Goodlett to the Public

Colonel S.D. Goodlett on his Court.

David W. Goodlett pointed me to this article. It provides additional insight on the tension between the officers of the Evans Brigade and the commander Shank Evans. (CI-R82-2507.3)

To the Public

It is a well-known fact that a difficulty occurred between Brigadier-General N.G. Evans and myself, at Kinston, (N.C.) in December 1862; after which various charges and specifications were preferred by Gen. Evans against me.

I have stood the ordeal of a trial, and as yet final action has not been had on the decision of the Court.

Various rumors are in circulation, well-calculated to seriously affect my character at home and at a distance. It therefore becomes my duty, in advance of the final action on the case, to present some of the testimony in my behalf, in order to arrest erroneous statements, busily disseminated, until the matter is finally disposed of, or till such time as I can be able to lay the whole record before an impartial public.

With those who are conversant with the whole affair, I am full exculpated from any blame, and I can confidently appeal to them at all times to sustain me.

The difficulty originated in this way: The forces engaged on Sunday at Kinston had been ordered to fall back across the Neuse River by Gen. Evans, and after the most of them had crossed, Lieut. Corrie, of Gen. Evans Staff, rode up and said that the General ordered the forces to return to the opposite side, (the side next to the enemy.) I believed, from Lieut. Corries appearance, actions and conduct, that he was drunk; and, as the order was an unreasonable one, could not think such an order was given. Whereupon I said to Lieut. Corrie, Go, bring Gen. Evans here, and if he orders me, I will go, be he drunk or sober.

He returned, and in a few minutes brought Gen. Evans, was at once placed in arrest, and the order to recross was immediately countermanded, and our forces retreated in the direction of Goldsboro.

Gen. Evans, in his testimony on the trial, said his forces did not amount to more than two thousand, and that of the enemy to twenty-two thousand infantry and seventy-two pieces of artillery.

I am thus explicit in showing the beginning of the difficulty, in order that the reader may understand the application of testimony I will here introduce.

Major Hilton of the 22d S.C. Regiment, witness in behalf of the Defendant:

Question- Could the said order have been executed at the time it was given, or at any time before it was countermanded?

Answer- No; it could not have been done

Question- If it had been executed, would it not have probably caused the loss of the Regiment: and the whole Brigade?

Answer- If it had been executed, the whole Brigade would have either been killed or captured. Could not have taken any position at all.

Question- State whether Lieut. Corrie was drunk or sober on that day. If drunk, state your reasons for so supposing.

Answer- I think he was drunk. He reeled on his horse; his face was red; thick tongued, and actions generally that of a drunken man.

Question- State your opinion as to my conduct in the battle at Kinston, and whether you saw in me any evidences of fear.

Answer- Conduct good. Saw no fear in you; was calm and cool all the time.

Question- State on what other occasion you have seen me under fire; the circumstance; my conduct; the opinion of our own and other officers in respect thereto; and my general reputation as a man of courage.

Answer- Saw Col. Goodlett at Secessionville, Rappahannock, (Va.) At Kinston, Saturday evening, the 13th December, led charge on horseback; you were in front some fifteen or twenty paces. At Rappahannock charged on foot about one thousand yards, in the face of heavy artillery fire. The Colonel was some fifteen or twenty pace in advance, urging on the men. The Colonels reputation as a man of courage is as good as any mans. Never heard it doubted. Have heard officers in other regiments speak in high terms of his conduct at Rappanhannock.

Captain J.M. Pickens, Co. G. 22nd S.C. Regiment, examined on part of Defendant:

Question- What was my conduct during the Battle of Kinston? Did you see any evidence of fear in me?

Answer- Showed remarkable coolness and fearlessness; remained most of the time on horseback; led Regiment on horseback.

Question- What is my general reputation as a man of courage?

Answer- So far as I know, as good as any officer I am acquainted with.

Sergeant-Major G.B. Lake, 22nd South Carolina Regiment, examined on part of Defendant:

Question- If said order had been executed, what would have been the probably result?

Answer- Regiment would have been captured or killed if it had recrossed bridge. Enemy were off some three hundred yards, advancing in heavy column, and artillery was soon placed in position which commanded the bridge.

Question- Did you ever see me under fire on other occasions? If so, describe the circumstances, and my conduct; what was said about it by the officers of our Regiment and others.

