The Third South Carolina Volunteer Infantry Battalion,
Also Known As
the Laurens and/or the James Battalion
By: Sam B. Davis
Research and writing are in progress for a history of the Third South
Carolina Battalion by James B. Clary and Sam B. Davis. Our goal is to document
as accurately as possible the history of this unit. In order to accomplish this
task, we are relying on primary sources such as letters, journals, photographs,
diaries, and related information. If you feel you have information which might
help in effectively portraying the events and history of this important
Confederate battalion, please do not hesitate to contact me. The book title has
not yet been determined. Since work is ongoing, material in this sketch is
subject to revision and change.
The Third South Carolina Battalion, easily the smallest unit of
shared with its larger counterparts the glories and agonies associated with the
momentous conflict known as the War Between the States. Only two men, George
Strother James and William George Washington Rice , would ever attain the rank
of Lieutentant Colonel, the highest allotted officer grade of the battalion. On
occasion, the battalion was commanded by a major and even some captains before
the war’s end. This circumstance in no way diminishes the part the battalion
played in the war but rather calls attention to the uniqueness of this gallant
little band of warriors.
While D. Augustus Dickert lists 710 officers
and enlisted men, a year’s research has yielded 897 names of men who answered
duty’s call to fight. The unit was never full strength in battle. A number of
reasons, among them disease, death, wounds, resignation, discharge, special
details , and furlough , accounted for the attrition throughout the conflict. In
fact, it is reasonable to assume that never did more than half of the total
actually take position in battle formation during the entire war and even that
many on only a very few occasions. Nowhere in research could I find that any
quarter was given or a less threatening or easier place assigned in battle
whenever an engagement loomed. As evidenced in later years by accounts of
regimental strength, this battalion fought side by side with units twice its
size and even larger. Further, research has not determined why additional
companies were never assigned to the battalion in order to bring it to full
regimental strength. The term 'Sharpshooters' is used in some accounts, but the
battalion was never assigned that designation per se in either Drayton’s or
Seven companies were assigned to the battalion.
Companies A, B, C, and D were mustered into state service in late November and
early December 1861 at Camp Hampton near Columbia. These four companies were
composed predominantly of men from Laurens District, as was Company E mustered
in in early January. By the end of January 1862, Company F (Harper Rifles),
consisting of men from Lexington and Richland Districts , had enlisted. On
February 6th, Company G (Aiken Guards), Fairfield District’s contribution, was
assigned, thus forming the battalion commanded by Lieutenant Colonel George
The battalion was assigned duty at the small rail stop
hamlet of Adams Run, a destination many upstaters had never heard of . They
would soon learn however, that this hamlet, situated 35 miles south of
Charleston on the Charleston and Savannah Railroad, was Headquarters for the
Third Military District of South Carolina, Department of South Carolina,
Georgia, and Florida. The battalion was placed under the command of Brigadier
General Nathan G. 'Shanks' Evans.
The threatened and eventual Federal
occupation of Edisto Island subjected the unit to its first experience of the
realities of war, although that experience was limited, as subsequent events
would show. Duties involving the defense of the island and maintaining open rail
communications between Charleston and Pocotaligo occupied much time during the
winter months. An election of officers was held as part of a reorganization in
late April. When the battalion was transferred from state service to Confederate
service Both Lieutenant Colonel James and Major Rice were re-elected.
June 14,1862, the unit was ordered to James Island but did not participate in
the Battle of Secessionville. After a period of relative inactivity, the
battalion was moved to Summerville where orders came in mid-July for transfer to
Upon arrival at the Confederate capital, the
battalion joined the 50th and 51st Georgia Regiments, The Phillips Legion
Infantry Battalion, and the 15th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry Regiment to make
up the brigade of General Thomas F. Drayton in General David R. Jones’s
Division. As a unit of this brigade, the battalion would sustain its highest
casualty rate of the entire war during the first Maryland Campaign at the battle
of South Mountain (Fox’s Gap) on September 14,1862. Research reveals that of
about 250 men engaged, 132 casualties resulted from this bloody engagement.
