Memoirs of Asbury Coward, circa 1855-1865


Memoirs of Asbury Coward, circa 1855-1865


This journal, written by Coward in 1910 for his children, chronicles approximately the third decade of his life. He describes his experience of running and teaching at the King's Mountain Military School in Yorkville, S.C., his marriage and family life and his service in the Confederate States Army during the Civil War.




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Charleston (S. C.)


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- Third Decade –

[Illegible words] my life found Yorkville [illegible words] the King’s Mountain Military School [illegible words] of excitement over the approaching celebration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the battle of King’s Mountain. [Illegible words] and extensive preparations had to be made and great difficulties to be overcome, or at least [illegible]. The battle ground being fifteen miles distant from Yorkville and over thirty from Charlotte N.C. the next nearest railway point threw practically the whole bulk of the difficulties upon the citizens of our town. As our school bore the title of the historic battle it behooved us to take an active part in the work of preparation and to be in evidence on the occasion. Our Corps of Cadets numbering between sixty and seventy had to be drilled [illegible words] expertness; all the paraphernalia for military encampment had to be provided, class-room work to be regular, attended to much incidental correspondence carries and then, fifteen long miles of rocky road to be tramped. It was surely a busy time, we had this our first year’s experience as manager’s of a pioneer military school. Military [illegible] came from Charleston, and Columbia and Chester [illegible words] or representatives of military [illegible words]. With all of these we had

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we had to establish at least military relations. Practically all the military organizations were on the ground on the evening of the sixth of October, and rules for the government of the camp were hastily prepared and circulated. But alas, the spirit that had brought these troops together was too much like the spontaneous gathering of the clans that fought the battle seventy-five years before. We had come to celebrate, they had come to fight, and both without any central controlling authority. The rules for camp government were based on strict military principles, such as real disciplined soldiers are expected to follow, but as they were to be applied to make-believe soldiers on this occasion it is easily understood that sentinels, camp guards and officers of the guard had a very lively time until daylight and breakfast considerations afforded new subjects of attention. Perhaps the most exciting incident of the night was a volunteer serenade of the camps tendered by two well known citizens of Yorkville, Mr. Richard Hare, a well known celebrated performer on the kettle drum, and his uncle, Mr. Tom Palmer, shoe-maker, and expert with the use of the fife. As they were not content to stand in one place and “waste their music on the desert air”, they proceeded to perambulate through the encampment to the rhythm of their own music.

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“Halt! Halt!! Halt!!! Who goes there?” were the yells heard all around. Finally the cries to halt, were followed by the bang of Mississippi rifle and a howl accompanied by vociferous imprecations. Tom Palmer had been shot and the missile had penetrated the most prominent part of his voluminous anatomy. It required a great amount of personal influence and expostulation to prevent further bloodshed; but reasonable quiet was at last secured and Mr. Palmer was carried to his home in Yorkville. Fortunately the missile was a wad of paper instead of a bullet of lead, and Mr. Palmer recovered after several weeks of suffering. – The next morning everybody was early astir, and, notwithstanding the comfortless, restless night, began preparations for breakfast and the military review and inspection. The larger trees and the underbrush had been cut away over a space of five or six acres, but the ground was very rough, rocky, and full of stumps. As there was no officer of higher rank present with his uniform, W. H. McCorkle Colonel of the York County Militia, was placed as reviewing Officer. The Colonel went through the function successfully and won applause for maintaining his seat on the beautiful

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fiery horse he bestrode. This animal was of a bright chesnut [sic] color, with three white feet and a white streak down his face; of light but perfect shape and as graceful as a gazelle in all his movements. As he went down the line he seemed to be doing a “Cake Walk Dance” to the music of the band. Every body expected horse and rider to come tumbling to the earth at every moment; but no such calamity befell. I fixed my heart on that horse, then and there; and during the following spring, I succeeded in buying him.

After the Review there was a general movement towards the Grand Stand, erected on the southern flank of the mountain, near the spot indicated by tradition as the “Grave of Ferguson”. While the crowd was gathering around the Stand, and the speakers and specially invited guests were already upon it, a detachment of the artillery company from Columbia began firing salvos in honor of the day. But few shots had been fired, when in one of the pieces the blank cartridge exploded as it was being rammed down, and the rammer and the arm of the gunner were sent flying towards the stand. The shattered arm fell near the gun, but the rammer went just over the

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heads of the occupants of the stand and was broken in pieces on the rocks of the mountain. The young artillerist was immediately cared for and the programme [sic] for the day was continued. Among the distinguished men on the grand stand were Hon. John S. Preston, of Orator of the Day, Hon. George Bancroft, the Historian, Hon. William C. Preston the renowned Orator, and others whom I do not now recall. The oration was very fine, and so was Mr. Bancroft’s address, but the most thrilling occurrence on the stand was the appearance and action of Mr. Wm. C. Preston. After urgent calls from the audience this venerable man assisted to his feet and supported by his crutches, attempted to address the people. His emotion was visibly great as he began in quavering voice to say “There was a time, my fellow citizens, when my tongue could interpret the emotions of my heart in viewing this scene and contemplating the event which you celebrate, but now, this (holding up a crutch), and these (touching the scanty fringe of white hair on his head) must be my excuse”. Mr. Sam’l W. [illegible], a young lawyer of Yorkville, and at this time, one of the eleven Editors of the Yorkville Engineer made a very fine address, by way of introducing the first speaker. I recall the eloquence and graceful delivery of this address

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and also the pretty general criticism that the speaker, from the length and scope of his address, must have assumed that he was the principal feature of the occasion. – Then came the barbecue, managed by Mr. J. Starr Moore of Yorkville and his many assistants from York County. Roasted quarters of beef and pork and mutton, corn bread, wheat bread, and biscuits, chicken pies, other pies, and a profusion of cakes of every kind adorned the long tables, and apparently every body “got a bite”. Immediately thereafter nearly everybody began the homeward journey and the grand celebration was over.

It required some time for the excitement consequent upon the affairs of this event to subside in the quiet community of Yorkville, but finally, matters readjusted themselves into the accustomed grooves, and the celebration came to be regarded as only an episode in our lives. To us, with our designs for building and contracts made, there was serious work to hand. To see the foundation planned, excavations made, brick making begun, rock and lumber brought in and prepared, and at the same time to do our class work and take oversight of our pupils, while we attempted conscientiously

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to read the Law course, filled every minute of our waking hours. Nevertheless, I managed to write two letters a week to “Pink Mantel [sic]”, - although I had often to trot the silent streets of Yorkville at two o’clock in the morning to insure their going by mail. – The insistent demands of our patrons led us to add Latin and Greek to our curriculum, and this necessitated the employment of an assistant whose college diploma covered those languages. Both Jenkins and I had studied Latin and Greek at our preparatory schools, but our Citadel diploma did not cover any study but French, Mathematics and English. – We selected Mr. Cato Ashe Seabrook of Edisto, a recent graduate of the South Carolina College. He was a cousin of Jenkins; but he and Jenkins had not been previously thrown much together. His clean-hearted, unselfish manliness soon won upon us, and established fraternal, rather than merely friendly relations between us.

During the latter part of January I noticed that my friend Jenkins was given to fits of abstraction and restlessness, especially when he saw me writing my weekly letters to Charleston.

