South Carolina
The Batson Boys and the Planter

News from Charleston Harbor
South Carolina

Aquilla Batson
Furman Battery
South Carolina Artillery

"Ashokan Farewell"
Music by Dayle K.

Charleston, S.C.
Camp Cammille, James Islent
May 17, 1862

Dear Brother,

it is with grate pleasure I one more time embrace the opportunity of writin you a few lines which by the reading of them they will show you that I am well... and Jurdan is well. We are both enjoyin good heath at this time it is gods will but I cannot tell how long we will enjoy that blessing... four they is a grate deal of sickeness here and Some deths. we ar in two miles of the Citty (City smb)on James Island and we ar as clost to the yankees. the yankees stold a Steam boat from us the other night (?line is worn and lost?) think we will be in a battle in a few days... we hae to stand one picket gard at night to watch four the ennemy what I am in hopes it will be gods will four me to see you all again but if we never meat on erth again I am in hopes we will meat in heaven.
I will say to you that on last night the long role was beat and we was called to the battle field in double quick time ever man to his place I loud every minte the battle wold take place but it was don to see how quick we could git in ridness and I teel you it was strring times.... they is about four thousand of solgers her in the Cittey of Charleston. I have not seen John Pursley since we landed in Charleston but I have herd from him several times I am a going to see him in a few days... I have not drawed no money yet but we will draw in a few days and we will git our uniforms in a few days... So you must make all of the corn you can... four I will have to beg from you. So you must rite to me as soon as this lines come to hand... A full histery of how you is a gitting along afarming So I Must Close... I send my best respect to Batson and Family

A.J Batson

This letter was written by W.D. Batson (16th S.C.) and his older brother, A.J. Batson (Aquilla J./Furman Battery) while both were in the Charleston Area. Jurden is Jordon, a third of the brothers in Charleston. Jordan would crush his hip during the war and be crippled for life. Aquilla would come home from Charleston packed in charcoal and salt and join the other Batson's at Reedy River Church Cemetery. The "sickeness and deth" they feared would come for him and "they would never meat on erth again." I am certain, however, that they did "meat in heaven." W.D. would be the only one of the Batson's cousins to come home intact in body. None of them were "ever the same" after 1865.

The letter is fairly typical of the attitudes that were shared by the young brash men of the 16th S.C. in the Spring of 1862. They had made the decision to form a new nation. They were going to arms to defend that nation.

The unique part of this particular letter is W.D. Batson's news. The stolen steam ship was, of course, The Planter. Robert Smalls established himself as a legend in South Carolina history as a result of this exploit. Long after Wade Hampton's boys of "65" and men of "76" were driven out of office by "Pitchfork" Ben, Robert Smalls would continue to serve as the black Custom's Collector from the Beaufort District. Robert Smalls was an escaped slave, a Union military hero, and a United States Congressman. His journey from slave who stole a steamboat to the United States Congress during Reconstruction begins here. His exploits while dangerous and thrilling show how much trust and responsibility he had been given. To violate that trust took great fortitude. As W.D. Batson notes it caused no little excitement in Charleston when he pulled up anchor and sailed to the Union fleet.

Robert Smalls

To Return to the Letters Index, follow General Gist; to go home, follow the flag.