Edward Barnwell Heyward, born in Beaufort, S.C., on 4 May 1826, was the son of Charles Heyward (1802-1866) and Emma Barnwell Heyward (1806-1835). Heyward spent much of his youth at Rose Hill plantation where he was born and in his family’s home in Charleston. His graduation from South Carolina College in 1845 was followed by an extended trip to Europe. In 1850 Heyward married Lucy Green Izard, of Columbia. Only one of their four children, Walter Izard (b. 1851), survived infancy. Before his wife’s death in 1858, Heyward purchased Goodwill plantation on the Wateree River in lower Richland District.
The bulk of this collection of one hundred sixty-five manuscripts and one volume covers the period from 1861 until 1870. The correspondence begins in 1861 with family letters of Catherine Maria Clinch (1828-1870) who became Edward Barnwell Heyward’s second wife on 17 February 1863. A daughter of Gen. Duncan L. Clinch and Eliza Bayard McIntosh, “Tat” Clinch and “Barney” Heyward may have met in 1862 when Barnwell Heyward was there assisting his wounded brother Joseph who died on 7 November. Like the Heywards, family issues beset the Clinch family at the outset of the Civil War. Tat’s sister Elizabeth was married to Maj. Robert Anderson, who surrendered Ft. Sumter in April 1861. In July 1861 Tat had to inform her mother of the death of Edmund Clinch who “has fulfilled his earthly mission and given to his country, his last drop of blood....The Christian soldier our brave & best Edmund has gone to God” (22 July 1861).
Barnwell Heyward returned to Goodwill plantation after Joseph’s death. In a letter of 17 November 1862 he expressed his love for Tat—“And it is so delicious to wake up every now and then to the reality that I have someone to love me, and I feel so relieved to think that you are such a fine woman.” He assured her that Izard “will love you just as I do.” Three days before their wedding, 14 February 1863, Barney sent Tat a poem in three stanzas—“if you like them, put them in your Book, sacred to Barney, and Tattie’s love.”
Tat’s impressions of her new home in lower Richland District are recorded in letters to her mother and sister in the spring and summer of 1863. They planned to build another house on the property; and following a visit with the Singletons, Barney “carried me round in an out of the way road, to show me what a handsome approach could be had to the new house” (24 March 1863). In June she commented on the siege of Vicksburg and the situation along the Combahee River where “The Yankees have devastated the plantations, six or seven of them...carrying off six or seven hundred negroes” (5 June 1863).
Barnwell Heyward continued planting at Goodwill for the first two years of the war. The labor force at Goodwill increased significantly when his father’s slaves were relocated to Goodwill from plantations on the Combahee River. Heyward’s only military experience consisted of service in a homeguard unit in lower Richland District. But in January 1864 he traveled to Richmond to seek a military appointment. His letters to Tat detail many social activities in the Confederate capital, including several encounters with Varina Davis and Mary Chesnut. He first met them while out walking, and “[they] were so very polite as to ask me to walk with them which of course I did very gallantly.” There seemed to be a frantic pace to life in Richmond and also a good deal of gossip, some of which Barney passed along to his wife. In a letter of 27 January he tells of accompanying Mrs. Chesnut to a party given by President and Mrs. Davis—“Mr. Davis was very polite to me & is a very agreeable person....Mrs. Davis is full of fun.” He later attended a ball in formal wear where “I looked very well & flew around to the great delight of myself.” On the 28th he related meeting Mrs. Clay and Mrs. Davis. He did not like the former as much as the latter—“She is dry and studied, Mrs. D[avis] is fresh and jolly, more natural and more pleasing.”
Heyward received a commission as a lieutenant in the Engineer branch and was assigned to Chisolmville in Beaufort District. He was stationed near his father's rice plantations and made frequent visits to inspect the properties and to confer with overseer S.H. Boineau. While he lived a spartan life in camp, he did occasionally venture out and was favorably impressed on his visit to Tom Hanckel’s pineland residence—“he was kind enough not only to provide a very nice dinner...but to invite some friends....His wife was there, a perfect monster, Old Daniel Heyward, Col. Ch. Colcock, and Capt. Louis deSaussure....The dinner was really very nice, the servants as clean as pins and everything about the table so old fashioned and genteel. It was very rich for a poor fellow from camp eating bacon on rusty tin plates and dirty field negroes stumbling about” (28 July 1864).
