Monday, September 30, 2013

"Things looked very gloomy for our side about then:" Cresswell Waller and the Second South Carolina in the West Woods, Part III of III.

Greenwood So. Car.

June 13 1901

Genl. E.A. Carman,

Dear Sir;

Your two of the 10th inst. to hand, [1] I was glad that you were pleased with the information, such as it was in regard to the 3 S.C. Regts at Antietam.

[Here Waller begins the correspondence with a "digression" about historical "error" regarding events  later in the war. This is reproduced below in Footnote 2.]

I do not know for certain, but I do not believe Early’s brigade struck the right of the regiment 125th⁠ [3] if it was them. I do know that it was the impression of our brigade that Hood’s and Ewell’s had been badly “frazzled” out & driven out of the woods. We saw several flags with but few supporters getting
Detail from Waller correspondence.

away from the wood when we were striking for them. Things looked very gloomy for our side about then. Right here I would like to say that I made enquiries after Walker’s⁠ or Manning’s⁠ [4] or E.D. Hall’s brigade⁠ [5], which you alluded to in a former letter. By investigation it was discovered that Hall in his report claimed that although he went in immediately after our 2nd Regt. by order of Genl Kershaw & Manning, then commanding, that this regiment of the enemy 125th Pa., if it was that one_broke before Walker’s brigade saw them. Yet the brigade, Walkers, went straight on & would have crossed Early’s line of fire, if Early had been firing & pressing toward the Church. In my opinion, there were plenty of the enemy, Union troops, in the woods on the Williamsport side [6] of the Church & that they were the ones struck by Walker’s, Barksdale’s & Early’s brigades.

None of our troops outside of our regiment went beyond the turnpike in the first charge_ The enemy did come out of the woods, however. I might have erred in creating the impression that the 125th was so easily driven. We had two “crack” rifle companies on the right of the regiment composed of good shots_ we had two on the left, one of which was the Palmetto Guards of Charleston & the other the Brooks Guard of the same place_ We had an advantage in formation_ ours not being so close_ Any how the regiment [7] had new guns [ ] enfields & new covered canteen. I took up one of the guns as an extra & threw it by strap over my shoulder, also took up a few canteens of good water which perhaps the water carrier had just brought in. These I gave to friends. 

I cannot just say how long it took us to drive them. We shot several times, so often that some guns became foul & clogged_ Mine did not, because I had peculiar cartidges captured from a man of 126 N.Y. [8] on Maryland Heights_ the balls consisted of three parts: two of lead & one of metal brass or copper_ the cone about 10 oz. in weight was of lead_ then a convex sheet & last next to powder, a piece of lead like the head of a rivet with a point which passed through the sheet into the lead of the cone. [8a]

To sum up, I would say that 125th Pa was not touched by Early’s command, but stood for a while against our left & gave way when they saw Walker’s men coming although unseen by that brigade, the 125th being in the woods & the brigade in open field approaching woods_

2nd, that the road was the limit of all of our troops except 2nd regt. in 1st charge_

I may be wrong, but I think by careful analysis of reports you will find a way out on this as a basis of fact not withstanding there was such a conglomeration on both sides.

One of our company, now in my camp_ still harps on the gallantry of the Union Colonel who tried to rally his men to a flag_ Some person said it must have been Col. Knipe or Knape.[9] I knew nothing of the incident, but laughed at him for shooting at the flag instead of the bearer on man close to it.

I had not idea of time, but am certain we were in the woods not less than 3 or more than 5 hours before retiring to [the] rock fence_

1/3 of the killed in the regiment was from our company_ We lost 5 Killed.

Yours Respt

C.A.C. Waller 


Source: C.A.C. Waller to Ezra Carman, June 13, 1901, National Archives, Antietam Studies, Record Group 94.

[1] The incoming correspondence from Ezra Carman has not be found.

