In honor of the 150th firing on Fort Sumter, I wanted to revise this blog posting. I have been researching the Confederate soldiers who are from Northern Frederick County. It has been the hardest task that I have done to date. These men enlisted through out the South Land while a good portion of them served in many of the Maryland units. I had the chance to travel to Charleston, South Carolina to follow in the same footsteps as Emmitsburg resident Charles A. Donnelly. I also followed the unit he enlisted with through North Carolina after Donnelly transferred to Virginia. Who was Charles Donnelly?
Charles Donnelly was a resident from Emmitsburg and was 13 years old during the 1850 Census. His father Charles Sr., was a native from Ireland and was a school teacher in the area. By 1860, Charles A. Donnelly was listed on the Census, as living in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Before the first shots of the Civil War at Charleston, South Carolina, several South Carolina recruiting officers made their way through the South recruiting manpower for the upcoming war in South Carolina. Recruiting men from different states was not uncommon practice during the Civil War.
In December of 1860, South Carolina had sent a recruiting officer to Baltimore, and recruited, according to the Confederate Military History by Bradley T. Johnson, more than 500 Maryland men. These men would become part of Lucas’ Battalion of South Carolina and Rhett’s First South Carolina Artillery. The men who enlisted would witness the bombardment of Fort Sumter in the Charleston Harbor in April of 1861.
Charles A. Donnelly enlisted into the Confederate Army at the age of 24 on April 6, 1861, in Lucas’ Battalion of Infantry at Castle Pinckney, which is located in the Charleston Harbor of South Carolina. Lucas’ Battalion of South Carolina was made up with approximately 90 men from Maryland who enlisted in Company B at James Island, South Carolina in April. On June 6th, 1861, Lucas’ Battalion was designated as Infantry and mustered into service at Fort Pickens located on James Island.
In July, Lucas’ Battalion was converted from Infantry to Heavy Artillery with two companies that would garrison a few of the forts surrounding the Charleston Harbor. How often did the artillery units stationed in the garrisons/forts around Charleston rotate? Using Fort Sumter as an example Mr. Hatcher the Park Historian at Fort Sumter helped me shed some light on the subject. “From April 1861 to August 1863, the headquarters of the 1st SC Artillery Regiment and Companies A, B, C, D, E, F, & G were stationed at the fort. The remaining companies were stationed at various installations around the harbor. With the first major bombardment of the fort by the US Army and Navy beginning in August 1863 its role as an artillery installation was almost destroyed. As a result, six companies were transferred to various forts and/or batteries in the area and the HQ moved to Charleston.”
“A quick review of our fort records indicates from September 1863 until its evacuation in February 1865, one artillery company would serve as part of the garrison, with infantry providing the bulk of the troops. This same review indicated that the artillery company would spend about one month at Fort Sumter before being replaced by another. After the Confederate evacuation of Morris Island in September 1863, Fort Sumter was the primary target of federal artillery. With the exception of the Confederate installations on Sullivan’s Island (Fort Moultrie, Fort Beauregard, and others) the remaining harbor defenses received only limited attention from the Union guns. Therefore, I would assume the commands at those installations did not rotate as often.”
In June of 1862 three artillery units were attached to Lucas’ Battalion. Gist Guard Artillery, Mathew’s Artillery and Melcher’s Battery. Company C, which many Marylanders later transferred to was organized on November 15, 1862. It also comprised of Child’s Light Artillery, Winder’s Light Artillery and Lee’s Battery. Two additional companies were assigned to Lucas’ Battalion with the designation of Companies D and E. They served primarily on the islands of James and Morris that surrounded Charleston, SC. Garrison duties would have required the build up of earthworks, drilling by the manual of Infantry and also drilling by the manual of Artillery. The average schedule for Lucas’ troops might have been something along the lines of Infantry drill in the morning, Artillery drill in the afternoon, finishing up in the evening with more Infantry drills.
The uniforms issued to Lucas’ Battalion most likely would have been the Charleston Depot Jacket. The jacket was very similar to the Richmond Depot with a few minor differences. One being the sleeves and belt loops. Another feature is the fact that the jacket had a five button front instead of the 9 button front that the Richmond Depots had. The material was English wool kersey and the lining was made from cotton osnaburg.