Lieutenant Colonel James was killed in action and Major Rice was severely
wounded. The battalion was so disabled that that three days later its
performance at Sharpsburg added little to its well-earned battle reputation
On November 15, 1862, the unit along with the 15th SC Regiment,
was transferred to Kershaw’s Brigade of which it would remain an integral part
until the end of the war. The battalion participated in nearly all the battles
of the Army of Northern Virginia, including Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and
Gettysburg. In September 1863 it was transferred to the Western Theatre and
fought at Chickamauga and Knoxville. Returning to Virginia in the spring of
1864, engagements included the Wilderness, Spottsylvania Court House, North Anna
River, Second Cold Harbor, Deep Bottom and the siege of Petersburg. Ordered to
the Valley in mid-August, 1864, actions at Berryville, Strasburg, and Cedar
Creek were added to its list of engagements. December found the battalion
entrenched at Richmond until January 4 in the last year of the war when it was
ordered south to oppose Sherman in his march through the Carolinas. Battles in
North Carolina at Averasboro and Bentonville would be the last for the
The battalion consolidated with the 3rd
and 8th South Carolina
Volunteer Infantry Regiments and a part of Blanchard’s Reserves to form the new
3rd South Carolina Infantry Regiment at Smithfield, North Carolina, on April 9,
1865. At that time ,the soldiers had no way of knowing that the dramatic events
unfolding that day in the little village of Appomattox Court House, Virginia
would bring their long martial journey to an end. Their duty ended, the men of
the battalion were paroled on May 2 following General Joseph E. Johnston’s
surrender to Major General William T Sherman at Greensboro, North Carolina , on
April 26, 1865.
Very honorably indeed had the 3rd South Carolina Volunteer
Infantry Battalion performed its duty.
As a Unit Assigned to the Third Military District of South
Carolina, Georgia, and Florida
Slanns Island (White Point) Edisto
Island, SC (December 26, 1861)
Pineberry Point Edisto Island, SC (February
As a Unit of General Thomas F. Drayton’s
Second Manassas (August 28-30, 1862)
Gap (September 14, 1862)
Sharpsburg (September 17, 1862)
Unit of General Joseph B. Kershaw’s Brigade
Chancellorsville (May 1-2, 1863)
Salem Church (May 3,
Gettysburg (July 2, 1863)
Chickamauga (September 20,
Chattanooga Siege (September 21-November 4, 1863)
(November 16, 1863)
Knoxville (November 18, 1863)
(November 19-December 4, 1863)
Bean Station (December 14, 1863)
Wilderness (May 6 , 1864)
Spottsylvania Court House (May 8 , 1864)
Anna River (May 23-26, 1864)
Second Cold Harbor (June 1- 3,
Petersburg Siege (June 18-August 7, 1864)
First Deep Bottom (July
Berryville (September 3, 1864)
Strasburg / Hupp’s Hill
(October 14, 1864)
Cedar Creek (October 19, 1864)
(November 20, 1864-January 4, 1865)
Carolinas Campaign-Salkehatchie Line
(January 7-February 18, 1865)
Averasboro (March 16, 1865)
(March 19, 1865)
Cause/Company and Staff
George Strother James – Appointed 2/2/62. Elected 4/28/62.
Killed 9/14/62 South Mountain ( Fox’s Gap ).
William George Washington
Rice – Promoted 9/14/62 upon death of Lt. Col. James. Retired 1/12/65 on
Medical Certificate in consequence of wounds received at Knoxville 11/18/63.
George Strother James – Appointed 12/62. Appointed Lt. Col.
William George Washington Rice – Promoted 1/31/62. Elected
George Martin Gunnels – Promoted 9/15/62. Resigned 4/27/63 ,
debility and effects of chronic rheumatism
Daniel B. Miller – Promoted
4/27/63. Wounded 7/2/63 Gettysburg never returned to active duty.
William C. Harris - Commissioned 1/31/61. Served throughout
Benjamin Sampson James - Commissioned 2/10/62. Resigned
3/18/63 , elected to represent Laurens District in the South Carolina
Edward S. Percival – Appointed 9/30/64. Resigned 11/22/64
Joshua Milton Townsend – Appointed (Acting ) 12/23/61.
Promoted Captain Company A 1/31/62.