[2] "I have a little reluctance about replying to the second_ not, however, from a disposition not to aid or gratify you, but from fear I may do some injustice to some worthy organization on either side. You know, if you will pardon the digression, that this happened on both sides during the “unpleasantness” by parties trying to locate other organizations to suit their views. I called on Genl Montgomery, W. Gardener⁠ in Memphis  in regard to an error of this kind in relation to Col C. W. Fribley who commanded the Negro brigade at Olustee on Ocean Pond, Fla. & defended a battery which we captured. I had gotten his sword & a member of my regiment had a receipt for the flag yet the whole Capture was ascribed to another regt._ 32nd Ga. Genl. Gardener said I was right_ he was in command of the forces when the flag of truce came in afterwards_ So also in regard to the “Crater” or Petersburg mine battle injustice was done to Warren  on your side & to Wright’s Brigade on our side. I was in position to know more of that battle than most of the generals. I saw distinguished bravery on both sides. Saw Bartlett & others & knew Warren was right when he said he saw a rebel flag upon the ramparts of the Crater before or about 9 a.m. That flag was saved by the Color bearer falling dead upon it. Excuse me, but to these questions. "

[3] This was the 125th Pennsylvania (XII Corps, Williams Division, Crawford's Brigade). The 125th was a new regiment and Antietam their first engagement. They were recruited from Blair, Cambria and Huntingdon Counties.

[4] Walker's Brigade was led by Col. Vannoy (Van) Hartog Manning (July 26, 1839 – November 3, 1892).

[5] Col. E.D. Hall led the 46th North Carolina (Walker's Division/Walker's Brigade [Manning]. 

[6] The west side of the Dunkard Church.

[7] The 125th Pennsylvania.

[8] The 126th New York surrendered at Harper's Ferry on September 15. The Union army: a history of military affairs in the loyal states, 1861-65 -- records of the regiments in the Union army -- cyclopedia of battles -- memoirs of commanders and soldiers. Madison, WI: Federal Pub. Co., 1908. volume II and retrieved from New York State Military Museum website.

[8a] Waller is describing a Williams Patent "Cleaner." The convex sheet does the cleaning as it's pushed ahead by the charge, scraping the barrel as it goes. Thanks to Dave McGowan for the contribution. For more information on the Williams Patent "Cleaner" visit this website.

[9] Col. Joseph F. Knipe led the 46th Pennsylvania (XII Corps/Williams Div./Crawford's Brigade). He took command of Crawford's Brigade after Crawford's wounding "late in the afternoon." In his official report he recounted the flag incident Waller mentions, "I was in the immediate rear of the battery at the time with my colors and a few more men than its guard, when I was requested by some general, to me unknown, to form a rallying point for our retreating regiments. I was successful so far as to get the One hundred and seventh New York to form on my flank, and believe that it was this show of front that saved the guns from the enemy's hands." Official Records: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 486 - 488 and retrieved from Brian Downey's Antietam on the Web. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

"They came in splendid order ..." Cresswell Waller and the Second South Carolina in the West Woods. Part II of III.

The advance of the 2nd, 7th, and 8th South Carolina
to the Dunker Church plateau at approximately
9:30 a.m. Tompkins battery's two detached
guns are directly in front of the 111th Pennsylvania.
Greenwood So. Car.

June 7, 1901

Genl. E.A. Carman,

Dear Sir;

Yours of 30th ult. was handed to me upon my return from the U.C.V.⁠[1] Reunion at Memphis Tenn. I am glad to hear from you again.

I think you are about right in estimation of aggregate strength of these regiments, if you consider, as the 2nd Regt. had not already been in, 550.

You know, as I perhaps, I have already estimated in a former letter⁠ [2], that some emerging together with the fact that Hood had been & was being driven out of the Church woods⁠ [3], led Kershaw to select the 2nd to go by the right flank, double quick, in advance of the brigade into the church woods on the right or Sharpsburg side of the woods_ This was done with complimentary remark from Genl Kershaw its first Colonel, which were received with cheers & regiment put promptly in motion by right flank in column of four_ We did not double quick all of the way.

You are perhaps aware of the surprises from the Union troops also had passed church on way to our line. Also difficulty of one making front formation on 1st company on [account?] of only part of fence being being down and that Col. Kennedy⁠ [4] had been wounded in the foot when climbing over the fence. The command, then devolving upon Maj. Frank Gaillard [5] with Capts. Wm. Wallace⁠ [6] & George Cuthbert⁠ [7] acting as field officers_ Three most remarkably brave men who invariably deported themselves as such__particularly George Cuthbert, Capt. of Palmetto Guards, who I took to be recklessly so until his death.

We had dropped back again into the woods on the Sharpsburg side of church when the other 3 regiments were sent in. They came in splendid order & condition in column of division or marched “fours front” to reduce front until ready for extension. When the 3 regiments 2nd, 7th, & 8th made a magnificent charge.

