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     Brief History of the 3d S.C. Batt'n


by Sam B. Davis

The Third South Carolina Battalion, also known as the James Battalion and the Laurens Battalion, was the smallest unit of Drayton’s Brigade. Despite its small size, it shared with its larger counterparts the glories and agonies associated with the momentous conflict known as the War Between the States.

Only two men, George Strother James and William George Washington Rice, would ever attain the rank of Lieutentant Colonel, the highest allotted officer grade of the battalion. On occasion, the battalion was commanded by a major and even some captains before the war’s end. This circumstance in no way diminishes the part the battalion played in the war but rather calls attention to the uniqueness of this gallant little band of warriors.

While D. Augustus Dickert lists 710 officers and enlisted men, a year’s research has yielded 897 names of men who answered duty’s call to fight. The unit was never full strength in battle. A number of reasons, among them disease, death, wounds, resignation, discharge, special details , and furlough , accounted for the attrition throughout the conflict. In fact, it is reasonable to assume that never did more than half of the total actually take position in battle formation during the entire war and even that many on only a very few occasions. Nowhere in research could I find that any quarter was given or a less threatening or easier place assigned in battle whenever an engagement loomed. As evidenced in later years by accounts of regimental strength, this battalion fought side by side with units twice its size and even larger. Further, research has not determined why additional companies were never assigned to the battalion in order to bring it to full regimental strength. The term " Sharpshooters" is used in some accounts, but the battalion was never assigned that designation per se in either Drayton’s or Kershaw’s Brigade.

Seven companies were assigned to the battalion. Companies A, B, C, and D were mustered into state service in late November and early December 1861 at Camp Hampton near Columbia. These four companies were composed predominantly of men from Laurens District , as was Company E mustered in in early January. By the end of January 1862, Company F (Harper Rifles), consisting of men from Lexington and Richland Districts , had enlisted. On February 6th, Company G (Aiken Guards), Fairfield District’s contribution, was assigned, thus forming the battalion commanded by Lieutenant Colonel George Strother James.

The battalion was assigned duty at the small rail stop hamlet of Adams Run, a destination many upstaters had never heard of . They would soon learn however, that this hamlet, situated 35 miles south of Charleston on the Charleston and Savannah Railroad, was Headquarters for the Third Military District of South Carolina, Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The battalion was placed under the command of Brigadier General Nathan G. "Shanks" Evans.

The threatened and eventual Federal occupation of Edisto Island subjected the unit to its first experience of the realities of war, although that experience was limited, as subsequent events would show. Duties involving the defense of the island and maintaining open rail communications between Charleston and Pocotaligo occupied much time during the winter months. An election of officers was held as part of a reorganization in late April. When the battalion was transferred from state service to Confederate service Both Lieutenant Colonel James and Major Rice were re-elected.

On June 14,1862, the unit was ordered to James Island but did not participate in the Battle of Secessionville. After a period of relative inactivity, the battalion was moved to Summerville where orders came in mid-July for transfer to Richmond, Virginia.

Upon arrival at the Confederate capital, the battalion joined the 50th and 51st Georgia Regiments, the Phillips Legion Infantry Battalion, and the 15th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry Regiment to make up the brigade of General Thomas F. Drayton in General David R. Jones’s Division.

As a unit of this brigade, the battalion would sustain its highest casualty rate of the entire war during the first Maryland Campaign at the battle of South Mountain (Fox’s Gap) on September 14,1862. Research reveals that of about 250 men engaged, 132 casualties resulted from this bloody engagement. Lieutenant Colonel James was killed in action, and Major Rice was severely wounded. The battalion was so disabled that that three days later its performance at Sharpsburg added little to its well-earned battle reputation overall.

On November 15, 1862, the unit along with the 15th SC Regiment, was transferred to Kershaw’s Brigade of which it would remain an integral part until the end of the war.