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Finally, he announced that it was necessary for him to be absent a few days. I knew that he had one or two sisters at Rev. Legare’s institution at Orangeburg, S.C. and as the time he expected to be absent was not sufficient for him to go to Edisto Island and back, I concluded that he had gone to the former place. On his return to Yorkville he imparted to me the secret of his trip by slapping me on the back and saying, “Ah ha, old fellow, you are no longer the only one to write weekly letters”. He had become engaged to Caroline, the beautiful and accomplished daughter of Gen. D. F. Jamison of Orangeburg. He was so boyishly exultant over his success that I found it necessary on more than one occasion to remind him of his professional dignity. He seemed to think that he ought to get married right away, - that it was all nonsense to wait – he did not believe in long engagements anyhow, &c, &c. I repeated to him my uncle’s advice to me about the cage and the bird. To this he answered that they would only have two months to

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wait for the completion of his wing of the building, and one of those months would be our summer holiday, and he would board in town the other month. This sounded all very well, and began manfully to compete with me in the letter writing and we agreed to alternate in carrying the letters to post at night. As the warm weather was increasing and the night’s growing shorter, his energy began to flag. I often had to wake him up to finish a letter. One night in June and summer fully set in I noticed him nodding over his unfinished letter. “Wake up, old sleepy head. I am almost ready”, I said, giving him at the same time, a somewhat imphatic [sic] kick. “Stop that! you confounded fool! “I don’t see why you inflict all that trash on the girl you profess to love”. “Why man, I think, I am sitting by her side, and am just talking to her. When my prose is too tame, I resort to poetry”. “See here” (I held up a page of doggerel) all metered and rhymed accord. to strictest rules of prosody”. “Poor-i-try, you mean”. I would not insult my girl by asking her to read such stuff”. “Pshaw!” I answered I you are afraid your Carrie might send you a Sapphic ode in Greek, letters and all, and you would have to call on Cato over there to translate it for you? Just then

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the said Cato, with a great guffaw, shouted – “Can’t you heathens shut up, and let a man sleep in this room? That brought an end to the controversy. I closed my epistle; Jenkins closed his. I said to him “Fearing that you might fall asleep on the way to the post office and be found on the side walk, or someones door stop at daylight. I’ll take the letters tonight, although it is your turn. ‘To bed – to bed, Old Sleepy head! before Reveille catches you”. On my return, the room was in darkness, and apparently both were asleep! I believed he blew out the light purposely in revenge.

June approached its end. In consideration of his approaching marriage, Seabrook and I were to remain until the boys were all gone to there [sic] homes, and Jenkins would leave a day or two earlier so as to be in Orangeburg to meet his engagement for the 1st of July. We were to meet him at the Mills House, Charleston on the Fourth First of July. Of course being in possession of my fine horse, which I had named Hero, I desired to have as a part of my holiday pleasure. As he was too precious to travel on foot to Charleston, a distance of over two hundred miles, he had to go as a passenger on rail-road. Putnam cars had not then been invented. Seabrook and my Hero-horse met

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in Charleston as planned, - so also, the groom and bride. The horse was given accommodation at a public stable, and we people at the elegant Mills House. The next morning we saw the young couple safely on board the steamer bound for Edisto Island, and promised to visit them in few days at the summer home of the Jenkins family on Eddings Bay on the sea shore. Col. J. Charles Blum, my prospective uncle in law, having invited me to join his staff on the Fourth of July parade of his regiment, gave me the much appreciated opportunity to show off my fine horse. Hero seemed to live over the glories of his performance at King’s Mountain battle field, the year before. The way he showed the Charleston people and horses how the Cake Walk step should be expected was a thing to linger in memory. A visit to my Uncle, whose summer home was at Cordesville, and frequent rides on horse-back and buggy about Charleston made my holiday pass all too quickly. I had to go back to Yorkville to get every thing in readiness for the opening of the next sessions. Jenkins and bride go into their wing about the promised time. The cadets and proffessors [sic] moved into barracks about a month later. My wing of the building was being [illegible] towards completion by

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the whole working force of the contractors. By October the school was transferred in [illegible] to the new quarters and work progressed smoothly. In November, however, a painful shook came to us. One of our most attractive young pupils was seized with a severe cold; was at once put under medical treatment; but he grew steadily worse and on the fourth day, died. The Doctor said he had never known a case just like it. It resembled Quinzy [sic], as described by the medical works, of which Washington died. I had read about it but was always in doubt as to whether Washington died of the disease or of the excessive blood-letting he insisted on. Both Jenkins and I knew the brothers and sisters of the loveable boy, - the youngest, I think, of the family, and determined that one [of] us ought to accompany the body to his home in Pineville, S.C. On reaching Moncks Corner we were told that I and young Abbott (one of our older cadets who I carried with me to represent to the corps of cadets) were to spend the night at Pinopolis with Mr. Wm. Cain. This venerable, and dignified gentleman was there with his carriage, but the body was carried to a station further on. I spent a very profitable evening in Pinopolis, for Mr. Cain was [an] intimate friend and enthusiastic admirer of Mr. Calhoun and gave me

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much [illegible] on his views and personality. As I had been a diligent student of Calhoun’s works as a cadet at the Citadel, and could recite pages of them from memory. The evening passed most profitably to me at least. The next morning we were carried to Pineville and the church near the R. R. station of St. Stephen’s, to spend the night with Mr. J. J. Palmer. So ended my sad mission. Young Abbott was sent back to Yorkville by way of Sumter, so he could spend a day at home and I took the Charleston route, to encounter the less sad duty of equipping my “Cage”. My prospective Mother-in-law laid aside her many duties to go with me to Furniture, Carpet, and Crockery stores, and it was well for me, she did. For I should have run myself into irretrievable debt, had I attempted the job alone. In the distribution of my fathers Estate most of the furniture, table and bed linens were assigned to his widow and as we two boys would have no need of them for many years. Besides, I thought a new house ought to have every thing new in it, and every space appropriately filled: “Get every thing needful for immediate use and no more”, she said. “All other things – can be provided as needed, and you will know just what to get, and be sure to get them with an eye to service and not for mere show”! Bless her heart and good sense.

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When I came to add up the bills I found she had saved me from initial bankruptcy. On my return to York., I found no time for idleness and even less for reading law. There was one book in the prescribed course I had not yet opened, [illegible] on Remainders, I think it was. But Col. Wilson who was our director said that it was rather a book for Reference than of fundamental principles and that in a month of reading at any time we could be ready for examination. As the 19th of September was now past I was all intent on taking the Degrees of Masonry. Before I could send in my application I had to give the assurance that I was a man, free born, of lawful age, and under the tongue of good report. As I could now give this assurance in full, Seabrook and I took the First Degree in November. Jenkins had to wait until after his natal anniversary Dec. 1st. As the 20th of December was rapidly approaching, I was almost in a fever of impatience to get my wing of the building in good order for the coming of the bridal party. Carpets were laid, furniture unpacked and settled in their places, and irons, tongs and shovels, fenders, polished and wood cut, for quick fires and servants quartered and instructed as to their several duties, all these to be personally looked after, and the daily grind of school duties religiously discharged made me think with Bacon, “The duties of Life, are more than Life”

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Life”. – In those the journey from York to Charleston took about 24 hours. I arrived there and took quarters in the Charleston Hotel, where all my groomsmen were to join me at dinner, on the momentous 25th of December A.D. 1856. The morning of that day I had to hunt up Uncle James, and notify the interested party in Mary Street. As the telephone had not come into existence the most expeditious way to discharge this duty was to hire a carriage and go in person. I found Uncle James at the house of his married daughter, Mrs. O. F. Folker. He promised faithfully to be on hand at the appointed hour. My visit to Mary Street, was not so free from embarrassment for when I announced my arrival, it was intimated to me social customs, of age-long sanctity, forbade the meeting of the engaged couple, until or before the minister for the performance of the ceremony. While I was trying to digest this ridiculous custom I heard a step and a laugh on the third story landing of the stairway. Of course it took but a few flying steps to reach that landing. I went to the hotel to interview the chef about party for dinner charged him to to have everything secundum artem. My groomsmen were promptly up to time. I remember how solicitous they were about my sobriety. Seabrook

