Unit History – 7th South Carolina Infantry

3 04 2022

Was assembled at Columbia, South Carolina, during the spring of 1861 and moved to Virginia in June. After fighting in Bonham’s Brigade at First Manassas, the unit served under Generals Kershaw, Kennedy, and Conner. It participated in the campaigns of the Army of Northern Virginia from the Seven Days’ Battles to Gettysburg, then accompanied Longstreet to Georgia. The 7th was active at Chickamauga and Knoxville, returned to Virginia, and saw action at The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor. It continued the fight in the Shenandoah Valley with Early and ended the war in North Carolina. The regiment totalled 581 officers and men in April, 1862 and sustained 82 casualties at Savage’s Station and 40 at Malvern Hill. During the Maryland Campaign, there were 13 killed and 100 wounded of 466 at Maryland Heights and 23 killed and 117 wounded of the 268 at Sharpsburg. It lost 4 killed, 57 wounded, and 61 missing at Fredericksburg, twenty-seven percent of the 408 engaged at Gettysburg, and 2 killed and 12 wounded at Bentonville. On March 23, 1865, there were 222 present for duty, and it surrendered in April. The field officers were Colonels D. Wyatt Aiken and Thomas G. Bacon; Lieutenant Colonels Elbert Bland, Robert A. Fair, Elijah J. Goggans, and Emmet Seibels; and Majors Joh S. Hard and William C. White.

From Joseph H. Crute, Jr., Units of the Confederate States Army, pp. 255-256

Capt. Elbert Bland, Co. H, 7th South Carolina Infantry, On the Campaign

3 04 2022

For the Advertiser
Interesting Particulars from the 96 Rifles.

Vienna, Va., Aug 2, 1861.

Dear Colonel.- I will give you an account of the movements and operations of my Company during the exciting days from the 17th to the 24th July inclusive.

On the 16th, my Company was ordered to complete an unfinished rifle-pit on the Flint Hill road, which we were to occupy. I was in command of a Regimental working-party on the 15th; so this was double duty for man and some of my men, but we went at it with spirit and finished by night. On the morning of the 17th, the cry of wolf was again heard, and the wolf appeared. We loaded our Company wagon and the train moved off towards Centreville (the Captains knowing that we were to retire.) The Regiment then formed. The 96 Riflemen turned out 106 strong with new uniforms. W. P. Butler, S. S. Tompkins, Dr. Walker Samuel and J. T. Bacon joined us at the Camp. Maj. H. C. Williams and his son Frank Williams, of Fairfax C. H., joined us in the pit. We double-quicked to the trenches by order. Soon one of Capt. Kemper’s guns appeared at the pit, but there being no embrasure for it, we grabbled one in short order. In a half hour Co. Kershaw’s Regiment filed into our trenches and we out of them. Then commenced the retreat for Bull Run in real earnest. Capt. Hodges’ and my Company, with Col. Radford’s Dragoons, covered the retreat of the 7th Regiment, by the old Braddock road. We are under a thousand obligations to Col. Radford’s command, officers and men of which gave up their horses to the broken down men – walked themselves, and carried our knapsacks and guns. At last we arrived at Centreville about 12, M. My Company and Capt. Hodges’ were deployed on the old Braddock road to retard the onward march of the enemy. At 12,30, A. M. (at night) it was discovered that the enemy was about to cut us off. Mah. Seibels came up and ordered us to move towards Bull Run quietly, silently – which place we reached at 2 ½ A. M., our Companies yet covering the retreat. We fell upon the ground and slept.

At 7 o’clock I was ordered to deploy my Company as skirmishers, near the Butler house, on the road, three-quarters of a mile in advance. We occupied a beautiful grove of chesnut oaks under cover of an old fence. Capt. Wallace, of Kershaw’s Regiment, was deployed on my right, [?] yards in advance of me, at the Butler house. We had agreed to support each other. It was he, at this place and time, that killed the spy, with $750 in his pocket. At 8 o’clock, ordered back by Brig. Gen. Bonham. I formed my Company, on half of it on the Bluff under command of Lieuts. Harrison and Wever; the other half was deployed under the bluff to join the left of Capt. Sander’s Company, which was upon the left of the 11th Virginia Regiment. I did this to complete our line. The fight opened at 9, A. M., lasting six hours, and reached the right of Capt. Sander’s Company. We expected every [?] to become engaged; but it never came nearer. The battle of the 18th closed with an artillery fight of an hour’s length, during which Capt. Escherman of the New Orleans Washington Artillery was severely wounded. He, with another officer, rode up to my Company under the bluff and asked for a Surgeon. I presented myself, and with the assistance of W. P. Butler and S. S. Tompkins, raised him from his horse and dressed his wound under the enemy’s fire of shot and shell. During the dressing, the Officer who accompanied the Captain asked for Dr. — of the Palmetto Regiment. Being informed of his whereabouts, he was satisfied. I sent the wounded Officer upon a litter to the General Hospital.

