Phillips and Eggleston Family Genealogy

Diary: Joseph William Eggleston, Civil War Battle Of Pocotaligo, S.C.

The following is a Civil War era story excerpted from my mother's thesis on Joseph William Eggleston (1844-1927). The excerpt is from Joe's diary, which my mother transcribed. Joe was her grandfather. The thesis and all excerpted material from it are copyrighted and should not be reproduced in any fashion without obtaining permission. I can be contacted at Feel free to link to this page, however.

My great grandfather was a Confederate soldier and in this incident is facing the Union soldiers at Pocotaligo, South Carolina, in 1861. As you can read, this came very close to ending my ancestral line.

Battle Setting

Below an accompanying map in her thesis, my mother describes the setting for the battle:

"Late on 21 October, a Union force of some 4,500 men and a mixed naval force of some 15-20 gunboats and troop carriers embarked from Hilton Head on an expedition to destroy railroad bridges at Coosawhatchie and Pocotaligo. Landings at McKays Point began about 4:30 A.M. on 22 October. Advancing Union forces met the first Confederate resistance, a cavalry and artillery team, about 11:30 A.M. at Caston's and drove them back. The Confederates made a stand at Hutson's, but, suffering heavy casualties, withdrew to Pocotaligo where they held of enemy attacks until about 6:00 P.M. when the Union forces withdrew."

Joseph Eggleston's Description

"Across the marsh the ground was wooded and as soon as we took position, the enemy's sharpshooters, or skirmishers, as they were then called, began picking off our men. Sergeant Billups' horse was the first thing I saw hit and killed.31 The order was to use shrapnel with one and one-half second fuses. This meant close work, but after the first shot the order was changed to half a second. All had been ordered to dismount including officers, and I called out to Sam Bowles at the limber to cut his fuses accordingly.32 He remonstrated and said it must be a mistake. I repeated the order and he still insisted that the shrapnel would burst in the gun. I rather thought so myself, but stepped back even with the wheel driver and used some Confederate Army Language to him and carried the point. Just as I turned toward the gun, all this not having consumed as much time in the doing as it has in the telling, Tom Booker, wheel driver, Billy Thacker - with a load of ammunition in his hands, and I formed, for a moment, a bunch of three and a sharpshooter killed Thacker, the middle man.33 I ordered Sam Bowles and the gunner to lay him, not yet dead behind a live oak tree and returned to the gun.

Two shots had been fired and as I reached the side of No. 4, John Fulcher - he became for a second the middle man between Oscar Bowles, No. 2, and myself - was shot just above the heart.34 True to the last, he tried to unbuckle the belt of his friction primer box, knowing that some one must have it to continue the fire. He said, with difficulty, "Sargeant, write to my people and tell them I . . ." and his voice failed and he sank down. He fell beside the wheel and I strapped his outfit on and had to straddle him, not dead, but dying and too far gone to be moved. I, having taken his place, being short handed, was firing myself and in a moment Marble Wright, No. 1 across the gun from my position was shot through the body lengthwise from hip to shoulder. Of course he was, at the moment, with his back to the enemy because [he was] in the act of sponging the gun. I ordered Cubus Whitehead, No.3, to take his place and was compelled to assume his duties in addition to No. 4's but soon found that the hot gun would fire without pricking the cartridge and later that it was possible to omit holding the vent as was also No. 3's duty. Shrapnel being exhausted, we changed to canister and were cutting great gaps though a line of infantry in double ranks and for a time those gallant men closed the gaps and fought on. Soon George Pugh, No. 5 having added Billy Thacker's duties to his own, was bringing ammunition all the way from the Limber to No. 3 who was meeting him, and he (Pugh) was at the moment just behind me. He received a singular wound. An ounce lead ball struck him in the abdomen, went in and then out within two inches of the same place. The surgeons could never account for its vagary. He recovered and was killed in his sleep by a descending ball two years later at Petersburg. Besides Sam Bowles at the limber, all I had left to work the gun were Whitehead, Oscar Bowles and myself. I was still well able to do my part though a small plug had been shot out of a finger and a twelve pound shot had passed so close to my hip as to knock me ten feet by the displace air. When it happened, Oscar Bowles cried out, "There the Sergeant is shot in two." Both he and Whitehead, for a moment thought so. I was very active and was up as soon as down, laughing, and thought no more about it at the time though I do feel it now sometimes in my old age. I was turned over so violently that a muscle above my hip was strained if not a little torn."

31James Otis Billips, Sgt. Enl. 9/15/61 Richmond.
KIA 7/30/64 Petersburg. W. Cullen Sherwood. Virginia
Regimental History Series. Lynchburg. H.E. Howard, Inc.

32Samuel G. Bowles. Pvt. Enl Rives Bat. 9/3/61 at Massies
Hill. Made Cpl 6/3/63. Service through 12/31/64 (ibid):48.

33Thomas Hobson Booker. Enl. 9/3/61 Amelia C.H. Received UDC
Cross of Honor. Died in Ameilia, 1928. William A. Thacker.
Pvt. Enl. Nelson Co. 9/3/61, age 17. KIA 9/22/62
at Pocotaligo, SC. (Ibid):48-51.

34Oscar Bowles N. Pvt. Enl. Massies Hill 3/8/62 age 21.
John F. Fulchur. Enl. 9/3/61 Massies Mill. KIA 10/22/62
at Pocotaligo, SC. (Ibid):48-51.

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