Sloppy Research

This letter-to-the-editor will appear in the next issue of America’s Civil War correcting a reference I made in the introduction to the John C. Winsmith letter

Dear Editors:
Someone may have already raised this issue, but just in case they have not, I will. In the September issue’s "Eyewitness to War" department, Kevin M. Levin made a frequently occurring error in his introduction to the letter from John Christopher Winsmith. In setting the stage for the letter he describes the 1st
South Carolina during the "spring campaign of 1864" as being commanded by "Colonel Johnson Hagood." Johnson Hagood, who was the first commander of the 1st South Carolina, had left the regiment after his promotion to Brigadier General in August 1863, with an effective date of July 21. In the time frame of the letter, May 1864, he, with his South Carolina brigade, were in active combat against Major General Benjamin F. Butler’s command in the Bermuda Hundreds.

When Winsmith mentions his commander, "Col. Hagood," in his letter, he is referring to Johnson Hagood’s younger brother, James Robert Hagood, who by that time had been promoted to command of the 1st South Carolina. It is important to note that his promotion to command was for merit not because his relationship to the first commander. His brief biography from the South Carolina volume of the "Confederate Military History" will illustrate this point. When he enlisted in the 1st South Carolina, Col. Thomas Glover was in command. "He was rapidly promoted, first to the office of sergeant-major, the adjutant of his regiment, then to the captaincy of one of the companies (Co. K), and illustrative of the fact that worth levels all grades, upon the death of the gallant (Colonel Franklin W.) Kilpatrick (killed in action at Lookout Valley/Wauhatchie Junction, Tennessee October 28, 1863), he was promoted over four senior captains and all the field officers to the colonelcy of his regiment. All of these promotions occurred within a year of his enlistment as a private, and three of them were conferred as a reward for ‘distinguished skill and valor on the battlefield.’ His colonel’s commission is dated ten days before his nineteenth birthday, making him the youngest officer of that rank in the Confederate army."

James A. Gabel
Rapid City, SD

Thanks James for calling me on a bit of sloppy research.

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