Sunday, June 17, 2012

The 3d S.C. (Laurens or James) Battalion

Davis, Sam B. A History of the 3rd South Carolina Volunteer Infantry Battalion (James Battalion): 1861-1865. Wilmington, N.C.: Broadfoot Pub., 2009.

We have previously mentioned this infantry battalion as a unit belonging to Drayton’s Brigade during the Virginia and Maryland campaign of August-September 1862. And, we have mentioned that its presence with Drayton during that campaign is largely missing from the official record and subsequent histories. This inexplicable and mysterious lacuna has been filled most admirably by the unit history cited above.

The battalion was organized in the Laurens District of its home state beginning in late November 1862. Eventually, it consisted of seven companies (A-G), of which five were from the Laurens District and one each from Columbia and Fairfield. Originally assigned to defensive duty on the southeast South Carolina coast, it saw no real combat action until after it joined the Army of Northern Virginia for the Second Manassas campaign.

During the course of the war, 897 men served in the battalion, but it appears that it never numbered more than 400 men for duty in the field. It was also known as “the James Battalion” after Lt. Col. George Strother James, who was its commanding officer from Feb. 2, 1862, until his death at South Mountain on Sept. 14, 1862. A veteran of the Mexican War (Palmetto Rgt.) and pre-Civil War service as an officer in the U.S. Army, James was famous in his time as the man who had fired the signal gun for the bombardment of Fort Sumter.

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