Rufus D. Senn - Appointed
2/10/62. Resigned 5/1/62.
George Anderson Ligon- Appointed 2/10/62. Died 10/18/62 ,
William Drayton Nance – Appointed ( Acting )
Robert Burns Ligon – Appointed 2/10/62. Promoted 5/20/62
Captain Company B.
Robert J. Nichols – Appointed 5/3/62
V. L. Spriggs – Promoted by 4/26/65.
Simon Baruch- Commissioned 4/4/62. Transferred 8/64 to 13th
Jobe Johnstone Boozer- Commissioned 12/23/61.
Served throughout war.
Richard Simpson Dunlap- Appointed 6/11/63.
Paroled 5/2/65 at Greensboro, NC.
J. Pinckney Johnson – Commission or
Appointment not yet verified.
John Woodson Ligon- Commissioned
11/27/61. Discharged 2/23/62.
J.F. Mackey - Appointed 4/7/63. Paroled
5/2/ 65 at Greensboro , NC.
John L. Speake – Appointment not yet
William R. Stoddard - Appointed 4/30/62. Died in Richmond
William George Washington Rice – Commissioned
11/25/61. Promoted Major
Joshua Milton Townsend – Promoted
1/31/62. Killed 9/20/63 Chickamauga.
Joel W. Anderson - Promoted 9/20/63.
Assigned 12/5/64 to Invalid Corps.
Alexander Adams King – Appointed 9/20/63
while POW at Johnson Island , Ohio.
Williams – Commissioned 11/27/61. Elected 4/28/62. Resigned 5/20/62.
Burns Ligon – Promoted 5/20/62. Resigned 6/16/62 , aneurysm of
Orasmus Allen Watson – Promoted 6/20/62. Killed 9/20/63
William A. Wells – Promoted 9/20/63. Killed 19/19/64 Cedar
Wesley S. Pitts – Promoted 10/19/64. Paroled 5/2/65 at Greensboro ,
James Jasper Shumate - Commissioned 11/29/61. Not
Williamson L Hudgens - Elected 5/1/62. Died 7/2/62 , typhoid
Albert Irby – Transferred into 3rd Battalion 6/16/62 (company
George Michael Irby – Enlisted 7/1/62. Wounded 5/26/64 North Anna River.
Never returned to duty.
George Martin Gunnels -
Commissioned 12/1/61. Promoted Major 9/15/62.
John B. Harris – Promoted
9/15/62. Paroled 9/19/64 by Medical Examining Board in
consequence of wound
received at Gettysburg 7/2/63.
Melmouth Milton Hunter
– Commissioned 12/21/61. Not elected 4/28/62.
William H. Fowler – Elected
4/28/62. Resigned 4/20/63 , overage and debility.
Henry Harrison Kern Wier –
Promoted 4/20/63. Killed 7/28/64 Deep Bottom.
Allen Watson Burnside -
Promoted 7/28/64. Paroled 5/2/65 at Greensboro , NC.
Daniel B. Miller – Enlisted 1/30/62. Reelected 4/20/62. Promoted Major
Edward S. Precival – Promoted 4/27/63. Appointed Quartermaster
Robert S. Kirkland – Promoted 11/22/64. Served until end of
Augusts Preston Irby – Commissioned 2/6/62. Not
Benjamin Marcus Whitener - Elected 5/1/62. Killed 10/19/64
Robert Henry Jennings - D. Augustus Dickert writes that Jennings
battalion at Chickamauga as senior captain but research thus
far has failed to determine
if and when he was promoted to that rank. Applied
7/29/64 for retirement in
consequence of wound received at Chickamauga
Service Records of Soldiers who served in Organizations from the State Of South
History of Kershaw’s Brigade- Dickert
Letters, Journals and
Diaries of soldiers who served in 3rd Battalion
Muster Rolls and Lists of
Confederate Troops Paroled in North Carolina
Newspapers- Charleston Daily
Courier, Charleston Mercury, Fairfield News and
Herald, and Laurensville
Compedium of the Confederate Armies South Carolina and Georgia-
A History of the 3rd South Carolina Infantry: 1861- 1865-
FEATURES: CIVIL WAR UNITS: Kershaw's Brigade, CSA