Answer- Saw Col. Goodlett under fire at Rappahannock, six or eight hours; was very cool and self-possessed; so much so that it was the subject of remark, not only in our Regiment, but in others. One position, where men were concealed and protected from the fire, Col. Goodlett was standing up watching the movements of the enemy, exposed all the while to a severe fire of shot and shell. That day the Colonel led charge some distance ahead of the Regiment. At Secessionville, the Colonel behaved with great coolness; and the evening the 17th Georgia Regiment was cut up so, on James Island, He was under heavy fire, and acted with his usual coolness.

Question- Did you witness my conduct on Saturday evening of the Kinston fight? Describe it; what was generally said about it?

Answer- Colonel led the charge, some twenty or thirty paces ahead of the Regiment on horseback, under a heavy fire; was as cool as on other occasions. Heard officers and men speak in terms of praise that night of the Colonel.

Question- What evidences of fear did you see in me in the night on Sunday at Kinston?

Answer- Saw no evidences of fear whatever.

Question- What was the condition of Lieut. Corrie on Sunday of Kinston fight?

Answer- I thought him drunk. He acted like a drunken man; reeled on his horse; speech not as it should have been; acted every way like a drunken man.

Major J.R. Culp, 17th S.C. Regiment, witness in behalf of Defendant:

Question- Did you see me under fire at Rappahannock? What was my condition on that occasion? What has generally been said respecting it?

Answer- I saw you under fire there, and was impressed with your coolness particularly. Your conduct was not only unexceptionable, but in the highest degree commendable. I have often heard it spoken of, not only by the officers of my Regiment, but by those of the whole Brigade. The situation at the Rappahannock was one of the most trying I have been in. We had to look danger in the face, and be shot at by artillery. I have never seen a man exhibit more coolness on any occasion than Col. Goodlett did there.

Question- What is my present reputation as a man of courage

Answer- Never heard a man doubt it; is as good as any man in the Brigade.

Captain W.H. Edwards, 17th S.C. Regiment, witness for Defendant:

Question- Did you witness my conduct on the Rappahannock? If so, describe it, and state what was generally said about it.

Answer- Saw Col. Goodlett at Rappahannock; thought him as cool a man as was on the field. It was talked over after the fight, as too his coolness. I was very near him greater portion of the time; heard him talk to Colonel Gadberry and other members of the Brigade, under severe fire of shot, shell and shrapnel. It was as severe a position as the Brigade has ever been in.

Question- What is my present reputation as a man of courage?

Answer- I have never heard it doubted. Reputation in Brigade good.

Question- did you see Lieut. Corrie at any time during the fight at Kinston on the 14th December. Was he drunk or sober? Describe his actions and mode of speech.

Answer- When I first saw him he was evidently under the influence of liquor. From his manner, conversation and countenance, I know he was either under the influence of liquor or its equivalent.

Question- Did the 17th S.C. Regiment recross the river when ordered? Did not recross. Order was countermanded by Gen. Evans before Regiment recrossed Bridge.

Lieutenant D.J. Logan, Company F, 17th S.C. Regiment, witness on part of Defendant:

Question- did you see me under fire on the Rappahannock? What was my conduct on the occasion, and what was generally said respecting it?

Answer- I did. Conduct for courage was as good as it could be. Your bearing was calculated to inspire every one around you and the same conduct and confidence. It has been the subject of remark amongst the officers of my Regiment. Heard them speak in the highest terms of it.

Question- What is my present reputation as a man of courage?

Answer- Good, sir. Never heard it impeached by any one.

I could introduce the testimony of sixteen other witnesses from the 22nd S.C. Regiment, all testifying to my conduct in every engagement I have been in with the Regiment; but I do not deem it necessary, as the reader must be perfectly satisfied that no imputation whatever can be thrown upon my character as a man of courage.

I will now introduce the testimony of Dr. W.P. Hooper, 41st Regiment N.C. Cavalry, who acted in the capacity of Courier to General Evans during the fight at Kinston. Examined on behalf of Defendant:

Question- Did you notice Lieut. Corrie on Sunday of the fight at Kinston? Was he drunk or sober? If you think he was drunk, please state your reasons fully.

Answer- Lieut. Corrie was drunk; had been with him all day, and carried liquor for him. He drank liquor enough to make him drunk. He ranted, reeled and could scarcely sit in the saddle. Had two bottles of liquor; large black bottles; held over a quart each.

Question- About how much in your judgment, did Lieut. Corrie drink?

Answer- Drank more than Gen. Evans. Only two drinks were given out in the morning, and about two left in the evening. Lieut. Corrie and Gen. Evans drank the balance. Lieut. Corrie called for the bottle every time he met me.