The left of 2nd touched & enveloped the Church. The 7th had a splendid front__ Col. D. Wyatt Aiken [⁠8] was wounded at the edge of woods & Maj. White [8a] sprang forward & led most gallantly the regiment almost right of to the Union battery⁠ [9] near which he fell in front of his command. Of course, the line became bunched somewhat in the rush for the battery. The 3rd Regiment seemed to have maneuvered to itself farther on the left, pretty much out of sight of the enemy_ the brigade & the division & brigade commanders, entirely satisfactory to its colonel commander as he claimed in his report,⁠ [10] but not fully satisfactory to the members of the brigade, though Kershaw & McLaws recognized in some degree the parade tactics.

I do not believe that either McLaws or Kershaw saw the 3rd Regt. until after it “retired to replenish ammunition” & until Kershaw had the other 3 at the wood fence__ Kershaw was mainly occupied in looking after the brigade battery, Read’s ⁠[11] I believe! He had commanded his & Barksdale’s brigades as a division in his Capture of Maryland Heights.

The brigade, Kershaw’s, was one of the finest & best drilled in the Army of No. Va. as well as the oldest organization. Special attention was paid to drilling before 1st Manassas or 1st Bull Run & often afterward. It was the right of the right division of Longstreet’s Corps. No person ever did it justice in writing but a careful student of the Campaign would find that it was an important figure in a great many emergencies. At 1st Manassas_Malvern Hill_Williamsburg in [ ] _ The 1st day_ Tolerably well at Sharpsburg_ Behind Stonewall at Fredericksburg_ Gettysburg_ First to break Union line at Chickamaugua & went farthest upon Snodgrass Hill__ 1st to Check Grant on plank road at Wilderness_ 1st to stop him at Spotsylvania_ when Longstreet came to Lee’s aid at Wilderness_ saved Cold Harbor &c &c_ The 2nd did not keep its alignment so well in the 2nd charge__there was more individual effort__

Some of our men spoke very highly of a Union Color bearer & his commanding officer who it seems had planted it once a great deal in advance of line just before charge.

Our men often admired gallantly of their foes_ I have seen many instances of distinguished gallantry on part of Union officers_

Thanks for kind enquiries & wishes_ I would like to purchase your history_

Yours Very Best,

C. A. C. Waller.

Notes ===

Source: C.A.C. Waller to Ezra Carman, June 7, 1901, National Archives, Antietam Studies, Record Group 94.

1 The 11th reunion of the United Confederate Veterans was held in Memphis, Tennessee from May 28th to 30th, 1901. For more on this reunion, visit

2 See Cresswell Waller to Ezra Carman, December 14, 1899 and posted to this blog on September 2, 2013.

3 Dunkard Church, West Woods.

4 Col. John D. Kennedy. By July 28th, 1864 he will have received six wounds. He survived the war. NARA, RG 109, Roll 0156. Compiled service records of Confederate soldiers from South Carolina units, labeled with each soldier's name, rank, and unit, with links to revealing documents about each soldier. Hereafter RG109.

5 Major Franklin Gaillard, a graduate of The Citadel, would be killed at the Wilderness on May 6, 1864. War Between the States website maintained by The Citadel at; NARA, RG 109, Roll 0155.

6 Captain William Wallace, 37. NARA, RG 109, Roll 0160.

7 Capt. George B. Cuthbert, 33, would be killed at Guinea Station, Va. on May 13, 1863. NARA, RG 109, Roll 0154.

8 Col. D. Wyatt Aiken suffered "a gun shot wound which passed through his left side"of his chest. Surgeon's Certificate, June 10, 1864, NARA, RG 109, Roll 0214.

8a Major William C. White, 31. NARA, RG 109, Roll 0222.

9 This may have been John A. Tompkins Battery (1st Rhode Island Light Artillery, Battery A).

10 See Kershaw's Official Report at

11 John P.W. Read noted in his Official Report (October 20, 1862) that "the axle of my 3-inch gun gave way" while moving it into position about 3 p.m. Kershaw signaled the battery out in his Official Report "Read's battery performed the most important service in a position of great danger. ... One gun was disabled and abandoned, and so many horses as to render it necessary to bring off their pieces severally. The acts of individual heroism performed on this memorable day are so numerous that regimental commanders have not attempted to particularize them." OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27), pp. 862-866 (Kershaw) 866-67 (Read). Retrieved from Antietam on the Web at (Kershaw) and (Read).

