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SOUTH CAROLINIANA LIBRARY
UNIVERSITY SOUTH CAROLINIANA SOCIETY
MANUSCRIPTS DIVISION 2001
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"Reminiscence of Army life in 1864" [undated], by C.O. Wheeler
Manuscript, undated, "Reminiscence of Army life in 1864," by C.O. Wheeler relates details of his Confederate military experiences from the time that Longstreet's Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia broke camp after wintering in East Tennessee, 1863-1864, and headed back to Virginia.

On 5 May, shortly after returning to Virginia, Wheeler notes, the Second South Carolina, to which he was attached, "could hear the roar of cannon in the distance &...we were marched out of camp in the direction of the Battle. About night we were halted, and commenced arrangement for the night but before much was done the assembly was sounded & the army again took up the march & kept it up all night." The following day Wheeler and his comrades were involved in the Wilderness fight. The narrative recounts a conversation overheard between Confederate Generals Lee and Longstreet shortly before the battle commenced.

During the fight Wheeler was struck in the forehead by a Yankee bullet and left for dead. Before anyone could return to bury him, Wheeler recounted, "I had recovered consciousness & had left the field with one of the litter bearer who showed me the plank road & directed me to the field infirmary-some little distance in the rear." While making his way there, Wheeler met his slave Hampton who expressed relief that he did not have to bury his master. At the infirmary, he recalled, "the Dr. told me nothing saved my life but a hard head."

Wheeler was sent to Huguenot Springs to convalesce but returned to camp in June and found that his application for transfer to Gardner's Battery, Haskell's Battalion, had been approved by the Secretary of War. Soon thereafter Gardner's Battery was ordered to Petersburg where they arrived on 17 June 1864, Wheeler's twenty-second birthday. "The battle was raging just outside of the city," he recalled, "but Beauregard with about 10,000 men was making a successfull fight against about 60,000." "As we passed through the streets of Petersburg the citizens were lined up on both sides," offering the soldiers cool water, hot coffee, lager beer, bread and meat. "And they would say God bless you, we feel safe now for Gen. Lee with the Army of Northern V[irgini]a is coming in." Wheeler was placed in command of the Fourth Detachment since no noncommissioned officers were present for duty.

The account also describes the digging of a bomb proof shelter intended for the storage of gun powder. Wheeler remained with the Fourth Detachment at the gun emplacement for six weeks and had just been furloughed to the nearby camp where their horses were pastured when the explosion of the Crater occurred. His narrative concludes with his attempts to reach his gun emplacement.

A similar version of Wheeler's memoir is published in volume 3 of Recollections and Reminiscences 1861-1865 through World War I issued by the South Carolina Division, United Daughters of the Confederacy (1992).


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