Question- did you hear Gen. Evans say anything respecting my conduct on Saturday evening of the fight at Kinston? If so, state it

Answer- Heard Gen. Evans speak of the charge Col. Goodlett made Saturday evening, several times on his way back to Kinston, and that night and next morning. He said that Col. Goodlett had driven the enemy back, etc., and frequently said Col. Goodlett was a noble fellow. Spoke in the highest terms of Col. Goodlett.

Question- What do you think would have been the result of the order to recross the Bridge had been executed?

Answer- If they had recrossed, the Brigade would have been killed or captured.

By the introduction of the testimony of Dr. Fleming, Surgeon of the 22nd South Carolina Regiment, I will show the reason why I did not participate in the battles of the first Maryland Campaign.

I left Charleston, S.C., on the 10 August, 1862, in feeble ---------------------- and excessive fatigues overcame me and threw me into fever when I reached Dranesville, (Va.)

Question- Do you know why I did not go into the Maryland campaign? Where did you last see me before that campaign and what was my condition?

Answer- I left Colonel Goodlett in Dranesville, (Va.) about the 1st September, 1862. He was quite sick from affection of the liver. I advised him to remain behind and go to a private house in the country.

Question- Where and when did you next see me? What was my condition then?

Answer- Next saw you on Opequan Creek, near Shepardstown, (Va.) about the last of September, had the appearance of a man that had been very sick.

Question- how long did I remain with the Regiment at that time? Why did I leave it?

Answer- Did not remain long with Regiment; left at Winchester to go to private house. Had two chills before you left, and was in a senseless condition when you left camp. Chills were of a congestive type, and you were suffering from diseased liver.

Question- Have you ever heard my conduct on the Rappahannock spoken of? If so, what was generally said about it?

Answer- I have heard that Col. Goodlett behaved with remarkable coolness and gallantry, both in and out of the Regiment.

Question- What is my present reputation as a man of courage?

Answer- I dont think your courage is doubted at all.

I am willing to throw the record in my case before the public, and it is my intention to do so as soon as my friends deem it proper. It covers some two hundred pages of closely written foolscap, accompanied with a map giving the location of the field of battle and all the points of interest.

To my friend in the army and at home I can say of a truth, that I have been most cruelly, bitterly and vindictively persecuted. The principal witnesses against me are my bitterest enemies, and were directly or indirectly interested in having me removed from office. I have severely commented upon them in my final defense and statements before the Court, and I am satisfied that the testimony sustains me all I say of them.

As regards the attempted censure of the Court of Inquiry at Goldsboro, (N.C.) in the case of Gen. Evans, I have to say that I was not a witness in the case, as I had unkind feelings towards him.

There is not a particle of testimony in said case upon which the court could base an opinion as to the motives that induced me to prefer charges against Gen. Evans.

Feeling that I have not done anything that will reflect upon my character as a gentlemen, I respectfully ask my friends to bear with me patiently, with the assurance that in due time all will be well.

S.D. Goodlett

Greenville, May, 1864.

Col. S.D. Goodlett is buried in Springwood Cemetery in Greenville. His grave is one of the few that does not show Confederate Service. The reason for this is unknown. Colonel Goodlett was very important in the organization of the 22nd South Carolina and served as the unit commander until charges were exchanged following Kinston. General Evans was well known and he too would serve until his carriage accident in Charleston.

When sober General Evans could be an excellent commander. However, at Secessionville and at Kinston, his methods were questioned, and certainly at Kinston his sobriety was an issue. Goodlett was never vindicated outside of this pamphlet distributed to his friends and supporters in Pickens and Greenville County. If General Lee did say something on the order of, "So Shank what shall we do, they have made you a general," then it would seem he had some foresight. Certainly following Sharpsburg, Lee was quick to put Shank and his Brigade on the road, starting the journey that would earn them the name of the Tramp Brigade. Sadly, it would be a long and colorful road before the south was finished with the hero of Balls Bluff. Shank would spend his days after the war wandering the south as a schoolteacher and S.D. Goodlett would never recover the loss of reputation following Kinston. What happened before the bridge did Goodlett retreat in fear or was his retreat sound military judgment? Certainly some questions were raised about his unwillingness to follow his unit to Second Manassas and then Sharpsburg. Only the manuscript of his trial would reveal more. However, Evans brought several men up on charges following Kinston and some, like McMaster of the 17th, not only escaped the charges but went on to serve well. Kinston, North Carolina, a footnote in history but a pivot in the careers of many South Carolina officers.

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