Friday, November 19, 2010

Lucas' Battalion, 15th South Carolina Heavy Artillery, Co. C

One of the numerous impressions that the Cumberland Valley Rifles have represents the Marylanders that traveled to South Carolina and joined the ranks of the various South Carolina units. This impression is the 15th South Carolina Battalion of Heavy Artillery.

Before the first shots of the Civil War at Charleston, South Carolina were fired into Fort Sumter, several South Carolina recruiting officers made their way through the South, recruiting manpower for the upcoming war. Recruiting men from different states was not an uncommon practice during the Civil War. According to the Confederate Military History by Bradley T. Johnson, in December of 1860, South Carolina had sent a recruiting officer to Baltimore and he was able to recruit more than 500 Maryland men for the southern cause. These men would become part of Lucas' Battalion of South Carolina and Rhett's First South Carolina Artillery. These Maryland men would witness the bombardment of Fort Sumter in the Charleston Harbor in April of 1861.

On June 6th, 1861, Lucas' Battalion became designated as infantry, and was 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 Charleston Harbor. Company C, of which many Marylanders transferred to, was organized on November 15, 1862. Lucas’ Battalion of Heavy Artillery also consisted 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.

In June of 1862, three artillery units, the Gist Guard Artillery, Mathewes Artillery and Melcher's Battery were attached to Lucas' Battalion. They served primarily on the islands that surrounded Charleston, including Fort Pemberton, a post located along the banks of the Stono River. 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, and then finishing up in the evening with more infantry drills.

However, some Marylanders served inside the brick walls of Fort Sumter. How often did the artillery units stationed in the garrisons or 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 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 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 of 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. The ambush was complete success. One shot did major damage, tearing the steam drum and forcing the crew to surrender. Thier prize capture was an iron vessel screw steamer of 453 tons, carrying eight 8-inch navy guns, or sixty-four pounder, and a 7-inch thirty-pound Parrott gun. After the fight, a crew was put on board and the vessel towed up the river to Charleston.

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. Also in April, 30 men from Lucas' Battalion were used as laborers working on the ramparts of Battery Pringle. They were enclosing the rear-gorge portion of the battery.

In June of 1864, the 54th Massachusetts Infantry advanced up James Island. According to the Regimental History of the 54th Massachusetts, the layout 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 in order to fire their muskets. Whether Lucas' men managed to get into the action is not known at this time, but it is highly probable.

On June 30th, Lucas' Battalion held an 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 were noted as mixed, consisting of 1842 muskets and flintlocks that had been converted 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 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 the city, joining General Johnston who was trying to stop Sherman's advance during the Carolina Campaign. Lucas' Battalion picked up their muskets and took to their new assignment as infantry. They participated in the Battle of Averasboro, North Carolina in March of 1865, fighting under Colonel Rhett's Brigade in General Taliaforro's Division, a part of General Hardee's Corps. After the Battle of Averasboro, they fought at Bentonville, North Carolina. From there they would march toward Durham Station and surrendered at Greensboro in April of 1865.

The appearance of the average soldier in the beginning of the Civil War of Lucas’ Battalion could have consisted of a tailored frock coat with black trousers or a mixture of civilian clothing. Since Charleston was a port city, in 1862 English imports such as accouterments would have been commonly issued. By 1862, Lucas' Battalion may have been issued items similar to that of Captain George L. Buist's Company of the 2nd South Carolina that remained in Charleston. They were first issued gray woolen frock coats, trousers of the same material, and blue kepis. Later they were 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 issued jacket was a gray round jacket (Charleston Depot). The shoes, when they could get them, were heavy English brogans, very hard on their feet, but durable.

By 1863, the uniform jacket issued to Lucas' Battalion most likely would have been the Charleston Depot jacket. The Charleston Depot jacket was made from imported English wool kersey and had a cotton osnaburg liner. It featured one piece sleeves, functional, buttoning belt loops. a five button front, and the collar was off center. However, the soldiers could have been issued Richmond Depot type jackets or a North Carolina jacket. Late in the war, the Peter Tait jacket, imported from England would have been issued.

The 1st regimental flag is unknown. It may have been the 1st National Flag, or the Stars and Bars as we now 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 measured 48 inches square and was made entirely of wool bunting, with hand stitched 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 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, which was the abbreviation of the battalion.

For Reference:
Marylanders in the Confederacy – Daniel D. Hartzler
Siege Train, the Journal of a Confederate Artilleryman in the Defense of Charleston – Edward Manigault, Edited by Warren Ripley
Flags of Civil War South Carolina – Glenn Dedmondt
A Survey of Confederate Central Government Quartermaster Issue Jackets - Leslie D. Jensen
Tramp Brigade Uniform Standards - Web Site

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