sitting 
on the big church, writing on a bench. We are but a few- 
yards from the celebrated Falls Church, from which the 
town takes its name. This Falls Church was built long 
before the War of Independence, and is built of brick 
brought from England; so stated. Here is where W T ash- 
ington used to come to church, and some say his member 
ship was here; others say it was at Fail-fax Court House. 
This place reminds me a little of old Pickensville, only it 
is a much larger place. Would like to live here very well. 
Will now stop till to-morrow. 

South Carolina Volunteers. 49 

morning, having nothing to do, I went off about one mile 
from town, into the woods, to patch up my breeches, re 
maining awhile in my shirt tail. During the operation 
if a dog had seen me and not have laughed, he would un 
doubtedly have switched his tail or boo-hooed and run 
backwards, with his tail touching his chin. I had left all 
my clothes at camp, only what I had on, and they had 
got torn pretty bad right right where Mamma used to 
slap me. While I was tailoring away at my pants, a gun 
was fired, a few yards off. 

I took long stitches, jerked on my breeches, jumped over 
ditches, went through the switches, and formed a line of 
march and made for camp. You may inquire what kind 
of a line I formed. Answer: A bee line. 

There has been a good deal of firing along our picket 
line to-day. We had one man killed, a Virginian, and two 
of the enemy killed. 

It is nearly dark now and raining. I must stop. 

SUNDAY EVENING, 2 O CLOCK. I have just returned from 
preaching. One Episcopalian preached a sermon in Falls 
Church a very good sermon. We are now ordered back 
to camp. 

BER 23D. We left Falls Church about one hour, by the 
sun, yesterday evening, and got here about 2 o clock this 
morning, tired out. 

Thomas Burroughs is dead. He died last Wednesday. 
That makes eight of my company that I know of who 
have died. There may be others. 

It is said that we will go back to Falls Church in about 
fifteen days. Hope we may, for I like the place better 
than any place I have seen in Virginia. Must now close. 

Yours as ever, 

J. W. REID. 

50 History of the Fourth Regiment 

FAIRFAX COUNTY, VA., September 29th, 1861. j 

Just after closing my last letter to you I found that I 
could get a wagon to go after some clothing that t had 
sent to Gainesville just after the battle. We had all sent 
clothing there. So I started, but was sorry for it; for 
riding in a wagon on a road paved with nigger head rocks 
is enough to jolt the ambition out of any soldier; it came 
very near jolting the ambition out of me. Gainesville is 
about fifteen miles distant from here, and we were gone 
two days John Manning, myself and the driver. We 
camped as we came back at the old Stone Bridge battle 
field. Next morning I and Manning walked over part of 
the battlefield which we had fought. It was an awful sight. 
What dirt had been thrown on many of them had washed 
off, and their bones were only held together by their cloth 
ing. There were hundreds in that condition. Tt was truly 
a ghastly sight to look upon. I never wish to see another 
such a sight; and, to make the matter more revolting, it 
was raining a little, and the dampness made the stench 
almost unendurable. We left the field of skulls early, and 
we got back to camp that evening, feeling very sad. We 
had succeeded in getting all our clothing. Irving, pos 
sum time is coining; catch all you can, and tell Bear to 
be a good dog and not bite any person but Yankees and 
free niggers. He can tell a free nigger by his walk and a 
Yankee bj his talk. 

A letter is handed me. Let me read it. The letter is 
from W. B. Brown. He informs me that you are well. 

In speaking of the old bai tlefield I forgot to say that 
the trees about there are literally torn to pieces. 
Among the rest there is a walnut tree, about a foot 
through, that is torn in splinters. I send you a small 
splinter of it in this letter and some cedar leaves off a tree 
that I was under when a cannon ball tore it all to pieces, 
throwing brush and leaves all over me. 

You say that it made you feel bad because a, cannon 
ball went so close to me. I think you had better be glad 
that it went no nearer to me. There were hundreds of 

South Carolina, Volunteers. 51 

men that were hit by balls of one sort or another. A miss 
is as good as a mile. Tell Mrs. Land to be sure and let me 
know whether she is dead or not, as I can hear nothing 
from her; and if she is dead, to let me know how long she 
has been dead, and what it was that killed her, and all 
that she thinks I would like to know about it. There are 
a good many getting furloughs to go home, but I don t 
want one. When I come home t want to remain there. 

Do the best you can, and I will do what they tell me 
to do Yours as ever, 

J. W. REID. 

NOTE. When I wrote the above letter I was quite unwell, but re 
mained in camp. If I had went to the hospital, as they wanted me to, 
I might have died. 


G.ERMANTOWN, YA., October 6th, 1861. } 
We were reviewed the other day by Generals Beauregard 
and Johnson. It was a big day with us. Tell Mr. E. J. 
Earle that I will edit a paper for him when I come home, 
and call it the Evergreen Trumpet, and Avill trumpet every 
thing that he knows and everything that I know, and a 
great sight more things than we both know, from the 
rivers to the ends of the earth, and from Dan even unto 
Beersheba. Everything is high here now and getting 
higher continually. Chickens, from the size of a torn tit 
up to the size of a robin red-breast, thirty cents; butter, 
some of it old enough to speak for itself, thirty cents per 
pound ; eggs the same, and everything else in double 
proportion. I gave sixty cents for a plug of tobacco yes 
terday that I could have gotten for ten cents at home when 
I left there. I will now close this letter. 

Yours as ever, 

J. W. REID. 

NOTE. E. J. Earle had written to me for mischief that he wanted me 
to come home and edit a paper. He was aware that I was waiting a 
great many letters for the boys (he lives at Evergreen). In the above 
letter I wrote a good deal about our condition as to health at the time 
that I don t here repeat. We had a great deal of sickness at this time 
and a good many deaths. My letters will be more interesting to the 
reader when I come to the Spring and Summer of 62. 

52 History of the Fourth Regiment 

Thursday, October 10th, 1861. J 

I have got entirely well, and as cool weather has come 
I hope the health of our army will be better. No news of 
importance. All quiet. 

Our regiment is again on picket guard. I will now try 
to explain to you how our different guards are arranged 
so that you can understand it. In the first place we have 
what we call a regimental gua.rd (every regiment has one). 
So many men are detailed every morning from each com 
pany, and are posted around the regiment to watch for 
the enemy and to see that everything is going on right. 
This guard is divded into three reliefs, one relief on post 
at a time, being relieved every two hours, so that each 
relief is on post just one-third of the time. We also have 
what we call a brigade guard. Men are detailed from the 
regiments constituting a brigade, and a, portion of them 
are placed on all the roads and highways leading toward 
our camps, divided into reliefs, as the regimental guard. 
This constitutes a brigade guard. A picket guard is when 
one, two, three or more regiments are sent as near the 
enemy s lines as practicable to watch the movements of 
the enemy. They are also divided into reliefs like the 
other guards; and when any one is on post he is called a 
vidette, or is on vidette guard . So hereafter if I inform you 
of our pickets, or those of the enemy, being driven in, you 
may know what I mean, and that is, that the other party 
has commenced an advance and that hard times are 

The reason that I am not on picket with my regiment is 
that I was on brigade guard when the regiment went off. 
The regimental guard has to go with the regiment, but 
the brigade guard does not. That is why I am now here. 
So much for the guard. I should have stated above that 
there is never more than one regiment taken from a bri 
gade at a time. There are four regiments to a brigade ; 
so myself and one more of my company, named Hadley 
Elrod, is all that is left here of my company. I am now 
off of brigade guard and am commander-in-chief of my 

South Carolina Volunteers. 53 

own self until the regiment gets back. If my regiment 
should go to fighting I will trot down there on a double- 
quick (poke) march. I drew some coffee for my company 
this morning and sent it to them. Don t laugh at me 
when I tell you what I sent it in. I took the legs of an old 
pair of drawers of mine (perfectly clean), and put the 
coffee in one leg and the sugar in the other. Rather a 
queer kind of a saddle bag, was it not? I also sent the 
boys potatoes, in bags, as black as the ace of spades, or 
clubs either; but we have got so that we don t want any 
thing better than a gourd or a turtle shell to eat out of. 
Please send me a turtle shell or two, as I am needing a 
tray very bad. If you can do so I will take it as a great 
favor of you. Captain Thomas Dean has resigned his 
commission and gone home, and A. T. Broyles has taken 
his place as captain. Yours as ever, 

J. W. REID. 

NOTE. On the I3th of October I wrote again to my wife, but there is 
nothing worth repeating in it. I only said to my wife that the only 
reason we did not fight was that the enemy was afraid of us and we of 
them, and that was all that kept us apart. 


PRINCE WILLIAM Co., YA., October 19th, 1861. j 
On Tuesday last we got orders to again pack up goods 
and chattels and be ready to move. We did so, and re 
mained up all night. At daybreak, Wednesday morning, 
we started and got the extraordinary distance of one 
hundred yards, and remained there till sundown, and then 
commenced our march. We got within about a half mile 
of this place, about 10 o clock at night, tired out and 
hungry. Next morning, Thursday, we came on here, near 
Bull Run Creek, and cleaned out a place for our camp, 
right in the woods. Our entire brigade is here, and our 
whole army has fallen back from near the Potomac River, 
We have a large force now placed up and down this creek 
for sixteen miles. I think this backward movement of 
ours is done to try and draw the enemy from their in- 

54 History of the Fourth Regiment 

trenchments and get th em on the run again (Bull Run). 
We are now where the battle was fought on the 18th of 
July last, arid about five miles below Stone Bridge, where 
we fought on the 21st. 

I am sorry to say that we are still drawing no money. 
I have drawn none in three months. It is hard to draw 
blood out of a turnip. Our camp is called McLane s Ford. 
Direct to Manassas Junction, Va. Yours as ever, 

J. W. REID. 

PRINCE WILLIAM Co., VA., Nov. 3, 1861. j 
A thousand and one reports are going the rounds now, 
none of which have any foundation. I shall not repeat 
them. One of my mess, named W 7 esley Hale, died at the 
hospital on the 27th of October last (Sunday). He had 
been sick several weeks. When he left camp he told me 
farewell, and said he never expected to see me again, and 
told me to tell all the boys good-bye. They were going 
on picket at the time. I have written to his wife of his 
death. She is a daughter of Ball Thomas. Night before 
last I was on brigade guard again. It rained a.ll night 
and the wind blew tremendously hard. I never put in such 
a night in my life before, and pray God that I never may. 
Two hours before day, yesterday morning, our regiment 
was called on to be ready to start on picket guard again 
by 4 o clock. It was riot time to go, but they were 
doubling our pickets, as they were expecting an attack 
from the enemy. It rained so dreadfully hard that they 
could not cook up any rations; so they went off in the 
rain without a mouthful to ea,t. I came off of brigade 
guard at 10 o clock, wet from nose whistle to heel gristle, 
arid went to cooking for my company. I got a note from 
my officers to send all the prisoners I could get on down 
to them. I cooked all I had and started it off in a wagon 
at 4 o clock; the other companies did the same, there 
being some men left from each company. I put it in sacks, 
and on one of the sacks tied a paper with the following- 
lines : 


South Carolina Volunteers. 55 

"To all whom it may concern : 

"I send you all that I could draw, 
So eat it up and hold your jaw; 
For this is all that I could get, 
1 don t know what you 11 say to it." 

It is clear this morning, but I fear it will not remain so 
long. If we have to keep up this picket guard all Winter 
and I guess we will it will no doubt be the death of some 
of us at least. 

Six O CLOCK P. M., SAME DAY. Smooth and cloudy 
again. Told you so this morning. Now, you see, what a 
philosopher I am. You can tell Mr. Earle that I shall have 
to back out from editing a paper, as my other duties will 
not allow me time. My other duties will be making alma 
nacs. I must close; it is getting dark and gloomy. 

Yours as ever, 

J. W. REID. 

McLANE s FORD, VA., November 10th, 1861. 

Nothing important; all quiet. 

You say that you made a barrel of saur kraut. I want 
you and Irving, between you, to try and eat your own 
share and mine too, if you can; it won t be much; only 
a peck a day, unless it is when I am sick. In that case it 
would take a half bushel. 

I have just learned that there are ten thousand of the 
enemy about ninety miles from here, in Western Virginia. 
A brigade of five regiments of Virginians have all gone 
on from here to see about it. A regiment of Mississippians 
have also gone there; seen them start, and a more gigan 
tic set of men I never saw. It really puzzled me to tell 
which one of them it was that pushed the bull off the 
bridge. We are now engaged throwing up breastworks ; 
it will take eight or ten days to finish, but I believe that I 
could eat all the cannon balls that will ever be thrown 
against those works this side of next Spring; know I 

56 History of the fourth Regiment 

could if they were yam potatoes. Some time ago we sent 
some of our blankets to Manassas Junction for safe keep 
ing; had been trying for some time to get leave to go after 
my blankets, but could not get leave; so yesterday myself 
and four others got leave to flank the guard which was at 
the bridge and go after our blankets ; so we went up the 
creek about one mile, pulled off our shoes and socks and 
waded across. Jack McKeen, who is an Irishman, pulled 
off his B. B. pants. The water was over knee deep and as 
cold as Greenland, but we got across and went on our way 
rejoicing. It was about five miles. We got our blankets 
and some other little things that we needed and started 
back. By this time it was raining, but through rain and 
mud we made our way back to Bull Run, and behold ! it 
had risen about two feet. We did not pull off anything 
this time, but just took it dry so (a wet so, I should have 
said). I came on and put on dry clothes, and felt pretty 
well, considering. 

Since writing the above I understand that some of the 
enemy have succeeded in landing somewhere between 
Charleston and Savannah. If so it is clearly necessary that 
they must be driven back, even if I have to do it myself. 

1 send you $10 in this letter. Do with it as you think 
best. You know 7 better than I do what you need. 

This morning I put on the new suit of clothes you sent 
me, and feel as big as a dog in a meat house. I will now 
close. Yours as ever, J. W. REID. 

I think I informed you in my last letter that it was 
rumored we were to move again. At any rate, on Mon 
day morning last we packed up goods and chattels and 
came on to this place. I believe I have had occasion to 
speak of Centreville in some of my former letters. Some of 
the enemy were stationed here when our regiment and 
Wheat s Battalion passed within three-fourths of a mile of 
em in going from Camp Holcomb to Stone Bridge, on the 

South Carolina Volunteers. 57 

5th of July last, and from here a portion of our own men 
followed the enemy on the 21st of July, when they left be 
hind apparently all of their army stores. I passed here on 
the 23d and 24th of September last in going to and com 
ing from Gainesville, of which I have .already spoken. It is 
one of the highest points this side of the mountains. The 
ground, though high, is quite level for a considerable dis 
tance on all sides. The situation is beautiful. 

Men are engaged in fortifying our position, and if 
Abraham (or Isaac or Jacob, either,) undertakes to drive 
us out he will find it harder work than splitting rails. 
When our lines are fully established they will be about 
twenty-five miles long, and this is the place most likely to 
be attacked, as it is on the main turnpike road, the only 
one over which heavy artillery could be brought at this sea 
son of the year. 

This is the opinion of High Private Reid. My opinion 
also is that there will be no attack before next spring ; it is 
too cold. 

We are now in plain view of the mountains, which are 
covered with snow. It was snowing there the whole night 
night before last and all day yesterday, and it still keeps 
up. A stormy wind is blowing, and a colder day I never 
saw or want to see. It is a bad time in camp ; every man 
is wrapped up in a blankets and hankerchiefs (or shirt- 
tails), tied around their jaws and ears. And this is only 
the beginning of winter. 

While sitting in my tent writing this letter my fingers 
are stiff with cold. My nasty cold nose keeps dropping, 
and the blots nearly freeze before I can wipe them off the 
paper. Now, don t mistake me and think that my nose 
has actually dropped off. It is only the water dripping 
from it. If my nose was to drop it would stay off, and not 
keep on dropping. 

Yesterday, while no one was in the tent, a coal of fire 
blew into our baggage and burnt a hole in the narrative of 
my broadcloth coat. It also burnt holes in several other 
garments unnecessary to mention. 

So far as my smoked eyes can see there are nothing but 
tents and encampments. We are some ten miles from 
Manassas Junction, three miles from our old battle field 

58 History of the Fourth Regiment 

and some twenty-five miles from Washington city. Last 
night some of our men came in with thirty prisoners and 
five wagons loaded with corn, together with forty rnus- 
kets. They were taken somewhere between Fairfax and 
Fall s Church. Eight of the captured party made their es 
cape. Among the prisoners, however, is a ca.ptain, a lieu 
tenant and three non-commissioned officers. I will now 
stop until morning. 

NOVEMBER 18. Nothing new. Cold as ice. 

I omitted in a former letter to tell you the name given 
our regiment. As we went to Fall s Church on picket duty 
one night, every regiment we passed would call uut : "What 
regiment ?" When answered we were allowed to pass on. 
Upon one occasion when the answer was given, "The 
Fourth regiment, from South Carolina," some big-throat 
ed fellow hollowed out at the top of his voice, "Good God ! 
is that the old Bloody Fourth, of which there is so much 
talk ?" We will go under that name henceforward and 
forever. Yours as ever, J. W. REID. 

Nothing new. Our officers still persist in saying that we 
will have a fight soon, but I see no more prospect of it 
now than I did two months ago. My private opinion is 
that we will do nothing more than a little skirmishing be 
fore next spring, but then we will catch it. Gum-headed 
as I arn, time will tell whether I am right or not. The 
Federal general and everybody else knows that a burnt 
child dreads the fire, and he and his men, too, dread their 
second trip to Richmond, and well they may. I believe it 
is their intention to draw us away from our present posi 
tion. I understand that they are making some feints in 
South Carolina. It is only done to get us away from here. 
They don t seem to have forecast enough to know that 
there are now enough men in South Carolina to defend it. 
for the present, arid if not, the women of oS uth Carolina 

South Carolina Volunteers. 59 

would help them, wouldn t they, Polly? Tell A. M. Hol 
land to take his two boys and my boy and go down and 
whip the last one of them out of their boots, if they have 
any boots on. Perhaps he had just as well take a free 
nigger along to act as a reserve. Or would it be best to 
put the nigger in front so as to draw their attention from 
the whites ? A nigger woman would be better. 

I had to write something to you and I have done the 
best I could under existing circumstances. 

Yours as ever, J. W. REID. 

CENTREVILLE, YA., Nov. 26, 1861. As I am busy nearly 
all my time I will start a letter to-day and finish it when I 
have a chance. We had a big time here yesterday, and all 
the troops were called out and reviewed by General Beau- 
regard. I am again on brigade guard to-day, and have 
come to camp for my dinner. 

Reports are current here to-day that the enemy is ad 
vancing. I don t believe a word of it. We are ordered to 
again send off our heavy baggage. We have unanimously 
and with one accord not done so. If I have to loose my 
things at all I had about as leave loose them here as else 
where, so my things don t go. 

I said that 1 did not believe that theenemy were advanc 
ing. One grand reason why I don t believe it is that our 
advanced pickets are not driven in, which they un 
doubtedly would be if the enemy were advancing. They 
may make some people believe these reports, but I don t 
believe them. I also have several other reasons for disbe 
lief the maneuvers of our big officers don t denote it. 

I will now have to stop and go back to my post. 

WEDNESDAY EVENING, November 27th. I have been re 
lieved from brigade guard. I was relieved at 10 o clock 
this morning. To-day is the worst day that we have had. 
It is snowing and sleeting, and is cold enough to freeze. 
Between you and I, I wish it was not. 

60 History of the Fourth Regiment, 

Not much talk of Yankees to-day. T \veri ty-eight prison- 
ers brought in to-day. They won t tell us much. I have 
heard so much of another big fight that I believe I would 
rather see it than to hear of it. It is now late in the even 
ing and has quit snowing. 

THURSDAY EVENING Nov. 28th The biggest day yet. 
This morning at 10.30 o clocK everybody and the cook 
was called out, and each regiment was presented with a 
battle flag. General Beau regard was again present and 
so was everybody else. It was the grandest time we have 
ever had. We were told that the flags were made and sent 
to us by our wives, mothers and sisters, with an order 
from them to defend them. We will most assur 
edly obey that order. We were drawn up in a hollow 
square and several speeches were made. There were sev 
eral bands of music on hand, and, as each regiment filed 
off toward their quarters, every band struck up "Pop Goes 
the Weasel." I have never heard or seen such a time be- 
before. The noise of the men was deafening. I felt at the 
time that I could whip a whole brigade of the enemy my 
self, but after due reflection I concluded that I couldn t. 