ASSIGNMENTS AND ENGAGEMENTS

As a Unit Assigned to the Third Military District of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida (November 1861-June 1862)

Slanns Island (White Point) Edisto Island, SC (26 December 26 1861)
Pineberry Point Edisto Island, SC (21 February 1862)
Secessionville [not engaged] (16 June 1862)

As a Unit Assigned to the 1st Military District of South Carolina, Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida (June-July 1862)

As a Unit of General Thomas F. Drayton’s Brigade, D.R. Jones’ Division, 1st Corps, Army of Northern Virginia (August-November 1862)

Waterloo Bridge (24 August 1862)
Thoroughfare Gap (26 August 1862)
2d Manassas (28-30 August 1862)
Harpers Ferry (12-15 September 1862)
South Mountain-Fox’s Gap (September 14, 1862)
Sharpsburg (September 17, 1862)

Kershaw’s Brigade, McLaws’ Division, Magruder’s Command, Army of Northern Virginia (November 1862-July 1863)

Fredericksburg (13 December 1862)
Chancellorsville (1-4 May 1863)
Gettysburg (1-3 July 1863)

Kershaw’s Brigade, McLaws’ Division, 1st Corps, Army of Northern Virginia (July 1862-Sept 1863)

Kershaw’s Brigade, McLaws’ Division, Longstreet’s Corps, Army of Tennessee (Sept 1863-November 1863)

Chickamauga (19-20 September 1863)
Chattanooga Siege (September-November 1863)
Campbell’s Station (16 November 1863)

Kershaw’s Brigade, McLaws’-Kershaw’s Division, Longstreet’s Corps, Department of East Tennessee (November 1863-April 1864)

Knoxville Siege (November-December 1863)
Fort Sanders (29 November 1863)
Bean’s Station (15 December 1863)

Kershaw’s Brigade, Kershaw’s Division, 1st Corps, Army of Northern Virginia (April 1864-August 1864)

The Wilderness (5-6 May 1864)
Spotsylvania Courthouse (8-21 May 1864)
North Anna (23-26 May 1864)
Cold Harbor (1-3 June 1864)
Petersburg Siege (June 1864-April 1865)

Kershaw’s-Conner’s Brigade, Kershaw’s Division, Valley District, Department of Northern Virginia (August 1864-September 1864)

Berryville (August 1864)

Conner’s Brigade, Kershaw’s Division, (returning to the Petersburg lines but recalled) (September 1864)

Conner’s Brigade, Kershaw’s Division, Valley District, Department of Northern Virginia (September-October 1864)

near Port Republic (7 October 1864)
near Strasburg (14 October 1864)
Cedar Creek (19 October 1864)

Conner’s-Kennedy’s Brigade, Kershaw’s Division, 1st Corps, Army of Northern Virginia (November 1864-January 1865)

Kennedy’s Brigade, McLaws’ Division, Department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida (January-February 1865)

Kennedy’s Brigade, McLaws’-Walthall’s Division, Hardee’s Corps (February-April, 1865)

Carolinas Campaign (February-April 1865)
Averasboro (16 March 1865)
Bentonville (19-21 March 1865)


ORGANIZATION

LIEUTENANT COLONELS

George Strother James - Appointed 2/2/62. Elected 4/28/62. Killed 9/14/62 South Mountain ( Fox’s Gap ).
William George Washington Rice - Promoted 9/14/62 upon death of Lt. Col. James. Retired 1/12/65 on Medical Certificate in consequence of wounds received at Knoxville 11/18/63.

MAJORS

George Strother James - Appointed 12/62. Appointed Lt. Col. 2/2/62.
William George Washington Rice - Promoted 1/31/62. Elected 4/28/62.
George Martin Gunnels - Promoted 9/15/62. Resigned 4/27/63 , debility and effects of chronic rheumatism
Daniel B. Miller - Promoted 4/27/63. Wounded 7/2/63 Gettysburg never returned to active duty.

ADJUTANT

William C. Harris - Commissioned 1/31/61. Served throughout war.

QUARTERMASTER

Benjamin Sampson James - Commissioned 2/10/62. Resigned 3/18/63 , elected to represent Laurens District in the South Carolina Legislature.
Edward S. Percival - Appointed 9/30/64. Resigned 11/22/64 , sickness.

COMMISSARY

Joshua Milton Townsend - Appointed (Acting ) 12/23/61. Promoted Captain Company A 1/31/62.
Rufus D. Senn - Appointed 2/10/62. Resigned 5/1/62.

SERGEANT MAJOR

George Anderson Ligon- Appointed 2/10/62. Died 10/18/62 , typhoid fever.
William Drayton Nance - Appointed ( Acting ) 4/1/64

QUARTERMASTER SERGEANT

Robert Burns Ligon - Appointed 2/10/62. Promoted 5/20/62 Captain Company B.
Robert J. Nichols - Appointed 5/3/62
Horace V. L. Spriggs - Promoted by 4/26/65.