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had brought a bottle of twelve year old Madeira wine from his father’s cellar to grace the occasion. This was sipped around in thimble glasses; but when I began to order champagne and sauterne, there was a general kick. Finally they compromised one bottle of champagne drunk from sherry glasses. They seemed to think that it was their duty to see that I was safely delivered to the minister’s presence in a safe sound, respectable condition. By 5 o.c. p.m. we had [illegible] through the dinner and it was about time to take a bath, and begin to put on the wedding garments. Doubts about the boots flashed in my mind as I went to my room for I was now to pull them on for the first time. Mr. Derrer, our shoemaker in Yorkville, had asked the privilege a making them a month before I left York, and sent them in the night before I started for Charleston. It was and dandy pair, - patent-leather footing and morocco leggings, and done up in the finest work of sartorial art. After sorting out my supply sacks to find the [illegible], and thanks to the liberal supply of powdered soapstone, I, at length succeeded in getting my [illegible] securely [illegible] and completed my [illegible]. Some of my groomsmen road with me to the house so as to take away all excuse for dodging such as the driver missed the way, etc. etc.

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Uncle James was already on the spot, and was pleasantly engaged in chatting with the sprightly, handsome, married sister of the bride. I heard him say to her “But why did you select this day of the whole year”. Hundreds of negroes on the plantations have three day holiday now, and in the absence of the white people, they are apt to run into trouble. Did you fear you would forget the day? I was married on the – day of February and never did forget it”! I felt in [sic] was time to break in. “But you, Uncle, your anniversaries were purely selfish; nobody celebrated them but yourself. Our anniversary will be celebrated every year by the whole world”. The call for the Groom was made just then, and I left him to digest that until I came down with the Bride and stood up solemnly before dear old Doctor Bachman. Just as the ring was adjusted he began a solemn lecture and boots began to make themselves felt. By frequent shifting my weight from foot to foot I managed to hold my position until the blessing and the kissings were over. After this came the supper which [illegible] really a feast. Walking about the boots too busy to confine themselves to one spot; but laid up trouble for the pulling off that had to take place about 2 o’c. in the morning. My advice to young folks is – Don’t trust

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to undertake the marriage ceremony unless you have a well tested, comfortable pain of footwear. Otherwise, you will have a very distracting time in getting through with it. The next day we were told that not [illegible words] to be seen on the streets the “morning after” and the afternoon was taken up entirely in receiving the visits and congratulations of the “sisters and the cousins, and the aunts”. The First Appearance, still according to social rule, was made of course, in the Lutheran Church so that Dr Bachman could see for himself that the knot[illegible], he had so elaborately tied Christmas night, was still securely fast. The next day was devoted to piano for of course the [illegible] would not be complete without provision for music. Should fingers that had been kept busy for at least ten years following the intricacies of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Talberg [sic], [illegible] and many others in instrumental work, and voice that had been framed by the methods of Bajioli and La Blache and sang in the [illegible] of Hayden, handel, Rossini and work of that class drop everything all at once because the owner of the voice and fingers was to take up the duties of a wife and – a mother after a while? No indeed. [Illegible] if I must, but music I must have. So we bought a Dunham, of full resonant tone

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and reported durability on the recommendation of Mr. L. Hambruch, her late teacher on the piano.

As I had promised to be back at work, Jan. 1st we started for Yorkville on Tuesday. For company Mrs. Blum carried her grand-daughter, Florence [Illegible], a somewhat precocious little chit about six years old, whom I claimed, to be my chaperone. At Columbia where we stopped for the night, I thought Mrs. Blum’s countenance began to have, a serious cast. The next morning she inquired, How much farther do we have to go? I told her about 88 miles if the links did not break, or become unpinned. At Killians Mill 10 or 12 miles beyond Columbia this very thing happened. A link of the connecting chain of the cars broke and the locomotive, followed by its tender was making its way towards the next station beyond; and we in one of the cut off coaches found ourselves come to full stop. While every body was commenting on the mishap, blowing their fingers (for it was becoming cold) and felicitating ourselves that we had passed a mill without falling in it we heard the whistle of the returning locomotive which discovered that the tail was not following her after [illegible words] light several miles. The President of the road, Mr. William Johnson, was among the cut off. By this incident we lost only about a half hour of

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schedule time. When we arrived at Chester and were told by the conductor to change cars for Yorkville, Mrs. Blum could not refrain from asking “Where is the man carrying my child?” I suppose she felt very much as the men who accompanied Columbus on his first voyage to America when they discovered that their magnetic needle had gone dead, that they had reached the rim of the world. She was told that the distance was only twenty-two miles, and we would be there by four o’clock. The journey was shortened by the many [illegible] jokes of conductor [Illegible]. Although the jokes were mirthful, they were always told with a mirthless face. I always considered him a true friend. The train finally stopped, not to change cars, but because it was then the terminus of the K. M. & R. R. -. York’s private coach to travel into foreign parts. The hotel bus driven by Primus Whitt invited us to take seats, our trunks &c would be delivered by wagon. Primus evidently regarded this as a red letter day of his life; and often reminded me that he was the first man in York to put me and my bride on the threshold of my home.

I confess a feeling of pride surged through me as we turned into the front gate of the lot, and got a full view of the majestic building we two boy’s had erected. I say, boys, for I was then three months passed my twenty first birthday and now a man, a voter, a Mason, and a married man. Jenkins

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had been a married for just six months, - a voter for just one month and not yet a Mason. I did not neglect to twit him for his boyish greediness in taking his cake first. However, the bubble of pride was somewhat pricked as I entered the door. The rooms insufficiently furnished, the [illegible] bare, white walls, the total bareness of a new unoccupied house, - the want of anything like hominess was oppressive. However, my good mother-in-law, so relieved that I had not gone over the rim of the world with her child, took everything in good part, assuring me she would have it all homey in a day or two; - all except the chimney, which the bricklayer only could remedy. The wood was all oak, and the smoke quite pungent was puffing out in little wisps from too many side drafts, and unwilling to travel up the cold flew provided for it.

The next morning, Jan. 1st 1857, we were up early enough to see the white frost glittering every where around, and our first breakfast in the house was to be eaten. This breakfast was worthy of remembrance, for the bride was to learn her first lesson in housekeeping and homemaking. The young wife had to summon up all her courage and self-control, Ma had said we must begin as we expect to continue. She went at the task with such meticulous care, that if any of us had summarily specified

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how much sugar we like in our coffee, she would counted [sic] grains one by one. The ordeal for her was passed, - and for good. Breakfast over, I went over to the office to start work. I had promised that I would be back on the first of January, and here I was. It was all a silly notion that a man had to have a month, honey mooning after so simple a thing as a marriage ceremony. Seabrook grinned, Law chuckled, and Jenkins frowned, and his lips put on the determined look of an intention to pay me back in some way.

The morning was soon passed in arranging the daily scheme for recitations, examining new pupils, assigning them to classes, rooms, and companies, &c. Dinner time came and went back to the Cage to see how my bird was getting on. I found the “Bird” with a work apron on, and every body, especially the servants working at something. Her energetic mother had found something for every one to do, and the bleakness of the new house was changed into well ordered comfort. We progressed every day, and as the piano arrived and articles of furniture arrived, - all found their appropriate place ready for them.

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* Little Florence was left behind to keep company for her aunt during the absorbing hours her busy husband was engaged in schoolwork. It would have been a dreary time for her to be all alone so many hours a day. I, of course, was too busy to stay in the house except at meal times. Florence kept her quite busy. I recall that on one occasion, she was told to remain in the room for some naughtiness, she sat in the window and called to cadets passing on the lawn, “See me, I am in arrest to-day”.