FRIDAY NIGHT (candle light), Nov. 29. I have been 
throwing up breastworks all day and a,m very tired. I will 
o to bed. 

SATURDAY EVENING, Nov. 30. Another big day to-day. 
General Johnson was present this time. We had a big mus 
ter. Our line was three-fourths of a mile long. We are to 
have an inspection of arms to-morrow at 10 o clock. I 
hear nothing of the enemy to-day, or nothing about an 
other fight. 

There are one or more buried here every day, but then 
there so many of them here that there will be some of 
them dying quite often. 

The mountains are again covered with snow, and if we 
have to remain in these old tents all winter it will hurt us 
worse than the Federal army. My captain, A. T. Broyles, 
and a man named Rochester, of my company, were sent off 

South Carolina Volunteers. 61 

to the hospital to-day. There is another one too sick to 
be carried off. He will die. His name is Murray a son of 
Mitchel Murray. 

I have just received a letter from the wife of Wesley Hale, 
who, I informed you, had died at hospital some time ago. 
She thanks me very much for writing to her. She requests 
me to still correspond with her occasionally, so that she 
may know how things are out here. I will do so, although 

I have never seen her. Yours as ever, 

J. W. KEID. 

NOTE. I became well acquainted with Mrs. Hale after the war. She 
afterward married Marion Cox, both of Anderson county, S. C. 

J. W. R. 

CENTRE VILLE, FAIRFAX Co., VA., Dec. 12, 1861. ] 
I again commence writing with nothing to write about. 

I can say that I am still at Centreville, though General 
McClelland can t boast of being here. So you see I am ris 
ing in the world like smoke. I can stay at a place where 
the greatest general of the United States army dare not 

I have seen and heard so much since coming to Virginia 
that nothing less than an earthquake or forty storms 
combined in one can make much impression on me. If L 
could not sleep soundly now when there are one hundred 
men singing, fourteen preaching, twenty-one praying, 
eleven making political speeches (with unbounded ap 
plause), eight playing fiddles, twenty-seven beating drums, 
two hundred playing clarionets, flutes and fifes, fourteen 
thousand, nine hundred and twenty-eight playing cards, 
forty-eight wrestling, eighteen patting "jubah" and one 
reading his Bible ; if I could not sleep and all that going 
on within one hundred yards of me, and at the same time 
raining and freezing, with a wet sheet around me and 
perched on a liberty pole I say that if I could not sleep 
under these favorable circumstances of course I would not 
say that I could. 

62 History of the Fourth Regiment 

On Saturday last we again went off on picket and re 
turned on Tuesday. We saw nothing of our enemy, while 
I walked off a mile or so to myself several times. How 
strange it did seem to be alone. 

There is as much rumor here as ever. Some days, if we 
could believe rumor we would think we would soon be in 
South Carolina. And perhaps on the next day, according 
to the same gentleman, we are going to the city of Wash 
ington, and by the next day somewhere else. By to-mor 
row, according to Mr. Rumor, we may be the other side of 
Mason and Dixon s line. 

It is now stated, and I believe it a fact, that we will 
be called upon to re-volunteer for three years, or during 
the war. As all that will do so will get a furlough home 
and $50 bounty, it is a very good bait, and one tha,t a 
great many will bite at, but I don t expect to even nibble. 
Still, I m in favor of the plan, as we are obliged to keep an 
army here or give up the ghost, and if an army is not 
raised in this way it will have to be done by drafting. In 
April my time will be out, and then I will sing, "0, carry 
me back, carry me back, from Old Virginia s shore/ 

There were two men of Wheat s battalion shot here the 
other day by order of court martial. It was an awful af 
fair. It is now night and very cold. Yours as ever, 

J. W. REID. 

CENTREVILLE, YA., Dec. 22, 1861. There was a battle 
fought a few miles above here day before yesterda-y, in 
which our side was considerably worsted. One of the regi 
ments of my brigade w r as in it the Sixth regiment. They 
lost eighty-three men killed and wounded. Some of the regi 
ment fared even worse than that. They are now bringing 
some of the dead here to bury them. I hear them playing 
the dead march at the cemetery. Oh, how lonesome ! 

I have been again to-day to visit the old battlefield. I 
never want to see it again. I saw the stump I got behind 
for a while that day, thinking it might shelter me a little, 
but if a cannon ball had hit it, it would have torn the 

South Carolina Volunteers. . 63 

stump and me, too, all to pieces, and some of them did 
not miss it very far. The stump is about ten inches high 
and nearly rotton. A drowning man will catch at a 
straw. My whole company was lying down at the time I 
am speaking of. It was while we were on the hill in 
front of Stone Bridge. 

As many as eight at a time can get furlough now to go 
home, but I positively don t want one when I come home. 
I want to remain a while. Christmas will soon be here 
and then the 14th of April will quickly follow. I send some 
money in this letter. Do with it as you think best. 

Yours as ever. J. W. REID. 

CENTREVILLE, VA., Dec. 24, 1861. In your letter you 
say that my dog Bear has not forgotten me. I will bet 
you a jewsharp to a fiddlestring that if you don t mind 
him when I come home he will bite me, thinking I am an 
orangotang, and the very first words you will say will be, 
u Jesse, do pray shave before you before long." My 
whiskers come down to well, they come away down yon 
der, and I can put my moustaches over my ears. Ami not 
a paragon of beauty ? To-day we began building log 
cabins for winter quarters. I wished they were finished, 
for last night my tent blew over and I came very near 
freezing to death. 

No war news, and I hope there w ? on t be soon. I will stop 
DOW till to-morrow. 

CHRISTMAS DAY, 3 O CLOCK p. M. Well, Christmas is here, 
and in a few hours will be where eighteen hundred others 
are, in the past. How often have you and my sisters, and 
others, perhaps, said, "I wish Jesse had some of this," 
when you were enjoying your little Chsistmas tricks, but 
never mind Jesse on such occasions ; he is faring very well, 

In spite of Major-General Law and Gospel, most of the 
boys managed to get a wee drop to-day, but all has been 
very quiet, there being no more noise than three earth- 

64 History of the Fourth Regiment 

quakes and a cyclone, and that is nothing unusual here. 
For my part I have not tasted a drop. One reason for it 
is that the stuff is too high, being $5.00 a quart for the 
worst kind of "rot skull." Having drunk none myself I 
will miss the supreme felicity of the blues and headache. 

I told you in a former letter that Captain Broyles was at 
the hospital, and to-day First-Lieutenant D. L. Hall was 
sent off. Our second lieutenant, William Jones, is also at 
the hospital. This leaves but one commissioned officer in 
the company, G. W. Belcher, thii d lieutenant. Your 
nephew, William jTripp, was also sent of this morning. He 
will die. Before this reaches you Christmas will be over, 
and then you can begin to look for April and 

J. W. REID. 

NOTE. William Tripp died that same evening. About the time I 
wrote these letters and for some time afterwards there were no active 
operations going on. Most of them will not greatly interest the read 
ers of to-day, so I will run over them pretty fast, until I come to more 
exciting times. However, I will not leave any of them out entirely, as 
they may contain some things of interest. I also wish to give our 
travels in the fall, as I have undertaken to do so. These letters mav no 
doubt be a little dull to the reader at this time, but just follow me a 
while and I will raise your bristles. J. \V. R. 

CENTKEVILLE, VA., Dec. 28, 1861. I have gotten a new 
tent since last I wrote you, and am much more comforta 
ble than before. We are still working on our huts, but the 
weather is so bad that \ve are getting along rather slowly. 
Our wagons have so much to do hauling firewood and 
provisions that they have but little time to haul lumber 
for houses, if pine poles can be called lumber. We are get 
ting the boards for covering our shanties at Stone Bridge, 
in a swamp. We cut the trees just before the battle, and 
they were felled across the road and all over the place as 
an obstruction to retard the enemy in their march on-Eich- 

Clayton Jones, one of my company and a good friend of 
mine, died at the hospital on Christmas day. 

South Carolina Volunteers. 65 

A man belonging 1 to the second Georgia regiment was 
frozen to death the other night. He was sick and had to 
go out during the night, and was found frozen the next 

An old acquaintance of mine named Wryle, whom I 
knew in Newberry, died last week. He belonged to an 
Alabama regiment. 

This thing of getting a thirty days furlough is said to 
be all knocked in the head, and I arn glad of it. 

The hat I told you of swapping for in July last has be 
come more holy than righteous, so yesterday I got a cap 
that has ear covers, and, strange as it may seem I have 
already had it over two (y)ears. 

NIGHT. (8 o clock.) A powerful cannonading going on 
down toward Fairfax this evening. I cannot get informa 
tion as to its meaning, but if the enemy should succeed in 
reaching this place they will know the way back, as they 
traveled the same road before at a double quick on July 
21st last. 

Tell Irving to go to school now w r hile he has an oppor 
tunity. On the 23d of December, 1837, my father (a 
school teacher), was well; on the 25th he w r as buried. I 
never went to school after he died, as I had no chance to 
go, though I was only twelve years old. I want Irving to 
go all he can while he has the opportunity of going. We 
don t know what a day may bring forth. 

Yours as ever, J. VV. KEID. 

NOTE. On the 5th of January, 1862, I wrote again to my family, but 
there is nothing in the letter worth repeating. We had received an 
oide -Siot to write anything home concerning our whereabouts, num 
bers or movements in any way. To this order I paid no attention, but 
continued writing as I had before, as you will see. J. W. R. 

CENTREVILLE, VA., Jan. 7. 1862. Some of our men still 
contend that we will have a fight soon. It is the next 
thing to impossible, for the enemy cannot bring their artil- 
A ery here while theroads arein their present condition, and 

66 History of the fourth Regiment 

they are not likely to attack us with nothing but small 
arms, but if we should accidentally have a little brush you 
will hear of it. Yours as ever, J. W. REID. 

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA., Jan. 14, 1862. } 

I am at length an inmate of the hospital. On Wednes 
day last we were again sent on picket duty near Fairfax 
County, some six miles from Centrev.ille. It rained pretty 
hard, and I got wet and had to remain so, as my blanket 
and everything I had with me was wet, with no way to dry 
them. On Friday I was quite unwell and at night had a 
severe chill with pains in my jaws and head. My head 
grew worse and I soon became unconscious. My throat 
was very sore. They said I talked all night, often calling 

T was sent back to camp on Saturday. The doctor gave 
me some medicine and kept my head wet with cold water 
and on Sunday morning I was sent on to Manassas Junc 
tion and remained there under a doctor until Monday 
morning, when I was sent on to this place, a distance, I 
suppose, of about one hundred miles. I am much better 
at present, though my head is still somewhat painful. I 
will be all right in a short time, and as soon as I am able 
I will go back to camp, for I do riot like to be at a hospi 
tal. It sounds sickly. 

I find several of our Greenville friends here. Among them 
are David Westfield, Wash. Richardson, Jasper Smith, 
James Torrarit, and an acquaintance of mine from New- 
byrry named Hunt, and many others from different places/ 

Soldiers are dying here every day more or less. 

I am in sight of Monticello. the home of Thomas Jeffer 
son, who wrote the Declaration of Independence of the 
United States, and who was afterwards President of the 
same. I will try to visit the place before I return to camp. 
I will write again soon, as I know you will be anxious to 
hear from me. Yours as ever, J. W. REID. 

South Carolina Volunteers. 67 

NOTE. I visited Monticellolbefore I left, and also the University of 
Virginia and all other places of importance that I could. 

I may be mistaken in the distance from Manassas to Charlottesville, 
as I only guessed at it. J. W. R. 

CENTREVILLE, YA., Jan. 23, 1892. On Sunday I came on 
to Manassas Junction where I remained all night. When 
I stepped out into the street on Monday morning, lo and 
behold, I was up to my knees in mud. While standing 
there, wondering in which way I should go, who should I 
see but Wheeler Gilmore, just returned from home. He was 
as deep in the mud as I was in the mire. We managed to 
get together and sloshed along as best we could. I never 
in all my life saw 7 such a muddy road. I remarked to Gil- 
more that this must be that dismal road which multi 
tudes pursue. It had been traveled so much as to be 
about the consistency of mush soap. We reached here in 
the evening looking like ground hogs. Everything here is 
about as usual all talk and nothing done, all cry and no 
wool. There is nothing talked of here but revolunteering 
and going; home when our time is out. I can only speak 
for myself in this matter. I have now been from home 
nearly one year and have never applied for a furlough, nor 
do I intend doing so. I have always been at my post, 
have gone through dangers and hardships innumerable 
and have never grumbled. I have never had a day s rest 
from my toils and sufferings, and now that the time is ap 
proaching when my time will be out I shall most assuredly 
take advantage of it and come home, but I am well aware 
that I cannot content myself very long and my comrades 
still in service. Still, I will come if I can and take my time 
my time about coming back. 

The weather is very bad raining and freezing or snow T - 
ing nearly all the time. We have gotten into our huts, 
called winter quarters. We are dreadfully crowded. I have 
nine men in my hut. Yours as ever, J. W. REID. 

68 History of the Fourth Regiment 

CENTREVILLE, Va., Feb. 7, 1862. We went on picket on 
Saturday were returned on Tuesday. We had a very 
rough time. It snowed nearly all the time and was very 
cold, but we are getting so that we do not mind the 
weather, so the wind don t blow. But the wind did blow 
almost a storm, though none of us froze. It is always too 
hot or too cold for some people, but we have gotten so 
that we do not mind heat or cold. 

You will see that a good many of the boys are re-volun 
teering and coining home for thirty days. You will also 
see that I am not doing so. Some may think that I should, 
but I think differently. Let those who are at home come 
next, and [ will take turns with them. 

Some of the men here are doing all they can to get 
others to re-volunteer, but are not doing so themselves. 
Human nature will show itself. The boys can and no 
doubt will tell you more than I can (or would) write, but 
you need not take what they say as Gospel facts. If you 
could credit all tha,t some of them tell you, you would 
think that we would have suffered an ignominious defeat 
at Stone Bridge had they not beten present. There are one 
or two who were not with us, but I believe they did more 
to Avin the battle than those who participated in it, or at 
least you would think so from hearing them talk. 

Yours as ever, J. W. REID. 

NOTE. I sent the above letter and some other things home by Zion 
Lofton, who had re-volnnteered and gotten a furlough to go home, as 
did also many others. j. W. R. 

CENTREVILLE, YA., Feb. 16, 1862. They are still calling 
upon us to re-volunteer, and some few of ttjemen aredoing 
so, but as the Scotchman said, they can call loud and long- 
before they get me. 

My 7-egiment has just returned from another tour on 
picket. I did not go. One of my mess, named Jeff Pitts, 
had a spell of cramp colic the night before, and my cap 
tain got me to stay and attend to him. The captain did 
not have to use force to make me stay. Pitts was really 

South Carolina Volunteers. (>9 

badly off, and was the worst scared man I ever saw. He 
talked a good deal about another world he expected soon 
to visit, but he did not seem to think he would suffer cold 
there as he was here. In fact, he seemed to think he would 
cross the equatorial line and enter the torrid zone. He 
told me a great many things to tell his wife, which I doubt 
if he tells her the next time he sees her. Pitts is now as 
well as ever, and says he is going to do better from this 
time on, but will soon forget to until he has another spell 
of colic. He begs me now not to tell what he said when he 
thought he was going to his daddys . 

I hope I can soon come home, but when I do come I will 
be nearly in the condition in which I came into the world, 
so far as pants go, but I will try to keep them patched up 
until then. It is well known here that I keep a large 
needle. Some one is continually wanting to borrow it. 
When I ask the question, "What do you want with it the 
answer invariably is, "To sew up my breeches." Of course 
1 always let them have it, well knowing what a spectacle I 
would present had I no needle. Nothing more at present. 
Yours as ever, J. W. REID. 

CENTREVILLE, VA., Mach 1, 1862. I have just returned 
from another tour on picket. We were gone four days. 
We have had a very bad time, the snow being nearly knee 
deep. While on picket we got out of rations, but it was 
on the day that our wagons were to bring provisions from 
Warren ton to camp. That evening I volunteered to go to 
camp and bring back some rations next morning, provid 
ing someone would go with me. The officer in command 
then called for a volunteer from each company to go with 
rne and get provisions for the other companies. But none 
would volunteer. Neither would any one go with me from 
my own company. By this time it was nearly night and 
four miles to camp. I started alone. 

I went through the cold wind that evening, 

None else of the regiment would go ; 
I followed my own tracks the next morning, 

That were deeply indented in snow. 

70 History oi the Fourtli Regiment 

I had no road to guide me and went entirely by guess, 
but I finally succeeded in getting to camp, about one hour 
after dark, tired down and nearly frozen. I got rations 
for my company hog s head and backbone. Some of the 
boys who had been left at camp sick, told me to lie down 
and let them do the cooking. I did so, and about 11 
o clock was awakened to supper. I got up and ate that 
fresh meat with a doubly-distilled vengeance. Next morn 
ing an hour or so before day I put my provisions in asack, 
threw it over my shoulder and started. After leaving the 
camp I had nothing to guide me except the tracks I made 
in the snow the night before. I reached my company just 
after daybreak. The boys fairly shouted over me, and the 
remark was made by many of them that they would never 
forget me. When I left camp to go for rations I had ten 
biscuits in my haversack, and told Willis Dickson to get 
them and eat them that night. When he looked for them 
they were gone stolen. 

There is plenty of news but none true. 

The weather is the coldest I have ever seen. I have on a 
flannel shirt, a cotton ditto, my uniform coat, my broad 
cloth coat, my overcoat, and all my old breeches 
and am trembling as I write, but I hope my nose won t 
drop again. I will stop writing and try to warm. 

Yours as ever, J. VV. REID. 

NOTE. Boys, you who are living, have you forgotten my trip through 
the Snow for rations ? I suppose you have not. I never shall. About 
the time I wrote letters everything was still. It did not remain so long, 
as you will see. 

I wrote a few lines home March nth, but it is of no importance. 

J. W. R. 

CAMP TAYLOR, OKANGE COUNTY, VA., March 23d, 1862. 
I cannot at present give you a full history of our travels 
from Centre ville to this place, but will do the best I can. 
We left Centreville on Sundav, March 9th, and that day a 
prisoner we had with us, said to be seventy-two years old, 
dropped dead as we were marching along. We had four 
teen prisoners. We reached Gainesville that day, the 

South Carolina Volunteers. 71 

place we first got off the cars when we carne to Virginia, 
and where I told you of going; for my clothes. This is a 
march of ten miles. Next day we passed several little towns 
and villages, among them Buchanan, New Baltimore and 
Warreriton, a considerable place; march fourteen miles. 
Tuesday, March llth, crossed Rappahannock river at 
Waterloo Factory (saw lots of girls), passed Amesville and 
camped ; marched twenty miles. Wednesday, 12th, passed 
Washington village, Games Cross Roads and Spearsville; 
marched twelve miles. Thursday we passed Woodville and 
Little Boston ; marched eight miles. Friday and Satur 
day we rested on a small mountain. Sunday 16th, 
inarched eight miles. Monday, passed Culpepper Court 
house; go eight "miles Tuesday, 18th; cross Robinson 
river and the Rapid nn by making a foot way with wagons ; 
go ten miles. Wednesday, rested. Here a man named 
McMahon, belonging to the Fifth South Carolina regiment, 
was killed by a falling tree. It was cut down for a squir 
rel. W T e remained there until Saturday, the 22d, then 
passed Orange Courthouse and came on to this place, four 
miles, so you see, we have traveled nearly a hundred miles, 
though between Centreville and this place the distance is 
not more than half that great by rail. We came by a 
very circuitous route on account of most of it being good 
hard road. It is a mountainous country, arid \ve traveled 
some distance on the Blue Ridge, from which Ave could 
plainly see the Allfghany mountains. It made me think of 

Come, cheer uy pretty Polly, and go along with me, 
And a lady I will make of you in the Alleghanies. 

Although this trip was gratifying to me it was attended 
with a good many hardships, such as hard marching, 
heavy baggage, and for last two or three days came 
through enough mud to daub every negro cabin in the 
Southern Confederacy. We carried our knapsacks, with 
our clothing and blankets in them, our haversacks with 
our provisions and canteens of water, cartridge boxes 
with ammunition, our bayonet belts with bayonets in them 
and our muskets on our shoulders a pretty good load. 

72 History of the Fourth Regiment 

You may suppose we had little room for bottles, yet there 
were some along. 

