The Palmetto Sharpshooters
The different companies re-enlisted
and formed the Regiment between 8 February and
16 April 1862 near Richmond, Virginia, and are then sent to Yorktown.
Siege of Yorktown, 17 April-4 May. At the siege but the only information found is that they did picket duty at Dam No.2 for 2 days.
Williamsburg (Fort Magruder), 5 May. Now part of James. Longstreet's Division, Richard H. Anderson's Brigade. The Brigade was ordered, with another, and some artillery, to relieve the forces occupying the field works in front of Williamsburg, these forces were there to gain time for the main army to retire. With the 5th S.C. the Palmetto's held the bastioned earthworks that straddled the main roads called Fort Magruder.
The enemy advanced at 0600 against the 4th SC Battalions skirmish line, some companies of the Palmetto's were sent to join them, and they forced them back to the tree line then retired. At 0630 the enemy again advanced and were held at by 'picked riflemen from the Palmetto Sharpshooters' and artillery. The artillerymen received heavy casualties and their ranks were filled with men from the Palmetto's. During this time, and later, the Federal artillery were forced to change position and slacken their fire due to the accurate musketry from the fort.
At about 1000 a heavy attack was launched on the fort but was beaten back by the defenders with help from the artillery and the 5th SC. The remaining part of the day the fort was under artillery fire but between 1500-1600 a heavy attack was launched on the Brigades right and the artillery withdrawn from the fort to support this. Enemy artillery was brought up and heavy fire fell on the fort but with artillery reinforcements arriving in the fort the enemy retired and with the halting of the attack on the right the fort was able to pour both musket and artillery fire into the stalled attack and then the right forced them back. Artillery was now advanced on the right and with six companies of the Palmetto's poured fire into the woods.
The position was assaulted by the divisions of Joseph Hooker and W. F. 'Baldy' Smith. The Palmetto's lost 29 casualties. Anderson's Brigade leave that night to rejoin the army at Barhamsville. (After the battle Longstreet presented the unit with a new battle flag for their outstanding performance.)
The Palmetto's are stationed near Richmond march of, with Longstreet's Corps, at 0300 on the 26th May. In rear support at the Beaver Dam Creek (Mechanicsville, Ellerson's Mill), 27 May, and not engaged.
Seven Pines (Fair Oaks, Fair Oaks Station), 31 May-1 June. Anderson sends the 6th and PSS to 'the extreme left to scour along the railroad and Nine-mile road' in a northeast direction toward the railroad station at Fair Oaks, and to take out a Federal battery, the Palmetto’s march forwards joining with the the 28th Georgia and 6th SC, their left flank on the York River Railroad. ‘The regiments moved forward without firing and with fixed bayonets’.
The advance continued with little opposition through the enemies camp and across a road. During movement the 28th had got lost and it's now they come under heavy fire from two Brigades of Darius N. Couch’s Division. These two Regiments brake the Federal line then passed through a second camp and then a swamp.
Wheeling south they now found that that Couch's troops had been reinforced and were making a stand. The fighting was as close with only 75 yards separating the opponents but ‘our advance continued in this steady manner, the enemy steadily giving back.’ But this time they took heavy loses themselves.
Couch's troops again made a stand in front of a third camp. ‘Without pausing our lines moved on him, and our steady advance was not to be resisted. After a most obstinate resistance and terrible slaughter the enemy gave back.’ The two Regiments had now advanced as far as the Williamsburg Road. While here they came under friendly artillery fire, which was finally stopped.
Here the 6th SC and half the Palmettos held the Williamsburg Road while the remainder of the Palmetto’s swept ‘the remnant of the enemy who had retired to our left’.
It was now that further reinforcements from the enemy were seen marching down Williamsburg Road. These were engaged by the half company of the Palmetto’s who were there while the remainder of the two Regiments charged the woods to their front they ‘pass across an open field on this advance I lost heavily, but succeeded in routing and dispersing the enemy in my front, driving them at least a quarter of a mile’.
The Regiments now reformed on the Williamsburg Road so as to meet the fresh enemy troops advancing upon them. While here the 28th Georgia advance from their rear and rejoined them. The these Regiments now advanced to engage the fresh forces, steadily firing, to with 30-40 yards of the Federal forces before ‘the enemy sullenly and slowly gave way, we had advanced some 200 or 300 yards, the enemy getting more and more disordered and beginning to break badly.’ When the 5th SC, who had driven the Federals back at Seven Pines Cross Roads, now arrived at the ‘double quick’ on the Federal forces right and as they went in the Federal forces melted away. It was now 1940 and they retired to encamp in the enemies camp at their rear.