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By the first of February 1857, Mrs. Blum, and little Florence * had gone back to Charleston. A garden had been laid out, a small orchard had been planted, a fowl house provided with occupants, a cow was introduced and a pig or two put in a pen to keep the food scraps from accumulating. Many social calls had been received and returned and we began to feel that we had married all our lives. In this sweet serenity we passed the snows and blizzards of March and looked towards the coming of spring with nothing but hopes and satisfaction.

But alas! Absent the middle of April there came a rude awakening from my dreams of comfort and ease. While busy with our classes the cry of Fire! Was heard, and a moment we saw flames breaking out in the roof of the Mess hall directly over the cooking stove of the kitchen. Of course it was easy to account for the origin of the fire, a defective flue of the stove pipe, between the ceiling and the roof. In about half an hour the Fire Department appeared with their little fire apparatus worked with hand breaks. But our wells were too deep to be available and the engine had to be filled by bucket-brigade. Fortunately, only the roof and part of the

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ceiling. All the tables and chairs, and most of the crockery ware was saved, - even the cooking stove. Thanks to the activity of Quarter Master and the town baker, Mr. [Illegible] and his energetic wife the boys did not lose a meal. For the dinner, which was due at the time the fire was going on, an abundant snack was substituted. The Mess Hall was was [sic] transferred to one of the large class rooms at the foot of the stairway. By some compacting and easy rearrangement of the scheme of Recitations, work went to the end of the session without further interruption. That evening we decided to rebuild at once of brick and stone. The next morning I had the plans all drawn for a new Mess Hall, with a separate kitchen absolutely fireproof, and ready to submit to contractors. Mr. Hare bid for the Masonry work. In fact, for the whole work.

and lumber for the Much of the quarried stone and much of the lumber left over from the Main Building was already on hand and a very [illegible] days the bids were in our hands. Besides the mess hall, the two wooden kitchens, one to each wing were to be moved farther from the main building and replaced with brick

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was burnt. The tables, chairs, & all the crockery and even the cooking stove were saved. As you all have seen this amendment to our ambitious venture, it is not necessary to describe them. The whole cost of this amendment was about $6000. Some of it could be met by our school revenue, - the rest by tapping again our home revenue. At any rate this fire and consequential expenses was a good lesson to both of us in the chapter of prudence and economy. On the destroyed property we had no insurance. Work was immediately begun, and we arranged for a longer vacation between the sessions of that year. When the second session opened with a hundred and twenty pupils the work was practically complete; - we had reached the limit of our accommodation, and experienced the luxury of a waiting list. We were all glad for the coming of vacation.

The vacation was signalized by Jenkins becoming a Father. He was absent at the time; for the momentous event took place in Orangeburg. She had gone there to be with her mother on the first anniversary of her marriage. Naturally, this put a new feather in young father’s cap. We did not see the new prodigy before the vacation of six weeks was over.

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We spent that vacation in Charleston, to assure your mother’s friends and relatives that I had not taken her beyond the limits of civilization. She had been beyond the limits of Charleston atmosphere, it is true, but the change had produced no injurious effect. We were just a well suited pair of newly weds, still satisfied that we had made no mistake in choosing each other, and ready to receive all the belated congratulations of our friends. There were many enjoyable incidents of this vacation, such as our visit to Uncle James’ summer home in Cordesville, and a few days at a the splendid new hotel, The Moultrie House, located a short distance from Fort Moultrie, on Sullivans Island. This hotel was then under the personal management of Mr. Nicholson, who had made the Mill’s House in Charleston, so famous as a house of entertainment. Nevertheless we were glad enough to get back to the home cage in Yorkville.

Of course the opening number of the new session was the making the acquaintance of the young Micah John Jenkins. So named in honor of himself, Micah, - of his Father, and of his oldest brother, John. The latter did not like the combination, and thought it would be better as one word, - Mr. John [illegible], easier to say and

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to remember, as one word, than as two, the two did not coalesce readily. But two it was, - and two it remained.

Things proceeded smoothly, as the session went on. Nearly every day brought some new fact of pedagical [sic] experience for us to meet. So we were still learners, - if professional teachers. The old adage, “Live and Learn”, seemed to have a special application to the teacher’s profession. Here, I am tempted to turn aside and prosily moralize a bit: But I forbear. This writing was to give only a brief narrative of my life, about things of which you could know nothing, because you were yet unborn. About

About the middle of December, Mrs. Blum came back to us on a short visit ostensibly to see for herself how we young folks were getting on and to further instruction we needed on the important subject of homemaking.

Then the atmosphere of the place seemed gradually to change. A feeling of expectancy became to creep over us. New arrangements were suggested as necessary, in fact, that a great event was about to occur and all proper arrangements must be made to meet it. It was not merely to be with us on the first anniversary of our wedding day, nor of the day of our first occupancy of the new home. Both of these days came; but the expectancy

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cloud was deepening every day. Finally, on the 13th of January I was told to send for the family physician, Dr. Barron, to help solve the mysterious dread. After many hours of patient prudence the mystery was solved by the appearance of a perfectly formed, healthy looking girl baby. As the names of Father and Mother had come to us, it was natural that a name should be promptly found for the newcomer. It took but little time to find this name, Sarah Rebecca, it should be, after the dear Sister who had such influence over me during my boyhood.

The addition of the title father, to my other attained titles, namely Man, Mason, Husband, Father, seemed to complete the stages of complete manhood. It remained now only to show what I should do with the completed structure.

Being now a man of family it seemed proper that I should put everything on a strictly family footing. Hero should have a companion, the buggy should be laid aside and a family carriage substituted therefor. The latter requisition could be easily filled; but it was difficult to find a match for Hero, in point of grace and and [sic] character. I had to content myself with similar of coloring, and bought from Maj. Brigg a horse of

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approximate color marking.

In spite of evening colics and sprouting teeth the little girl grew in cuteness, weight, and precocity right along. Of course, when summer vacation came, she had to see Charleston, and Charleston had to see her. So there we went, and also to Cordesville for Uncle James and family to properly appreciate what the Coward crowd could do. Throughout the visit Miss Sally behaved like a well bred little lady and won [illegible] every where. Mrs. Blum promised to visit us again in December and bring a child’s nurse with her. She was very particular in choosing one, for scarlet fever had broken in Charleston about that time. She arrived with Heloise Massot her oldest grand daughter early in December. In two or three days Heloise showed signs of cold with slight fever, in a short time little Salley [sic] showed similar symptoms and the Doctor was summoned. He said the symptoms indicated scarlet fever. Heloise recovered entirely in about ten a week, but little Sally grew steadily worse; but lingered on until Jan 8th 1858, when she left us. I can’t attempt to describe the grief and desolation that followed her departure.

In the fall just before Mrs. Blum came and much for her satisfaction, we got Mr. Schorb to take a daguerreotype picture of her, which Mrs. H. [illegible] of Charleston amplified in a pastel which you all know. The colors are as fresh to-day as they were

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when I received it from her hand.