Our entire army is falling back, some going by one road 
and some by another. The Federal army is also chang 
ing their position. I think they are going by water, but 
where they are moving I don t know or care. But let the 
enemy go where they will there we will be also. No more 
at present. Yours as ever, J. W. REID. 

[ The following letter is in answer to the first letter my son, W. Irving 
Reid, ever wrote me with his own hand. It will not be interesting, but 
as the advice I give may be of value to the boys of to-day I will publish 
it here.] 

MyJ)ear Son : I received your very welcome letter, inclosed 
in one your mother sent. I am very happy to see you can 
write papa a letter, and you wish me to^say what I think 
of your handwriting. I think it will do very well consid 
ering your opportunities of going to school, but still I 
must say there is considerable room for improvement. Go 
to school and learn all you can. I have known some ex 
cellent scholors who were very poor writers. Penmanship 
is not education. Lrarn to spell well, to pronounce well 
and learn all you can about arithmetic. If you lea,rn these 
things well you will be qualified for almost any kind of 
business. A fine copperplate handwriting is not always a 
sign of a good scholar. And above all, my son, learn to 
conduct yourself well and to be an agreeable companion 
in good society and you will get through the world all 
right. In the first place, and the first, thing for a child to 
do, is to obey and honor their parents, and to remember 
their Creator in the days of their youth. He says, and 
He cannot lie: "Seek Me early and ye shall find Me." He 
don t say, "Ye may find Me/ or "Ye can find Me." But 
thank God, he says, "Ye shall find Me." 

Try to find Him as your mother has done. If I find you 
as good a boy as I left you I will be satisfied. 

You want to know if I want to see you as bad as your 

South Carolina, Volunteers. 73 

mother. I will now tell you an anecdote. 

Once upon a time an old negro, who had an old master 
and a young master, went to preaching one day. When 
he returned his old master asked him what he thought of 
the sermon. He replied that the preacher had told two 
lies. One was that no man can serve two masters, "an 
dat am a lie, kase 1 knows I sarve you an Mas Jimmy 
bof , an den he say he dlove one and hate de odder, an dat 
am a lie, for Goramighty knows I hate ye bof ." No\v, 
as to your mother and \ou, Goramighty knows I love 
you both. Let me hear from you again. Your papa, 

J. W. REID. 

There is a great deal of talk here about a bill now before 
Congress. The bill proposes to keep all the men in the 
army between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five years of 
age, and, as the girl said, that lets me out. The bill also 
proposes to keep those under eighteen and those over 
thirty-five years old in the service for ninety days after 
their time is out, and that catches me again. I know that 
this bill is before Congress, for I read it myself in a Rich 
mond paper. I guess the bill will pass, for Jeff Davis 
recommended it, and it seems that he is dictator, and that 
our Congress will pass any measure that he recommends. 
Hut of one thing 1 am certain, that is that we will all be 
kept in the servece in some way until after another big- 
fight, if no longer, for that is the only chance of gaining 
our independence, if we do it at all. 

If Gonm ess can constitutionally keep us ninety days 
they can just as easily keep us 600 days, or if they can 
force the balance to remain three years they may just as 
easily keep them ten years. What is the difference? 

It makes me feel quite sad thus to have my fondest 
hopes thus blasted. South Carolina and all the other 
States,! presume, furnished all the troops that were called 
for. and when they can t do it, it will be time for us to 
tuck our tails and quit. 

74 History of the Fourth Regiment 

This infernal bill is called the Conscript Bill. If it passes 
all patriotism is dead, and the Confederacy will be dead 
sooner or later. Watch passing events and you will believe 
me. I have gotten to a point where I hardly know what 
to think. One day I believe we will thrash them like the 
devil, and perhaps by the next day I take a pessimistic 
view, and conclude they will thrash us out. To-day 1 am 
in the latter mood. 1 am beginning to have these little 
moods quite often and pretty badly, and am daily grow 
ing worse. 

We have just been furnished with eighty rounds of cart- 
riges to the man. That looks a little squallish, don t it ? 
But I have become used to it. I presume there have been 
ten thousand rounds of cartriges thrown away since we 
left Centreville because we did not like to carry them. We 
would say they got wet. These just served us may also 
get wet 

We have been drilling a good deal to-day. 

Now let us talk about something that is nearer my heart, 
or nearer my back, I should say. I was engaged in patch 
ing those dad rotted old breeches a^ain the other day. I 
could not get a patch that was precisely the same color 
as the pants, but so near the same thing that you would 
hardly notice the difference, the pants being black and the 
patch piece of an old white blanket. All will be one color 
long before this reaches you. I have two old pairs which I 
patch and wear, wash and tear time about. They will 
soon be gone forever, but I am perfectly satisfied that they 
will go in peace, for there is no doubt of their hol(e)iness. 
I have one good pair of pants left, but I am try ing to save 
them to come home in, for if you were to see me in my old 
ones you might mistake me for a zebra, leopard, or some 
thing else equally outrageous. 

SUNDAY MORNING, April 6, 1862. Nothing new. Nothing 
talked of but the Conscript Bill. 

Yours as ever, J. W. REID. 

N. B. : When I write again I don t think we ll bein Camp 

South Carolina Volunteers. 75 

11, 1862. This letter is on the last piece of paper 1 have, 
and there may not be roon for all I have to say. On Sun 
day morning orders reached us to proceed to Fredericks- 
burg, on the Rapahannock river. This is partly in the di 
rection from which the army had recently come, only a lit 
tle farther south. We started just at night and marched 
ten miles that night and five miles next day, when the 
order was countermanded, and we turued back toward 
Richmond. We reached this place yesterday, after march 
ing forty-two miles. We have just finished cooking two 
days rations, and I reckon we will go on again, as there 
is no rest for the wicked. We have been in rain for two 
days, which has been freezing on our clothes. When or 
where I will finish this letter I cannot tell. 1 am too busy 
to write more. 

We left Louisa Courthouse and came on here. Nothing 
important occurred. As we came on here one of my com 
pany, named Bb. Stinson, was accidentally killed by the 
cars at Louisa Courthouse. We left on Saturday last and 
came eighteen miles. On Sunday we made twenty-one 
miles and to-day twelve miles making fifty-one miles, and 
nearly 200 from CentreviJle. Just think what a load we 
had to carry for two hundred miles, through sleet and 
snow. Our whole division is here to-day. 

My time is out but I cannot come home. Hard times 
and hard fighting are still before me. Yours as ever, 

J. W. REID. 

CAMP NEAR YORKTOWN, VA., April 18, 1862. I haven t 
the time or room to write much at present. The Conscript 
Bill has passed in Congress, keeping all men in the service 
between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five for 
three years or during the war, and all in the service 
who are under eighteen or over thirty-five years of age are 
to remain in service for ninety days, and will then be dis- 

76 History of the Fourth Regiment 

charged (they say), as you are already aware. I am over 
thirty-five and will be discharged in July, if a Yankee bul- 
lett don t discharge me sooner. What I have to go 
through in the next ninety days the Lord only knows, if 
I live to go through at all. 

This Conscript Act will do away with all the patriotism 
we have. Whenever men are forced to fight they take no 
personal interest in it, knowing that, let them do as well 
as they can, it will be said they were forced, and their 
bravery was not from patriotism. My private opinion is 
that our Confederacy is gone up, or will go soon, as the 
soldiers themselves will take little or no interest in it here 
after. A more oppressive law was never enacted in the 
most uncivilized country or by the worst of despots. Re 
member what I say, it will eventually be our ruin. 

I suppose some of the people at home would like to give 
me a free ride on a rail if they knew I said this. But let 
me tell you that the time for riding rails barebacked is 
about over with. I am mad at the action of Congress and 
Jeff Davis, and I won,t deny it. 

We have had some more pretty hard times of late. We 
left camp near Richmond night before last about eight 
o clock and walked eight miles to the James river 
at Richmond, and about 2 o clock the next morning went 
on board a steamer called the "West Point," and came 
down the river about one hundred miles, landed and 
marched eight miles. We are near Yorktown and there 
is firing going on there now. We don t know at what 
moment we may be called upon to fight, nor do we care 

A great deal depends upon what is done in the next 
ninety days. I am yet in tolerable spirits (I wish some 
spirits were in me), and as stout as a mule. I can walk fifty 
miles a day, swim the James river from bank to bank, 
can jump up and knock my heels together three times, and 
can out run or jump, whip or throw any Yankee this side 
of the Mason and Dixon line, or at least I feel as though I 

South Carolina Volunteers. 77 

could. So cheer, up my liyely lads in spite of wind or 
weather. shall have to stop for the present-. 

Yours as ever, J. W. REID. 

NOTE. When I wrote the above I was angry because the Conscript 
Bill had passed Congress, and, to speak plainly, I have not yet entirely 
recovered niy temper. I was not the only one who was angry, and it 
did kill patriotism. j. W. R. 

CAMP NEAR YORKTOWN, WAitwicK Co., VA., April 24, 18(>2. 
Nothing new or important. We are within a hundred 
yards of the house where Washington had his headquar 
ters previous to the surrender of Lord Cornwallis. I have 
just returned from the place. It is a small, -old -fashioned 
house, painted white. I have a canteen of water with me 
gotten from the spring near the house. The old ditches 
are to be seen here to-day, they are quite small compared 
with ours of to-day. We are stationed between the James 
and York rivers, and not very far from either. The coun 
try here is very low, almost on a level with the river. I 
dug a hole about two feet deep, out of which I get water. 
It will undoubtedly be sickly here in summer, though I 
don t suppose we will be here then. 

* We have not been in the trenches on guard as yet, but 
will probably be there soon. There are a few men killed 
about the trenches every day. 

We were to-day reduced from a regiment to a battalion 
of five companies. A regiment has ten. My com pany and 
Captain Anderson s company were consolidated and 
formed one company. We elected D. L. Hall, captain ; 
William Jones, first lieutenant ; Pinckney Haynie, second 
lieutenant, and a Mr. Kay, third lieutenant. The captains 
are Long, Cauble, Grirtm and Hawthorne. Charles Matti- 
sou is elected major of the battalion. 

As the mail is about starting I will stop. 

Yours as ever, J. W. REID. 

78 History of the fourth Regiment 

CAMP NEAR YORKTOWN, VA., April 30, 1862. As there 
is to be an inspection of arms this morning at 10 o clock, 
I will not have time to write nmch. I have to fix up for 
the occasion. News is about as it was when I wrote last 
nothing talked of but fighting. It assuredly will come 
soon. We have taken our turn in the trenches. None of 
the command killed. Firing is going on continually, but 
ri o regular attack as yet. 

I told you in my last letter that I had been to Washing 
ton s headquarters. Since that si me I have been to York- 
town, on the York river, one mile and a half from here. In 
going there I passed the spot where Lord Cornwallis sur 
rendered to Washington, which ended the War of Indepen 
dence. I wish McClelland would surrender to us and end 
this war. He undoubtedly would have it to do if we had 
a navy on the river below him, but as we haven t that I 
can t exactly say how it will turn out. McClelland has 
vessels on the river, so that if we ever whip them here it 
will be quite an easy matter for them to take to their ves 
sels and go somewhere else. I ll bet a Jew s harp they ll 
have it to do before I go home in the middle of July next. 
Yorktown is a very old town and the York river here is 
very wide because of the tide water. I bought a string of 
fish at Yorktown the other day, the first I have had in lo, 
these many days. The next day I bought a shad, but had 
to give part of it for salt to salt the balance. Those who 
can t turn can t spin. 
I must now fix up for inspection of arms. 
I will write again when I can. We don t know what a 
day may bring forth, but the sooner we fight the better. 
Yours as ever, J. W. REID. 

South Carolina, Volunteers. 79 


Though many of my comrades lay cold in the field, 

I am here still able my weapon to wield ; 

They were comrades of mine who were slain in the fight, 

While I am still spared this letter to write. 

I ll ne er see them again this side of the grave, 

But such is the end of the valliant and brave. 

I can now see the slaughter, I can now hear the sound, 

I ne er can forget it till I m buried in the ground. 

I can still see them bleeding, I can still hear them cry, 

But I hope they are now in the Mansions on High. 

An unseen hand has carried me safely through another 
storm of balls, shells and other missiles of death and de 
struction and I am here to-day not only able to write, but 
unhurt and untouched by an enemy s weapon. Nothing 
less than God could have carried me safely through such 
an awful day, a day I never can forget. I presume you 
have already heard from this battle, though not from me. 
I know your aprehension and anxiety concerning me, but 
the army has been marching ever since the battle. I have 
had no opportunity of writing until now, and even if I had 
had an opportunity I could not have written for want of 
paper. You see this is written upon the blank pages of a 
memorandum book. 

I will begin at the first and tell you as nearly as I can 
how it has been with us since I last wrote you. 

All the troops about Yorktown left camp just after dark 
on Saturday night, and marched loiteringly all night, only 
getting about ten miles from camp. On Sunday, the 4th, 
we traveled about twelve miles. My battalion passed Wil- 
liamsburg about four miles and put up for camp. The 
enemy was close behind our rear guard all day, and late 
in the evening there was a considerable skirmish with 
them near Williamsburg. About an hour after dark we, 
(thit is Mattison s battalion), were sent back below Wil 
liamsburg on picket guard, after traveling all day and the 
night before. It was a very dark night, cloudy and driz 
zling rain. We nearly ran into the enemy s lines before we 
knew it. Three men were put at each post, with orders to 
stay awake all night, and for one of us to crawl out to- 

80 History oi the Fourth Regiment 

ward the enemy s lines, and find out, if possible, their posi 
tion. I crawled out to a fence about one hundred yards in 
the rear of my post two or three times through the night. 
I could distinctly hear them talking while at the fence, but 
could see nothing on account of the darkness. 

Thus we passed the night of the 4th of May ; the rnin 
descending slowly. Just at daylight the enemy commenced 
snapping caps on their guns to dry the tubes, I suppose. 
I will admit that 1 never felt so nervous in rny life. I did 
not feel half as badly when the battle was regularly 
opened. I never shall forget the bursting of those caps. 

A little after daylight they appeared in large numbers 
and soon attacked. We held our ground as long as pos 
sible, giving them as good as they sent, until about 
7 o clock, when they came in such overwhelming numbers 
as to force us back on our main lines, a distance of about 
six hundred yards, with the loss of several of our men. 1 
lost all my clothing and blankets. In falling back we had 
a slanting hill to go down and when we got to the foot of 
it our artillery opened fire on the enemy over our heads, 
This stopped them from following us. We then took a cir 
cuitous route, so as not to be in the way of the artillery, 
finally got around and went into the fort, near the main 
road to Williamsburg. While skirmishing that morning we 
left several men killed or wounded, who fell into the enemy s 
hands. While Thomas Stacks and another man were 
carrying off Archibald Sadler, who was wounded, the man 
who was helping was shot dead and a Minnie ball struck 
Stacks canteen and tore it all to pieces. Stacks left Sad 
dler, and he is now in the enemy s hands. He is badly 
wounded A ball went through my overcoat, but did not 
graze the skin. 

The fort into which we went is called Fort Richmond. 
We (Mattison s battalion) remained in the fort amid a 
storm of shell, cannon and musket balls until late in the 

The fighting was going on all this time to our right and 
left without a moment s intermission. The noise was 
deafening. The sight was sickening. A continual roaring 

South Carolina Volunteers. 81 

was going on the full length of our line. Oh, the slaughter 
that was made that day the slaughter of human beings, 
brother against brother. 

The fort, as I have said, was on the main road, and it was 
here that the heaviest attack was made, but the nine pieces 
artillery we had in the fort and the infantry backing it 
kept the enemy at a distance all day. Two or three times 
during the day they attempted to charge and drive us 
out of the fort, but were just as often repulsed with heavy 
loss. Late in the evening a brigade or two of our men 
came up from our right wing and engaged the enemy di 
rectly in front of us. At this juncture of affairs our bat 
talion was taken out of the fort and ordered to storm a 
fort the enemy were in possession of, up to our left. We 
obeyed the order, and with a corporal s guard undertook 
to storm afortwell supplied with artillery and perhaps ten 
times our number of infantry to back them. We made a 
bold but unsuccessful effort to drive them out, and being 
repulsed, filed off into a strip of woods somewhat out of 
range of their guns. Just after this a whole brigade of our 
made a charge on the fort, but were driven back with 
considerable loss. Our battalion had also lost several 
men. One of my company named Gantt Milford had his 
leg shot off at the thigh and died in a few minutes. While 
we were lying flat on the ground a cannon ball struck 
about two feet from Willis Dickson, going under the 
ground, and raising him off the ground a foot or more, 
but not hurting him seriously. There were a great many 
narrow escapes. 

About the time that brigade made its unsuccessful 
charge night came on and ended the slaughter. 

We had then been marching or fighting or on guard two 
days and nights, and I was completely broken down. It 
had also been raining the greater part of the time. My 
clothing was wet, my body nearly frozen, and in this con 
dition we were again ordered on guard. We were ordered 
to go into an empty fort and remain there as a guard. I 
flatly refused to go in the condition in which I was. I 
would have died first. I left ranks and went to a house in 

82 History of the Fourth Regiment 

Williamsburg, where I remained all night, of which I shall 
try to give you a description hereafter. 

I shall not undertake a description of the battle. A de 
scription of one is a description of all big battles. I will 
only remark that the firing did not cease for a moment 
from early dawn until dark, in fact, firing was going on in 
places until after dark. The losses on both sides are 
heavy. When the battle ended each army occupied about 
the same position they had at the beginning. I will give 
you my opinion about it hereafter. 

Yours as ever, J. W. REID. 

NOTE. This man, Archibald Sadler, whom I speak of as wounded 
that morning, got well and came through the war safely. J. W. R. 

I stated in iny last letter that I refused to go on guard 
the night after the fight. I plainly but modestly told my 
officer that I could not and would not go. An officer, 
whose name I shall not mention, told me to step out of 
rank and say nothing about it, and that he would say 
nothing. The darkness favored me in getting away un 
noticed, so I gave myself the word of command "About 
face, deployed off in single file and made my way to 
Williamsburg, about half a mile away. I found the peo 
ple had vacated their houses, but badly as I felt, I did not 
take the liberty of going into a house without leave from 
some one. I finally found an old negro in a kitchen cook 
ing his supper. I said, "Uncle, can I stay by your fire to 
night ? I m very tired, wet and cold, and I need a little 
sleep." "Yas, boss, more n welcome. I s heah by myself, 
sah, and will be glad of a little company. If you is a In- 
fedret so ger, come in, sah. I guess you knows how to 
have yo self, sah." I told him that before the war I had 
had some faint idea of good behavior, but that under 
existing circumstances I hardly knew whether I could be 
have myself inside a house or not, as I had not been in 
one for a good while, and had not slept in one for more 

South Carolina Volunteers. 83 

than a year, but that at any rate I would treat him civilly. 
"Come in boss, I knows you s age manbyde way you looks 
an talks. Spec you d like sump n ter eat. Take a seat 
by de fire, sah, an I ll have it ready terrecly. De white 
folks is all gone up towards Richmond, an da tole me dat 
if any o de Infedret so gers come here to give em any 
thing they wanted, sah." 

I took the good old darky at his word, and was soon at 
a good fire drying myself and eating a snack. Hay down 
by the fire and got as good a night s sleep as I ever had. 
In the mean time five others of rny command had come in, 
and they also remained all night. Next morning about 
sunrise I walked out into the yard, and behold, the town 
was full of the enemy, but none of them had quite gotten 
up to where we were. Our army was gone. I called up 
the other men and hastily evacuated Williamsburg. In 
passing the suburbs of the town we found a large quan 
tity of clothing and blankets some of our men had left. I 
got as much as I wanted and went my way rejoicing. I 
had returned the things I borrowed from the enemy on th^ 
21st of July last, but now I am about as well off as before 
the fight. Of all the mud I ever saw we trudged through 
it that morning. My overcoat draggled in it. It was about 
the consistency of fritter batter, and knee deep. There was 
no way of getting around it. After going about too miles 
we overtook the battalion, acting as rear guard as usual. 
We joined them and waded on. We traveled all day and 
until some time after night. That day Captain Hall got 
sick and had to stop. I stayed with him until a wagon 
happened along, and I got him into it. This wagon had 
been delayed in some way. Our wagons were in front. 