'Jenkins was on his horse all through the battle' and his men had captured three camps, three pieces of artillery, two caissans, and three stand of colours. Casualties to the Palmettos were 244. Of the 12 strong colour guard 11 were casualties.
Gaines Mill (1st Cold Harbor, Chickahominy), 27 June. Around 1900hours the Palmettos, along with the 5th S.C., were ordered to sweep over a wooded swamp and hill on the far right of the Confederate lines. While doing so they marched onto some open ground and in the dim light encountered two Federal units, the 16th Michigan and the 82nd Pennsylvania. These units squared up against each other and a duel between the regiments took place. At the end the Palmetto's had decimated the 16th Michigan, and captured their colours along with a large body of men. Losing 96 casualties while accomplishing this.
The Division forced marched on the 29th via New Bridge and Darbytown road and that night camped within striking distance of the Federals. The march was resumed the next morning coming 'upon the enemy at Fraizer's farm about noon'. On arrival the Brigade was sent forwards to discover their dispositions. Driving in the enemy's skirmishers they found them 'in force and position, ready for battle.'
Frayser's/Fraizer's Farm (White Oak Swamp, Glendale, Charles City Cross Roads, Nelson's Farm, Turkey Bend/Bridge, New Market Cross Roads, Willis Church, Riddell's Shop), 30 June. R.E. Lee and Longstreet are with Jeff Davis, they were 'in pleasant conversation' when they came under fire from a Federal battery. This fire killed and wounded men and horses. Longstreet ordered Jenkins to silence them. This he expected him to do with 'his long-range rifles.' Instead Jenkins 'enraged....determined to charge the battery.' Jenkins now led his Brigade in the assault at around 1600 attacking the battery of the First Pennsylvania Light Artillery. After this assault they continued to advance eastward under withering fire from entrenched Federal troops. The Brigade drove Truman Seymour's Brigade backward and resumed the assault against the now-reinforced Federal lines. At this point a hidden battery opens upon them with enfilade fire to add to their problems the Confederates of Lawrence Branch's Brigade who moving to the right and rear accidentally fire into them. Nevertheless the Brigade manages to capture the guns which had caused such shocking casualties. In this unbelievable piece of bravery the Palmettos receive 254 casualties out of the 375 men fighting, 67% of the unit.
Resting the next day on the battlefield when about 1700 the Division are moved up in support of A.P. Hill's right flank at Malvern Hill, 1 July, but take no part.
On the 2nd they set off late in the day in pursuit of the enemy but after only marching two miles through an extremely severe rain-storm 'they were halted for the night near Dr. Poindexter's house.' On the 3rd they again pursue the retreating enemy. On the 4th they stay in position where camped on the 3rd.
From then until 14 August the unit is stationed at Richmond.
The Palmetto's, as part of J.L. Kemper's Division, Longstreet's Corps, march from Gordonsville on August 16, crossing the Rapidan on the 20th at Raccoon Ford.
On the August 24 the Corps marched up the Rappahannock cross the Hazel River and camp at Jeffersonton. On the 25th crossing the Rappahannock at Hinson's Mill Ford, 6 miles above Waterloo. Continuing the march they were delayed near Salem, on the 27th, for an hour by Federal cavalry and resting that night at White Plains. Marching through Thoroughfare Gap at some time after 1500 the 28th.
2nd Manassas (Manassas Plains, Groveton, 2nd Bull Run, Gainesville, Brawner's Farm), 29-30 August. At Manassas on the 29th the Division is positioned to the right of Hoods. They stood in this position covering Hood's and Nathan G. Evan's attack which went in about 1600 and when they withdrew to their start positions at 0100 on the 30th.
In the attack on the 30th the the Brigade is out on the far right of the battle line. When counter attacked Jenkins Brigade 'repulsed the enemy with handsome style'. With the fighting going on until 2200. The Palmetto's received 68 casualties.
At 1400 the next day the majority of the Corps march to Sudley Ford, which they cross on the 1st September, marching for Chantilly on the Little River turnpike.
Join David R. Jones Division at about this date, Longstreet's Corps and arrive after the Ox Hill, 1 September, after it has finished. Remaining in position on the 2nd they march of on the 3rd via Dranesville, crossing Goose Creek, and arrive at Leesburg on the evening of the 4th.