The latter part of February or early in March I received notice that Uncle James was very sick. I left home at once and reached Charleston the same night. Mr. Massot kindly proffered his stout pony to make the rest of the journey crossing over to Mt. Pleasant by the first trip of the ferry boat. I took the road to [illegible] on the Wando River, and had to wait a half hour for the ferry flat. Across the Wando, the country and the roads were familiar to me and I rode steadily but carefully to save pony. I arrived at Fishbrook where the uncle James was now staying, about 4 o’c. in the afternoon. He had [illegible] his nephew, John Coward, to take charge at Silk Hope, in January. He had already resigned all his engagements along the river. The physician in the city had given no hope of his recovery. It was evident to me that he’d but a short time live; but with care he might last a couple of weeks longer. I spent the night by his bedside. In his wakeful moments he told me many things he wanted me to remember after his death. Among other things, he told me to stop at [illegible] plantation and [illegible] the head carpenter to look in. The right hand

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corner of the barn loft for the pine boards he had laid away several years ago, out which he the carpenter was to make his coffin. He wanted made plain, I advised him to make his will so that there would be no confusion after he left us and also begged him to forgive his daughter [illegible]. I left about sunrise, so that I could catch the train next day for York., and promised to be back in a week or ten days if I did not hear of his being better. In a few days after reaching home a short letter from Mr. Folker, his son in law, told me that it was, thought, the end was near at hand, and his wife Eugenia had gone that day to be with him at the last and he himself would follow in two or three days. I immediately took measures to keep my class work going, so that might be absent for a fortnight. Arriving in Charleston I had to impose again on Mr. Massot for the use of the pony. On reaching Fishbrook I found Uncle James [illegible] weak, but entirely conscious. He needed constant attention. He thought the medicine was far too active, but I was convinced that it was the last stage of a [illegible] and I did [illegible] he expired the next night. He had made his will and

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was ready to go. The house was somewhat crowded for the members of both families – his and Aunt Martha’s – that could come were there. While every one was willing to assist they seemed to look to me for directions. With the assurance of Old Jane, the cook and the house boy, Peter, I cleansed dressed and prepared the body for the coffin. The coffin was brot [sic] during the next day. It was made of the boards he had himself selected. It was neatly lined with white cloth. The handles were silvered and the screws were all silver plated, and the simple name plate. The wood on the outside was stained walnut color. I found myself near the point of nervous collapse, - three whole days and three nights without a wink of sleep was bringing me to the brink. I went to bed leaving the others to meet the neighborly calls and the details of the funeral. (You must forget that neighbors meant, to people resident in the country, a ride in buggy, carriage, or horseback of rom three to fifteen miles at least.

He was interred by the side of his wife at the plantation graveyard, in front of the house of her uncle, Mr. Phillips, and probably the house from which they were married.

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* The words perhaps needs some explanation. It is quite common in York; but I do remember hearing it elsewhere. It is an observed fact that in late springtime, a gander will be found standing on one leg by the margin of a brook, or pond, apparently lost in contemplation, of the additional mouths to feed, bodies to look after and little brain’s to train in all important goose-like ways. He anxiously estimates how long each pond and brook will supply the daily demands for frog [illegible] tadpoles and minnows; every now and then he steps with dignified steps to count the number of eggs [illegible words], and that mother-goose is faithfully doing her duty in keeping the yellow goslings warm.

To say, of a man that was Gandering [sic], or standing on one foot when he was in analogous condition of expectancy was well understood in York. This condition occurred to me so often that I must refer you to the family Bible where they are recorded.

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After the burial, I went home with Uncle Sam. Lynes and pony was called on to carry only himself, the saddle being carried in the buggy. Uncle Sam was then living at his own plantation, Kebbleworth, about three miles from Monck’s Corner. The next morning Pony and I took the train at Oakley, N.E.R.R. and arrived Charleston about ten A.M. The next day Mr. Folker and I met at Probate court to prove the will and qualify as Executors, &c. These things done, now to return to Yorkville and resume my regular work. I found plenty to do, - and soemthings to undo. But things went on without incident to the time for vacation. I was not in a hurry to go to Charleston on the first day of holiday or even the first week for there was some uncertainty about when I could come back, - To tell the truth, I was gandering * again.

When we did go back to the city, there were a few things I had to attend to as one of the executors but they were easily and satisfactorily attended and the thing was in the waiting – standing on one foot – even after the session had started in Yorkville. Finally the 9th of September came and with it came, another little Sally, perfectly developed and normal in size; but unfortunately some important

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valve in the heart had failed to close properly. After a few struggles to breathe, the baby closed its eyes became quiet, and then pale. The Doctor pronounced it dead. The three deaths that befell us in the nine months of the year 1858, made memorable as the year of sorrows. The only distraction, not mitigation, was found in the intensity of work, varied work, - work as a student as well as an operator in my chosen profession. Jenkins in the north wing had been more fortunate in his family experience. Both of his little boys were strong and healthy restless and active. The winter holiday being limited to Christmas week we spent in Yorkville. The following 1859 found us still with a full school and still enjoying a waiting list. About February a startling issue came upon us in the shape of an epidemic of measles. As the rooms in the main building were now filled to capacity we had to use a building on a neighboring lot which I had bought a few months before and the thirty or more affected boys over there. We were fortunate also secure Mrs. Whitt to take charge of the hospital, and give what servants and facilities as she might need. Only one serious case gave us much concern. A boy from Newberry Co. supposed be convalescent. In a few

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Hour after he had sneaked out of his bed and helped himself to a handful of snow that boy on the floor of [illegible words] his became insensible from congestion of the stomach. After the measles abated, he got strong enough to go home and I thinks got ultimately well.

Matters went on smoothly the rest of the year. In the last half, we had Dr. Gillmore Simms to deliver before the school his course of lectures on The Ante-Colonial History of South Carolina. Several gentlemen of the town became interested in them and requested him deliver some of the lectures in the York Court House. Among these gentlemen I remember were Col. W. B. Wilson, Mr. W A Latta, Col. R. G. McCaw, who had him to dinner parties at their homes, as well as Jenkins and I. His talks at these dinner parties were greatly enjoyed, for he was a ready and fluent talker on such occasions; - sometimes he degenerated into a monologue.

In January, the first year of my third decade, 1860 new issues began to excite the public mind throughout the State, in fact throughout the United States. It was the year for the Presidential nomination, and there general [illegible] of the fires of feeling that was only partially [illegible] and

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By the compromise of the nullification question, and had agitated the [illegible] in great cooperation attempt that was about to close when I entered the Citadel in 1851. Other States declined to cooperate then and another compromise had been invented. There had been new party alignments made. The Democratic was to be held in Charleston and the State was getting into a political [illegible]. Early in the this year I was called to make the annual Address to the Association of Graduates on Commencement Day in April. I jotted down some notes in pencil, but with my habit of procrastination I had not copied the half of my speech before pneumonia broke out in the school. The most serious of the cases were [illegible] R. K. Thomas, a recent graduate from the Citadel, one of the assistant professors, a modest, loveable fellow, and cadet from Fort Motte. Of course there being no trained nurses to be had in those days, even of the [illegible words] order Jenkins and I had to do the best we could. With the cadet the threatened to take on the Typhoid character and Dr. Barron resorted to the treatment recently introduced, of reducing the hearts action with the administration of Veratrum [illegible]. This required a careful dosing of two or three days every half hour as the symptoms indicated. The boy’s mind was wandering and threatening to jump out of [illegible].