After we had camped that night we drew some flour, but 
had no way of making up dough or baking it. I made 
up some of it on my oil cloth and baked it in a tin plate I 
always carry with me. I put it up before the fire Johnny- 
cake fashion, and behold, it was good. Most of the men 
were so worn out they did not attempt to cook, but lay 
down and went to sleep. Just after I lay down orders 
came to go to the ordnance wagon, about three hundred 

84 History of the Fourth Regiment 

yards off, and draw cartridges, as the enemy were fast ap 
proaching. Not a man of my company could be stirred. 
I went by myself and got a hundred pound box of cart 
ridges for my company. I might as well have brought 
acorns to them then. It was now about two o clock. I 
then told some of the boys not to disturb me until I woke 
of my ow^n accord, orders or no orders, unless the enemy 
were upon us, lay down and went to sleep. About 8 o clock 
next morning I awoke refreshed, and in a short time re 
sumed the inarch, the enemy following close in our rear. 
Don t be alarmed. Yours as ever, J. W. REID. 

CAMP TYLER, VA., May 14, 1862 When I wrote my last 
letter, on the llth, we were on the march. We continued 
inarching day and night until we reached this place. We 
have had a dreadful time of it. We are near the Chick a- 
hominy river, and our camp is in sight of President Tyler s 
home. Tyler died in Richmond since I came to Virginia. 
We are not very far from Jamestown, the oldest town in 
the United States (ununited at present). I am anxious to 
see the place and perhaps may see it as we go on to Rich 
mond, for I fully believe that is our objective point, or in 
the neighborhood of it. It was on this little river (the 
Chickahominy), that the Indian girl, Pocahontas, saved 
the life of Captain Smith, before this country was settled. 
Pocahontas afterwards married Captain Rolf, an English 
man, and visited England with him. But these are not 
the times I am writing about, or at least I should not be. 

I believe that in my statement of the fight at Williams- 
burg I failed to state that a considerable portion of the 
enemy were making their way up the James and York 
rivers so as to cut us off from Richmond, but some of our 
forces at West Point and at some point on the James river, 
the name of which I have not learned, were keeping them 
back, and it was fortunate for us that they did so, for it 
would have been "farewell landlord, farewell Jerry" with us 
if they had landed. Of course we will have more fighting 
to do, and that soon, but I am getting like a man I once 

South Carolina Volunteers. 85 

knew in Edgefield, when speaking of the torments of the 
wicked after death. He was of opinion that they would 
get so used to the discomforts of their abode that they 
would cease to mind it. I have gotten so used to fighting 
that I do not mind it much. 

I bought three pounds of manufactured tobacco last 
night, the best I ever saw. I am chewing it now. It rained 
all night last night. I stuck up some sticks, put up my oil 
cloth and kept myself dry. I let Rufus McLees stay with 
me. He is sick. 

I have just this moment learned that the enemy has 
driven in our pickets. We shall have to fight or "skee- 
dadle." If we fight I will write when it is over, if living; 
should we do the other thing will drop you a line when we 
halt. I prefer the skeedadling if I could have it my way. 

I hear heavy firing down toward West Point. The doc 
trine of Hardshellism teaches that what is to be will be. 
Perhaps there is truth in predestination. 

I am almost bomb proof, but if is foreordained that I 
shall die to-day, tell your people that Jesse died at his 

Nothing more until McClelland comes. Firing continues. 
Yours as ever, J. W. REID. 

Tuesday, May 20, 1862. 2 p. M. j 

I told you in my last letter we would either fight 
or skeedadle, as the enemy had driven in our pickets. Sure 
enough, on the next morning, the 15th, we skipped, and 
crossed the Chickahominy river, not far, it is said, from 
the spot where Pocahontas performed her act of heroism 
over two hundred years ago. We came on some eight or 
ten miles, and camped in the woods during a hard rain. 

The next morning before daylight we resumed the march. 
We had just drawn some flour, and most of us had made 
dough, indulging in the anticipation of a good breakfast. 
I had saved a little coffee for a rainy day, and this was a 
day that answered that description. We had eaten 

86 History of the Fourth Regiment 

nothing the day before and the rain kept us from cooking 
anything that night. Jnst about the time our dough 
was ready to cook orders came for us to march, as the 
enemy were nearer to us than we wished them to be. That 
day we passed Fort Holly, or Holland, and about 10 
o clock halted in an old field, and then I baked my dough, 
which I had brought with me. Most of the boys had 
thrown theirs away. I used my tin plate again, made 
some coffee arid fared sumptuously, eating like a half- 
starved Bengal tiger. We came on that day to Laurel 
church. Nothing worthy of note occurred while there, ex 
cept that one of our boys was made to mark time on the 
steps of the church for a turn of two hours for shooting at 
a squirrel (which he missed), it being against orders to 
fire a gun at that time. It was ludicrous to see him at it, 
but I felt truly sorry for him. 

We left Laurel church and came to this place, a distance 
o ? one and a half miles. We are not far from Drurey s bluff, 
on the James river, and but a short distance from Rich 
mond. There is trouble ahead of us, and we can t tell 
what a day may bring forth. Try to keep in good spirits 
and I will do the same. Yours as ever, 

J. W. REID. 

RICHMOND, VA., May 29, 1862. We left camp near Dru- 
ley s bluff on the 27th and came on this place. We are now 
almost in the city of Richmond on the side next to the 
York river. A fight was looked for yesterday, but it has 
not come off as yet, though hourly expected. There is 
heavy skirmishing going on nearly all the time in plain 
hearing of me. The enemy is said to be in possession of 
Hanover Station, a few miles above here. A genoral en 
gagement, such as has never been in modern times is im 
minent. Both armies are very large, the enemy s forces be 
ing the largest. But we have great confidence in our 
generals, and in ourselves, too. I think we will most as 
suredly drive them back, but it will cost us something. 
More men will be engaged in this battle, should it open, 

South Carolina Volunteers. 87 

than has ever been before in modern warfare, the great 
armies of Napoleon not except ed. A battle with ten or 
twenty thousand men engaged is called a skirmish. We 
read and boast of the great battles fought by Washington 
and others. Washington never had more than fifteen or 
twenty thousand men with him at any onetime, and never 
fought as big a battle as that of Williamsburg, the other 
day, and that was a skirmish compared to the one now 

The armies will be counted by hundreds of thousands. 1 
apprehend that before this letter ends there will be more 
men killed than Washington or Lord Cornwallis had in 
their combined armies. 

I see but little in the papers about our fight at Williams- 
burg. I suppose the reason is that we fell back from our 
position. Now, the reason for our doing so is very plain 
to me. I think it was not because we were worsted in the 
fight, but that the enemy were trying to force their way up 
the rivers to cut us off from Richmond. And again, I be 
lieve our generals were falling back on Richmond in order 
to shorten our lines. A good piece of generalship it was, 
too, though I have no doubt it will be currently reported 
we were whipped. I am not whipped yet. I think we ll 
change this tune if the engagement takes place. The 
enemy cannot get above us on the river. To do so they 
will be obliged to go by land, and if they do that they will 
encounter a Stonewall they cannot scale. It is Stonewall 
Jackson, who is harder to manage than granite rock. 

I forgot to mention that we drove the enemy back from 
Drurey s Bluff, badly damaged, as well as from W T est 

I have just gotten information that Stonewall Jackson 
has administered another flogging to the enemy. Hurrah 
for Jackson ! And report says that he took four thous- 
prisoners. Another report says twenty-eight hundred. I 
split the difference and say three thousand, and risk 
stretching my blanket, but I suppose he did take one full 
regiment of infantry, which was from Maryland, and a 
regiment of cavaLiy from (confound the name of the 

88 History of the Fourth Regiment 

place, I am so forgetful) anyhow, they are from Europe. 
I know this much is true, for they have just been brought 
to Richmond as prisoners of war. The latest news 1 heard 
from Jackson was that he was playing the devil with the 
enemy at Harper s Ferry It is thought Jackson will see 
Washington City by the time Lincoln sees Richmond, Va. 
It is also said that Jackson has possession of a portion of 
the Baltimore and Ohio railroad. 

No more news at present, but there will undoubtedly be 
some for me or some one else to tell before long. Keep 
cool. Yours as ever, J. W. REID. 

NOTE. In all of my letters I gave the names of our neighbors, stat- 
ingwho were well, who sick, etc. Amongthem were Bird Philips, James 
and Willis Dickinson, E. Herring, Thomas Stacks, Samuel Couch, Jim 
Lofton, R. Jefferson, S. and \V. Harlan, Sandy Earle, Matthew Parker, 
Tyler Mochat, William Jones, D. L. Hall and others. J. W. R. 

CAMP NEAR RICHMOND, VA., June 2, 1862. 

The sulphur and smoke o ershadowed the earth, 

And the cannon they did rattle, 
And many brave men lie cold in the earth, 

Who were slain in Seven Pines battle. 

Though the earth has again trembled with the boom of 
cannon and the atmosphere been darkened by dust and 
smoke, I am still here, and, strange to say, am unhurt. 

To begin at the first, i will say that on the night of the 
30th of May a tremendous rain fell, and it was reasonable 
to suppose that the Chickahominy would be very much 
swollen, and as it was understood that a division or two 
of the enemy were on this side of the river, it was also very 
reasonable to suppose that they could not recross to the 
other side in the swollen condition of the stream. Neither 
was it probable that they could be reinforced from the 
other side. This, I believe, is the reason the attack was 
made by General Johnson. (This, you understand, is 
merely a supposition, but I think it very reasonable.) Let 
the causes have been what they may, the attack was made, 
the results of which I will endeavor to describe. 

South Carolina Volunteers. 89 

As I have said, a tremendous rain fell on the night of the 
30th, and we found it impossible to cook anything for sup 
per. I can say for my part that I was wolfishly hungry 
in consequence. Indeed, I could not sleep comfortably with 
an empty stomach, and got up about two o clock, made a 
fire and put some peas on to cook. The peas were so 
black they would have made good ink. About the time 
they were pretty well done I heard the familiar sound of 
the long role beating at General Longstreet s headquar 
ters, and in a few minutes it was beating at the headquar 
ters of the different brigades and regiments. I knew what 
was up. I called some of the boys and told them what 
was going on. Just then that awful, solemn role that has 
called so many of them to gory beds, took up the peal and 
thundered in midnight gloom from our own camp. The 
sound of galoping hoofs resounded on all sides as couriers 
dashed away with orders to the different headquarters. I 
felt a little lonesome when the long role beat from our 
headquarters. In a short time all hands and the cook 
(myself, on this occasion), were up and getting on equip 
ments. The order came to be ready to march at day 

Everything was in confusion and uproar, but notwith 
standing this I ate my peas and felt ready for anything. 

Early in the morning of the 31st of May all was in readi 
ness. The wagons were brought and orders given that 
one man from each company should be detailed 
to remain and see that everything was loaded. 
The wagons were to remain until further orders. I was 
detailed from my company. I saw that everything was 
loaded. As I have said the wagons were to remain at 
camp, for no one knew how the battle would end. I 
thought I did but I did not. So my command took up 
the line of march and left me in camp. 

After the loading was finished, being under no orders, 
we would have been excusbble in remaining, but not care- 
ing to stay out of a fight simply because I could do so, I 
determined to go on and risk my chances with the bal 
ance. Accordingly, about 8 o clock, Wheeler Gilmore (who 

90 History of the Fourth Regiment 

was detailed from another company), and myself started 
alone to overtake our command. We came up with our 
battalion in an old field, where they were leaving all the 
baggage they had brought with them, preparatory to 
going into action. The firing had already commenced but 
a few hundred yards in our front. We joined our deci 
mated company, and went on to receive at the very first 
the deadliest fire any company of men ever received. 

Remember hereafter that when I speak of our command 
I mean Mattison s battalion, which is now a mere corpo 
ral s guard. 

We marched through a pine thicket, along a big road, 
and then through an old field, and right in front of us was 
a battery of nine cannon, supported by a considerable 
force of infantry. They were but a few hundred yards in 
advance of us, and immediately opened fire. Our numbers 
being so small we made a flank movement to our left, mak 
ing for a thick piece of woods that was but a short dis 
tance away, as we thought we would be sheltered from the 
storm of ball and shell which played havoc in our ranks. 

We were every moment expecting reinforcements. I 
knew they would come to our assistance soon, for I had 
passed them on the road. 

When we had gotten within thirty yards of the woods a 
large force of the enemy, who were hidden in the under 
brush, raised up as though springing out of the ground, 
and poured among us the most destructive fire we have 
yet experienced. Of my own company of ten or twelve 
men George Driver was shot in the mouth and killed ; Judd 
McLees, killed, shot in the head ; Wheeler Gilmore mortally 
wounded, besides several others more or less injured. 
Elijah Herring was slightly wounded and fatally scared. 
Of the battalion Major Mattison was wounded, Captain 
Griffin killed, Adjutants. S. Crittendon wounded, both the 
Harlans wounded, and so many others killed and 
wounded that I cannot at present give their names. 

All this was done in less than ten minutes. When 
Major Mattison fell some one called out "Retreat." My 
Captain, D. L. Hall, and about ten others of my company 

South Carolina Volunteers. 91 

were all there were left of us. The other companies of the 
battalion, what was left of them, remained, and we did 
what shooting we could while laying on the ground 
amongst our dead and wounded comrades. 

It was but a short time before the expected reinforce 
ment joined us, when we drove the enemy out of the woods 
with considerable loss on their side. 

By this side the fighting became hot on both sides and 
In the centre, Longstreet s position, as usual. 

I cannot convey an idea of the terrors of the next few 
hours. As I said at the beginning of this letter, 

The sulphur and smoke o ershadowed the earth, 
And the cannon they did rattle. 

We in the centre kept driving the enemy back slowly 
until they got to their camp, where they made a bold 
stand, but they could not stand the Southern charge. 
They finally gave way and left all their camp equipage be 
hind them. We followed them about a mile further, when 
night came on and the slaughter ceased. We got a good 
many cannon and small arms and a great many other 
things unnecessary to mention. We took between five 
hundred and one thousand prisoners, I am not certain of 
the exact number. 

Honesty compels me to say that the wings of the Fed 
eral army did not give back as did the centre, and that 
threw us into a crescent or horse shoe position, being in 
advance of both wings of the Federal army, and on that 
account alone. We came back that night to where the 
fight commenced. 

There was some firing on the Federal wings that night 
and a few shots next morning, but the great fight of 
Seven Pines was ended. 

GeneralJohnston is badly wounded. I don t know as 
yet who will succeed him, but it is said that it will be R. E. 
Lee, of Virginia. I know but little about him. They say 
he is a good general, but I doubt his being better than 
Johnston or Longstreet. 

92 History of the Fourth Regiment, 

This is the first fight we have had that our side made 
the attack, and if this is a victory 1 never want to be in 
a battle that is not a victory. 

We got a great many provisions of all kinds in their 
camps bacon, flour, sugar, coffee (already ground and 
sweetened, and almost every other kind of dainty, besides 
several barrels of whiskey, one of which had a bullet hole 
in it, from which several of the men filled their canteens. 
My old friend J. J. Pitts, when he had gotten himself and 
his canteen both full, thought himself as rich as John 
Jacob Astor. 

Among other things I got, and by the way, not before I 
needed it, was a hat, new for me, but somewhat frazzled 
by its original owner. It fit me to a fraction. 

Remember that, although this was a terrible fight, yet 
it is by no means the great, decisive battle we have been 
expecting. It is yet to come and assuredly will take place. 
Yours as ever, J. W. TEID. 

NOTE. My friend Wheeler Gilmore, who went with me that morn 
ing, was mortally wounded at the beginning of the fight and died in a 
few days. J. W. R. 

NEAR RICHMOND, VA., June 3, 1862. I have only time 
to write a few hurried lines. We are ordered to fix up to 
move. This thing of fixing up has pretty well played 
out with us, as we have gotten to a point where we have 
nothing left to fix. I can be in readiness at any time in 
five minutes. After receiving the order we may not go 
to-day, but if we don t it is quite evident we will go soon. 
We won t go very far, for I don t think we will evacuate 
Richmond and go farther south. We can t go far the 
other way, for there is a crowd out there that won t let us 
pass without the countersign. (I mean McClelland and his 
army.) We may not go far, but in all probability it will 
be a rough road to travel. 

I understand the enemy is landing below here in large 
numbers. Hard times ahead of us. 

South Carolina Volunteers. 93 

Mr. J. J. Land is at Kichmond sick. He has sent for 
me but I cannot get off. 

I will now have to stop writing and do what little tixing 
I have to do and be ready for the word. I will write a 
line as often as I can. I know you feel anxious about me 
at these trying times. I have still some cheerfulness, not 
withstanding the threatening storm. This storm will surely 
come, and it will be accompanied by heavy thunder. Try 
to be cheerful. Yours as ever, J. W. REID. 

CAMP NEAR RICHMOND, VA., June 7, 1862. Well know 
ing your anxiety for me, I will drop you a line as often as 
I have the opportunity. Though surrounded by war, pes 
tilence and dangers seen and unseen I am still untouched 
and enjoying good health. How thankful I feel for the 
almost miraculous escape of all these threatening dangers. 

As stated in my letter of the 3d, our army expected to 
move and this has been done. We are near Seven Pines 
battlefield, about three miles from Richmond. It has been 
raining almost ever since our coming, and we had to take 
it as it came, having no other clothing except that on our 
backs. Bird Phillips brought our blankets in a wagon from 
the old camp. We are waiting for the ball to open. The 
fight is certainly coming on, and it is the opinion both of 
my superiors and inferiors that it will take at least three 
days to decide it, and if this should be so I almost envy 
the ticklish position occupied on one occasion by Jonah of 

To make it worse for us there is a great deal of sickness 
in our army, and soldiers are dying at the hospital almost 
daily. A man of my company, Rufus McLees, died at 
Richmond on last Wednesday. He is the man I took 
under my oilcloth one rainy night during the march from 
Yorktown. His brother was killed at Seven Pines the 
other day. They were good boys, the eons of Jeff McLees, 
and well liked in the company. 

Five of my company were carried to the hospital yestei 

94 History of the Fourth Regiment 

day, namely, Warren McGee, J. J. Pitts, John Gordon, 
Jim Lofton and Elijah Herring. Herring says a cannon 
ball struck his musket at Seven Pines, and gave him ajar 
he has not yet recovered from. If a cannon ball had 
struck his gnn it would have jarred his soul out of his 

Mr. Land and Wheeler Gilmore send for me to go to 
Richmond. I cannot go. John McClin ton is with Gilmore. 

No more news at present. Yours as ever, 

J. W. REID. 

NOTE. McClinton remained with Gilmore until his death. 

CAMP NEAR RICHMOND, YA., Sunday, June 15, 1862. All 
cry and no wool, all talk and no fight. It really seems to 
me that McClelland as well as some of our own generals 
had better handle the spade than the sword. Both sides 
are ditching every day. I think if we had fewer ditches 
and more Stonewalls it would be better for us, though I d 
rather dig ditches than to fight in them. I don t see the 
sense of piling up earth to keep us apart. If we don t 
get at each other sometime, when will the war end ? My 
plan would be to quit ditching and go to fighting. 

There will be no pleasure here or at home until the war 
closes. More than this, the longer it lasts the larger the 
war debt will be, the less able and the fewer of us there will 
be to pay it. 

The enemy is down in the river swamps, but I don t 
think they will remain there long on account of sickness. 
There is a great deal of it in both armies. We have, it is 
said, about thirty thousand men at the various hospitals. 
About one-third of my company is sick. This is the condi 
tion of the other companies, indeed, or the entire army. 
Can I be blamed for wanting to fight and end the matter? 

I am quite well but for the fact that my shoe has rubbed 
by heel until it is blistered and I have to wear a slipshod. 
My heel has risen and is quite sore. I am excused from 
duty on account of it, but if a fight comes up I will go into 

South Carolina Volunteers. 95 

it and let my heels take care of themselves unless it turns 
out that my heels have to take care of me. 

MONDAY MORNING, June 16. Nothing very important. 
Day before yesterday evening- General J. E. B. Stuart, of 
the cavalry, made a reconnoitre in the rear of the enemy. 
He took about one hundred and fifty prisoners and about 
two hundred horses and mules and a great many other 
things, besides burning a train of three hundred wagons. 
It is not known how many of the enemy were killed, but 
his own loss is enormous, it being one man killed and two 
wounded. The enemy has had Stuart surrounded three 
times, but he has always cut his way out. 

We were drawn out in line of battle yesterday, stacked 
arms and were told to hold ourselves in readiness at a 
moment s warning. That order is still in force. We had 
another heavy rain yesterday, and that may stop active 
operations for a day or two. 