ASSISTANT SURGEONS

Simon Baruch- Commissioned 4/4/62. Transferred 8/64 to 13th Mississippi Regiment.
Jobe Johnstone Boozer- Commissioned 12/23/61. Served throughout war.
Richard Simpson Dunlap- Appointed 6/11/63. Paroled 5/2/65 at Greensboro, NC.
J. Pinckney Johnson - Commission or Appointment not yet verified.
John Woodson Ligon- Commissioned 11/27/61. Discharged 2/23/62.
J.F. Mackey - Appointed 4/7/63. Paroled 5/2/ 65 at Greensboro , NC.
John L. Speake - Appointment not yet verified.

ACTING CHAPLAIN


William R. Stoddard - Appointed 4/30/62. Died in Richmond 8/25/62

CAPTAINS

Company A of the Laurens District

William George Washington Rice - Commissioned 11/25/61. Promoted Major
1/31/62.
Joshua Milton Townsend - Promoted 1/31/62. Killed 9/20/63 Chickamauga.
Joel W. Anderson - Promoted 9/20/63. Assigned 12/5/64 to Invalid Corps.
Alexander Adams King - Appointed 9/20/63 while POW at Johnson Island , Ohio.

Company B of the Laurens District

John Griffin Williams - Commissioned 11/27/61. Elected 4/28/62. Resigned 5/20/62.
Robert Burns Ligon - Promoted 5/20/62. Resigned 6/16/62, aneurysm of abdominal aorta.
Orasmus Allen Watson - Promoted 6/20/62. Killed 9/20/63 Chickamauga.
William A. Wells - Promoted 9/20/63. Killed 19/19/64 Cedar Creek.
Wesley S. Pitts - Promoted 10/19/64. Paroled 5/2/65 at Greensboro , NC.

Company C of the Laurens District

James Jasper Shumate - Commissioned 11/29/61. Not elected 4/28/62.
Williamson L Hudgens - Elected 5/1/62. Died 7/2/62 , typhoid fever.
Albert Irby - Transferred into 3rd Battalion 6/16/62 (company ?).
George Michael Irby - Enlisted 7/1/62. Wounded 5/26/64 North Anna River. Never returned to duty.

Company D of the Laurens District

George Martin Gunnels - Commissioned 12/1/61. Promoted Major 9/15/62.
John B. Harris - Promoted 9/15/62. Paroled 9/19/64 by Medical Examining Board in consequence of wound received at Gettysburg 7/2/63.

Company E of the Laurens District

Melmouth Milton Hunter - Commissioned 12/21/61. Not elected 4/28/62.
William H. Fowler - Elected 4/28/62. Resigned 4/20/63 , overage and debility.
Henry Harrison Kern Wier - Promoted 4/20/63. Killed 7/28/64 Deep Bottom.
Allen Watson Burnside - Promoted 7/28/64. Paroled 5/2/65 at Greensboro , NC.

Company F , the Harper Rifles, from Lexington and Richland Districts

Daniel B. Miller - Enlisted 1/30/62. Reelected 4/20/62. Promoted Major 4/27/63.
Edward S. Precival - Promoted 4/27/63. Appointed Quartermaster 9/30/64.
Robert S. Kirkland - Promoted 11/22/64. Served until end of war.

Company G, the Aiken Guards, from Fairfield District

Augusts Preston Irby - Commissioned 2/6/62. Not elected 4/30/62.
Benjamin Marcus Whitener - Elected 5/1/62. Killed 10/19/64 Cedar Creek.
Robert Henry Jennings - D. Augustus Dickert writes that Jennings commanded the
battalion at Chickamauga as senior captain but research thus far has failed to determine if and when he was promoted to that rank. Applied 7/29/64 for retirement in consequence of wound received at Chickamauga 9/20/63.

Sources:
Compedium of the Confederate Armies South Carolina and Georgia - Sifakis
A History of the 3rd South Carolina Infantry: 1861-1865 - Wyckoff
3rd SC Infantry Battalion by Sam B. Davis


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3d S.C. Batt'n / 15th S.C.V. / 51st GA / Phillips Legion

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Last updated 21 July 2002 at 1245 hrs.

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