At 8 o’clock we were ordered out on picket, and occupied the battle field; I posted sentinels in the rain, and had a watchful night of it. A Captain of an advanced picket came to me for instruction, saying that he had never been upon picket before. In two minutes after he left, his Company fired and double quicked towards us. I formed Company and ordered my sentinels in the road to halt them, which Dick Turner did well. I persuaded them to go back.

At 7 in the morning of the 19th, I was ordered to relieve this Company at the Chesnut grove; here we had fine sport. I sent to Butler’s house Sergt. Addison and ten men and they exchanged several shots with the enemy’s pickets. This being rather an exposed position, Col. Lay ordered me to call them in, but the temptation to kill being very great, I slipped up Corp. Fair and two men with long range guns, each of whom got a shot. At 12 M. the enemy was reported in a ravine on our right – I formed Company but they failed to appear, and Capt. Hester reporting about this time for picket duty, we marched back to the bluff. The other Companies were all this time working upon their trenches. We slept this day.

On the 20th went to work upon our Rifle-Pit, which we nearly completed by 10 A. M.

On the 21st we worked all of the morning under fire of shot and shell. At 12 M, a detail of eight men was ordered from the 96 Rifles, as sharp shooters to fire fuse balls into the caissons of the enemy’s batteries, to blow them up. The call was answered by Corp. Mathis, Corp. Ryan, J. P. Robinson, Jas. Early, M. Grice, Thos. Stevenson, A. Swearengin, C. M. Gray, jr., and ninety others; but the above names were first out of the pit. About 3 o’clock P. M. we were ordered to advance and attack the enemy in front. We filed out of the pit for fifty yards, when the order was countermanded. What a mistake! The future of the battle proved this the moment to strike them in front. At 4 P. M. the Regiment or Brigade was ordered to force the Centre. We yelled, and such a yell! It of itself was sufficient to break the centre without bayonets. We moved forward to within one mile of Centreville, capturing several prisoners. We halted. Gen. Bonham approached me and said he wanted a reliable Company for picket, and detailed the 96 Rifles for the service. We moved towards Centreville, and posted sentinels, but the Brigade being ordered back, we were relieved by one of Longstreet’s Companies; – marched back to Bull Run; – ordered forward on the 22nd; – as soon as we crossed the Run, the 96 and Capt. Hodges’ Company were deployed as skirmishers upon each side of the road, – 96 on the right, Company B. on the left. When we deployed we reached for a half mile through the woods. It rained hard all day. Did you ever [?] through the woods on a rainy day? If so, you know something about it. Several more prisoners were taken by Company B on the left. Arriving at Centreville, I called in the skirmishers and was ordered to occupy the old ground on the Braddock road and send forward ten men under Lt. Bland, who reported a deserted enemy’s camp. It is [?…] I am now wearing a [?] Regiment Marine cap found in a trench at that Camp.

Ordered back to the [?] Bull Run at [?] P. M. I marched over the Pedregal at Contreras, on the night of the 19th August, 1847, but it was not more severe than this. The mud was half leg deep and slippery [?]. The Captain of Company E measured his length twice. We slept in our wet clothes all night; ordered to advance on the morning of the 23d; arrived at Centreville at [?] A. M., and halted for the day.; at 9 P. M., we moved forward to Vienna, where we arrived at day break or a little after. Of all the forced marches I ever made, this was the most fatiguing; when we halted, I could and did lean against the fence and sleep.

On the morning of the 25th, Gen. Bonaham sent for the 96 and ordered us [? ?] towards Fall’s Church to capture the Gray Horse Company – the same that charged through Fairfax C. H. Captain Powell’s Company of Cavalry were to decoy them into our net. They failed to be and appear at the appointed dime.

We are now at Vienna Station, or Camp Gregg, and if the Commissary department was well conducted, would be doing well. Our Company refused to do duty this morning because they are not fed. Several of my men missed morning drill being in the country in search of breakfast. We are in advance again. We worked hard at Fairfax – made a splendid retreat, and occupied the post of honor at the Run – the centre of the lines. The battle ranged within one Company of me; – yet I have never had the pleasure of giving the command Fire, in the face of the enemy; but when I do, you will not see it stated that we were scattered like sheep, and “fought in knots of ten and fifteen.” We have been drilled!

Elbert Bland

Edgefield (SC) Advertiser, 8/14/1861

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