History of the 16th South Carolina Volunteer Regiment

During the early part of the fall of 1861, C. J. Elford, Esq. of Greenville, S. C. had obtained authority from the Governor of the State to raise and organize a Regiment for State service for the period of 12 months service, and issued a call for volunteer companies to be raised in Greenville County. The different sections of the county soon met and organized ten companies, the required number for the formation of the Regiment. One of the companies, which was afterward designated as Company E, was organized in the lower portion of Greenville County, now known as Dunklin township by James McCullough who made a call for volunteers and soon obtained a sufficient number to organize the Company. He was assisted by A. J. Monroe of Laurens who brought up 10 or 12 of the boys from Laurens and joined him. The organization of the company was effected by the election of the following officers: James McCullough, Captain, A. J. Monroe, lst Lieutenant, Wm G. Vance, 2nd Lieutenant, Wm B. Browning, 3rd Lieutenant.

The ten companies which were now complete united and formed the Regiment which was designated as the 16th South Carolina Regiment. An election was held for Field Officers of the Regiment and the following were elected: C. J. Elford, Colonel; James McCullough, Lieutenant Colonel; W. B. Ivor, Major. On the 27th of November, 1861, E company met and took cars at Honea Path on the Greenville and Columbia railroad with 52 men to go into camp at Columbia, SC. No record of other Companies. The Company was in camp on the College Green of S. C. University for about one wee when it moved down to Camp Hampton some miles below Columbia.

The company was inspected and mustered into state service for the term of 12 months on the 12th day of December, 1861. Upon the reorganization of the Regiment, Capt. O'Neall was appointed Sergeant Major at the request of Colonel Elford and made a fine and efficient officer. He was elected Major in April 1862 which position he held until he was killed at Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia, while gallantly leading the Brigade Skirmish line. He was killed in front of the Regiment and his body was not recovered. Company E was designated as the color company of the Regiment and assigned the position in line as right center company. Sergeant H. L. Machem of the Company was the first color bearer of the Regiment, as were the two succeeding one, J. C. Arnold and Robert Gunnels.

About the 13th of December, the Regiment was ordered to Summerville, here to remain for 8 to 10 days, when it was moved to Charleston and went into camp at the race track where it remained until about the first of February, 1862. From Charleston they moved to Adams Run, a station on the Charleston and Savannah Railroad, and were ordered out to join General Johnston's Department. While at Adams Run, the Regiment participated in two battles, that of Pocotaligo and Johns Island and numerous skirmishes with Federal troops in that area. While at Adams Run, they suffered much from sickness losing a great many by death from fever and other causes. Among the number were two officers, Lieutenants Vance and Carter of Company E.

On the 28th of April, 1862, the Regiment was reorganized and changed from State to Confederate States service for 3 years or for the duration of the war. At this time a new election was held and James C. McCullough was elected Colonel, W.B. Ivor, Lieutenant Colonel and C. C. O'Neall, Major.

In March, 1863, the Regiment was ordered to Wilmington, NC, where they served for a while in that area and in spring of 1863 they were returned to the Charleston area. The men had become restless over the limited service they were having and rejoiced on May 4, 1863, when they received orders to be transferred to General Johnston's Army which was then in Mississippi. On the 6th of May, 1863, they broke camp at Adams Run and took cars for Charleston on their way to Mississippi where after eight days they arrived at Jackson, where they joined General Johnston's Army. General Johnston at that time was endeavoring to relieve Vicksburg which was under siege by General Grant, but was unable to reach that point in time to assist the Army which was there under Pemberton. The fall of Vicksburg was one of the most disastrous events that occurred during 1863. Vicksburg was surrendered on the same day that the battle of Gettysburg terminated in Pennsylvania, namely July 4, 1863. A large number of men surrendered to the Federal Army in Vicksburg but it is generally considered that many of them in due time got back into the Confederate Army and back into active service.

At this time the Regiment was placed in General States Rights Gist's Brigade and remained with him until he was killed at the Battle of Franklin. After service in Mississippi, the Regiment was transferred to the vicinity of Rome, GA, where they were on detached duty when the Battle of Chickamauga was fought. Gist and a portion of his Brigade were in this battle and lost 33 percent of their force. The 16th was later assigned to a portion of the North end of Missionary Ridge where they were engaged in that battle and later retired with Johnston's Army, engaging in all the battles that took place between Dalton and Atlanta. This was a distance of 100 miles and it was necessary that in this distance they cross three rivers. It is almost unbelievable the battles and engagements in which they were engaged during this period. They included battles at Ringgold, Tunnel Hill, Dalton, Resaca, Kingston, Cassville, Allatoona, Kennesaw, and Marietta before the final great battle of Atlanta was fought. After the Battle of Atlanta, in which the city was lost to the Federals, the Confederate Army retired to the little town of Fairburn, GA, 25 miles south of Atlanta, where they rested and recuperated before their return to the Tennessee Theater of War.

