20th S C Volunteer Infantry Regiment
By: Mac Wyckoff
South Carolina was organized on January 11, 1862 in response to the call for an
additional 12,000 troops from South Carolina. Ten companies were formed in the
central part of the state and elected officers. The regiment departed for
Charleston on January 13th. Unlike many units that were rushed to the front,
this unit remained in camp drilling for several months. While many units fought
themselves out in the middle years of the war, the 20th South Carolina lost more
of their men in relatively obscure battles in the last year of the war. Morris
Island, First Deep Bottom, Hupp's Hill, Cedar Creek, and Bentonville are not on
the agenda of modern tourists who flock to the battlefield parks.
March 4, 1862 the unit moved to James Island near Secessionville and served on
guard and picket duty. At an unknown date they relocated on Sullivan's Island
and four companies manned the siege guns on Battery Marshall. On April 7, 1863
they under went bombardment from Union ironclads. By October 20, 1863 their
headquarters was at Mt. Pleasant.
During the long period of fighting on
Morris Island that summer, they would take their turn at picket duty, coming
over by steamer after dark and returning the next moming. On July 14, they lost
4 killed and 8 wounded. On the night of August 30 while returning from Morris
Island, the steamer was forced into the main shipping channel because of low
water. The ship was mistaken for an enemy ironclad and came under heavy
bombardment from the Confederate batteries. Many of the panic stricken men
leaped off the steamer as the captain tried to beach it. Luckily, the water was
shallow enough that most of the jumpers could touch bottom and waded to shore.
The regiment lost 16 killed, either injured by the shells or drowned. Between
the 31st and August 7, they lost 1 killed and 6 wounded and between the 15th and
23rd they lost another 2 killed and 11 wounded.
On May 25, 1864, the
regiment departed for Richmond to join Kershaw's Brigade. They arrived on the
lines on the 30th. The regiment was so big, at least a 1,000 soldiers, that the
men called it the "Twentieth Army Corps." After the bloodiest three weeks of the
war, many regiments in Lee's army had around 100 men left. Although he had no
previous combat experience, Lawrence M. Keitt as colonel of the 20th South
Carolina took command of the brigade.
On the next evening, May 31st,
Yankee cavalry captured the important crossroads at Cold Harbor. Lee ordered
General Robert Hoke's Division to cooperate with Kershaw's Brigade in
recapturing the intersection, a seemingly easy task for infantry against
cavalry. But these Federal horseman stood behind trenches with repeating rifles
and Hoke failed to cooperate.The inexperienced Keitt, "like a knight old" led
the brigade forward with the equally inexperienced 20th South Carolina in front.
Almost immediately, Keitt mortally wounded and the 20th South Carolina broke. As
the panic stricken Carolinians ran to the rear, it forced Kershaw's veterans to
also give way. It was not a good start. The regiment lost 10 killed, 44 wounded
and 6 missing - their worst losses of the war. By the 4th of June, 2 more had
been killed and 8 wounded.
Lieutenant Stephen Madison Boykin was
promoted to colonel and took command of the regiment. After spending two weeks
in the trenches at Cold Harbor, the army shifted to Petersburg. The arrival of
Kershaw's Brigade on June 19th helped save the day for the Confederacy. Between
June 5 and 24, they lost 7 killed and 18 wounded. On July 27-29, they were again
heavily engaged at Deep Bottom north of the James River losing 5 killed, 46
wounded, and 11 missing. In early August the brigade was shifted to the
Shenandoah Valley where they were only slightly engaged, but lost several key
officers. The bloodiest week of the war occurred between October 13 and 19. At
Hupp's Hill on the 13th they lost 14 killed and 55 wounded. Six days later at
Cedar Creek, after an initial Southern success, the Union counterattacked.
Outflanked, the Confederates began to fall back. The retreat soon became a rout
with Federal cavalry in hot pursuit. Colonel Boykin and Lieutenant Colonel Paul
A. McMichael of the 20th South Carolina were among the captured. They lost 11
killed, 76 wounded (many of them captured) and 59 missing (captured).
early December the brigade returned to the Richmond area and a month later had
the honor of being sent to defend their native state against Sherman. For the
rest of January and most of February the brigade alternated between the front
lines along the Salkehatchie River and Charleston. Sherman cleverly turried the
Salkehatchie line and then forced the Southerners to abandon Charleston. After a
brief stand near Cheraw, the brigade was engaged at Averasboro and Bentonville
where the depleted ranks of the 20th South Carolina lost seven men. They were
part of general Joe Johnston's surrender at the Bennett House near Durham, North
Carolina on April 26, 1865. On May 2nd the survivors received their paroles at
Greensboro and returned home.
Ironclads Bombardment while on
Sullivan's Island, SC, April 7, 1863.