On the other hand Lucas’ Battalion may have been issued items as Captain George L. Buist’s Company of the 2nd South Carolina that remained in Charleston, they were first issued a gray woolen frock coat, trousers of the same material, and blue kepis. They were later issued gray cotton coats and trousers with gray cloth hats. They were also issued very dark brown coats with blue trousers furnished by the government, and gray felt kepis. Another issue was a gray round jacket. The shoes, when they could get them, were heavy English brogans, very hard on their feet, but durable.
The 1st regimental flag is unknown, it may have been the 1st National Flag or Stars and Bars as we know call it or a South Carolina variation flag. It wasn’t until April 20, 1863, when Lucas’ Battalion was issued the Charleston variation of the Battle Flag that was used in the Army of Northern Virginia. According to Department regulations, Lucas’ Battle Flag would not have had their Battalion name or battle honors written on it. Lucas’ Battle flag was measured 48 inches squared and was completely made of wool bunting and hand stitched in sections. The stars were made from cotton. It would be attached to the pole by a red sleeve.
Each company would have also been issued a company guidon. The garnet and black colors of the guidon are measured 26 inches by 38 inches. Only the Artillery and Cavalry were issued guidons. A white cotton letter on the garnet color would have been the company letter, while garnet colored letters were sewn onto the black, that was abbreviation of the battalion.
In the early part of 1862, Lucas’ Battalion was stationed near Cole’s Island. Lucas’ Battalion of Regulars guarded the entrance of the river since the Confederate high command felt that Cole’s Island was the key to Charleston. During the middle part of May, all the guns were removed from both islands to Fort Pemberton, higher up the Stono River. Fort Pemberton consisted of 16 guns and was made of earthen mounds to form earthworks.
In January, 1863, at John’s Island, an ambush on Legare’s point occurred. Two companies of Lucas’ Battalion and some other troops on James Island captured the U.S.S. Isaac P. Smith commanded by Capt. F. S. Conover and a crew of 11 officers and 105 men. An iron vessel screw steamer of 453 tons, and carried eight 8-inch navy guns, or sixty-four pounder and a 7-inch thirty-pounder Parrott gun. The affair was completely successful. One shot did major damage as the steam drum was torn and had to surrender. After the affair a crew was put on board and the vessel towed up the river to Charleston.
From March to April of 1863, Charles Donnelly was noted on the muster roll as absent and held in confinement in Charleston jail. Once he was out of jail, he served from May through August as the Company Clerk. By April of 1864, many of the Maryland soldiers serving in South Carolina were transferred to the Maryland Line serving the rest of their enlistments in Virginia. The history of Lucas’ South Carolina Battalion doesn’t stop there.
In June of 1864 without the help from the Maryland men Lucas’ Battalion prepared for battle as the 54th Massachusetts Infantry advanced up James Island. According to the Regimental History of the 54th Massachusetts, the lay out of the island was wide open with a few spots of rising sand mounds. As the 54th advanced inland, it was noted that Fort Pemberton and Batteries Pringle and Tynes were on the Stono River to their left and from there Fort Lamar and Secessionville were mutually supporting with detached fieldworks for artillery and infantry regiments filled in the gaps. Skirmishing broke out and the 54th was ordered to halt and lie down on the ground and fire their muskets. Wheather Lucas’ men managed to get into the action is not known at this time.
On June 30th, Lucas’ Battalion held inspection of their garrison at Fort Pemberton. 24 men from Captain Richardson’s Company B were formed. The following items were described. Discipline, clothing, accouterments and instruction were all marked good. Small Arms was noted as mixed that consisted of 1842 muskets and flintlocks that were converted over to percussion. Guard house, quarters and hospital were in good shape and well arranged. The Battery consisted of two 32 pounder rifled and banded seacoast guns that were positioned at the right and left of the garrison. Two Naval Smoothbore guns were also inspected and reported in good shape along with all the carriages.
By the late winter of 1865, as General Sherman approached South Carolina, many Charleston defenders abandoned Charleston and joined with General Johnston who was trying to stop Sherman’s advance during the Carolina Campaign. Lucas’ Battalion picked up their muskets and took to its new assignments as Infantry. They participated in the Battle of Averasboro, North Carolina in March of 1865. They fought there under Colonel Rhett’s Brigade in General Taliaforro’s Division, part of General Hardee’s Corps. After the battle at Averasboro, they fought at Bentonville, North Carolina. From there they would march toward Durham Station and surrendered at Greensboro in April of 1865.