The army cross at Whites Ford, and other crossings nearby, marched through Buckeystown, and encamped on the banks of the Monocacy, marching next day to the Monocacy Junction, and going into camp near Frederick City on the 7th. Crossing South Mountain and moving to Hagerstown on the 10th.
On the morning of the 10th they marched through Boonsborough, Funkstown, and Hagerstown, encamping near the latter place on the Williamsport road on the 12th.
Part of Longstreet's Corps and D.H. Hill's Division were attacked at the Boonsboro' Gap (South Mountain), 14 September, by 30,000 Federals. The Palmetto's, part of Jenkins (under Colonel Walker) Brigade, still at Hagerstown set off sometime late on the night of the 13-4 when they force march, over rough terrain, ordered to a pass about a mile to the right of the main road, through which the enemy was said to be flanking our army. On arrival there finding the report incorrect they marched as rapidly as possible back to the main road and to the mountain top where Kemper and Garnett entered the front lines, supported by Jenkins' brigade, in position on the ridge to the left of the road and above it. This was further up the mountain from the White House Hotel, reinforcing R.E. Rodes on the armies left wing, but on the right of Pickett's (under Colonel Garnet) Brigade. Arriving at 'deep dusk' and as they were taking position were exposed to severe shelling. Here they positioned themselves behind a stone wall 'where they engaged in a desultory fire with the enemy until dark' When they were withdrawn to the hotel. They stayed in this area covering the withdrawal until about 0400, on the 15th. They rejoin the Division at Sharpsburg. The Palmetto's had 2 wounded.
The Brigade forced march and reached Sharpsburg about 1100 on the 15th and immediately ' took position in line of battle on an eminence in front of the town and to the right of the turnpike', west of Burnsides Bridge Road. Late evening it moved across to the right on the high ground west of the cemetery where ' it remained under a heavy fire of shot and shell'.
During the Sharpsburg (Antietam), 17 September. With the reorganisation of the defense line on the 17th it was moved back to its original position with Pickett's Brigade (under Richard B. Garnet) having his left on the Boonsboro Pike extending this line on the right was Jenkins (under Walker) with Thomas F. Drayton's Georgians on their right. (There was half a company from Jenkins Brigade at the Bridge, a sign in the area says Palmetto's.) Here it ' endured a terrific fire of shot and shell for some half hour'.
Benjamin C. Christ's Brigade, Orlando Willcox Division, Federal IX Corps, under Ambrose Burnsides, who after crossing the bridge march up on the right of the Lower Bridge Road. Jenkins Brigade which had been in support of batteries on the outskirts of Sharpsburg advanced to the apple orchard west of the Shedrick farm buildings. Here they initially held Christ's Brigade. Troops from Thomas Welsh's Brigade he was able to go to the support of Christ's Brigade and with guns from the 8th Massachusetts artillery joining in the Brigade are slowly pushed back to a stone wall at the south eastern edge of Sharpsburg.
On the Brigades right flank a stone mill and house this was turned into a strongpoint held by a mixed bunch of 15th SC, Georgians and Palmetto's, some 60 or so, this held out for about half an hour at about the time the Brigade was retreating.
The Brigade, along with the Armies right wing, are saved about when about 1430 hours the first of A.P. Hill's Division started to arrive. The Palmetto's had sustained 65 casualties.
In ' This position the brigade, alone and unsupported, held during the 18th' during heavy 'sharpshooting' and when the Division start to retreat at about 2100 the Brigade stay in position covering the retreat until nearly daylight when relieved by Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry brigade. And at sunrise of the 19th crossed the Potomac at Blackfords encamping near Shepherdstown on the morning of the 19th.before marching off to Culpepper Court House.
The Brigade join G.E. Pickett's Division, being the only South Carolina Brigade in a Virginia Division. Leave Culpepper Court House on the 21 November for Fredericksburg arriving 23 November.
13 December. Under heavy Federal shell fire.
Fredericksburg, 14 December. The Brigade is in a quieter part of the battlefield and spent much of the time in reserve. Relieving other troops who had been engaged they are sent out as skirmishers and do this 'nearly all night and the next day,' with some of the unit detached as sharpshooters, who caused great confusion in the Federal lines. The Palmetto's suffered only 8 casualties.
Until 15 February encamped near Fredericksburg. On that date they move out of winter quarters.