Battery Wagner, SC, July-August,
Steamer bombarded by own batteries in Charleston Harbor, SC, August
Cold Harbor, VA, June 1-12, 1864
Petersburg, VA, June
Deep Bottom, VA, July 26-28, 1864
August 26, 1864
Berryville, VA, September 3, 1864
VA, September 13, 1864
Hupp's Hill, VA, October 1, 1864
Creek, VA, October 19, 1864
Salkehatchie River Line, SC,
Averasboro, NC, March 16, 1865
Bentonville, NC, March 19-21, 1865
Massillon Keitt , was elected on January 11, 1862. Keitt was mortally wounded at
Cold Harbor on June 1, 1864 and died the next day.
Boykin was promoted on June 2, 1864. He was wounded and captured at Cedar Creek
on October 19, 1864 and remained in prison unril July 24,
Olin Miller Dansler was elected on
January 11, 1862. He transferred to the 22nd S.C. on April 29, 1864 and killed
on 6/2/64 the same day Colonel Keitt died.
Stephen Madison Boykin was
promoted on April 29.1864. He was promoted to colonel on June 2,
Paul Agabus McMicheal was promoted effective on June 2, 1864. He
was captured at Cedar Creek and remained in prison unti1 July 24, 1864.
A. Mimms was elected on January 11, 1862. He resigned in
March of 1862.
Stephen Madison Boykin promoted on April 1, 1862. He was
promoted to lieutenant colonel on April 29, 1864.
John M. Partlow was
promoted on April 29, 1864. He was wounded at Deep Bottom on July 28, 1864.
G. Leaphart might have been promoted to replace Partlow. Nothing more
known about him.
Adjutant- Jonathan A. Wilson. Later R. Chisolm and W.C.
Quartermaster- John P. Kinard. Later T.W. Woodward.
Commissary-____Brock. Later Jonathan 0. Heriot.
Assistant Surgeon-Dr. D.R. Barton. Later C.A. Fripp
Chaplain-Reverend W.(or Y.)W.Duncan. Later E.J. Meynardie.
COMPANY A- Captain Stephen Madison Boykin was
elected on December 24, 1861. He was promoted to major on April 1, 1862. John M.
Partlow. He was promoted to major on April 29, 1864. Later C.H.A. Woodlin and
Jonathan Lee served as captains. The men came from Anderson and Pickens.
COMPANY B- Captain Paul Agabus McMichael was elected on December 30,
1861. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel on June 2,1864. No information on
who replaced him. The men came from Orangeburg.
COMPANY C- Captain G.
Leaphart. Later G.T. Haltiwanger. The men came from Lexington.
D- Captain Danley. Later Richard "Dick" V. Donnelly or Darmelly. The men came
COMPANY E - Captain James Addison Cowan from Anderson County
COMPANY F- Captain Jonathan M. Kinard. He was killed at Hupp's
Hill on October 13, 1862. Later William M. Kinard. The men came from Newberry.
COMPANY G- Captain A. Moseley. Later R.L. Herriott. The men came from
COMPANY H- Captain S.M. Roof. He was wounded and captured at
Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864. Later Edward Kinsler. The men came from
Orangeburg and Lexington.
COMPANY I- Captain Elbert Gunter. Later J.M.
Jones. The men came from Orangeburg and Lexington. The original captain, all
three lieutenants, seven non-commissioned officers and privates were Gunter's.
Called the Gunter Company. COMPANY K- Captain W.D.M. Harmon. The men came from
Lexington. COMPANY I Added later commanded by Captain A.D. Sparks and then C.P.
The information on the 2Oth South Carolina comes largely from D.
Augustus Dickert's "A History of Kershaw's Brigade". Although Dickert was a
member of the brigade, the book was written nearly 35 years after the war when
the veterans' memories were not always reliable. For example, Dickert wrote that
this regiment was established in the Fall of 1862. He was wrong by nearly a
year. His dates for the ironclad attack and their steamer being bombarded by
their own batteries is off, in each case, by exactly a month. No doubt, other
mistakes occur in Dickert's writing about the 2Oth South Carolina which have not
yet been caught. In summarizes the history of the regiment I used the war-time
letters of Keitt and McMichael as well as other sources to augment Dickert's
account. The casualty numbers come from contemporary newspapers. The names and
dates of the regimental and company officers come mostly from Dickert's book and
are highly suspect. This website will be updated as more information is found
and false information corrected. Kershaw's Brigade will become within the next
few years the most thoroughly documented brigade of the war. However to the best
of our know1edge, no one has stepped forward to research and write about the
2Oth South Carolina.
It is our hope that someone, maybe a visitor to
this website, will pick up the torch and do justice to the memory of these
FEATURES: CIVIL WAR UNITS: Kershaw's Brigade, CSA