At this time Hood moved the Army of Tennessee back on almost the same route that he had pursued in following Sherman with engagements at Marietta, Tunnel Hill, Resaca, and Dalton. It appears that Hood's strategy was that by cutting the Western and Atlantic Railroad he would place Sherman in a position that he could not supply his Army from his base in Chattanooga, however Sherman followed him and pressed him so closely that he was unable to permanently complete this plan. Hood continued westward towards Tennessee apparently with the view of freeing that state from Federal domination. Hood's army crossed the Coosa River west of Rome and continued on into Alabama where he finally ended his march at Gadsden, AL. Sherman turned back, burned Atlanta and began his infamous march through Georgia and South Carolina.

It is difficult to follow all of the details of Hood's campaign in Tennessee, but we come now to two of the most important battles in which he engaged in that area, namely Franklin and Nashville. In the battle of Franklin, Hood attacked with his entire army across an open field against the Federal Army strongly entrenched in the little town of Franklin. The results were disastrous to Hood's Army. In this terrible battle, S. R. Gist who commanded the Brigade to which the 16th South Carolina was attacked was killed as well as five other Generals, including Generals Cleburne, Granbury, John Adams, O. F. Strahl, and John C. Carter. The Confederate losses were placed at 4,500, but this by many historians is considered too low, taking into consideration its strength after the battle, it would indicate the total losses form all causes was 7, 547. The 16th South Carolina lost 56 men in this fight. Most of them were buried in the McGavock Cemetery at Franklin and their graves are marked with their names.

Following this disastrous repulse was Hood's assault on the City of Nashville which as held by Thomas and his troops. This failed purely because Hood's Army had been so decimated they were unable to carry out their objectives. The record indicates there were only 15,000 of Hood's men actually under arms while Thomas had 27,000 for duty and 25,000 of his men took active part in the battle.

Fighting almost every step of the way, Hood's Army retreated pretty much over the road that they had pursued on their way to Nashville and finally from Tuscumbia to Iuka, to Corinth and to Tupelo, Mississippi. Here they went into camp on January 10th. Within six weeks, Hood had marched nearly 500 miles, had fought two desperate and bloody battles and had all but wrecked his army.

We now draw down towards the sad and tragic end of the history of Hood's army. In the spring of 1865, they were ordered to join Johnson who had been restored to the Command in South Carolina and they took up their journey to join at that point. Stanley Horn in his book, "The Army of Tennessee," says and I quote, "With the facilities at hand, it was no small physical task to transport an army corps - even the skeleton of an army corps - from Tupelo to South Carolina. The railroads were in frightful dilapidation; the highways were almost hopelessly ruined by the constant passage of troops, guns, and wagon trains. An idea of the circuitous routing involved may be gathered from the itinerary of Cheatham's corps. On January 25th, they left Tupelo on foot and marched to West Point, Mississippi, where they arrived on the 28th. From there they rode on the railroad cars to Meridian and thence to Selma, AL, through Demopolis. From Selma they went by steamboat to Montgomery, AL, and from there by train to Columbus, GA. From Columbus they marched to Macon, to Milledgeville, to Mayfield, where they again took the cars for Augusta, GA. Then they marched to Newberry, SC, and at last joined Stevenson's corps who had gone on ahead.

The 16th South Carolina's final battle was that of Bentonville. Here Johnston struck one last blow at Sherman's superior army, superior only in number, but he was defeated and finally on or about April 25th surrendered to the superior force against which he had so long opposed. At the surrender it gives out some idea as to the terrible losses which Hood, and later Johnston's army, had been subjected. The 19th Tennessee for example down to 64 men from its original 1,297, but the still held head high and their flags fluttered defiantly as they march to the camping place near Greensboro where they surrendered on the 25th of April, 1865. There is no record of the number of survivors of the 16th Regiment at the surrender, but they must have been few because they were consolidated shortly before with the 24th South Carolina Regiment which had also been reduced to too few a number to compose a Regiment.

Reprinted from 16th South Carolina Regiment, by John S. Taylor, 1964.