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With the assistance a helper, Ellison Burton, an intelligent colored man, and the effect of the medicine the fever abated and he became rational. Convalescence began but progress was slow. Young Thomas was still quite sick and I thought I would have to give up the speech I was to make. Law kindly offered to put it ink for me, so I put of [illegible] the decision about going to Charleston to the last possible moment. The morning preceding Commencement day at daylight I went over to see the conditions existent and found all favorable; young Hane had slept well and was and [sic] entirely sane, Thomas had passed a very quiet night and his fever had considerably abated, and gave me some message for his brother. I left in the early train and reached Charleston about two o’clock the next morning. Well I made the speech and was proud to note that one in the graduating class of that year was one of our former Cadets at K.M.M.S. During the afternoon, I attended the business meeting of the Association. The secretary had just read a resolution of thanks to me for the “able, thoughtful and eloquent address” I had delivered before them that day and requesting a copy for publication. Of course, I modestly suppressed my gratification, a telegram was announced for me, and one for the secretary

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Capt. J. P. Thomas. I was almost aghast to read in mind that R. K. Thomas had died that morning. A sudden change, and had sank rapidly. The body would be taken to Winnesboro S.C. for internment the next day. This sad event cast quite a gloom over the whole atmosphere of the school; which was not lightened until the close of the first session of the year. The second session opened, there was a slightly diminished number in consequence of the class just graduated; but more by the loss of several older boys having been elected officers of their home companies; for these companies were being formed in every part of the State in anticipation of serious political trouble. The Democratic Convention, had nominated J. C. Breckinridge of Ky. A section of it has nominated Stephen A. Douglas of Michigan. Another party made of fragments of the old Whig party nominated _ Bell of Tennessee. The Black Republicans made of abolitionists and the scum that had drifted in from foreign countrys [sic] put in nomination Abraham Lincoln of Illinois. This last party were the most dreaded, and seemed to have the best prospects of success.

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* note. Read the following books – viz.
Elliott’s Debates on The Constitution, in the Convention
Elliott’s Debates on The Constitution in the States
Calhoun’s, On Government and Treatise on the Constitution of the US
Curry – The South and Constitution.
Woodrow Wilson, State and Federal Constitutions
Story – on the Constitution
History of So. Ca. – under colonial conditions.
Proprietary, Royal, and State
Ramsey, Simms and McRady.

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The issue was now clearly drawn, and it only the final decision of the general election in November. *

But I am not discussing political history, I am simply trying to make you acquainted connected with some of the facts, incidents, &c. in the life of your father, before you knew him… Capt. R. H. Glenn, of a volunteer company, in the Bethel section of York County invited us to participate in a public meeting to be held at [illegible] Hill Church, to memorialize the heroes from that section who were killed during the Revolution, and were buried in the graveyard of that Church. We promptly accepted and with the Jasper Light Infantry of the town undertook to march there. (about eight miles with all the paraphernalia and ceremonies of actual service. We pitched tents and established sentinel posts with all the serious particulars of regular soldiers. The next morning we rendered the solemn tribute to the long dead veterans who had been buried without the farewell honors by valleys of musketry. This duty performed, we were getting ready to attend the speaking when a [sic] unpleasant occurrence took place in the camp of the cadets. A group of three or four large men from the neighborhood sauntering about thought they would see how the tents looked inside, how they slept and generally how the little boys were fixed up,

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to sleep out of doors, - a mere visit of curiosity. The sentinel called Halt! as he was instructed, and came to the “charge bayonet”. One of the men, persisted in advancing and in a rather amused way, took hold of the bayonet to push it out of his way. A prompt explosion of the musket was heard and the gentleman found himself with a burnt hand a lost finger. Of course, there resulted quite a commotion, and thoughtless threats were made. It seems that the blank cartridge was in a gun used in firing the volleys at the grave. The wounded saw that he had foolishly caused the accident to himself. Matters quieted down and the signal was sounded for assembly at the stand. I think the speaker was a Dr. Campbell of the Bethel neighborhood. The address tinctured with the prevailing feelings of the times, was followed by a dinner of the usual Barbecue type. That afternoon we marched to Yorkville without further incident.

Later in the Fall we thought it would be well to make a personal canvas through the Eastern part of the State. Accordingly, I took my wife to Charleston, I began my itinerary in the following places, which in these days could be reached by rail-road. Camden, Sumter, Darlington, Cheraw, Marion and Georgetown – (by stage from Gourdin’s) In all of

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one or more old acquaintances which made my trip very enjoyable. Seabrook met me in Charleston to make the trip to Florida. We took in Fernandina, Jacksonville, Palatka, St. Augustine nearly all of them by steamboats, and started by rail from Jacksonville to Savannah. Seabrook had arranged for his fathers row-boat to meet a Jacksonboro on the Edisto, to spend two or three days with his family on Sampson’s Island. The pleasure that row-boat trip I can stop to describe. The boat from a single cypress stem, lines [illegible] as if for races propelled by eight sturdy taught how to handle oars. As they started singing their boat songs, half religious, half funny, we slid down the river as if in a poppy dream. I was sorry when the eighteen or twenty miles came to an end. A duck hunt the next day with gratifying success, a home Sabbath when Episcopal Morning Prayer was read by the oldest Sister and a pleasant neighbor from an adjoining island left me ready to start for Charleston Monday loaded with wild ducks, and beautiful [illegible] flower.

The return trip being against the current of the river was slower than than [sic] the other and required more effort at the oars, but the singing took on a more vivacious temp and time

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for the train to be at Jacksonboro Station was safely made.

On arrival in Charleston I learned that both the Gen. Assembly, and the Convention that had been ordered by it were holding sessions in their city in consequence of the prevalence of small-pox in Columbia, and that the Ordinance of Secession was passed. The formal signing of the Ordinance was to be in the Institute Hall on the night of the 20th of December – the night after my arrival. It was a solemn impressive scene – this dignified withdrawal from union with other states with whom we had associated for over three fourths of a century. An immediate call upon the citizens of the State, by Proclamation by the Governor F. W. Pickens was made, to create an Army, Navy, Treasury and an invitation to other slave holding States to unite with us to and and [sic] agree upon terms for the formation of a league of independent States, separate from the United States. It was a protest against the [illegible] upon the Constitution as understood by our forefathers when the [sic] made that instrument. All the Volunteer Companies in the State immediately proffered services to the State and were accepted promptly and were grouped

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into regiments as soon as possible. Generally they were assigned to regiment by the old grouping of counties for Congressional representation. The Jasper Light Infantry of the town, and, of course Jenkins and Seabrook at the same time, were entered into the service of the State and subject to the order of the Adjutant General of the State. This left the entire management of the school upon me. Arrangement were made to supply Seabrook’s place by the employment of a Dr. Read, an Oxford man, who came with Rev. J. Stoney, as [illegible] of his boys, Jenkins’ work was provided for by the redistribution of classes. The latest addition to the corps of teachers, J. D. Jamison who had returned from Paris where he had spent several months to acquire the latest and best in the way of current pronunciation and colloquial [illegible] to take up French. Relieved entirely of teaching French, I took charge of the advanced Mathematics. The companies were to elect Field Officers. Jenkins was elected Colonel, of the Fifth Regiment of Volunteers. The [sic] were ordered to rendezvous at Washington Race Tract, Charleston early in April, and in a day or two sent over to Sullivan’s Island and to occupy Fort Moultrie and other strategic points in the neighborhood. You may well imagine

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my state of mind, when and after the bombardment of Fort Sumter began. But I was restrained by obvious duty to the parents of boys at our school and [illegible] to hold on until the end of the session in June. A great pressure was brought to bear on me to continue the school for the year, but I could not bring myself to continue it in operation longer than six weeks. Accordingly, I [illegible] for the six weeks prolongation of the of the [sic] session. Meanwhile a Provincial Government of the seceded states some eleven in number, had been made with a tentative Constitution had been made. Virginia had seceded, and it was evident the war was to begin in that state. All State troops had to be re-enlisted for one year and in the Confederacy. The Fifth Regiment was in consequence re-organized and sent to Virginia. In camp near Richmond a few at Richmond and now at Manassas Station near Bull Run.