Heyward’s letters to Tat and to his father detail the progress of work on fortifications with Negro labor, comment on news of the war and his conviction that Sherman’s advance would eventually be derailed, and his contacts with overseer Boineau. In a letter of 10 September, written while visiting Charleston, he informed his father of damage to the family home on East Bay as a result of Federal artillery fire. He noted that the “‘popping’ shells kill more but injure the buildings less....I must say that the noise of the shot falling is more annoying, than the explosion.” When he returned to camp at Chisolmville, 12 September, he listed for his wife purchases that he made in Charleston and gave her instructions for making articles of clothing. He voiced his displeasure “to hear men in Charleston expressing their doubts and fears. Smooth faced men and dodging service by becoming clerks and strutting along in old clothes but never going into the hot sun ever.”
By late 1864 Charles Heyward’s health was failing, and there was clearly tension between father, Barnwell, and his sister Elizabeth who was married to Gen. James Heyward Trapier. Barnwell sensed that other family members, including his father, were arrayed against him—“But that I am to be held up as the author of all evil seems determined upon. Fortunately it does not trouble me.” He identified Elizabeth as the source of the trouble and repeated a cousin’s opinion of the Trapiers—“she never did like the Trapiers and always said they were a dried up set” (10 October 1864). In a letter of 15 September Barnwell recognized that his father was increasingly incapable of managing affairs—“He has no one near him to advise him in any matter and like all weak people he will listen to no advice or opposition, and therefore employs only flatterers, who if they don’t betray him certainly do him no good.” He went on to discuss the history of the relationship between his father and himself as well as his sister’s bitterness towards him. Unlike the Trapiers, he considered that “I never felt myself called upon to do anything but kindness to him...simply because it is my duty to him, and also to my Mother....[The Trapiers] hold him responsible for all their unhappiness, and actually have always cultivated angry feelings, and now they have all fairly broken down, and are completely at a loss.” Charles Heyward’s decision regarding the transfer of overseers angered his son who complained to Tat that he allowed his father “to bring into my family his Irish servant who has caused trouble enough [and] I now have to endure his overseer....My Father is completely wrapped up in those low, common people around him and expects me to leave my family & property under his care, when he has neglected and abused every previous thing left under his charge” (12 January 1865).
As the military prospects of the Confederate states began to appear more desperate by the winter of 1864 Barnwell Heyward found much about which to complain. Some of the Negro laborers and soldiers were suffering from fever and ague, but “[t]he government refused to send any more medicated whiskey.” Izard paid too much for shoes in Columbia considering that he supplied the leather—“All tradesmen now are great cheats & shoemakers seem to bear particular spite against the customers supplying the leather” (16 October 1864). And he found fault with certain public officials. Reacting to a letter of Alexander Stephens, he declared—“what a sneak he is....I believe Stephens is at heart a Union man and a recon-structionist” (13 October 1864). While he remained optimistic about the military situation, “when I see such letters of Stephens of your state and of [James Petigru] Boyce of ours, then my heart does sink, and I feel so ashamed” (16 October 1864).
As the year 1864 drew to a close, Barnwell Heyward maintained an upbeat tone in his letters to Tattie despite the approach of Sherman’s army on Savannah and Yankee incursions up the Ashepoo River. He was concerned that Mrs. Clinch and Tattie’s sister remained in Savannah. He had heard reports that the rice planters in Georgia were suffering heavy losses and feared for his family’s properties on the Combahee River—“It is so valuable and the negroes so good. I can’t bear the idea of the Yankees getting them” (20 December 1864).
The collection contains only three letters in 1865. After the defeat of the Confederacy, Barnwell Heyward returned to Goodwill plantation and resumed planting. His father died the following year. The Negro laborers that had lived at Goodwill during the war returned to the Heyward plantations in Colleton District. In 1866 Barnwell Heyward moved his family to Charleston and made plans to begin planting rice on Amsterdam and Lewisburg, the two plantations that he inherited from his father. These plantations contained 8,000 acres of rice fields and 1,500 acres of adjoining lands. In a letter of 10 March 1867 he informed Tattie of his work schedule and of the progress of planting the crop. He reported that he had as many as forty-four workers in the fields one day, and “I worked nearly as hard as they.” He was clearly pleased with the progress of planting and with his management of the work force—“And yet you would be delighted to see them with me in the field or at home, so polite and extremely kind and generous to each other....I don’t like to boast but I declare I think I deserve some credit for going ahead as I have done on a place upon which I have never been but five times in my life and so late in the season and so unacquainted with Rice planting in general....The negroes have gone to work like a machine, and so have the mules, and a stranger would suppose I had been here for two years.”
