My family and I have been visiting Edisto Island for probably 75 years now. It used to be practically empty, but now has gotten pretty touristy. However, in the interior of the island it is still pretty scarcely populated, and the remains of several plantations still exist on the island. The history museum is very interesting and has some info on the Jenkins family -- it's also got one of the only original slave cabins in the US. I'm not sure if the cabin came from Edisto or not.The Knights of Edisto are a noble order dedicated to the memory of the Union and Confederate officers under the age of thirty, especially those who gave their lives in the service of their flag before reaching that age. It is named for Brigadier General Micah Jenkins, known as the "Prince of Edisto". This thread shall be used to relate the lives and deeds of these men, and discuss their skill and valor. It is hoped this serve the edification and entertainment of the users of CivilWarTalk.
The first biography discussed here will fittingly be that of Micah Jenkins.
Jenkins was born on 1 December 1835 on Edisto Island in South Carolina. He excelled in military arts from the beginnng seemingly, graduating first in his class in 1854 from the South Carolina Military Institute, called "The Citadel".
When the war began, he was quickly elected colonel of the 5th South Carolina Infantry, fighting at First Manassas under David R. Jones. He temporarily commanded Richard H. Anderson's brigade at the battle of Seven Pines, receiving a wound to the knee. He was wounded again in the shoulder and chest at Second Manassas, and was recuperating during the Maryland Campaign.
Jenkins was present at Fredericksburg, but did not take part in the fighting. He took part in the Suffolk Campaign with Longstreet missing Chancellorsville. His brigade was kept at Richmond, and they did not go north to fight at Gettysburg. Longstreet's corps was then sent to Georgia, and Jenkins fought at Chickamauga. John Bell Hood, Jenkins' division commander, was promoted to corps command after this battle, sparking a bitter feud with Evander Law over who would receive the division. Longstreet preferred Jenkins, and he had seniority, so Jenkins briefly commanded it. Law protested; he had commanded the division when Hood was wounded at Gettysburg and Chickamauga. The matter was resolved when Charles W. Field, senior to both Jenkins and Law, was given the command.
Jenkins was sick at the time of the Battle of the Wildnerness, but arrived at the battle in an ambulance ready to lead his troops into battle. He knew very well the great importance of the attack, and summoned his close friend Colonel Ashbury Coward of the 5th South Carolina. "Old man," he said, "we are in for it today. We are to break the enemy's line where the Brock Road cuts across the pike. The point," he indicated the direction with an extended arm, "lies just over there, I think." Smiling, he continued, "Your regiment is the battalion of direction. Tell your men that South Carolina is looking for every man to do his duty to her this day." Porter Alexander rode by to find a good position for the artillery. Alexander shook Jenkins' hand and poked a little fun at his friend's style of address. "Old man, I hope you will win that next grade this morning." "Well," answered Jenkins, turning to his men, "we are going to fight for old South Carolina today, aren't we boys?" The men gave a shout in reply.
The column was ready to move, and Jenkins was in high spirits. "Sorrel, it was splendid," he said, throwing an arm around the man's shoulder, "We shall smash them now." As Longstreet and Jenkins, riding close at hand, came near Mahone's troops, the men opened fire. Jenkins' troops had received new uniforms of a very dark, almost black, gray, leading their compatriots to think Yankees were approaching. Jenkins was struck in the skull and fell, while Longstreet received a near fatal wound to the neck. The bullet that hit Jenkins had passed through his temple, entering his brain. He babbled incoherently for a few moments, cheering and urging his men to drive the enemy into the river. He soon was too weak to talk, and Coward arrived to see his friend laying delirious on a litter. Kneeling by his side, he said, "Jenkins...Mike, do you know me?" he whispered to no answer. Jenkins' hand convulsed, then his whole body spasmed and stopped. Coward stood in shock as Jenkins' body was raised into the ambulance.
Jenkins' son, Micah Jenkins Jr., later served as Captain of Troop K of the "Rough Riders" in the Spanish-American War.
To apply for membership in the knights, contact either myself or @lelliott19. A 'dubbing' will be held, and membership shall be conferred upon that user.
After the Rebs abandoned Edisto Island early in the war, its only inhabitants for a couple years were the effectively freed slaves. Many of these slaves were conscripted by Federal forces into the 33rd, 34th, and 35th USCT troops.
I've not been able to definitively connect all the dots yet, but I am pretty sure that a former slave, Anthony Jenkins, from one of the Jenkins' plantations on Edisto was conscripted into the 34th USCT and fought against Micah Jenkins' brother John Jenkins at the battle of Honey Hill. Slave, become freed slave when all whites abandoned Edisto, become conscripted Yankee soldier, to finally fighting against his former master and surviving the war. Seems to me there's a whole story there!
This famous photo of a former slave wearing what appears to be a Federal frock coat was taken on Edisto Island -- you might recognize it from the cover of Jeffrey Hummel's book, Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men.