On the last of June I carried my wife to her family in the city, and hastened to Virginia. Every body seemed to think the one big battle would [illegible] the issue between the two sections of the country. I was afraid the battle would be over before I could get there, in other words, I was suffering from the common craze – “spoiling for a fight”. A fight had occurred at

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at Big Bethel Va. and public excitement was now at white heat. Troops were hurrying to Yorktown, Manassas and Harpers Ferry. I found Jenkins and his regiment forming a brigade with two regiments from Mississippi. The camp was named Camp Walker, about a mile from Bull Run Creek and about two miles N.E. from the R. Rd. Station. I had carried no arms and expected to borrow a spare gun and go into the fight as a private in the 5th Regiment as so told Jenkins. The next morning he took me to visit Gen. D.R. Jones his brigade commander, whose tent tents [sic] were a few yards in rear of his own and on a slight hill which gave a fine view of Camp Walker. When we were about to leave the General kindly invited to act as Volunteer Aide-de-Camp. I told him I had no arms, or horse, or suitable uniform. He said that he had two riding horses and seldom had use for than one at a time, and I that could use the other at any time needed. I gladly accepted his offer, and make use of me in any capacity. He said he would have the order published the next day announcing my position on his staff and further invited to join his staff mess. Jenkins had his man servant Old Ben with him to look after his horse and as chef of his mess and he suggested that I send for

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Charles [Illegible], a young colored man, whom we bought from Mr. William Latta of Yorkville the year we occupied the new building. Charles was wild to come and take care of me, and I must say for him, he staid [sic] with me faithfully to the last. A day or two after my interview with Gen. Jones he told me that he was making an application for my appointment as his Adjutant General in the field and would like for me to take it in person to Mr. Davies. I had already written for Charles and my horse. Charles and the horse passed me on the road to Richmond. I know that Charles would a great addition to the mess and would thus earn his keep. The President received me with courtesy, read the note, asked me a few pertinent questions, endorsed something on the note, dropped it in a large basket and smilingly offered his hand. This I knew ment [sic] I wish you well, make room for someone else in the crowd at the door.

I bought a saddle, bridle, sabre [illegible] and a red sash of red [illegible], and to bed still dreaming that fighting was going on somewhere and was not doing my share. I was at the Station an hour before time for the train to start. On arriving at Camp Walker [illegible] the tents all empty a dozen or more soldiers scattered about care takers of the tents and company property. Putting

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my new Mexican saddle and bridle on Pythias. I mounted and hastily rode toward Bull Run. Going along at an easy gallop, I saw three or four men covered with canteens coming from the front. All at once, I found myself standing on both feet with arms in my hand. Pythias was [illegible] inquiringly at the men as if inquiring of what the [illegible] flash meant that struck him in the eye. Of course it was the reflection of the afternoon sun from an uncovered canteen. I heard one of the men say as they passed “By [illegible], fellows, did you see that?” “That was the greatest gettin off a horse at half speed I ever seen”. I was busy adjusting my stirrup leathers, as if nothing [illegible] had happened.

Now let me introduce to the General and his staff.

Brig. Gen. David Rumph Jones, born in Orangeburg Co. S.C. His father moved to Dooly Co. Ga. when David was an infant. Got a Congressional appointment to West Point Academy, - graduated from there in time to enter the war with Mexico, made [illegible] Capt. U.S.A. – was at some post with West Company when the State seceded. Beauregard requested his appointment a Adjutant on his staff while he was in command in Charleston. Was made Brigadier when the Confederate Army was sent to Virginia.

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His wife was a niece of Gen. Zachary Taylor, and cousin of Pres. Davis first wife.

Joseph W. Ford, aide de camp, was from Georgetown S.C.
E. N. Thurston, of Charleston, ordnance officer.
Phillip Jones, Volunteer Aid, had to the V.M.I. His father a plantation on the Rapidan Va.
Erasmus Taylor, a planter on the Rappahannock, Ass’t. in the Qr. Masters department
F. G. Latham a first lieutenant in 5th Regt S.C. Vols, detailed to officialize [sic] all orders from Brigade headquarters, as acting Adjt. General
[Illegible words] from N. Orleans as volunteer aide.

I found the General and staff occupying the McLean house a short distance from the run about a half mile from the [illegible] of that name. The three regiments and a section of the Washington Artillery, two smooth bore four pounders, were in bivouac in the flat land around the house. The enemy was now in sight, about one mile from [illegible] Ford, at the margin of the [illegible] S.E. of Centreville. Gen. Bonham with his brigade was parked at Mitchell’s Ford, Gen. St. George Cooke at the [illegible words] and the ford on the left; Gen. Evans with the brigade of Bee and [illegible] at the Stone Bridge. Some cavalry for observation was

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in position at [illegible] Ford. Manassas Station was evidently his strategic point in his onward march to Richmond. Two routes were open to him for attaining this point; e. c. by turning our right flank at Union Mills [illegible words] the of McLean’s Ford; - or our left at Stone Bridge on the 16th of July he began a reconnaissance by advancing on the road to Blackburne’s Ford by advancing his troops after Artillery fire and found Longstreet there to stop him. Unfortunately the creek in its binding [illegible] had its concave bend next to the enemy, a bluff of considerable height. If he could reach it he would be able to control for considerable distance the territory beyond. His troops failing to move Longstreet from his position and [illegible] the tree covered bluff commenced a heavy bombardment which inflicted much damage on our part of reserved artillery and reserved our own artillery was too light to reach him. The next two or three days he spent in getting in position to attempt the other route by the Stone Bridge. The battle order we received the night of the 20th of July [illegible] the following viz: Ewell’s brigade was to advance from his position at Union Mills taking the main road to Centreville, Jones with his brigade to follow and support Ewell, Holmes to occupy

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Union Mills Ford. [illegible] to occupy McLean’s Ford as Jones moved out. Jones to follow and support Ewell on the road to Centreville. Both to have an eye for any advance from Fairfax and Fairfax Station. Of course we could hardly wait until 5:30 in the morning we got a cracker and a cup of coffee. Those troops were to be in readiness at that hour. By six o’clock we were across the river, and were ready at the road to Centreville; but Ewell was not there. We waited half an hour for the return of the messenger we had sent to notify him of our readiness. Sending [illegible] in the direction of Centreville and Fairfax R. R. Station, he went to Union Mills to compare orders. Gen. Ewell said [illegible] his orders only to be in readiness to move and was waiting and would a [illegible] longer; but advised Jones to wait where his troops were until further instruction from Headquarters. After o’clock or a little after the troops were allowed to return to return to their bivouacs of the night before to get their dinner; for many had no breakfast that morning. About 2 o’clock, a courier arrived with note without indicated the time it was sent, stating “Heavy pressure on the left. “Why don’t Jones attack”? This question stung like a whip lash.

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The three regiments were immediately ordered to form on the Centreville road, scouts were sent out to look out the [illegible] position and staff officers sent to Union Mills and to Gen. Longstreet, and Gen. Bonham the staff messenger sent to Gen. Ewell did not return. Ewell, Holmes, and [illegible] had all been ordered to the field around Stone Bridge. I carried the message to Longstreet and Bonham. They both their willingness to cooperate with Jones’ movement, could not advance for the enemy in their immediate front [illegible] making [illegible] for an advance. Both were being heavily bombarded with superior artillery. I hastened back to me own General with this information. I found him on the top of an immense fodder of rock giving direction for the two pieces of cannon. He told me that he had ordered the three regiments into the attack of the battery in front. Jenkin’s on the right, the 17th Miss. next and the 18th Miss. on the left. His artillery was to keep up brisk fire to distract the enemies fire from the infantry movement until they had crossed the flat before and at the bluff of the [illegible words] and then he would join them and charge the enemy’s battery. Observing some confusion on the left of 18th he asked to go down and endeavor to straighten them out. As the hill

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was very steep on the side I attempted to go down I had to proceed very slowly and my horse could not go much faster than a walk, without danger of breaking his legs or my neck. I was longer in making the trip than my impatience could tolerate. On reaching the [illegible] at the foot of boulder and on the flat land, I saw the regiment was retiring in great confusion. They had reached the Thoroughfare brook but had crossed. Some had fired off the guns and were attempting to reload their guns and some were trying to fire bayonets. To add to the confusion, the enemy’s battery now opened on them with all their guns, paying no further attention to our two little four pounders for the missiles of them, did not go half way.