I hear considerable firing down toward the Chickahom- 
iny. Perhaps it is only a picket fight, as they are quite 

I don t % apprehend a general engagement at present. 
There is not enough stir going on for that. I can tell 
pretty well when a battle is brewing; by the stir that is 
made. There will be none to-day. 

Yours as ever, J. W. REID. 

CAMP NEAR RICHMOND, VA., June 22, 1862. No very 
alarming news. There is more or less firing going on all 
the time along the line. There is not a great deal of dam 
age done, however. 

Day before yesterday a heavy firing was ^oing on for 
several hours over toward Seven Pines. Orders were ex 
pected every moment for us to march, but no orders came. 
I asked leave of my officers to go and see what it meant. 
They gave me permission to go, and a caution to look out 
for No. 1. In fact, the officers were as anxious to know 
what was going on as I was. 

96 History of the Fourth Regiment 

I went about three-fourths of a mile and met a Colonel 
Somebody wounded. I asked him if he thought a gen 
eral engagement was likely to come on. He said, "No ; it 
is only a picket fight, but I am painfully wounded." I 
went a little further, but saw so many being carried off 
wounded that I concluded it best to return to the com 
mand, where I described what I had seen and heard. All 
were interested and crowded around me, evidently appre 
ciating what I had done. 

It was curious to see that the lame walked, and the sick 
were suddenly and miraculously made well as soon as I 
reported it not a general engagement. It is well known 
that heavy firing will create alarming symptoms in dysen 
tery and other complaints. 

Perhaps it would be interesting to know the current 
prices here for some articles in general use. Coffee is |2 
per pound ; sugar, 50 cents ; molases, per quart, $1 ; 
chickens (the size of a robin), |1 apiece ; eggs, per dozen, 
$1 ; butter (some of it old enough to stand alone for its 
rights), $1.25 ; little fruit pies the size of the palm of my 
hand, 25 cents. I could at this moment eat $5 worth of 
them. If J. J. Astor had to feed me on these dainties for 
twelve months at the present price, he would be bankrupt. 

Yesterday I bought a loaf of bread for twenty-five cents, 
but it was hollow, and, though as big as my head, would 
not have weighed two ounces. I gave part of it to John 
McClinton and Warren McGee, because they were sick. 

Then Tom came to me with a long face and said : 

"Mr. Reid, I feel dreadful bad to-day, and I wish, if you 
please, you would give me a piece of that pone. " He 
really looked as though he had come from the valley and 
shadows of death. I said, "Torn, you old hog, go to my 
haversack and get it all. He accordingly went and 
took about half. There was nothing the matter with him, 
though he can look like a ghost whenever he chooses. 

Mrs. Land sent me word she would kill a goat when Joe 
and I got home, and as Joe can t come she can kill half of 
one for me and the other half when Joe does come. 

South Carolina Volunteers. 97 

MONDAY MORNING, June 23d. A good deal of stirring 
this morning. Before this reaches you the ball may be 
opened. If so, I will send you a line as often as 1 have 
the opportunity. I feel confident from personal observa 
tion that the decisive moment has arrived. In a few days 
how many of us may be in eternity who are alive and well 
to-day. Who will it be? God alone knows. May the God 
of Abraham and Isaac, the God of Jacob and of all man 
kind, be with you and with us all. Take anything that 
happens as easily as you can. 

Yours as ever, J. W. KEID. 

ON A HALT, NEAR RICHMOND, VA., June 26, 1862. In my 
last letter I said that a battle was coming on. This morn 
ing at an early hour our entire army was in motion, some 
going in one direction, some in another. Longetreet s di 
vision, to which I belong, marched some six or seven miles, 
toward the upper part of Richmond, and halted about 
two miles from the city, where it still remains, awaiting 

It is about a mile to the Chickahominy, and the en 
tire Federal army of about 200,000 men, are on the other 
side of the river. 

We have a large army, which is being placed in position. 
There are some troops a little in advance of us, but I sup 
pose our body will soon join them. We expect every mo 
ment to hear from them. Will await further operations. 

FOUR O CLOCK P. M. A circular has just been read to us 
announcing that Stonewall Jackson is in the rear of the 
enemy s right wing. I have just heard General Anderson 
say that he did not know why the attack had not been 
made, as the time appointed for it had passed. 

LATER. Thank God, I hear the roar of Jackson s artil- 
ery. That he is there is an indisputable fact, the evidence 
of which is a heavy cannonading. 

98 History of the Fourth Regiment 

A FEW MINUTES LATER. Firing has commenced just in 
our front, said to be from Hill s division. 

We are ordered to prepare for action. Marching orders t 
We march to the front. Good-bye. J. W. REID. 

3 o clock P. M., June 27, 1862. j 

We were ordered to the front, the firing still going on in 
advance qf us, and over in the direction of York river, 
where Jackson opened the fight. The York river is still 
further on, rather to the left of our front. 

By the time we reached the Chickahominy river (a creek 
up here), it was night, and very dark. We were halted 
about the time I reached the middle of the bridge by 
which we crossed the stream. We remained standing for 
some time, when orders came to rest where we were until 
further orders, for us to remain with our equipments on 
and arms in hand. 

I made my way over the bridge and lay down on a beau 
tiful sand bar by the river. I fell asleep, and for a time 
forgot I was a soldier on a battle field. Very early in the 
morning I was aroused by the familiar boom of cannon 
and rattle of musketry. I was nearly frozen, for the damp 
sand had chilled me through. 

We took up the line of march, and were soon engaged. 

All day the fight has been going on along our lines. 

Jackson is still in the direction of the York river, from 
which he is trying to keep the enemy, who have gradually 
given back, but they have disputed every inch of the 
ground. The place where we commenced is called Mechan- 

I cannot convey an idea of the awful confusion and strife 
going on at this moment. Marehiug orders. 

Six O CLOCK P. M. Still among the living, though I 
am here only through the blessing of the great God. 
We have gone through an awful day. 
Many of my companions in arms are killed and wounded 

South Carolina Volunteers. 99 

and I am now among the living atid the dead writing 
these lines to you. I hope we are halted for the 
night. I cannot give a list of the killed and wounded 
among your acquaintances. But what you desire most to 
know is, is Jesse alive ? He answers "Yes." 

BATTLEFIELD, 2 O clock, P. M., June 28. Still among the 
living, though surrounded by dead. To-day it seems that 
if Vesuvius and yEtna were in eruption with their awful 
rumbling and belching out burning lava streams of death 
and destruction it could not exceed the uproar and ter 
rors which transpired here since the battle opened this 

I shall not attempt a description. Four hundred thous 
and men engaged in the work of extermination ; the noise 
of the battle, the cries of the vvounded, the groans of the 
dying cannot be described on paper. 4-nd all this is going 
on aground me. 

; Our command is resting a little. I presume tha>t every 
.ambulance in the army is flying to and fro carrying the 
wounded to Bichmond. Then many from the , city are 
helping in the same work, and are removing the suffering 
iat this moment. Many brave men have fallen to-day. 
The gaping, bleeding wounds of the wounded and dying 
.are pitiful,; but not more heartrending than will be the 
agony of breaking hearts at home. 

Marching orders. Hope for the best. 

JUST BEFORE SUNSET. We are slowly but surely driving 
the enemy before us, but it is costing us a great deal to 
do so. They give back in good order and often turn .on 
us and give us as good as we send. We are now seve ral 
L miles below Mechanics ville, at which place the ball opened. 

I don t know under what name these several battles win 
[ be know ; it should be, Legion ! For they are many in 
number and the end is not ^et. 

As it irs now nearly dark I shall have to close this letter. 
I will send it by wagon to Richmond. [ will commence 
another to-morrow, if spared. Captain Hall says I am 
bullet proof. I hope it may be so. Be cheerful. 

Yours as ever, J. W. REID. 

100 History of the Fourth Regiment 

alive to tell of the state of affairs among us. To give a 
description of the fighting now going on would be a repe 
tition of what I have previously written. Each day is an 
echo of the one preceding it. Death and destruction on all 
sides and no cessation of hostilities. 

We march and fight all day and sleep on our arms at 
night. The enemy is slowly giving back and we are get 
ting them down into the peninsular, where the rivers are 
not so far apart. It is said that Jackson is keeping them 
from the York river. Their only chance that I can see is to 
take to their boats on the James river, which I suppose 
they will soon be compelled to do. If we had a navy on 
the river we would get them about the same place Lord 
Cornwallis surrendered to Washington. 

We march again. 

JUNE 30TH. Still marching and fighting. The earth is 
fairly shaking and the heavens are darkened with smoke. 

When, O, when will it end ? 

There is no firing immediately in our front just now, but 
I am momentarily expecting it. It cannot last much 
longer, but alas, the lives that will be lost before the close. 

McClelland will soon have to surrender or take water. 
Marching orders. 

JULY IST. Longstreet s division has sustained such 
heavy losses in this protracted struggle that they are not 
doing much fighting. 

The enemy are still falling back in good order, fighting 
as they go. They undoubtedly cannot hold out much 

It is now getting dark and dismal. I will lie down 
among the dead and wounded and get what rest I can. 
Yours as ever, J. W. REID. 

South Carolina Volunteers. 101 

JULY 2D, 5 O clock p. M. 

Now the rage of battle ended. 

And the foe for mercy call, 
Death no more in smoke and thnnder 

Rides upon the vengeful ball. 

The greatest battle of the age is over and I am spared to 
write you. The enemy have made, it is thought, their last 
but boldest stand. It was the most obstinate and terri 
ble battle yet fought. There are hundreds of dead bodies 
all over the field. At one place where the enemy had a 
battery there are hundreds of dead bodies on a plot of 
ground no larger than a small garden. When the charge 
was made on this battery the enemy poured a very destruc 
tive fire of grape and canister among us, killing a great 
many. No stop ; the charge was made, the battery taken, 
the enemy dispersed. Hundreds of them were killed in 
trying to make their escape. 

It is thought the fight is over. The enemy have taken 
shelter in some white oak swamps, and I think by morn 
ing they will be in their vessels homeward bound. 

Mattison s battalion has lost in killed and wounded 
about half of what few men we had at the beginning of the 
fight. To have seen the glorious old Fourth regiment one 
year ago, and to see it now, one would naturally cry out, 
"0, cruel, cruel war, what mischief thou hast done I Fare 
well, Fourth regiment; farewell, Mattison s battalion !" 

Mr. Phillips is safe, with the wagons. Joe Land was alive 
yesterday ; Willis Dixon unhurt ; Eiley Burress killed ; 
Silas Crow killed ; Thomas Stacks wounded ; Lieutenant 
S. P. Haynie, mortally wounded ; Sam Couch wounded ; 
James Lofton, badly wounded; James Skelton, wounded in 
the head, and will die ; Matthew Cox and both the Winter 
boys wounded I cannot give the names of all our neigh 
bors and friends who are killed or wounded. Their names 
are Legion, for they are many. 

Let this letter be read to all the neighbors. I will close 
in the morning. 

102 History of the Fourth Regiment 

JULY 3D, 7 O CLOCK A. M. I have a chance of sending this 
letter forward for we are twenty-five miles below Richmond, 
and the enemy is out of our Way. I don t think you need 
be at all uneasy about my being in another fight before 
my time is out again. I think what we have just gone 
through will satisfy all parties concerned, at least for a 

I feel both happy and sad. Happy because I am safe, 
but sad and sorrowful that so many of my companions 
are dead whom I have known for a long time. I grieve 
that Mattison s battalion is no more. 

Yours as ever, J. W. REID. 

NOTE. Among the wounded men who died of their wounds were 
S. P. Haynie, James Skelton, John Manning, Robert McClinton and 
many others of my acquaintance. J. W. R. 

: CAMP NEAR RICHMOND, VA.; July II, 1862. After I had 
finished my letter of the 3d there was little more done. 
We followed the enemy a mile or two further but no stand 
was made after the bold stand of which I have already 
told you". They had taken to their vessels and departed, 
leaving thousands of their army on the field. Our army 
has also lost thousands, among the number brave Major 
Wheat, a gallant soldier. He was wounded in the chest, 
and as he fell, mortally wounded, he cried out, "Bury me 
on the field, boys." We complied with his request, and 
buried him where he fell. 

I cannot give you a list of killed and wounded among 
our acquaintances. It would take several sheets of fools 
cap paper. For about twenty-five miles the ground is 
literally strewn with dead bodies. When or where has it 
ever been equalled? Certainly not in any of Napoelon Bona 
parte s great battles. 

After following the enemy as far as we thought neces 
sary, and waiting until we were certain they had gone, as- 
certaining that fact, we began on the 8th our march back 
toward Richmond. We got back to our old camp yester 
day and are occupying the same ground we dicl before the 
battle began. 

South Carolina, Volunteers. 103 

A sadness pervades the army. How many of our brave 
comrades, who left this place to the call of battle, have 
gone to a bourne from whence none return. When I 
think of the heartrending wailing of the mothers, wid 
ows and orphans at home a tear unconsciously trickles 
down my cheek. Everything here is as still as a grave 
yard. Not one amongst us but has lost a dear relative or 
friend in this great struggle. There has been such noise 
and confusion of late that the stillness reminds me of a 
cotton factory when it suddenly shuts down. Still, still 
as death. The weight of dreadful silence is almost as ter 
rorizing as the battle itself. 

A great many of our wounded are dying, as are men 
daily dying from sickness also. I can truthfully say that 
this is a time that tries men s souls. 

I said in a former letter, "Farewell, Fourth regiment, 
farewell, Ma-ttison s battalion." I must also add, "Fare 
well, Wheat s battalion." It has been with us so long and 
in so many dark places. It is gone like our own glorious 
old Fourth. What few there are left of both battalions 
will hereafter go into other commands. In fact we were 
attached to another regiment during the fight just ended. 

And now, in a few days, if justice is done, I will bid fare 
well to my comrades in arms (except the few who are to 
come with me), and come home to those who are still 
dearer to my heart than the comrades I will leave behind, 
than those who have staid with me through scenes I can 
not describe. 

This is the last letter I will send you from Northern Vir 
ginia, if all things work as they should, and I think there 
is no doubt of their doing so. 

I forgot to mention that General R. E. Lee was in corn- 
was during the reign of terror just past. He is all 
is all right. He led us to victory. He is a chip of the old 
block or blocks, Richard Henry Lee and "Lighthorse" 
Harry Lee, of Revolutionary days. 

1 know of but one bad move made by any of our officers, 
and that was by a Colonel, whose name I shall not men 
tion, who, in making a charge, took his men up in column 

104 History of the Fourth Regiment 

by companies or divisions, that is, one company behind 
another, when they should have been scattered as much as 
possible. They were torn all to pieces. It was not from a 
want of bravery on the part of the Colonel, but of good 

I will new close this long letter. I remain yours as 
ever, J. W. REID. 

NOTE. The letter dated July n, 1862, was the last one I wrote before 
going home. After finishing my letter I began making preparations. 
We had our discharges written and signed by the officers of the battal 
ion, and they were then sent up to General Jenkins for his signature. 
They remained there a day or two after our time was out. None of our 
officers would go up to see about our discharges. Finally, all met who 
were going home, and it was put upon me to go to General Jenkins 
and ascertain, if possible, the cause of delay. I went, and he said that 
he had never seen our discharges, but that he would sign them on 
sight. We hunted among a quantity of other papers and finally found 
them. He immediately signed all of them but one. If I had not gone 
to him I cannot say how it would have been. Whoever had taken them 
there had laid them or thrown them down, and had not seen the gen 
eral at all. The next morning I gave my comrades a sad farewell, and 
I left the lines and tented field 

Where long I d been a lodger ; 
My humble knapsack all my wealth, 

A poor but honest soldier. 

In Richmond they would not recognize our discharges, because, they 
said, the discharges were not rightly signed. It was a long time before 
the authorities would tell us in what the orders were wrong. At length 
we were told that where General Jenkins had said, "By order of," he 
should have said "Approved by." I immediately wrote a note to Gen 
eral Jenkins and sent it backabyjmes Dickinson, informing him of his 
mistake. When Dickinson got to camp the General was not present, 
but Colonel Moore was acting in his place. He fixed them all right, and 
also signed the one that Jenkins had refused, not knowing it had been 
refused. It was late in the following day when Dickinson returned. 
When he did return the man whose Discharge Jenkins had refused to 
sign was with him, and he was the happiest man outside of Paradise. 
There had been a misunderstanding as to his age. He told us he was 
truly glad the General had signed our discharges wrong. So we were 
delayed in Richmond two days but finally got off on the i6th, and on 
the i8th, late in the night, I reached home. 

Ah, the joy, the inexpressible joy of that moment can better be im 
agined than described. Little did I think then that I would soon be on 
the Virginia battlefield again, but such was nevertheless the case, as 
you will hereafter see. On Old Virginia soil you shall hear of me 
again. J. W. R. 

South Carolina Volunteers. 105 


When the infernal Conscript Act was amended, taking in 
all those under forty-five 3^ears of age, then it was that I 
could truthfully sing, "0, carry me back, O, carry ine back 
to Old Virginia s shore." But before entering into an ac 
count of my services as an engineer, I will remark that I 
cannot give the exact dates of passing events as I did when 
in the Fourth regiment, as my letters of this period can 
not be found. In 1863, when it became evident that I 
would have to face the music again, I put it off as long as 
possible, and, when I saw that I could stay at home no 
lunger, I put on my equipments and ordered a forward 
march in single file, guide right. 

At this time there was a regiment at Charleston, S. C., 
composed of the grand daddies of the State, in the State 
service, taken in for six months. At this time there 
was one of these antedeluvians at home on a furlough, 
who made a bargain with my son, W. Irving Reid, then 
about fifteen years old, to go to Charleston in his place, 
so it happened that we both left home at the same time. 

I will not attempt a description of the heartrending 
scene at our separation. The father and son, the only 
child, start to war at the same time. Ye matrons, remem 
ber what the women of those times endured. My own 
dear companion gave up her husband and her only child, 
all that she held dear upon earth, and was left alone. 
Remember those trying times, remember the women s 

It was my intention, when I left home of again joining 
Longstreet s command, who at this time was in command 
of an entire army corps. It was my intention to go into 
the Sixteenth South Carolina regiment, in which I had a 
great many friends. It was made up mostly from Green 
ville county, and was commanded by Colonel James Mc- 
Cullough, with whom I am well acquainted. I had mus- 

106 History of the Fourth Regiment 

tered often with the regiment at Toney s old field. near- 
Fork Shoals, in Greenville county. When I reached Co 
lumbia I was informed that the whereabouts of Longstreet 
was unknown, and that I would have to remain at the 
camp of instruction (destruction, the boys called it), until 
Longstreet could be heard from. Accordingly, I went on 
to the camp after night, my son going; with me. I was 
soon enrolled as a member of the camp of instruction, and 
it took all the oratory I could command to keep them 
from enrolling Irving also. I told them I would send him 
back home before they should enroll his name there. They 
asked me if I was willing to swear that he was under the 
conscript age. I told them I was willing to swear to it, 
and I am not certain but what I did sware a little, though 
not on Holy writ. Next morning I saw him off for Charles 
ton. Conjecture my feelings, ye fathers in Israel, when I 
saw the last tie upon earth (except those I had already 
left), leave me to go to one portion of the war and I to 
another. One thing I well knew, that notwithstanding he 
was nothing but a boy, he was as brave as Csesar, and 
that his heart was about the biggest thing about him. 
The only thing I dreaded in him was insubordination, for 
he always wanted his own way. 

When the cars sped away with my only child, bound for 
the scenes of conflict, my feelings cannot be described on 
paper. I did not expect at that time to see him again on 
earth. The sequel will show that I was mistaken. 

As I walked back through Columbia, who should I meet, 
right opposite the State house, but Major Mattison, whose 
wound, received at Seven Pines, was partially well. He 
was now a member of the legislature. We talked over old 
times for a while and then separated, he for the State 
house and I for the camp of instruction. 

I will state for the information of those who have no 
knowledge of this institution, that this camp of instruc 
tion (although, for my life I can t see what instruction was 
given there), was where all the men of the State subject to 
conscription were sent previous to going into the army. 
Most of these men had never been in service, and to say 

South Carolina Volunteers. 107 

the truth, the greater .part were unfit for it. The lame, the 
halt,the blind were taken there and examined by doctors, 
some of whom could not have told what was the matter 
with a man broken out with measles, and if a person 
could walk a dozen steps without falling or fainting they 
were pronounced able for duty. Sometimes it would be 
for light duty, but I have never yet found what light duty 
is to acommou soldier. Light places there are, but not for 
a private soldier. In all my knowledge of military duty, 
military tactics and army regulations, I have failed yet 
to find light duty for a private soldier. 


