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.
On 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).
In 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, 1863
Steamer bombarded by own batteries in Charleston Harbor, SC, August 30, 1863.
Cold Harbor, VA, June 1-12, 1864
Petersburg, VA, June 19, 1864
Deep Bottom, VA, July 26-28, 1864
Charlestown, WV, August 26, 1864
Berryville, VA, September 3, 1864
Berryville, VA, September 13, 1864
Hupp's Hill, VA, October 1, 1864
Cedar Creek, VA, October 19, 1864
Salkehatchie River Line, SC, January-February, 1865
Averasboro, NC, March 16, 1865
Bentonville, NC, March 19-21, 1865
Lawrence Massillon Keitt , was elected on January 11, 1862. Keitt was mortally wounded at Cold Harbor on June 1, 1864 and died the next day.
Stephen Madison 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, 1865.
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, 1864.
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. Hane.
Quartermaster- John P. Kinard. Later T.W. Woodward.
Commissary-____Brock. Later Jonathan 0. Heriot.
Surgeon-Dr. A. S. Salley
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.
COMPANY D- Captain Danley. Later Richard "Dick" V. Donnelly or Darmelly. The men came from Orangeburg.
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 Sumter.
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. Bolton.
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 soldiers.