"Capt. Townsend who was in command of the battalion, fell with one side of his face torn away. Evans also fell and as he lay on the ground with the colors, I passed near him, in command of my company..." Writing of his "experiences in the late unpleasantness," Lieutenant Robert H Jennings of Company G, 3rd Battalion South Carolina Infantry provides his recollections of the memorable events of September 19-21, 1863 at Chickamauga.
After Gettysburg we returned to Virginia, and camped at Waller's tavern, when Longstreet was ordered to Georgia to help Gen. Bragg, who was being pressed by Rosecrans. We embarked at Petersburg on a freight train and to avoid the heat and crowding, I rode on top of a car all the way to Ringgold, where we arrived late in the afternoon, ate a hurried meal of raw bacon and mouldy cornbread, and about midnight of the 19th of September set out on a march of about twelve miles to Alexander's bridge, on the Chickamauga river, which we crossed about sunrise. There was a white frost on the river bottoms. We continued our march three or four miles from the river and halted in a narrow skirt of woods. The battle was raging a half a mile in front of us and bullets were falling among us. The suspense was awful while waiting for orders to advance.
In a few hours a courier rode up and ordered us to the front. We advanced out of the woods and up the hill through an old field, the enemy, under cover of woods at the top of the hill, pouring a deadly fire of minnie balls into our ranks. Wm. Evans, father of our haberdasher in Columbia, was our color bearer. Our battalion being the battalion of direction, and not moving exactly in the direction to throw the brigade squarely in front of the enemy, Gen. Kershaw stepped up and took the flag from Evans, who supposed the general thought he was scared, followed and said: "General, please give me the flag and point the direction you want me to go and I'll go." The general handed it back to him and pointing said, "You see that large green pine, go directly to it," and he went.
As we reached the brow of the hill my Orderly Sgt. J W Ashford, being at my side, caught me by the hand and said, "Lieutenant, I am shot." I replied, "Goodbye, old fellow, I must go forward." I left him, expecting never to see him alive again. He was hit in the right side, the ball coming out near the spine. We advanced down a ravine through the woods and I must say, though I was in twenty battles and skirmishes, the balls came thicker and faster from Snodgrass Hill than I ever witnessed before. As we reached the bottom of the ravine I saw the enemy bringing up a field piece and I said, "Boys, they are going to open a battery on us," and instantly there was a discharge of grape or canister.
Capt. Townsend who was in command of the battalion, fell with one side of his face torn away. Evans also fell and as he lay on the ground with the colors, I passed near him, in command of my company. He looked up and said, "Lieutenant, please take this flag." I seized it with my right hand and held it up, and while I did so the flag staff was struck twice and cut nearly in twain. I felt the jar when it was hit, and presently I received a very severe flesh wound in the left leg and retired from the field.
Our little company, reduced to about fifteen men, lost about half killed and wounded. One man, William Morgan, killed outright, and three amputations: Matthew McGrady, William Craig, each an arm, and R R Milling, a leg, besides others less severely wounded. Col Elbert Bland, in command of the 7th (SC) regiment was killed, also Maj Hard.
Dr. Coleman Carlisle of your county, now dead, cut the ball out of my leg and gave me an order to report to a general hospital. I came home, and in a few days, went to Columbia to the college hospital and received a 90 days furlough from Dr. Prioleau. [Excerpted from The Herald and News. (Newberry, SC.), May 12, 1911, page 7.]
The 3d SC Battn was Kershaw's Brigade, McLaws' Division, Longstreet's Corps. Only two brigades of McLaws' division arrived in time to participate on September 20 - Kershaw's and Humphreys' (Barkdale's old.) McLaws, travelling with Bryan (Semmes old) and Wofford, of his division, did not arrive until late on September 20th, and was not present on the field during the action described above.
South Carolina Monument overlooking Dyer Field at Chickamauga.