At the time of which I am speaking, the men carried to 
the camp of instruction were allowed to go into any part 
of the army they chose, and that being the case, there 
were recruiting officers there from all parts and all 
branches of the service. Those Avho did not go with the 
recruiting officer were sent to whatever part of the service 
they were thought to be needed the most, under a guard, 
and for that reason most of the men would join a recruit 
ing officer rather than be sent off under a guard. A day 
or two after I got to camp Lieutenant R. P. C. Rumbough, 
a recruiting officer for the First Regiment of Engineers, 
came to camp trying to get recruits. He came several 
times (his office was in Columbia), but got no recruits, 
the men a,s a general thing not knowing anything of that 
kind of service. One day when Rumbough was absent I 
told several of the men the duties of the engineer troop, 
and told them I thought it a good place. By my recom 
mendation of the service, several of the men concluded to 
join the engineers. When Rumbough came back to camp. 
I informed him of what I had done. He then gave me 
power of attorney to recruit for him. From this time on 
I was king of the camp of instruction. It was soon known 
all over camp that I had heard it thunder. I could fre 
quently overhear such remarks as, "He war in the big Ma- 

108 History of the Fourth Regiment 

nassy fight under Stonewall Thompson." "No, he told 
me," says another, "outen his own mouth that he fit under 
old Bonyguard," " And I understand," said another, "that 
he was with Washington at Williamsburg," "Yes, and he 
was with Bonyparte at the battle of Seven Long Leaf 
Pines," but to clap the climax oilman declared that I had 
been an aid de camp to Julius Caesar at the big seven 
day s fight around Babylon! 

It was but a few days until I had sixteen men on my 
list. Lieutenant Rum bough came to me and wanted to 
know why I could not go with them to Virginia. I stated 
to him my reasons for wanting to goto Longstreet s com 
mand. He then offered to temporarily appoint me ser 
geant to go with the men, rather than for them to go 
under a guard, also offering to recommend me to Colonel 
T. M. R. Talcott, asking him to approve the appointment 
and let me remain as a sergeant. With the persuasion of 
Rum bough and the men whom I had gotten, I finally con 
sented to go, with the understanding that if Colonel Tal 
cott did not approve my appointment I was not to be 
considered as belonging to the regiment, and was to have 
the liberty of going in any part of the service I chose. All 
commissioned engineer officers are examined by a board 
of engineers and appointed by them. All non-commis 
sioned officers are examined by the colonel and appointed 
by him. They must all understand something about en 
gineering. The commissioned officers must all be engin 
eers practically. A sergeant in the engineers is about 
equal in rank to a lieutenant in the infantry. They 
carry a sword and do the same duties as a lieutenant and 
receive about the same pay. So the arrangement was 
made and we left Columbia for Richmond, Va., where Col 
onel Talcott s head quarter s were. When we reached Ches 
ter the train stopped for dinner, and my men asked leave to 
get out and walk about a little. I gave them permission to 
do so, but when the whistle blew and the train started one 
of the men named Wells was missing. He had gone on up 
to York, where he lived. He had, just before leaving Co 
lumbia, received a box of provisions from home, which had 

South Carolina Volunteers. 109 

not been opened. When I found out that Wells was cer 
tainly gone I was glad of it, for I had much rather have 
the box than to have Wells. So I opened the same and 
found hams, pies, pound cake, butter and all sorts of good 
ies. I divided it out exactly equal, giving myself a little 
the most, and so we fared sumptuously every day w r hile it- 
lasted. After traveling three days and nights, and being 
"scroughed" nearly out of our hides, we finally reached 
Richmond, to which I once thought I had bidden a final fare 
well. Human calculations are nothing but folly. I took 
my men to the Soldiers Home, where we remained all 
night. Next morning (Sunday) I hunted Colonel Talcott s 
headquarters. He was gone to church. In the evening I 
took Joel Crisp of Laurens county, with me, knowing him 
to be a good talker, and found Colonel Talcott at his head 
quarters. He seemed to scrutinize me pretty closely, but 
I tried to look as big as Watch and as brave as Ashmore s 
old hare-liped Csezar, but I did not say much for fear of 
saying something that would knock me into a cocked hat. 
But seriously, I thought that the Colonel was forming a 
pretty good opinion of me, from the way he talked. He 
told me to take the men up to Camp Lee and turn them 
over to Lieutenant Young, until they could be regularly 
assigned over to the engineer regiment, but for me to go 
myself on Monday morning to the engineers camp and 
form the acquaintance of Captain Robinson, as I would 
have to be recommended by him before I could be 
regularly appointed a sergeant, according to army regu 
lations. I did as directed, but I felt as though I was about 
to be run through a flint mill. On Monday morn ing I put 
qn as sanctimonious a look as possible, took Crisp with 
me again to help me talk, and went to Captain Robinson. 
As strange as it may seem, I had a chance to tell him who 
I was before Crisp said anything. Crisp then commenced 
and gave me a reputation that General Washington him 
self would almost envy. Oh, I tell you, he read my title 
clear to mansions in the army. I soon found that all was 
right with Captain Robinson, so far as I was concerned, 
but from his talk and looks I did not think he was glued 

110 History of the Fourth Regiment 

very fast to Crisp. He recommended me to Colonel Tal- 
cott as being worthy of the appointment. 


I was, in a day or two afterwards r regularly appointed a 
sergeant in Company K, First Regiment Engineer Troops, 
and was given a written commission, which I have yet. 
My pay was f 45 per month. The colonel then appointed me 
a recruiting officer, and started me back to South Carolina, 
to my joy. The colonel said that Rumbough had inform 
ed him that I was a much better hand at recruiting than 
he was himself. I was already a ware of that fact, but had 
not said so. Crisphad. It may be possible they thought 
me a better recruiting officer than I would be as an en 
gineer officer. Be that as it may, I was now both, but I 
found out afterwards that the duties I had to perform al 
ways gave satisfaction. As above stated I was sent 
back to South Carolina, no time being mentioned when I 
was to return. My trip back to South Carolina and my 
recruiting .business is of little importance to the reader 
of to-day. I will therefore state that I went to the carnp 
of instruction at Columbia and recruited a day or tw^o. I 
got two or three recruits, with w r hom I left some papers 
authorizing them to recruit for me in my absence, and went 
home. While at home I took a trip to Greenville and 
other places, getting all the recruits I could. After re 
maining at home about three weeks, I again bid my wife 
good-bye and started for Old Virginia. When I ar 
rived at Columbia I found I had twenty-one recruits, in all, 
for my regiment. I had taken sixteen men before, 
Wells included. I soon got transportation for us all, and 
rolled off for Virginia. We got to Richmond one evening, 
and that same night Colonel Talcott fixed up my papers 
and the next day started me back again for South Caro 
lina. I had remained in Richmond only one night. 

When I got to Columbia I felt like a bag of cucumbers, 
well shaken up. Never was I so tired riding in my life. 

South Carolina Volunteers. Ill 

The cars were always crowded almost to suffocation, and 
a great deal of the time I was obliged to stand up. I had 
{slept scarcely 7 twelve hours in the entire week. When I 
reached Columbia I found that the regiment of grand- 
daddies, whom 1 have already mentioned, would be in Co 
lumbia that night, homeward bound, their time being out. 
I knew that my son Irving, if living, would be with them, 
and I also knew that according to the last amendment of 
the Conscript Act, many of them would have to go into 
the Confederate service again in thirty days, being allowed 
that length of time to remain at home. This was a good 
chance for me as a recruiting officer, if I could get off with 
the regiment in the morning. I almost ran to the camp 
of instruction, left some recruiting papers with some of 
the men there, ran back to Columbia, had my transporta 
tion papers fixed up, but not at business hours ; it was done 
for accommodation. 

I got everything in readiness to start with the antede- 
luvian regiment next morning. I then turned out to hunt 
up Irving, for they had gotten in by this time. I found 
my old brother-in-law, J. J. Lewis, who told me that Ir 
ving was along, but had gone, he supposed, up town. I 
hunted around for some time and found everybody but 
Irving, but could find nothing of him. I then gave up the 
job. It was now after midnight. I think the boy must 
have been taking a census of the town, as I could hear of no 
place he had not just left. Next morning, however, I found 
him quite early, close to where we had parted some time 
before. And we went home together after going off to 
gether quite a curious coincidence. 

I got a good many recruits out of that regiment, and 
after visiting Greenville again and remaining about home 
for over five weeks, I again set out for Columbia. The 
reason I remained so long w T as that the men I was recruit 
ing were allowed thirty days before they were compelled to 
enter the service again, and accordingly I had to wait for 
them. I had written to my superiors and informed them 
of affairs, and received instructions to wait for the men. 

I expect the reader thinks I am getting rather far off 

112 History of the Fourth Regiment 

from the war. Never mind ; we ll get there time enough for 
me. I don t know how it may be with you, but if you will 
follow me for awhile you will soon find stirring times. 
Bear in mind that I am not writing a history of the war, 
but merely what came under my personal observation. 

I again bade my family adieu and started to Columbia. 
When I arrived at the camp of instruction I found I had 
twenty-five recruits. I immediately made necessary ar 
rangements and again (for the last time, as it happened), 
set out for Virginia. On this trip an incident or two oc- 
cnrred which I will relate as briefly as possible. 

When we reached Weldoii, in North Carolina, we found 
everything in confusion. The enemy had made a dash up 
the river, and the Weldonites were panic stricken, thinking 
they would be attacked. They were stopping all Kich- 
mond-bound trains, and were pressing the men in to go 
down the river and keep the enemy back. As I have 
before stated, I had twenty-five men with me who would 
do anything I told them. Some of them seemed to look 
on me as the commander-in-chief of the Confederate army. 
When I was told to take my men and go down the river 
there were about forty other soldiers in the coach who 
agreed to stand by me. It was night and I refused to go. 
They threatened force. 1 said, "Where are the arms we 
are to use?" "There are none here," they replied, "but 
perhaps some can be gotten down there." When I found 
they had no arms I felt better. I replied that I could find 
arms and equipments a d d sight nearer than that, and 
if they undertook to force us that I would produce them 
and sixty or seventy men to use them, and they would be 
used for any purpose I would propose. 

They retreated in good order, thinking we had a box of 
guns with us. 

During this melee some of my men s eyes looked a good 
deal like dogwood blossoms, but still they would have 
stuck to me especially if I had run, which I would -surely 
have done before I would have gone down the river in the 
dark without arms. We remained in the coach all night, 
and next morning chartered an old freight car and just 

South Carolina Volunteers. 113 

about forced an engineer to take us on to Petersburg. 
Just before we started, a little bow-legged dude of an offi 
cer told me that he would report me to General Lee. I 
told him to go to his daddies I would report at head 
quarters myself to-morrow, and so I did, but I did not re 
port this movement. 

We got to Petersburg in the evening, and had to remain 
until 9 o clock in the night, waiting for a train. I had 
gotten my men all in one coach with a good many others, 
A good looking soldier came in and took a seat at a win 
dow near me. He had been there but a few moments when 
a negro boy come to the window and said : "Boss, I want 
dat quarter you owes me." The man replied, "I don t 
owe you anything," but the boy still contended for the 
quarter "dat you owes me." At length, finding that he 
could not collect "dat quarter," he jerked off the man s 
hat arid ran off through the dark with it. The man struck 
out in the dark after him. 

Being gone some time he returned with a hat. He had 
occupied his seat but a short time when an old negro man 
came to the door of the car and said, "Mister, I wants my 
hat." The man said that he knew nothing of his hat, and 
finally after a long argument, the negro said, "I ll go 
fotch de p lice." When he got off the car the man said, 
"Boys, we are all soldiers together. What shall I do?" I 
will admit that, honest as I try to be, 1 was sorry for him. 
I happened to spy a torn place in the cloth lining of the 
coach overhead. I gave the man a wink and pointed to 
the rent. In an instant the hat was in it, and soon the 
policeman came. He was shown the man but could not 
find the hat. A few minutes later the train moved off for 
Richmond, to the great joy of the hat man. As soon as 
the train had fairly started he came to me and said: 
"What would become of me if you had not shown me that 
hole ?" He then asked me if I ever drank anything. I an 
swered in the affirmative. He said I should have what I 
wanted when we got to Richmond. He was as good as his 
word. He looked and talked live a gentleman, although 
he had not acted so. 

114: History of the Fourth Regiment 

When we reached the city I soon bid the hat man adieu 
arid took my men to the Soldiers Home again, and re 
mained all night. 

Next morning I reported to Colonel Talcott, and the 
men and myself were all assigned over to the First regi 
ment of engineer troops, myself to Company K, com 
manded by Captain G. VV. Kobinson. T. M. K. Talcott 
was colonel, Blackford, lieutenant-colonel, Ran 
dolph, major ; or those were the field officers after we were 
regularly organized, but at the time I am now writing I 
think Talcott was only lieutenant-colonel. 

I will now run over the balance of the companies in Vir 
ginia as briefly as I can. By this time our army had 
fallen back from Maryland and Pennsylvania with the 
enemy at their heels. About the operations carried on 
there I shall have nothing to say, as I was not with the 
army at the time. Vicksburg had also been taken, and 
everything began to look dark on our side. It did not 
take a Solomon to foresee how things would end. Our 
circulating medium, Confederate money, was worthless. 
We were scarce of all kinds of supplies, and more than all 
we were short of men, and what few we had were becom 
ing disheartened. Therefore it was an easy thing to see 
how the matter would naturally go. This was the condi 
tion of things when I again took up my abode in Virginia. 

By this time a law had been enacted forbidding any more 
recruiting, as the men coming into the service must be as 
signed to whatever part of the service they were most 
needed. Therefore I did not go recruiting again, but re 
mained with the army until I went home to stay, of which 
event 1 will inform you in due time. 


It was now about January, 1864. Our regiment re 
mained in camp near Richmond about three months, 
doing but little duty of any kind. While we were in camp 
Dahlgren made his famous raid into Richmond, from which 

South Carolina, Volunteers. 115 

lie never returned. When this attack was made the City 
Guards of Richmond were taken away for a few days and 
rny regiment had to guard the prisoners on Belle Isle in 
their place. My company and another company of 
the regiment were sent one day on guard. It was uncom 
monly cold weather, and several men died from the effect 
of cold taken there. Two of the men who had gone with 
me there died with something like brain fever, Louis-Mar- 
tin, of Anderson, and Meadows, of Spartanburg, 

One day just after this I was officer of the guard at 
camp. Jus.t at night a man was brought to the guard 
house for going to Richmond and staying several days 
without leave of absence. I got orders to buck him all 
night and make him dig up a stump the next morning. 
After he was bucked awhile he begged me so hard to un 
loose him that I did so, the guard all promising not to re 
port me for it. Next morning I put him to digging or 
rather scratching up a stump. It was raining heavily. I 
went to the officer of the day and told him it was as bad 
on the men guarding him as on the prisoner, and that he 
knew no more about digging than a child. The officer 
told me to let him off, and I did so. He was an Italian. 

Nothing of importance happened with us after this Ital 
ian affair. A pig could have rooted up the stump before 
he could have dug it up. I withhold his name. 

In march or early in April we moved up near Orange 
Courthouse, where our main army was then stationed. I 
had been there before. We put up camp in sight of our old 
Camp Taylor, of which I have spoken in the Fourth regi 
ment. At this place our regiment undertook to drill in 
what we call a battalion dril. The companies were not 
equalized and were without form, and void of military 
tactics or army regulations or discipline. We got dread 
fully mixed up. Some of the officers would give the com 
mand : "By the left shank, file right, double creep, 
march!" Another would say, "Double fast, common time, 
stop ! You don t know one thing about military tick- 
tacks.". Sometimes part of the company was going in 
one direction and some in another, I began to think we 

11G History of the Fourth Regiment 

were being mustered out of the service and each campany 
had started home. 

Shortly after we came here, my company, as I call 
it, (for I had made it up and would have been captain 
of it if it had been left to an election), was appointed as a 
pontoon company. We went every day to a millpoiid not 
far off and put in a pontoon bridge and would then take 
it out again. In this way we soon learned to understand 
the bu sines well. 

At this time we were daily expecting a big battle, and it 
soon came, but before it did I got a letter from Dr. Todd, 
at home. I received it on the 1st day of May, 1864. Dr. 
Todd advised me to come home if possible, as my wife was 
very ill with pneumonia. I don t think there was a worse 
time during the war to ask for a furlough. But I knew 
that the officers of my regiment would do the best they 
could for me, and as we belonged to no particular brigade 
or division of the army, a furlough only had to be signed 
by my captain, my colonel and General Lee. That very 
day my furlough was signed by my captain, Colonel 
Talcott and General Lee and was given to me that even 
ing. If I had belonged to any brigade or division I have 
no idea I would have gotten off on the 2d. I took the 
train at Orange Courthouse and started for home, sweet 
home. My furlough was only for fifteen days. 

I found my wife much better. She was getting up and 
about. I remained at home for a day or two and then 
again turned my back on all that I held dear, to return 
for the sixth and last time to Virginia, Avhere scenes of car 
nage and slaughter were then going on at a tremendous 
rate. The battle of the Wilderness had been fought on 
May 5th, or about that time, and the fighting was still 
going on, almost daily, our army gradually falling back 
all the time. 

1 w^as delayed a great deal on the road, and when I got 
to Danville the people there were in a panic like those at 
Weldon on a former occasion. A raid had been made up 
the Dan river to within a few miles of Danville, and the 
authorities there were stopping all passing soldiers and 

South Carolina Volunteers. 117 

pressing them into service to go down the river and try to 
keep the enemy back. A man by the name of Lee, from 
Alabama, and myself went into the woods and hid for 
three days to keep from going down the river under we 
knew not whom. 

We bought some corn meal and a small piece of bacon 
from a citizen and got the ladies to bake our bread. We 
finally ventured into Danville to see how the wind blew. 
It was not blowing at all, and the people had about quit 
blowing. The next morning the whistle blew and I was off 
for Richmond. 

Just previous to this the enemy had made an attempt to 
approach Richmond by the James river, but General 
Beauregard had driven them back below Howlet s Bluff, 
several miles below Richmond. 

I was again delayed at Richmond, the authorities there 
not knowing where the army was at the time. Everything 
and everybody was in confusion. 1 could ascertain 
nothing. I could get no papers to go forward, and as the 
negro said, I sat down and wrote them myself, and went 
without any. 

I took the first train going out and went to Hanover 
Junction, where I found out that the main army was near 
by, and was still coming toward the junction. 

I placed myself at the roadside to wait for the army to 
come up to see if I could find out anything of my command . 
I had not waited long when the head of the army ap 
proached with General Lee and his staff along. It was not 
long before the head of my regiment made its appearance, 
Colonel Talcott at its front. The moment he saw me he 
inquired what was the news from the south side (meaning 
the south side of the James river). I replied, "Beauregard 
has given the enemy the devil over there, and driven them 
down below Howlet s Bluff." This news was soon in cir 
culation all over the army, and a shout went up, "Hurrah 
for Beauregard I" I was five days behind my time, but the 
reasons were well known, and I was excused from all blame 

Our army had been doing some very hard fighting while 

118 History of the Fourth Regiment 

I was gone, and was still fighting more or less every day. 
It was falling back toward Richmond, with the enemy 
close in the rear. I shall not describe the trials and suf 
ferings of the army at this time as I was not with them at 
the battle of the Wilderness, nor the different battles 
fought afterwards in the retreat toward Richmond. I leave 
these awful scenes for the future historian, and return to 
events which came under my own observation, as was my 
intention at the beginning, as I have before stated. 


Our engineer regiment was sent on ahead of the main 
army to repair bridges, work on roads and all such work 
as might be needed. Some of our companies were sent one 
way and some another on all of the roads leading in the 
direction of Richmond. My company, after repairing 
some small bridges and corduroying the road in some 
places, finally got to Mechanicsville, and fixed up the 
bridge I had stood on when we were halted the night pre 
vious to going into the seven day s fight commencing at 
Mechauicsville, and there we remained several days. 

I must now digress a little and relate a circumstance 
which occurred just before we reached Mechanicsville. 

