Private, Henry L. Thomas
Capt. Gailliard's Co.
Santee Light Artillery

Summer 1921
Additional material from
Patrick Coxe
c. 2004 All rights reserved.

My dear young ladies, I have been asked by one of your members to write a short sketch of my memories of the Civil War.

I must warn you in the beginning not to expect anything brilliant, as my mind, like my body, has grown old and feeble, I can no longer think in brilliant terms as I once did, I have become dull and prosaic.

I was away when the excitement that brought on the war began, but returned to South Carolina on the day of Secession. I was then a student.

I soon joined a "Volunteer Rifle Company", and was elected Lieutenant of the same. The clans were preparing for War and our Captain offered our Company to the Governor for services as an Independent Company of Sharpshooters, which was not accepted, and the men began to join other companies that were bound for the front.

I resigned my Commission and joined as a Private in Company, H of the 11th Regiment. I served with them until the end of the first enlistment.

We were stationed at Hilton Head Islands near the mouth of the Port Royal River, where we built a small dirt fort mounting 23 guns to guard the harbor. We remained there sometime when the enemy attacked us with a fleet of 784 guns. After a hard fought battle that evening, we were successful in resisting their attack until our fort was dismantled; when we had only one gun left in action, and it was so hot it was dangerous to load it, the order was given to evacuate.

On November 7, 1861, the Union Fleet captured Port Royal Sound as the Confederate batteries guarding it were completely outgunned by Federal warships. No sooner had the bombardment on Forts Walker and Beauregard stopped, when the Union troops occupied Hilton Head Island (Wilcox and Ripley 1983:26). The capture of Port Royal Sound exemplified the North's naval supremacy and pointed out the fact that the South was helpless against attacks from the sea. More importantly, the fall of Port Royal gave the North "a base upon which to anchor its tenuous line of blockades stretching up and down the coast" (Wilcox and Ripley 1983:24). Battery Warren and the Santee Light Artillery by Robert G. Pasquill, Jr. - page 3 -

We were successful in getting out, having lost a considerable number of our small force. Our force was in number, over 2,500 men and 2,000 of them, Infantrymen, were not engaged during the time. We were taken to Savannah Georgia by steamboats and next we were sent to Hardeeville, on the Savannah River, to guard the road from any parties that should come inland to destroy the railroad.

Here we remained until the first enlistment was out. We were here organized for the balance of the War. Here I got a transfer to the Santee Artillery under Capt. C. Gaillard, which was then stationed at McClellanville. I joined the Company at the place and was moved back and forth from there to "Fort Warren" on the Santee, to Mt. Pleasant and Sullivans Island, on the coast, until all the calvary was removed to Virginia. Then we had to do picket duty in their place. On one of these picket posts, I was surrounded and captured, October 16, 1864 together with four of my comrades. After being kept on board ship for sometime, we were sent to "Fort Delaware" prison under guard where we suffered tortures.

There was no muster report recorded for the months of October and November of 1864. According to the Compiled Confederate Service Records, on October 16, 1864, Private T. B. Hattaway, Private Daniel Martin, Private J. H. Raburn, Private H. L. Thomas, and Private W. W. Westberry were captured by Union forces. All five men were sent to Fort Delaware, a Union prison camp, in January of 1865. Battery Warren and the Santee Light Artillery by Robert G. Pasquill, Jr. - pages 29-30 -

We were released after the War, almost starved to death. I, for one, having been reduced from 160 to 100 pounds.

Young ladies, you are doing a glorious work, keeping green the Memories of the Confederate Veterans, and if my mind were not so much broken with the hard struggle to live, I would delight to help you in your work. The few, but honorable few, that still remain will soon camp on the other side of the River with our bold leaders, who have gone ahead. Then you will have nothing left to do but keep our names green in the minds of future generations as a brave people who never laid down their arms until overpowered by too numerous enemies, and not in dishonor then. /s/ Henry L. Thomas

The following comments, written by Mrs. Anne C. Snowden and dated September 18, 1917, appear in volume 4 of Recollections and Reminiscences (United Daughters of the Confederacy, 1993):

There are only a few incidents of the war that remember, as when the war closed I was six and a half years old. My father, Captain Christopher Gaillard, was stationed with his company (as coast guard) at McClellanville. Mother, a young woman of thirty-five, was left with four little children on the plantation. The summer of '64 Mother went to McClellanville to be near my father. It was the first trip I had ever made, that I could remember. We went in a carriage. I have no idea of the distance, but it took us three days. We stopped the first night in Pineville and the next at Ballsdam, with Mr. John Palmer, who was Mother's uncle.

The men in my father's company used to get up parties, and Mother would let them have her house and prepare supper for them. Many of the soldiers were fond of hunting, and as game was plentiful they would always help with the supper by providing the game. She often prepared a lunch for the men who had to do guard duty on a plantation further down the river. I remember particularly one lunch that she prepared and the men did not enjoy. I watched her pack the basket. She had tried bread by a new recipe and it had turned out beautifully. The soldier who came for it thanked her and said, "Mrs. Gaillard, we will bring you some fine game when we are relieved." The next day news was brought that they had been surprised and taken prisoner by a gunboat. Mother's basket was found empty, hanging on the limb of a tree. I believe Mr. Henry Thomas was one of the men taken prisoner at that time.

One night the alarm was given that the Yankees were coming. We could hear the drums. I remember seeing my young lady cousins tying small articles that they wanted to save from the Yankees to their hoop skirts. The Yanks were at Mexico, a plantation about ten miles from The Rocks, and they passed us by.

My next impressions are of being in our summer home in Eutawville, the war over and soldiers and families on their way home, stopping for a meal or a night's lodging. Some were friends, others were strangers, but all found welcome. Our house was not the only that entertained in that way, for everyone in the South was ready to share what they had with those who had given their all for a lost cause.