Addition, 1862-1865, to the Charles Jones| Manuscripts Gifts 2007 | Front Page 2007 | Previous Issues | Friends of the Library |
Colcock Hutson Papers
A gift to SCL Manuscripts Division announced in 2007
Four letters, 27 May 1862-25 May 65, and newspaper clipping, 29 November 1902, augment the South Caroliniana Library’s holdings of personal papers relating to McPhersonville, South Carolina, native Charles Jones Colcock Hutson (1842-1902), an attorney who fought with the First South Carolina Regiment and later served his state in the General Assembly and the Constitutional Convention of 1895 and ultimately as clerk of the United States District Court. More specifically, the letters bear upon Hutson’s Confederate military service and post-surrender status as a prisoner of war. | Manuscripts Gifts 2007 | Previous Issues | Endowments | Friends of the Library |
In the longest of the letters, Hutson wrote from near Hanover Junction, Virginia, on 27 May 1862 to alert his parents to the fact that the Army of the Rappahannock was "marching with tedious journeys the long road to Richmond" in anticipation of reinforcing Johnston. "We left Fredericksburg vicinity on Saturday night, being obliged to make a forced march - the enemy supposed to be at our heels all the time. Our whole force of about 16000 commenced our march upon the same road…travelled by the grand Army of the Potomac last March….We marched Saturday night and all of Sunday a distance of 25 or 30 miles & resumed our march yesterday morning after a hurried rest and reached this Junction yesterday evening….We had a terrible time upon the most dreadful roads you can imagine. The wagons were obliged to empty themselves of all the tents, much camp equipage, cooking utensils &c….Fortunately all reached here but stripped of most of their contents….We will join Johnston’s grand army & prepare for the grand battle which is to decide Richmond’s fate - & which I have predicted long ago….We are at this minute reclining on a hill above a valley 1 mile ½ from Hanover Junction having been sent here to meet the enemy reported advancing on us rapidly. We are in line of battle–our cavalry on our left guarding a bridge over a small river & two or three companies thrown forward in advance on the river banks. Col. [Richard H.] Riddick from No. Ca. is in Command of our force. If the enemy advance in force we must keep in check until reinforcements arrive….our detachment I suppose is 2 or 3000 strong."
Hutson was wounded in fighting at Cold Harbor, Virginia, on 27 June 1862. Writing home shortly thereafter, on 8 July 1862, he recounted some of the details prior to the event and assessed his future. "You know I had no business to go into the battle before Richmond. I was in charge of Quartermaster’s & Paymaster’s Dept of our Regt & all important papers were in my hand, the Q.M. being sick & away. I was virtually Q.M. of the Regt. & ought to have remained as the Commissary & Q.M. always do in charge of the valuables of the Regt, but I knew the Regt. was going into battle from the tenor of orders recd & I wanted to be with my company in one battle & went leaving my papers &c with Q.M. Sergt."
It was rumored that Quartermaster Alexander H. McGowan would resign soon, and Hutson thought if he "got on well" he was in line to be appointed quartermaster of the regiment with the rank and pay of captain. "So it might have been policy to have remained," he concludes, "but I am satisfied & a private’s position is good enough for me if this war would only end & we could return to our homes & peaceful avocations." Hutson alludes only in passing to the hospital, limiting his remarks to the insidiousness of typhoid fever and noting that he had seen many "carried to the grave from the Richmond Hospitals, from that disease." Of things military, he simply notes, "I long to hear from my Regt. The armies are now quite distant from Richmond & McClellan is not bagged, but a great victory has been gained which will ensure foreign recognition."
On 12 July 1862 Hutson wrote from Vaughn’s Hospital, Farmville, Virginia, complaining that he had "not heard a word from home...since before the battles of 26 & 27 &c of last month" nor from anyone in his regiment. Consequently he was feeling "very lonesome & pilgrim-like in these unknown regions." The fever resulting from the wound had returned, but Hutson thought the inflamation had subsided enough to prevent any further attacks. While his wound was healing slowly, he had grown "tired of the hospital & laying on my back & doing nothing. I am sure a week or two at home would cure me in health & in spirits….A letter from home would be as beneficial to me as the Drs prescription."
Both armies were quiet now before Richmond, causing Hutson to conjecture that the summer campaign had ended. "Active operations will not be resumed in Virginia until cool weather comes in. By that time I look for foreign recognition, but whether that will affect the length of the war is another matter. I am tired of speculating upon the war. I have speculated so often with such unsatisfactory results that I hardly have any opinion about the war. My wish is that it would speedily terminate altho not without fully secured rights."
The fourth and final letter was penned by Hutson’s kinsman W[illiam] Hazzard Wigg from Alexandria, Virginia, on 25 May 65 and addressed him as a prisoner of war at Johnson’s Island, near Sandusky, Ohio. Hutson, who had been captured in the waning days of the war, was imprisoned first at Washington, D.C., and ultimately sent to Johnson’s Island. He was paroled on 6 June 1865 contingent upon taking the oath of allegiance. Wigg’s letter shares with him news of their native state gleaned from communications with the Rev. Richard Fuller, to whom Wigg "had applied for aid in your relief." Fuller had given "a most afflictive account of things" in South Carolina and had counseled Wigg against relocating his family there. "I cannot advise any man, either to take the oath, or to refuse it," Wigg went on to say, "but, I do not hesitate to say, that I see nothing now, to be gained, by not taking it. If you conclude to take it, & get your release, I shall certainly expect to see you…soon after." Perhaps by that time, Wigg mused, he would be ready to accompany Hutson on a trip home to the Palmetto State.