Regular letters to Tattie contain reports on the progress of planting, his observations on the work force, and the political situation although he acknowledged that “I see hardly any papers, get no letters, and am in happy ignorance of all that is passing in the world outside Amsterdam. I suppose of course the States will give the Negroes their suffrage, for the yankees have settled that matter for us.” Heyward was especially pleased with the women working in the fields—“The women work beautifully, do anything well...particularly jumping wide ditches, which is accomplished by placing the hoe in the center of the Ditch and springing over." Heyward also was impressed with the work of his driver Ishmael—“the tip top one of the whole set. So perfect in his profession, apparently so popular....The fellow is so handsome, active and polite—a first rate planter, and I believe in every way reliable” (14 March 1867).
Heavy rains endangered the crop in June as Heyward feared the dikes would give way from the force of the rising tide. Many of his workers were away at a “public meeting,” but with the help of his driver and the carpenters, “all the intelligent ones who declined attending the meeting...they all took hoes and worked manfully on a weak place, and I felt really grateful to them” (25 June 1867). Heyward was pleased with the appearance of his property when he wrote Tattie in July. He noted his particular pleasure “with the squares belonging to the negroes. It is just as well worked as my own and perfectly resemble it.” Heyward mentioned plans for relocating his family to the plantation the following year—“We can be comfortable here in the winter and in the pineland in the summer” (16 June 1867).
Despite his apparent satisfaction with the rice crop and the labor force, Heyward and his planter cousin James B. Heyward were not optimistic beyond the current year—“The negroes behave well and we get on very nicely. I am afraid they will not improve after this year. Both Cousin James and I are gloomy for the future” (25 June 1867). Heyward anticipated that the legislature would pass “a very ‘large’ Homestead Bill...and each planter will find his plantation a negro camp. Depend upon it, the negroes won’t ‘stroke a lick,’ if they know they can’t be turned away” (26 July 1867).
By September the harvest was underway. When he wrote Tattie on 20 September, he noted that he had eighty-one laborers in the fields. He informed her confidentially that the Union League had requested him to appear on their ticket for the state convention—“It will be too funny if they do send me, and I know I would control a large vote down on the River among our own people” (20 September 1867). Heyward agreed with a recent statement by Gen. Sickles that “‘the military has been a real blessing to the South.’” He anticipated that the Radical party “will burn down like any other fire and we will have peace after a while. The white men ever did and ever will rule the Black one, suffrage, or no suffrage” (29 September 1867). After the election in November which Heyward denoted as “a negro affair in toto, and as such utterly contemptible,” he observed—“The poor things are home again and I verily believe have already forgotten all about it. All went, the oldest scarcely able to walk, not a man was left here” (23 November 1867).
The harvest season continued in November with the threshing of the rice. The scene, Heyward declared, “remind[ed] me so of old times, the noise of the flail, the whole scene, even the mirth. It made me real happy & all in such good humour. Everything passed off finely and I have more applicants...than I have space for on the threshing floor” (23 November 1867).
In an incomplete letter written in 1867 or 1868 Heyward outlined for Tattie his ideas about managing Negro labor—“It is my firm conviction from my intercourse with negroes this summer that negroes require government and that wages acting simply as a stimulant does not attain that end, and being a stimulant they have to be continually increased. This is fatal of course. They also bring the negro in close contact with the landed proprietor, and a familiarity follows, also fatal.” The wage system was a failure—“It is an inducement merely, and utterly lost upon such creatures.” Heyward planned to select a foreman who with himself and three others chosen by the male workers would constitute a board of directors. Heyward proposed “a more liberal form of government—let them govern each other. They are slaves by nature and must obey someone. They fear their leading men, and these will be their rulers now.” “[T]hese Beaufort negroes,” according to Heyward, “prefer the share system—they like the crop being theirs at the end of the year, say it is more genteel, and look upon wages as rather beneath them.”