Monday, September 2, 2013

"I tried to hold my place...but soon concluded it was hopeless..." Cresswell Waller and the Second South Carolina in the West Woods. Part I of III.

On April 14, 1861, twenty-one year old Cresswell A. Waller enlisted in Company F of the 2nd South Carolina Infantry at Greenwood, S.C.. A year and a half later, he found himself in the middle of heavy fighting in the West Woods as part of Kershaw's Brigade, McLaws' Division. What follows is the first of three letters that Waller sent to Ezra Carman between December 14, 1899 and June 13, 1901 describing his experiences as a Private in that regiment. Carman having served on the Antietam Board as "Historical Expert," was then a clerk in the War Records Office. He continued to correspond with veterans, ex officio, to gather information on unit movements during the battle. In this capacity, he opened correspondence with Waller on November 24, 1899.
Greenwood So. Car. 
Dec 14th 1899
Genl. E.A. Carman,
Chm Bd Antietam Battlefield,
Dear Sir;
The route of the Second South Carolina as
recorded in the Cope/Carman 1904 map.
Library of Congress.
Yours of 24 Nov with partial map⁠1 enclosed received. It would afford me the greatest pleasure to render you all of the assistance you may require of me in behalf of your most important undertaking. Thirty years, however, you must recollect is a great stretch in this life time of a man & hence the difficulty of a person keeping in mind all of the details of an engagement, hot indeed, but only one of very many desperate ones during the long & continued struggle of 1861-1865.
Deeply impressed with the importance of being accurate in what statements I might make to you, I published a request to all of my old comrades to lend me what aid they could _ Unfortunately, death in the last year and the one previous thereto has removed some of the very parties on whom I mostly relied & they are now as silent as those of your comrades with whom I slept on the night of Sept. 17th 1862.
You have the line of march of the 2nd S.C. Regt. in rank of fours_right in front marked on map very near as they fought. The fence was down for several panels beginning about 60 yds, not certain as to distance, from Hagerstown Pike. Our company on the right & in front was nearing the open place in line of fence when we were fired on. The order was, I think, “Into line on 1st Company. This threw us & Company B through the aperture that forced the balance of regiment to mount the fence_ In the act of mounting, Col. Kennedy⁠2 was wounded. Our company was in the swale, hollow or depression & was overshot by enemy who poured in a heavy fire. Col. K. wnd & Lt. Col Goodwyn⁠3  wnd in 7 days fight at Richmond & absent, Maj. Gaillard ⁠4 was in charge with Capt Cuthbert⁠5 on the right & Cap. Wallace⁠6 acting as major on the left.
In going forward from [the] fence I passed a hickory tree with a bench like rock at its base. Said tree was, I judge, about 60 yds from dunkard church mainly on a southern line towards Sharpsburg_
Arriving at church⁠7, we were still actively firing, when Gaillard wanted some of us to the right of church & nearly perpendicular to the Pike & over it. Wallace was intent on pressing to left of church & diagonally to the Pike. With Gaillard & Cuthbert, I went to the right & over the Pike having another road⁠8 to my left & a caisson between me & it.
I shot, however, mostly over this last road⁠9, because enemy seemed to be bunched over there more than in my front where there were very few. In fact it seemed to be an opening in your lines. Gaillard carried at least two or more of our company, so they say, to a bench like rock & ordered them with others to fire on some artillery in sight in the distance getting ready to fight or move. 
Cuthbert having seen over the crest towards the “bloody angle” tried to form a line “by file” facing that way in a line nearly east & west. I think, Wallace was facing a line at angle to this with Gaillard’s few making a broken V with it very hot for those farthest East & one by one, men would try to get on west side of his western neighbor “leap frog like” until the field was vacated quickly. I tried to hold my place & laid down & fought [but] found myself deserted, hoping parties would come back, but soon concluded that was hopeless & got up broke in more than double quick towards Pike & woods⁠10 under several shots from enemy two balls struck fence whilst I was going through opening between top rail & bottom on main part of fence at the Pike. Found men gathered at A indicated by red letter in map west of Pike & South of Church in South Eastern corner of woods.
I think, the time was about or near 10 a.m. __ Here we staid short time until came down [a] swale, hollow or depression just south of church woods from towards Sharpsburg close in our rear. I took them to be a part of our brigade. We had [our] flag carried to fence (parts still standing) on southern or Sharpsburg portion of woods & had it unfurled & waved to let them know we were friends & when they came up we as well as they cheered lustily & started in again. 
I went by church over Pike across or to north or north west of the road forking with the Pike & up another swale, hollow or depression over clover field &c & up to and over a fenced thrown or knocked when the artillery began furiously to burst forth hurling rails, dust & shells & we began to fall back sullenly at first then rapidly until we reached church where Frank Johnson⁠11 was killed at G (red letter) north of church near a tree. I ought to have stated with the flag incident that a “lively scrap of a fight” was going on in woods to North West of church & nearly in semicircle around it to N.E.
I did not have any definite idea of time in the fight. We staid in woods 2nd time sometime not pursued then by infantry but catching it hot from artillery. Finally we were ordered to fall back in declivity south west of church in woods & thence behind rock fence about 500 yds., I judge, or guess from church marked, I suppose, at C red letter. Here I first saw Kershaw after we separated from brigade to charge & afterwards in short time Genl Barksdale. They were behind fence (rock) & had some altercation about disposition when Kershaw settled it by saying that he ranked him (B.) & in absence of Genl McLaws he ordered otherwise. I had not seen McLaws since our regiment left brigade & [moved to] Hood’s position in woods near church vacated by scattering of Hood’s brigade_
I know Barksdale & staff & part of brigade was at fence because of one of staff stepping on me & my sharp remarks to him at the time two of our men in our company were wounded by bursting schrapnel__ I soon saw Maj. Goggin⁠12 Ad & in Genl. McLaws Div, approaching on a horse which was capering in fright at a bursting shell at, I suppose, letter D. I would say this was 2 o’clock not certain, however, as to time not even certain as to right or left on account of fact having been put in March. 1st towards Sharpsburg in early morning & then made to make almost a right about in marching to get to Dunkard Church__Anderson’s Division⁠13 passed our left whilst we halted facing towards Sharpsburg & learned afterward they were to our right in battle. 
About 2 p.m. or X we were moved to E red letter on map & staid a good while_ There Jackson passed us having surveyed the field in front. We wanted [to] cheer him but were quickly suppressed_
We were afterwards carried still further to the left & had a fence in our rear or westward whilst we faced toward Pike in woods & near the fence were dead union soldiers but I cannot find out from what state they were. I think, however, you were right in inferring that they were from Minnesota⁠14. I may write again as to the state whence the dead came when I hear from some letters.
Memories come trooping up bringing incidents some of which I shut out whilst I mentioned others which had been better left out of this, but they establish facts.
Yours Very Resp
C.A. Waller⁠15