A man of my regiment had been caught between our 
lines and the enemy s. He was taken up, tried by court 
martial and sentenced to be shot to death with musketry. 
I was detailed as officer of the guard to guard him one 
day. He was handcuffed. While under guard he told me 
that if he had paper, pen and ink he could write some let 
ters which might save his life, and as I had just been home 
I had a supply of these articles on hand. I suspect I was 
the only man in the regiment who had such things. I fur 
nished him with as much as he needed, and he wrote sev 
eral letters, one of which I know was to Jefferson Davis. 
I did not know who the others were for. When I went 
to leave him next morning he gave me U 0cean!s Poems," 
in three volumes, remarking that that was all he had to 

South Carolina Volunteers. 119 

give me in return for m t y kindness to him. I at first re 
fused to take the books, but he persisted in my taking 
them, saying that he would need them no more. While 
here at Mechanics ville the day arrived for his execution. 
The men were chosen for the occasion, but just before he 
was about to be executed a pardon was read to him. Here 
I lost sight of him until just before the close of the war. He 
made his appearance in camp one day, and I was the first 
man he inquired for. He told me I was the cause indi 
rectly of his now being alive. He wanted to buy the poems 
back, but I had read and disposed of them. 

We repaired the bridge at Mechariicsville and then 
bruised around until we got to Chafin s Bluff, on James 
river. Our army was still falling back. 

After remaining there for a day or two Captain Bruce s 
company and my own were sent to repair the railroad 
between Richmond and Danville. The enemy had made a 
raid and torn up the track for thirty miles. We had a 
pretty good time while there, as the army had not been 
there and provisions were pretty plentiful as yet. When 
we finished on the railroad we returned to Chafin s Bluff. 
We put in a pontoon bridge of one hundred and thirty- 
five boats, left two of our company to guard it, and a few 
days afterwards the balance of us went on to Petersburg 
soon after the blow up there. 


We went about two miles past Petersburg and put up 

About this time the armies were maneuvreing around 
Petersburg and Richmond almost continually, not know 
ing which would be attacked first. It kept both armies in 
motion. There was fighting going on more or less all the 
time at some point on the line, the engagements being 
called skirmishes, though they would have been consid 
ered big battles in any of our previous wars. 

120 History of the Fourth Regiment, 

These were dark days for us ; half fed, half clothed, some 
barefoot, our currency worthless. It took $50 to buy a 
chicken, a ponnd of bacon or pound of coffee. Pressed by 
an overwhelming army, and families at home suffering for 
the prime necessities of life. Our poor half-starved sol 
diers who had faced the cannon s mouth for nearly four 
years grew weary under our multiplied hardships and pri 
vations. To take all these things into consideration it 
did not take a prophet to see the end. We all saw it and 
publicly talked about it in our camps. Our condition was 
deplorable indeed. 

At this time our army had become so reduced in number 
that they called for all the boys over sixteen years old (in 
South Carolina, at least). This took in my own son, my 
only child, from his mother s arms, his mother s protec 
tion, and put him into the battle field. If this was not 
murder it was manslaughter. 

Previous to this there had been a law or an order to the 
effect that any one getting a recruit not coming under the 
Conscript Act would get a thirty days furlough (these boys 
were to go into the State service in South Carolina). So 
my son, Irving, not coming under the Conscript Act, bid 
his mother farewell (leaving her alone), and came to me 
as a recruit of mine, which entitled me to a thirty days 
furlough, but I would not go off and leave him at that 
time. Think of these things, ye fathers and mothers. Does 
it seem possible that you could do so now ? Or where is 
the boy sixteen years old who would shoulder his musket 
and go eight hundred miles, where nothing but starvation 
and death could be looked for? Washington Irving Keid 
did so, when, if he had remained in South Carolina he 
would only have been taken into the State service for six 
months. He was now I. F. W. (in forthewar). So my boy 
was from this time on side by side with me until a time I 
shall mention further on. I will state, however, that my 
wife was much better satisfied that he should be with me 
than to have had him with the other boys, down on the 
coast. It was for the best. That dear woman put per 
fect confidence in me or in what I said. 

South Carolina Volunteers, 121 

The day after Irving came to me I did not have him 
mustered into the service, but let him go wherever he 
wished to go. He went to Petersburg and along the lines, 
and returned just at night, with some of the clay from the 
"blow-up," with which he made pipes, which were in great 
demand at that time, and especlially pipes made of "blow 
up" clay, as we called it. The reader will no doubt under 
stand that it was clay from the mine General Grant blew 
up. Next day I had Irving regularly mustered into the 
Confederate service, and he became as one of us. 

By this time my superiors in office (I don t know that 
they were superiors in all respects), had become so well ac 
quainted with me that I was put over a great deal of the 
work going on at the time. 

I was always allowed to pick my own men. I will give 
the names of some I always chose: Corporal Southern, of 
Greenville, S. C.; Reagan, William and Marion Fowler, 
Johnson, all of SpartanburgJ; Elijah Hatcher, Hill, Samuel 
Harris and Bearden, of Anderson; Joel Crisp and McDuffy 
Stone, of Laurens, two Griffin brothers, Donaldson, Dear- 
son (a German), all from the lower part of South Cai-olina ; 
Lewis Jones, of North Carolina and my son, with a good 
many others I cannot remember at this late d*y, but I 
must not forget to mention Taylor, of Spartanburg, for 
he was my right hand man. 

At the time of Irving s arrival I was engaged in getting 
timber for cheraux de freize obstructions to put in front of 
our lines to prevent or delay a cavalry charge. They wjre 
also greatly in the way of an infantry charge. About this 
time Captain Bruce, who was countermining at Peters 
burg, wanted me to come and help him. Captain Robinson 
acted the gentleman, and gave me my choice of going or 
remaining with him. I remained. 

I could not forsake my own captain and the boy I had 
brought there, and go to another company, although 
there was not a man in the service I thought more of than 
of Captain Bruce. 

The boys who went with me treated me like a father, 
and I did all I could for them. If any of those boys read 

122 History of the Fourth Regiment 

this page, will they be glad to hear from their old ser 
geant ? 

About this time I was sent as an engineer officer to at 
tend to the altering of our lines, at Battery Forty-Five, 
a little south of Petersburg, and although I did not pro^ 
fess to be a regular engineer, I could see that I was taken 
for such. The infantry officers who were along always- 
consulted with me about the work but I managed to get 
their opinions before I delivered my own, and in that way 
got along all right. I expect to this day, if any of them 
are living, they think I was a regular engineer of high 
standing. We shortened our lines in front of Battery 
Forty-Five and I returned to camp. 

About this time it became necessary to build a pontoon 
bridge above Petersburg, as the enemy were continually 
shelling the public bridges in Petersburg. So after cutting 
a new road, we (my company), put in two pontoon 
bridges across the Appomattox river, one of them just 
above Petersburg, the other about a mile above. Our 
army at the time was crossing and recrossing continually 
and a regular bombardment was going on day and night 
along our lines. 

Just before we moved over to our bridges, a little drove 
of beeves passed our camp. General Hampton had gotten 
around to the rear of the enemy s lines and taken them 
from Abraham s bosom. There were twenty-five hundred 
of them, all fine steers. Irving looked at them until his 
eyes watered, and his mouth too, I reckon. I know mine 

The first night after we got to our new camp on the 
north side of the Appomattox river it rained in torrents 
all night. I sent Irving to a house near by and told him 
to remain there all night. I then stretched up rny oil 
cloth, as I had often done before, and lay down under it as 
best I could. I had been there but a few minutes when he 
returned saying that he could not get room in the house. 
I got up and forced him to take my place under the oil 
cloth, and I, with many others, remained up all night in 
the rain. We tried to keep a fire, but it rained so hard 

South Carolina Volunteers, 123 

we could not make the wood burn. This was in October. 
Remember these things, ye that are dressed in purple 
and fine linen and fare sumptuously every day. The 
writer of these things, old and decrepid, has no place he 
can call his home. 

Oil that I had a bosom friend 

To tell my sorrows to, 
In whose advice I might depend 

In everything I do. 

How do I wonder up and down, 

And no one pities me ; 
I seern a stranger, quite unknown, 

A child of misery. 


I went immediately to work digging a out a place on a 
steep bank ten feet square, and put the plates of my cabin 
on top of the ground. I managed to get boards to cover 
it, and then Irving and I had a good warm place to stay. 
Just before this one of my company had died and left me 
a bedtick. We filled it with dry grass, and then we had a 
house and a bed to sleep upon, but no glass windows or 
curtains. We now thought ourselves in St. John s third 
story, when in fact we were only in the cellar, where I 
fear a great many others are who think they are in the 

From this time on my comyany kept up and guarded 
both the pontoon bridges across the Appomattox river. 
When on guard I was always officer of the guard. I took 
it by turns first at the upper bridge and then at the lower 
one. It was the rule that when a sentinel wanted instruc 
tions of any kind they would call out, " Officer of the 
guard," etc. We kept a sentinel at each end of the bridge. 
It was a little amusing to us all to hear Irving call out, 
**Papa, come here," but nevertheless it was quite natural. 
He was the youngest in the regiment, and was allowed to 

124 History of the Fourth Regiment 

do pretty much as he pleased, which he is doing yet. 
After he came to Virginia I fared a little better for provis 
ions than I had been doing, as he was always on the run 
when not on guard, trading about and getting something 
to eat, when I could not have gotten it if I had tried. His 
being so young, the ladies about Etrix and Petersburg 
would divide any provisions they had with him. Etrix is 
a factory town just above Petersburg and in sight of our 

I gave him $50 one day, with w r hich he bought a bushel 
of sweet potatoes, which he sold at $ 1 each. They were 
small potatoes at that, being about the size of snake 
roots. He borrowed a double-barreled shotgun from a, 
citizen, with which he killed a great many robbins, which 
he sold at f 1 each. 

One day, on Sunday, he was on guard at the upper 
bridge without me. Lee s army got after a wild turkey. 
It flew over into an island a short distance above the 
bridge, and so Lee s army \vas outflanked and retreated 
in good order. After they had gone Irving took an extra 
pontoon boat we always kept on hand, went up and killed 
it. He shot it with his musket standing in the boat, amid 
tremendous applause. As he brought it down to me to 
camp he was offered $75 for it. I let Captain Robinson 
have part of it for some flour, and at dinner I had turkey 
and dumplings, a thing I knew Irving was very found of. 
When he came to dinner he ate with a tremendous relish, 
and so did I. We also caught a good many fish. 

One night, and as cold a night, by the way, as I ever 
saw, just before morning. Donaldson, who was on guard 
at the end of the bridge next to where I was, fell into the 
river, breaking the ice as he went plunging into the water. 
I went and helped him out. Reader, did you ever see a 
drowned rat ? If you have you would know how he looked. 
He swore that he had not been asleep, but I think he had. 
I offered to put a man in his place until he had time to 
change his clothes, but he refused. 1 am of the opinion 
he could not change them for the fact that he had none to 

South Carolina Volunteers. 125 

Heavy firing all along the lines now. The armies still 
moving back and forth. This crossing and recrossing of 
our bridges has enabled me to become more or less ac 
quainted with all our generals, from General Lee down, 
Lee himself having his headquarters near our upper 
bridge. On one occasion I was on duty at the upper 
bridge, and in the evening I received an order directly from 
General Lee to double my guard that night, and to send 
word for them to do the same at the other bridge, and for 
me to put a man on post at the Petersburg side of the 
bridge whom I could depend upon, and to give him the 
following instrcutions : That if a crowd of men came 
to cross the bridge without proper papers from him 
to fire off his gun and get out of the way, at which 
signal I was to form my men in front of the bridge on the 
opposite side of the river and commence firing. A brigade 
of our men. it was reported to General Lee, had threat 
ened to take possession of our commissary department, 
which was on this side of the river. The officer who 
bi ought me this order took my name and rank, so that if 
I did not do my duty it would be known who to blame. 

I sent a note to my superiors at camp and informed 
them of the order, and the other men I needed were sent 
me just at night. The same thing was done at the lower 
bridge. What I disliked most was that it was my own 
men I had to fight, if I had to fight at all. It seemed to 
me that if they had been the enemy I would not have 
minded it half so much. 

Irving was with us at the time. I omitted to say that 
we were not to sleep and were to keep our arms in order, 
and to remain with them in our hands. 

About 9 o clock (Taylor, of Spartanburg, being on 
post) we heard a big crowd coming over the bridge. Had 
Taylor fired ? My men were all excitement, but formed in 
front of the bridge as directed, and wanted to fire. I cried 
out at the top of my voice, "Withhold your fire !" I also 
cried out to the approaching crowd, "Halt !" They did 
so. I ran and met them on the bridge. They had the 
right kind of papers and were going to guard thecommis- 

126 History of the Fourth Regiment 

sary department. If Taylor had been a fool, or if I had 
acted unwisely, what trouble we would have had, but Tay 
lor had done his duty, and I had tried to do mine. 
Nothing happened through the night. Next morning at 
daybreak the crowd went back and reported to General 
Lee how it had been the night before. That morning, be 
fore my time was out on guard, General Lee sent an order, 
or rather, a request to me, asking me to remain as officer 
of the guard another day and night, stating that I had 
acted praiseworthily the night before, and if 1 remained 
another term I then might rest several days. I was to 
double my guard again at night. My men were relieved 
that morning at 8 o clock, but I remained another term. 
I doubled my guard again that night but nothing occurred 
to disturb us. 

After we put in those two pontoon bridges my company 
did little else but guard and attend them. Two of our 
companies were at Chafin s Bluff, attending the pontoon 
bridge across the James river at that place. The balance 
of our regiment was employed first at one thing and then 
at another, scarcely ever all being at the same place. Col 
onel Talcott s headquarters, however, were with us, where 
some of the other companies generally camped. None of 
them ever had anything to do with the bridges but the 
company to which I belonged. We had some dreadful 
times when the river would be up, getting in the water very 
often to work on the abutments of the bridge. 

General Lee and Colonel Talcott seemed to be on very 
intimate terms, as they were often seen together, riding 
around and viewing the situation. 

As I was not engaged in any of the almost daily fight 
ing now going on, I shall not attempt a description of 
them. Any old soldier who took part in them can tell you 
more about them than I shall undertake to do, as my 
duties at this time did not call me to the front. I will only 
say that an almost continual firing was going on. The 
artillery duels that were frequently fought were truly ter 
rific. Hundreds of cannon, loading and firing as fast as 
it was possible to be done. Nothing in comparison to it 

South Carolina Volunteers. 127 

was ever known in America or perhaps elsewhere, and I do 
sincerely hope that the like may never be heard again. It 
continued until the end. 

I shall now only give the reader a few facts that came 
under my own observation and end my narrative, leaving 
it for more able pens than my own to portray the bloody 
reign of terror around Petersburg, Virginia, in 1864 and 

\ will now go back to my pontoon bridges and see 
what is going on there, which I will tell you of in the next 


In January, 1865, as some of my readers will recollect, 
there came a powerful freshet in the Appomattox river. 
When the river was at its height eleven of my men, all re 
cruits of mine, took a boat over to an island for firewood. 
While there a dam, which had been built for military pur 
poses on a small stream emptying just above the island, 
containing a large quantity of water, gave way, and the 
river being already very high, it became alarming for the 
men on the island. They became panic-stricken and at 
tempted to come back to land. The boat was capsized 
and three of them were drowned, Hill, of Anderson county, 
William Fowler, of Spartanburg, and Dierson, a German, 
from near Charleston. A few days after, when the river 
had fallen and everything frozen, I was going to my 
breakfast down the river, when I came across Irving drag 
ging the body of Hill across a little frozen pond on the ice. 
He had been found clinched to a bush. His countenance 
had a terrorized expression, as though he had been crying. 
I sent help and had him taken to camp. On the same day 
Sergeant Graham and Irving found Fowler also. I had 
decent coffins made and attended to their burial. Dierson 
was never found. 

128 History of the fourth Regiment 


Dear reader, I am now approaching the time 

"When wild war s deadly blast was blown, 

And gentle peace returning, 
And eyes again wiah pleasure beamed 

That had been bleared with mourning," 

1 will now mention how I got off from Virginia and the 
closing of the war, and I will then be done with my nar- 
ative of the war, and all I intend writing. 

As before stated, I was entitled to a thirty day s fur 
lough for getting Irving as a recruit in the Confederate 

About the last of. January, 1865, I called for my fur 
lough. It was duly written out and signed by Ca.ptain 
Robinson and Colonel Talcott and sent up to General Lee, 
who sent it back not approved, with a few lines to me 
which read about as follows : 

Sergeant Reid, Co. K, First Regiment Engineer Troops: 
Did you or your officers know that the order for granting 
furloughs for recruits had been rescinded, or did you get the 
recruit in good faith, expecting a furlough ? 

(Signed) R. E. LEE, General. 

My officers and myself replied to General Lee s note that 
none of us were aware that the order was delayed, much 
less rescinded, and that the recruit Avas gotten last fall, in 
good faith expecting a furlough. General Lee then sent it 
back approved, with another note which read about as 
lows : 

Sergeant Reid, Co. K, First Regiment Engineer Troops : 
If you or your officers know of any others of your regi 
ment who got recruits in good faith expecting a furlough, 
let them send them to headquarters and I will sign them. 
(Signed) R. E. LEE, General. 

The original order for granting furloughs for recruits 
also allowed transportation. When I wept to the trans 
portation office they refused me transportation, because, 
they said, the order had been rescinded granting such 

South Carolina Volunteers. 129 

furloughs, and all the arguments I could use did no good, 
I took my furlough and went up to Oeeneral Lee s head 
quarters. He sent an order to the office authorizing them 
to give me transportation. General Lee asked me if I had 
shown the men at the transportation office the note he 
sent me in regard to other soldiers getting furloughs in the 
same way I had done. I told him I had. He remarked, 
"They ought to have given you transportation without 
putting you to this trouble," This was the last time I 
ever saw General Lee. 

I got my transportation and returned to camp after 
night. I was officer of the guard that night, so as to en 
able me to remain at home a day longer. 

I cannot express my feelings as 1 left my boy at camp 
that night. I went around and bid Captain Robinson and 
all the boys, as it turned out to be, a last farewell. Next 
morning at 6 o clock I put Corporal Hays in my place, 
boarded the train and bid an everlasting farewell to Old 
Virginia and to the remains of the glorious old Army of 
Northern Virginia and to all my army associations, and 
started homeward once more. 


ISJo more shall the sound of the war whoop be heard. 
The anguish and slaughter no longer be feared ; 
The tomahawk buried shall rest in the ground, 
And peace and good will to our nation abound, 

As I have before stated, I did not attempt to write a 
history of the war, but only of the regiment to which I 
belonged. Nevertheless, I have written facts which can 
not be successfully contradicted. I may have made a few- 
mistakes in my description of some of our movements, but 
if so they are few and far between. I do not doubt but 
that I have given as true a statement of things which 
came under my observation as will be given by any one, 
and especially by one who was in no higher position than 

130 History of the Fourth Regiment 

I was, and the future historian can depend upon most of 
my statements. I at all times gave facts as correctly as 
my limited chances would permit. In giving my state 
ment of the first fight at Manassas on July 21, 1861, I 
know that I am correct in the number of troops present 
when the attack was made, namely, the Fourth South 
Carolina regiment and Wheat s Battalion of Louisianians. 
In fact, in describing all the battles in which I participated 
I did all in my power to state nothing but facts, and I did 
the same in my description of our travels, privations and 
hardships. In some of my anecdotes I may have put on 
some paint, but not so in our travels, battles, etc. 

When I left camp I left with a heavy heart, for I did not 
believe I would ever get back to Virginia. I knew that the 
end had about come. 

I got home all right, but Sherman s army, getting be 
tween me and Virginia, I did not <ro back. 

My readers are all familiar with the surrender of Lee. I 
will therefore say nothing about it here. My son was at 
the surrender, and that very day he took the measles and 
was carried back by the enemy from Appomattox to 
Petersburg. After remaining there a few days he 
was removed ty Farmville. where he remained until 
until he was sent home, where he arrived on the 20th day 
of May, 1865. We had mourned him as dead, as we could 
not hear what had become of him after the surrender. 

I am now through with my war record. I could have 
given an account of a great many incidents which occurred 
during the war, but I think what I have written is suffi 

The brave, poor soldier ne er despise, 

Or count him as a stranger ; 
Remember, he s his country s stay 

In the day and hour of danger, 


Sketch of the Life of the Author. 


On the 5th day of February, 1824, I was born in what 
was then Pendleton District, South Carolina, in the por 
tion now known as Oconee county. My father, Reuben 
Reid, was a schoolteacher and survey or by profession. He 
was born August 22, 1785, which was but a few years 
after his father, Joseph Reid, had moved from Virginia, 
where he was raised. 

