Daily Constitutionalist

Augusta, Georgia

Tuesday morning, April 29, 1862


“Our Army Correspondence”


The Fight At South Mills, N.C.

South Mills, N.C., April 21st, 1862


          At last, the 3rd Georgia has met the enemy. They (the enemy) are whipped. I cannot without revealing more than would be prudent, tell you all about the disposition of the different companies of our regiment just before the battle occurred. The fight was an impromptu affair, somewhat unexpected to both parties. The Yankees thought to catch the Georgians napping, but Col. Wright was too smart for the cautious foe, and had our forces in readiness to meet the expedition got up on purpose to bag the hated Georgians and take a look at their celebrated Colonel, of whom they had heard so much at Roanoke Island.


          As near as can be ascertained, six regiments composed of New Yorkers, New Hampshiremen, Massachusetters, and Pennsylvanians, under the command of Gen. Reno, landed quietly on Friday, the 18th, at 2 o’clock, P.M., at two different points in Camden County. Col. Wright had an order issued, calling all companies of the Regiment and 4 pieces of artillery, under Capt. McComas, Virginia Volunteers, to this place and vicinity. Six or seven companies, under Major Lee, were forced to march from 7 to 14 miles to arrive at the battle ground. Thus, worn out and hungry, we entered the fight. The field was a beautiful one for our purpose, weak as our force was. It was selected by Col. Wright, and is about two miles from this on the road to Camden Court House. Capt. McComas opened the ball as the enemy were marching confidently up the road. He was supported at the time by companies C, D, and L. The fight was kept up near three hours by the artillery before the infantry fired a gun. The order was then given for the above named companies to open fire on our Northern Union-savers, which they did with a vengeance.


          Next came up companies A and B, who took position on the left, and commenced pouring a terrific fire into the enemy’s right, while subjected to one equally terrific from the foe (Hawkin’s New York Zouaves,) who had deployed to their right and got under cover of a pine thicket, but suffered much from the fire of our boys of companies B and A. Then came our gallant boys of old Augusta, the Confederate Light Guards, Co. G. We were led up to the field , just in the nick of time, by Lieutenant Colonel Reid, who, in fact, led all the reserves to their posts. As we arrived on the ground, we were met by Col. Wright, who, swinging his cap over his head, gave a cheer for the Confederates – “Hurrah! My boys, give ‘em ----!” “Save our battery, boys!” cried one of the artillery, whose dead Captain was just then being carried off the field. “We will!” went up from the boys, as Claibe Snead, leading the way called out, “Come on, boys!” With a shout we filed to the left and took position on the edge of a large corn field. We commenced firing instantly, and kept it up for more than an hour and a half. Col. Wright was often near us and was exposed to a galling fire. It was here that two of our gallant boys were killed -  Sam May and Tom Widner; the former was shot by a Minnie ball just over the left eye, and the latter, by the same kind of ball through the left arm, passing through his body and lodging in his clothing on the right side; both died easy. Four or five were wounded, none dangerously. I give you their names below. Finding that the enemy were about to flank our left, the Colonel gave the command to fall back to the entrenchments. This we did, and waited for the enemy – they did not come.


          During the night our pickets took up a man who told them that 5,000 additional Yankees were landing, and that they had six more pieces of artillery. Acting on this information a council of war decided to fall back on the canal, in the direction of Norfolk, and await reinforcements, which should have been with us on Saturday. We met a portion of the 22nd Georgia and one company of the 9th Virginia, some 13 miles from this, yesterday morning. During the day, the 1st Louisiana came up with General Blanchard. The order was then given to return to South Mills. In the meantime Colonel Wright received a flag of truce from General Reno, asking permission to bury their dead and to be allowed to parole their wounded. This, of course, under the present rule – or no rule – could not be.


          You will perceive that only six companies of the gallant Third were in the conflict, and have, to all intents and purposes, whipped, in connection with four pieces of artillery, six regiments of Yankees, with, at least, an equal force of artillery.


          Our loss is 5 killed, vis: Private Mallory, of company B, private Deas, of company F, (fighting independently), privates May and Widner, of company G, private Wm. Loving, of company L. Wounded, 12, vis: Privates R. Palmer and T.H. Attaway, of company A, Sergeant Nicholson and private B. Adams, of company B, Lieut. Wilson and Musician A.B. Spencer, of company C, private A. Evans, of company D, privates J.A. Robinson, McKenith Daniels,  David Fountain, Wm. Chamblaine, of company G, private W.C. Wright, of company L. One is missing – private D. Clinton , company A. Taken prisoner, H.E. Jernigan, of company C.


          The loss of the artillery is – killed, Capt. McComas, wounded, Sergt. Peters, Privates Horn and Blankenship. Recapitulation – killed 6, wounded 15, missing 1, taken prisoner 1.


          I have reported only those of the wounded included in the Surgeon’s report. Many are very slightly wounded, whose names I cannot get, such a Wm. Cauley, of our company, who received a spent ball in his left breast. Many of our company received balls in their clothing. Mat.Thomas, Sam. Thomkiss, and John Wethers were shot through their caps. Our boys behaved nobly, and acted coolly throughout. Lieut. Snead “will do to tie to.”


          The battle of Sawyer’s Lane has, I think, established Col. Wright’s reputation as an officer. It has certainly endeared him to every man who fought under him. In this hurried statement, there will necessarily be some errors, hereafter they will  be corrected as the facts are ascertained.


          Capt. Edw. Walker is sick.


                                                                                                                                                                   J. L. E.


          P.S. The enemy have lost, by the confession of one of their surgeons, (whom we have, with 18 or 20 wounded prisoners,) over one hundred killed and wounded, among whom are the Adjutant of the New York 9th killed, and 13 officers wounded. I am confident that this surgeon has only told half the truth.


          Co. A is the Burke Guard, Co. B the Brown Rifles, Co. C the Dawson Greys, Co. D the Home Guard, Co. G the Confederate Light Guard, and Co. L the Clarke County Rifles.