Source: C.A.C. Waller to Ezra Carman, December 14, 1899, National Archives, Antietam Studies, Record Group 94.

1 Map not found.

2 Col. John D. Kennedy. By July 28th, 1864 he will have received six wounds. He survived the war. NARA, RG 109, Roll 0156. Compiled service records of Confederate soldiers from South Carolina units, labeled with each soldier's name, rank, and unit, with links to revealing documents about each soldier. Hereafter RG109. 

3 Lt. Col. A.D. Goodwyn was “severely wounded in the ankle” at the Battle of Savage Station. NARA, RG 109, Roll 0155.

4 Major Franklin Gaillard. NARA, RG 109, Roll 0155.

5 Capt. George B. Cuthbert, 33, would be killed at Guinea Station, Va. on May 13, 1863. NARA, RG 109, Roll 0154.

6 Captain William Wallace, 37. NARA, RG 109, Roll 0160.

7 The Dunkard Church.

8 This was Smoketown Road.

9 Smoketown Road.

10 Hagerstown Pike and West Woods.

11 Pvt. Franklin P. Johnson, 21, from Abbeville, S.C., served in Company F of the 2nd South Carolina. On January 23, 1864, his father. John B. Johnson, received $75.23 which was his son’s enlistment bounty and back pay. NARA, RG 109, Roll 0156.

12 Major James M. Goggin, VA32, served as adjutant and inspector general in McLaw’s Division. OR.; NARA, RG 94, Roll 0022. Alphabetical card index to the compiled service records of volunteer Confederate soldiers belonging to units from the State of Alabama.

13 This was probably G.T. Anderson’s brigade.

14 First Minnesota.

15 Waller penned a post script “Excuse inaccuracies. Haven’t time to read over.”