He was, I think, of Scottish descent. My father s mother 
was also raised in Virginia, and was a cousin to Andrew 
Jackson, who was twice president of the United States. 1 
remember hearing my father speak of four brothers of his 
George, Joseph, Jesse and Blincoe. I never knew any of 
them except George, the eldest brother. He and his chil 
dren are all dead. My father also had three sisters, but I 
have never seen them. One of them married a man named 

My father in his young days traveled about a great deal, 
teaching school and surveying land. He taught school 
not only in South Carolina, but in North Carolina and 

During the war of 1812 he enlisted (I think at Greenville 
Courthouse), and went into the service of the United 
States armv. When he had served out his term of eighteen 


months he received an honorable discharge from the army 
and started home, somewhere about the mountains, but 
when he got within fifteen miles of home he heard of the 
death of his father, and he turned back with the intention 
of going to Charleston, but on the way he stopped 
one night in Newberry District with a man named Boyd, 
who persuaded my father to put up a school in his neigh 
borhood, which he consented to do. A very large school 
was soon made up for him and he went to teaching. While 
teaching in this neigborhood he first saw my mother. My 

132 Sketch. 

mother s grand parent had come from Germany when 
her father and mother were children, and settled in what 
was known as Dutch Fork, between Saluda and Broad 
rivers, on Cannon s creek. A good many other German 
families also settled in the same neighborhood, among 
whom were the Cramers, the Wickers, the Subers,the Kin- 
ards, the Kestlers, the Eiohelbergers and many others. 

My mother was a Dickert. Her father had died when she 
was smalt, leaving her and three brothers, Michael, Adam 
and Henry. All of them have long since died. My grand 
mother afterwards married Simon Wicker, a widower with 
five or six children. 

As I have said, my father, while in the Boyd settlement, 
first saw my mother. She was- then staying with an uncle 
of hers named George Stackman, a preacher, who lived in 
the Boyd Settlement, as it was called. I omitted to state 
that rny mother was born in the year 1800. 

Somewhere in this neighborhood my father and mother 
were married at a camp meeting on August 10, 1816. 

My father had wandered about a great deal in his young 
days, and it seemed to be natural with him to continue 
this practice as long as he lived. I do not know 
where he was living when my eldest sister, Lu- 
cinda, was born, but that momentous event occurred in 
1819 r and in 1821 my next oldest sister, Matilda, was 
born, and by the time I was born we had gotten around 
to Pendleton District, as above stated. We were still in 
Pendleton, though not at the same place when my sister 
Zillah Elizabeth was born, July 25th, 1826, near what 
was called Rock Spring church, on Coueross creek. 

My very farthest recollection commences about this 
time, I cannot remember when 1 fintt began to go to 
school, as my father often carried me to school in his arms; 
before my recollection. As I was his only son he took, 
great pains to train me. 

I can say what 1 presume few others can say, that is ? 
that 1 have no recollection Avhatever of when I learned to 
to read and write. My first recollection of my schooling 
is when I began to cypher in arithmetic, and I was then 

Sketch. 133 

quite young. I can well remember when my father used 
to go to Old Peudleton for examination as a teacher and 
to get his public money. He did his trading with a Mr. 
Cherry. He also went to Columbia once in every four 
years to have his license renewed as a surveyor. 

When I was about six years old we moved to Newberry 
again and my father taught school for awhile a short dis- 
tmice below Stony Batter in the neighborhood of the 
Lindsays, the Waits , the Wise s and Harmon s. After re 
maining there a few years he moved a few miles to a ferry 
on Saluda river, known as Lee s ferry. Here we remained 
for about two years, my father attending to the ferry and 
keeping a public house for traveling men and drovers. It 
was while here that my youngest sister, Zillah, and my 
self commenced rabbit hunting, fishing and climbing for 
muscadines, which we kept up for some time afterwards. 
She was just the same as a brother to me. We would ride 
canes and call them horses, ride up and hitch our steeds 
to the fence, and feel a good deal larger than we have 
ever felt since. We used to go into the piney wood and 
whip pine trees for negroes, the accusation against one 
and all being that we caught them stealing 10,000 barrels 
of flour a pretty good load. 

While living at this place a man called to stay all night. 
My father let him stay, but was not acquainted with him. 
He had come on foot. He was up early the next morning 
and walked down to theflatboat landing. Just afterward 
my father started down toward the landing and saw the 
man go out to the hind end of the flat. When my father 
reached the landing he could see nothing of the man. His 
hat was lying in the boat. 

My father sent me around to inform the neighbors on 
the Edgefield side of the river and he went on the New- 
berry side to inform the neighbors. The hat was left where 
it was in the boat. A large crowd soon gathered and 
about 1 o clock he was gotten out. It was found that he 
had filled his bosom and pockets with rocks weighing 
wenty -eight pounds. There were several men present 
who knew the man. His name was W. H. Tyler, of New- 

134 Sketch. 

berry Courthouse. The cause of the suicide was not known. 

These were the days of nullification. And the great me 
teoric shower called the falling of the stars occurring, 
caused great revivals in the churches for a short time. 

After remaining at Lee s ferry for two years we moved 
up to within five miles of Newberry Courthouse, and my 
father put up a school in the settlement of the Chapmans, 
the Shepherds, Boozers and others. While here I went 
with my father to Newberry. A negro had been hung there 
for beating a man named Igenor, and the doctors had his 
body dissecting it. But of this I was in blissful ignorance. 
My father had some business with one of the doctors, 
and called at the office to see him, and I at his heels, as 
usual. When the door was opened and I got a glimpse of 
that negro ! 1 left father s heels and my own carried me 
away at the rate of ten knots an hour. No chuckle- 
headed youngster was ever worse scared. 


From this place we moved down on Cannon s creek, in 
the Dutch fork, not far from my grandmother s. At this 
time nullification was at its height. I remember going 
with my father to a barbecue at a place called Rumley 
Hill. A great many speeches were made, all in favor of 
nullification. A cavalry company mustered there that 
day, commanded by Captain H. H. Kinard, afterwards 
General Kinard. 

From Dutch fork we moved up into Abbeville county, 
near Double Bridges, on Rocky river, and there my father 
taught another school on the Harleston place, and here 
we were at the time of the noted cold Saturday in 1835. 
We remained here some time and then moved up into the 
edge of Anderson county, on Hen Coop creek, remained a 
short, time and moved to old Laurens factory, on Big 
Rabun creek, in Laurens county. We children went into 
the cotton factory to work and my father went in the 
grist mill. When we had worked about three months the 
factory burned down. 

Sketch. 135 

My father then put up a school near the burnt factory, 
and I worked with the Messrs. Whites at building a new 
factory, which was finished, but they never got machinery 
in it, and the Whites moved away, Robert White to 
Georgia and William to Mississippi. 

While living at Burnt Factory my mother gave birth to 
another son on the 7th of April, 1837. On the night of 
the 24th of December in the same year, my father died 
from an attack of choking quinsy, after an illness of two 

At my father s death we were left in rather a bad condi 
tionthe family all girls except the baby and myself, and 
I was too young to attend to business. 

Before proceeding any further I will state that I never 
went to school after my father s death, but went regularly 
to work from that time on. 

After father s death my mother consulted with the neigh 
bors as to what would be the best thing for her to do 
under the circumstances in which she was left. 

She was advised to go, if she could do so, to a cotton 
factory. Accordingly, my oldest sister and myself went 
to the Reedy river factory in Greenville, owned by Yardry 
McBee, and very readily made arrangements with Colonel 
Leonard Allen, superintendent of the factory, to move 
there immediately. 

Accordingly we moved in March, 1838. 


When I first moved to Reedy River factory and for some 
time afterwards, the factory ran day and night, having 
two sets of hands, who relieved each other at mid-day and 
mid-night. My sister and I were what were called morn 
ing hands. W r e went to work at midnight and worked 
until mid-day. I have often gone to sleep standing upon 
my feet. 

This same spring my mother was taken sick with fever, 
and my little brother, Reuben C. Reid, then a little over a 

136 Sketch. 

year old, had to be weaned. With the fever rny mother 
took an internal disease with which she died fourteen 
years afterwards. I have known my mother s condition to 
be such that for a year at a time she was unable to leave 
the house. There is no telling what that jrood woman 
suffered for fourteen years. 

In 1839 rny oldest sister, Lucinda, married Edward Mc 
Carthy, and moved to Greenville Courthouse, while we 
moved to a small factory on South Tyger river called 
Hut-chins Factory, owned in part by Rev. Thomas 
Hutching, an Englishman by birth and the most talented 
preacher (of the Methodist denomination), I ever knew. 
In about eight months after moving there the owners of 
the factory disagreed and the factory shut down and was 
afterwards sold. When this occurred w-e moved back to 
Greenville, to a paper mill owned by Andrew Patterson. 

The paper mill was only one mile above the Reedy River 

In the year 1840 my sister and her husband separated 
and she came home to us again, and in the summer of 
1840 her daughter was bom, who is now living at Pied 
mont factory, the wife of George Brownan and the mother 
of eleven children, of which nine are living, three being- 
mar ried. 

While living at the paper mill I first became acquainted 
with John A. Cargill. a son of Clement Cargill. The man 
was never born of woman whom I would rather be with 
than J. A. Cargill. 

After remaining at the paper mill about two years the 
owner, Mr. Patterson,, failed, and the mill had to be sold. 
Patterson moved to Missouri. Bennijah Dunham bought 
the mill. 

About that time we moved back to the McBee factory, 
otherwise called the Reedy River factory. I had reached 
the age of seventeen years, and Leonard Alien,. the super 
intendent, took a great interest in me. He learned me all 
he could about machinery, and treated me precisely as he 
did his own son, John, who was one year younger. than I. 
Unfortunately forme, after a year or .two Mr. Allen died. 
He was next thing to a father to me. 

Sketch. 137 

For a while they got first one and then another incapa 
ble man to run the factory. I ran the factory and they 
got the pay. I finally grew tired of this and went to the 
Pendleton factory in December, 1843. 


As I have stated, I moved to Pendleton with my mother 
and family in December, 1843. To attempt to tell one- 
tenth of my ups and downs would be more than I care 
about undertaking. 

A young man was working in the factory whom I had 
worked with at the paper mill and known in Laurens when 
a child, named Henry Adkins, and another one on the 
place named Thomas Massey, whom I had also known in 
Laurens and Greenville, together with myself, cut a tre 
mendous swell around about the old Pendleton factory for 
about two years. Massey in 1845 married Susan Dickin 
son, whom I had worked with several years. She is now a 
widow living at Piedmont with her son, Benjamin Massey, 
a good stone mason. I do not know what eventually be 
came of Adkins. I left him at the Pendleton factory in 
December, 1845. 

In 1845 I became of age, but still remained with my 
mother. The summer of that year was known as the dry 
summer. The factory lost a great deal of time for want of 

I took several trips that summer up on Chauga creek, 
where I had lived when a little boy. I had a good time 
with the boys up there that summer, but a good deal bet- 
time with the girls. Some of them came to Sandy Springs 
campmeetings that fall, and there I had a still better 
time. Sandy Springs is near the factory. 

I moved back to McBee factory in December, 1845, 
being gone just two years. I went to work in the factory 
again and also to looking around among the girls. I tell 
you I was beginning to be pretty bad among the girls at 
that time, but I could not help it. 

188 Sketch.. 

I had not been in Greenville long when I found the only 
girl I ever dearly loved. Her father, John Tiipp. had 
moved to the Dunham paper mill while I was at the Pen- 
diet on factory. 

As soon as- I became acquainted with Mary Tnpp 
(always called Polly), I dropped all others, as E soon 
found that my future destiny was In her hands. I became 
a regular visitor at her father s house, and it was not 
long until I perceived that my dear little Polly was think 
ing well of me. At the same time, my friend John A. Car- 
gill was courting Polly r s sister, Matilda. 

I shall not allude to the pleasure we four young- people 
have had together. What one knew all knew, and it was 
not long before other people knew something about it too,, 
for on the 22d of October, 1846, I was married to my dar 
ling Polly by Squire Cox, and just five weeks afterward 
friend Cargill was married to Matilda by the same man. 

A little house was built for me at the factory and I 
moved into it with my wife. If ever a man was happy on 
this earth I was that man, in that little house and with 
that little woman. 

On the 26th day of October, 1847, our son and only- 
child, Washington Irving Reid, was born. After remain- 
Ing in the factory another year I left it and went to work 
at doing stonework with J. J. Lewis, who had recently 
married my sister Matilda. 

About this time, McCarthy being dead, my sister Lucin- 
da married William Smith. 

Mr. Lewis and I moved down on Grove creek, In the 
Charles settlement. We worked about all over the coun 
try, and in Laurens, Newberry and almost everywhere, 
blasting rock principally. 

In 1849 we got a large job of work to do in Edgefield 
from Adam Eichelberger. I took my wife with me there 
and kept her with me for several months. When we had 
finished there we went dack into Greenville, where we had 
left our things with mother and Sister Zillah, who was yet 


After coming back to Greenville I left Lewis and went on 
my own hook through Greenville, Anderson, Pickens, Ab 
beville, Laurens and .New berry, working at raj trade. 


In January, 1851, having so much work to do In New- 
berry, I took my wife and child with me down on Broad 
river, ten miles alcove Alston, which was then being built, 
and within two miles of where my mother was born and 
raised. I remained in Newberry for two years. The larg 
est job of work I ever did for one man was for David Half- 
acre, in 1852, six miles below Newberry Courthouse on the 
Columbia road. This was the year of the great August 
freshet. I, with my little family, sat on a^hill and watched 
the surging waters rush by all day when the river was at 
its height. It was on Sunday. 

In the latter part of December, 1852, I moved back to 
Greenville, in sight of where Pelzer factory now stands. 

Sister Zillah had that year married Stephen Hicks. 

I remained at this place one 3 ear, Avorking around as 
usual, doing a great deal of work at Williamston, in An 
derson county, just about that time being built up. At 
that time the Greenville and Columbia railroad was being 

1 remained here one year and moved up to within five 
miles of Greenville and one mile from the old paper mill 
where my wife s father still lived, as w 7 as also my friend Car- 
gill, bossing the paper factory. During my stay of four 
years at this place my wife s father, John Tripp, died. 

I still followed my trade, which kept me the greater part 
of my time away from home. I worked a great deal about 
Greenville Courthouse, for Joab Mauldin, James Benson, 
Dr. Jones, Thadeus Bowling, Colonel T. E. Ware and 
many others. I also blasted out the well at the Greenville 
poorhouse, at the foot of Paris mountain. John Black 
was steward at the time. I also did a good deal of work 
around old Pickensville, Pendleton, Cesar s Head and else- 

140 Sketch. 


After living at the paper mill for four years, as I have 
said, I returned to within sight of Wilson s bridge, where 
Pelzer now is, and worked about as usual. 

At one time I was at work twelve miles below Anderson 
Courthouse, near Holland s store, at a church called Shi- 
loh. While there some neighbors, who wanted some work 
done, Colonel Thomas Parks, Alexander McClinton, E. J. 
Earle and others, persuaded me to move over into the 
neighborhood. Colonel Parks offered to move me and 
furnish me a house. I moved over in January, 1861, and 
worked about in the neighborhood until April, at which 
time 1 went to Virginia with the Fourth Regiment of 
South Carolina Volunteers. Of our travels and hardships 
there 1 have already informed you as best I could. 


This day be peace and bread my lot, 

All else beneath the sun 
Thou knowest whether best bestowed on not, 

And let Thy will be done. 

How often have I said during the war that I would 
thank my God if I could once more be at home with my 
little family and a piece of bread. If I had anything more 
I would highly appreciate it, but if not I could be happy. 

I returned home to my family. I had the bread ; I also 
had plenty of other things, or at least as much as nature 
called for. I was once more a free and happy man. 

I wenfc to work at my trade again, doing a good deal of 
work in Hart and Franklin county, Ga., and in Greenville, 
S. C. After two or three years I got to doing- a great deal 
of work in Elbert county, Ga., below Elberton. I worked 
for Robert Hall, William Jones, Jr., the Heards, the Hern- 
dons, Judge Thomas, William Tate, and a great many 
others. I worked more or less in Elbert county for many 

Sketch. 141 

Two or three years after the war my wife was stricken 
with inflammatory rheumatism, which she never recovered 
from. Her illness kept me a great deal at home. I would 
only take such occasional trips as necessity compelled. 
About this time my son was married to Miss Cora McCoy, 
which made it necessary for me to be at home more than 
ever. In a year or two, however, she got a good deal bet 
ter, and I was enabled to do a considerable amount of 
work. A time or two I attempted to make a little crop at 
home in the season, and work at my trade in the fall and 
winter and at odd times. I found to my sorrow that I 
I could not do two things atone time. I made but little 
at home and less elsewhere, but I got along as best I could 
until April, 1889, at which time my wife again became ill 
and I remained with her until the end. 

Those were dark and sorrowful days. She lingered until 
the 4th day of November, 1889, when she died, perfectly 
in her right mind and praising God. She requested her son 
and husband to meet her in Heaven. Thus died as good 
a mother, as true a wife and Christian and as kind a 
neighbor as has ever cheered the course of a husband s 

My dear companion snatched away, 

And I am left alone, 
In grief and sorrow here I stray, 

And like a dove I mourn. 

I wander here like Noah s dove 

That from the Ark was sent, 
And when the evening shades appear 

My heart is almost spent. 

And when I lay my body down 

Upon my bed to sleep, 
My dear companion s room I find, 

Which causes me to weep. 

My son got a fine metallic coffin and she was laid to rest 
at Kahamah church near Brown s Ferry, on the Savannah 
river, to which church she belogned. 

142 Sketch. 

And I am happy to state that my membership is also 
there. I had attached myself to the church before my 
wife s illness, to her inexpressible joy. 
. And let me say to the world that right there by the side 
of my darling, is where I want to be put when I cease wan- 
deriug about seeking for the rest I cannot find. 

I will now give a short account of my travels since the 
death of my wife, and then you will, in all probability, 
riot hear from me again. 


After the death of my wife I was entirely alone. I re 
mained in the settlement, staying at night first with one 
neighbor and then with another, until just before Christ^ 
mas, when I had my effects taken to Hartwell, Ga.,to rny 
son s. I remained about Hartwell until the middle of the 
winter and then moved down to L. H. O. Martin s, three 
miles below Elberton, in Elbert county, Ga, Martin had 
been wanting me to live with him for several years. He 
now wanted me to live with him as one of the family, as 
he said, and so I did, with the exception that I had a great 
deal to do, more, in fact, than I cared or was able to do 
without better pay. I was Avell treated, however, by the 
entire family. 

In March I left Martin s and went to Piedmont factory, 
in Greenville county, S. C., where I remained until June, 
blasting in a well. I then returned to my son s, in Hart- 
well, and had my things brought back from Martin. I re 
mained there until the llth of September, and again wer.t 
back to Piedmont, being promised a room and |1.50 a 
day. I had my things brought over, but could get no 
room of my own to put them in. I had to put some 
at one place and some at another as best I could, and pay 
board but of my pittance. They gave me the wages, how 
ever, they had promised me, until about Christmas/ when 
the superintendent told me I. would have to work for fl.a. 

Sketch. 143 

day or nothing. I quit, and had my things moved up to 
rny sister s, near Woodville, where I have been writing 
these pages. 

Since my wife s death I cannot content myself long at 
any one place. 

I am now with my only living sister, my other sisters 
having died several years ago. My brother Reuben also 
died several years ago at Westminster, where his widow 
still lives. Sister Zillah and myself are all that are left of 
my father s family. 

My sister, too, has seen her share of sorrow. Her hus 
band was killed in the war, in 1864. Just after the war 
one of her children died, and a few years subsequently her 
eldest child, a daughter, who was married and had one 
child, was drowned, together with her child, in Grove 

My sister now has one unmarried son living with her, 
named Reuben. 

As I have said, my things, such as I have, are with her, 
and here they will remain, unless I find a place I can call 
home, and some one to take care of them. 

I am now done my writing and will be on the wing again. 
I have no idea where I may go. My son has such a large 
family it doesn t suit me to live with him. 

I have a hope that this little book and a patent I own 
for blasting rock without danger from the explosion will 
enable me yet to have a home of my own to go to. . Let 
me go where I will, my central office will be Woodville, 
Greenville county, S. C. In case any one would wish to 
correspond with me, that will be my post office. 

Hoping that these writings may interest my readers in 
some degree, I remain yours truly, J. W. REID. 

Woodville, S. C., Jan 20, 1891. 




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