I found Gen. Jones and several of the staff and the officers of the regiments reforming the companies, all talking about how it happened, and many offering to go back. He asked if I had seen Jenkins as he had sent a messenger to recall him. I offered to after him as I got half way I saw him with regiment in good order coming the path he took going into the attack. He said went far enough to see masses of troops behind batteries.

I was told after this that just after the attack was that a courier arrived saying he had been riding for hours

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to find Gen. Jones Longstreet and Bonham with order to hold their positions at the fords assigned to them and to be on the alert. Generals Holmes, Ewell and [illegible] had been ordered to the left where things seemed to be going against us. From what we learned afterwards, the messenger had been sent at the time that Gen’s. Kirby, Smith, and [illegible], having their trains, marched directly to the scene of battle. On account of the similarity of the two flags when seen at a great distance these troops were suppose to be Patterson’s from the Valley, whom Johnston thought that he had eluded. Beauregard had in the meantime taken immediate charge of all troops and was prepared to make an immediate charge along the whole line. The enemy found their mistake for these Valley troops were now attacking their rear right flank. The forward charge swept back and plunged the enemy into confusion, which soon degenerated into a panic rout. The morning boast of “On to Richmond” was changed to “Back to Washington”, and this cry was executed in a tune “[illegible]” spirit. Leaving proper [illegible] out towards Centreville and Fairfax the Brigade was taken back to bivouac at McLean’s Ford just as the sun was setting. Every body was dead tired from the unusual excitements of the day and clamors for coffee and something to eat. Gen. Jones had one of his raging headaches.

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Let me say that he was a well man, while I knew him. Having been overtaken by blizzard on the plain out west, he was still in a hospital in St. Louis, I think, when he was called for by Beauregard, to be his adjt. General, when the former was in command at Charleston. He had further recovered from the pneumonia or pleurisy. Any severe exertion brought on these severe headaches that almost prostrated him. He was about six feet in height, well set up, wore a tawny beard extending from his blue eyes almost to his sword-belt. When mounted on his black stallion Voltaire, he looked like a model of a heroic, historical figure. He knew that he would be expected at the conference of Generals at [illegible] to discuss events of the day, but not fit to ride again to-night; and that I had the best opportunities to make an informal verbal report of the days work [illegible] me and asked if I would go. I said certainly I would go. My young horse was nearly knocked up by his service all day and no food since the night before. He told me to take the Red Eye mare as she had less work than any horse in the staff. Red Eye was promptly saddled and I was on the way to Hd Qrs at the Station. As my interview with this distinguished assembly was described in a letter I wrote to General [illegible] many years ago will be found in evelope [sic] – I will refer you to it. (Envelope)

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A few days following the battle was mostly spent in learning the true efforts of the victory and its numerous mistakes [illegible] to the hastily assembled army of volunteer troops. Nearly of our higher officers were West Point men and many of them had learned musketry and cannonry in the war with Mexico. The same was pretty nearly the case with our opponents. But they had besides the bulk of the enlisted Army of the United States accustomed to obedience and familiar with tactics. They too had learned that the soldier was looked after by a regular ambulance corps; and that all the cousins and “in laws” were not needed to carry a wounded man off the field. That business fell to the litter bearers of the ambulance corps. The casualty list showed that our [illegible] in killed and wounded were less than the enemy’s; our number actually engaged was also less; so we felt justified in claiming a victory. But would the victory stop the war, - was it decisive in bringing about peace? By no means; each party had only stopped to lick their wounds and consider plans for another fight. The Federals were back at their [illegible] camps at Alexandria, [illegible]. Washington and Georgetown, and other points along the Potomac and Harpers Ferry. We moved to better points for watching them. In carrying out this plan our brigade was encamped about a mile and

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half S.E. of Centreville and about two miles from McLeans Ford. The movement was just completed when Gen. Jones invited to go with him to Manassas Sta. to meet his wife and to bring her out to the new camp. She came with their little daughter and a servant [illegible] Eva, the daughter was about four years old, and the hired colored girl was 13 or 14. Of course, Mrs. Jones was given the floor in the matter of conversation. She was, I estimated, about 28 or 30 years old, free and easy in manners, and very outspoken. I recalled a sotto voce remark she made while we were crossing the Ford. Gen. Jones observing that I noticed the lowered voice said, “Coward did you hear what she said about you? I shook my head in negation. “Tell him Beck” he said. She then said “I only told him you look like some one I knew, but I could not recall who it was until that moment. It was, President Davis. Are you in any way connected with him”? No, I replied; for I don’t know any person for whom as a political thinker and skillful soldier I have a greater admiration. And the conversation drifted into the battle at Buena Vista and doctrines of Calhoun until we reached the new camp. Tents for the staff were pitched in the yard by sacrificing the flowers. Mrs. Jones was accustomed to camp life and soon got things in working shape. The composition the Brigade was now changed. The two [illegible]

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Regiments were transferred to Barksdale brigade and Jones brigade was composed as follows, viz.

5th S.C. Vols. Col. M. Jenkins; 6th S.C. Vols. Col. C. S. [illegible] 9th SC Vols Col. J. D. Blanding; 4th S.C. Vols. Col. J.B.E. Sloan. The only memorable incidents, I recall while we were in this camp were staff visits to Lu’s Hill, overlooking Alexandria; [illegible] Hill, overlooking Washington, where I saw the Capitol for the first time and the incomplete monument, and the observation balloon. Fairfax [illegible] also in [illegible] of courtesy. At the latter place I met Mrs. Stewart the wife of Col. J. E. B. Stewart, and many others who afterward became distinguished in the war. The other incident that I recall was purely a staff affair. The first Sunday Mrs. Jones came many officers she knew called pay their respects. They were generally received by Lathan and entered the hall way. I was in the room used as office entering up the reports from the regiments and trying to write out the General’s report of the battle on the 21st as he requested me to do. My commission a Captain the Adjt. Generals Department in the Field has now come and I was an officer in the Confederate Army. Just as I stepped on the piazza, Lathan took a chair in that part of the piazza that had no railing or baluster he sat down backwards and found the chair and himself about three feet below the piazza in the dust. Every one on the piazza

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sprang to their feet to go to his assistance, fearing that he was seriously injured. But he sprang to his feet, exclaiming “Pon [sic] my word General I never took but three,” and showing their fingers as proof of his assertion. Nobody could vouch for the correctness of his count. Poor [illegible], to who Lathan was a new species was particularly appealing to his risibilities [sic], could not control spasms of laughter until night fell and then got another shock. Ford had a cot he did not like, and Lathan thought that the cot was built on scientific lines broader the top, the room to lie comfortably. The cross-legs were not more than nine inches apart where the rested on the floor. Lathan extinguished candle and threw himself on scientific [illegible] cot. There immediately sounded the most agonizing howl over heard in civilized community. Sentinels of the different camps began calling for corporal of the guard to investigate the cause of the commotion. – The next notable event was the arrival from Maryland of the namesake of [illegible words], Mr. Asmun Latrole. He had gotten across the Potomac by one of many under grown ferries of that now famous river. He had just about attained his majority, tall, well proportioned, polished in manners clean headed and sufficiently jovial to be a good companion. He knew most of the relatives and friends of Mrs. Jones and [illegible], much their conversation at first was confined to family affairs. He and I took to each other at once.


Coward, Asbury, 1835-1925, “Memoirs of Asbury Coward, circa 1855-1865,” The Citadel Archives Digital Collections, accessed July 13, 2024,