Planting the crop in the spring of 1868 was delayed in April by torrential rains which threatened the embankments, flooded a number of the laborer’s houses, and came within a foot of entering Heyward’s residence. He commended his labor force—“The negroes have behaved most splendidly, willing and wonderfully quiet and intelligent. They have answered every call right away, and ‘their duty’ it seems all they cared for.” He especially commended the work of Ishmael who acted to prevent a break in one of the embankments—“What that man did for me no one could tell unless there to see. He almost, I may say, stopped the hole with his body till assistance came. I could do nothing but look on” (24 April 1868).
In August 1868 Barnwell Heyward informed his mother-in-law, Mrs. Clinch, that “a learned Nigger” had come to the Combahee and addressed “a large meeting of our laborers.” According to Heyward, the speaker urged them to strike for wages of $2.00 a day. The speaker apparently was well received by the crowd “who seeing him with a big US flag around him believed he had come straight from heaven.” Heyward did not believe that “our own people” were impressed by the speaker—“I believe if left to themselves in such matters they would decide quite well” (23 August 1868).
The speaker to whom Heyward referred may have stirred up some unrest among the laborers as on 29 August he advised Tat to ignore newspaper accounts “about armed negroes in this neighborhood....I have seen the newspaper accounts and they afford great amusement to all of us here at home.” He characterized the affair as “a disgraceful drunken frolic of a US Col. and his negro troops” (29 August 1868). Heyward planned to call upon the governor to investigate the incident. Although the rice harvest was going well, Heyward clearly was distracted by the recent events, for he related to Tattie additional details “of the late drunken frolic down at Bissell’s store, and it becomes more of an outrage the further I go in the affair” (1 September 1868). Reporting that the harvest was going well on 4 September, he added that “much truth has come to light, and you will be glad to hear that yesterday the Magistrate told me he began to think ‘there had not been one gun fired at the U.S. Troops.’” Heyward pointed his finger at his cousin James Heyward— “[He] is too disgustingly selfish, and all others are overseers, or timid trifling planters like Cousin Nat” (4 September 1868).
Throughout September Heyward’s letters to his wife are filled with details of the event and his justification of his actions. He feared that the labor unrest would cause problems between the planters and their creditors. He recounted a recent conversation with Wiliam Henry Trescot—“He says our planters are the biggest fools in the world, they go North, abuse the negroes, declare they are a dangerous, idle & vile race, utterly useless, then turn around and ask for money to be put in crops to be planted by these very people....we are certainly a most unfortunate people destroying ourselves every day” (11 September 1868).
Heyward clearly blamed his cousin James as the individual responsible for the labor disturbances along the Combahee. He informed Tat, 20 September 1868, that he intended to sue The Mercury for libel and that he planned to meet with Governor Scott when he visited Columbia. Heyward was convinced that his recent actions “had [made] a decided impression among the negroes on the river....I have stood up for the weak against the strong. and they seem to appreciate it thoroughly.”
Perhaps in anticipation of his intention to file suit for libel against The Mercury, Barnwell Heyward corresponded with Colleton magistrate Robert Campbell and Sheriff E. Franklin Warren and requested that they provide him information gathered through their investigations. He inquired of the sheriff “if ever the impression was made on your mind that I was sympathizing with the Ring-leaders in the Combahee riot, and with Solomon Spears” (26 September 1868). Despite the conflict that surrounded Heyward in the late summer and fall of 1868, Barnwell Heyward expected to earn $6,000 that year. He cautioned his wife—“but don’t say so” (15 December 1868).
There are only four letters to Tattie in 1869. The letters were written between 16 February and 31 March. While there are no references to labor problems, it was obvious that relations between Barnwell and James had not improved. In a letter of 6 March, he noted that James “has accused me to Jim of turning back the hands coming to him when passing through my land....He also had written me about a trunk which leads through the Thomas Canal, and tho’ polite in his tone he was very much excited when coming to Jim in my field, galloping up on his horse, face very red, and barking out to Jim right among the hands, and was very far from being polite. He is very ill natured now and we will soon part, I hope forever.” On 21 March he discussed the progress of planting with “trenching ploughs” which allowed him to exclude outside labor who “come in contact with Mr. James B. and his lovely son Mister Frank who is I believe at the bottom of all this trouble. We can’t clash after this and I am sure you will be glad to hear I have so arranged it.”
There are no letters in the collection between Barney and Tat after March 1869. Catherine Maria Clinch Heyward died on 23 May 1870, and Barnwell, a widower for the second time, was in poor health. He died less than a year later on 26 January 1871.