lina Regulars. The experiment failed, the men deserting and
showing generally no loyalty to the Confederate cause and were
returned to prison.
I returned to my old command, Nelson's Seventh South Caro-
lina Battalion, Hagood's Brigade, voluntarily, and by request
took command of my old company and served with it till the
close at Bentonville.
Now, my dear General, I am proud of this distinction awarded
me by your request. Indeed, I value it higher than any circum-
COL. J. II. I'.UOOKS.
Brooks' I!:itt;ilic)ii. Nine ('((inpiinies.
"Liki'Tenant-C'oloxel" Br(X)ks 311
stance connected with my service, but I have no record of the
proceedings, nor did I get my commission. It seems to me that
as the battalion of six companies, numbering in the aggregate
six lumdred and fifty (GoO) men. was reguhirly mustered into
Confederate service as ''Brooks's Battalion"' and I recognized as
its commander, I was clearly entitled to the rank of lieutenant-
colonel, even though the conmiand was disbanded. I laid no
claim at the time for assignment to duty as lieutenant-colonel
(though for a time I was placed in connnand of the "Reserves"
in Charleston), for I thought we were more in need of men than
oilicers, so I returned to the old command and fell into my old
place without orders or suggestion.
Now, my dear General, you will observe that I don't value the
title, but I do value the promotion and the cause of the promo-
tion, and I write to you to substantiate my statement (if within
your recollection) and thus give it authority. Your certificate
will be more A^alued by me than would be a commission did I
You asked that Major Bryan and myself be appointed to
organize the battalion and that we be appointed its commanders.
Major Br\'an did not report for duty and never had any con-
nection with the command. The favor I ask of you is for the
benefit of my children and for no public display or glorification.
Trusting that you will appreciate the motive that actuates this
request, and with great admiration and regard for you personally
and officially, I am, dear sir.
Yours very truly,
J. H. Brooks,
Late Capt. Co. "H," 7th S. C. Batt.
Late Lt. Col. 2d Foreign Batt., C. S. A.
19 March, 1891.
"Wliile the brigade to which he was attached was serving at
Petersburg, Va., in 1864, Captain J. H. Brooks, of the Seventh
South Carolina Battalion, was detailed to organize in South
Carolina "The Foreign Battalion."
The detail was made upon the application of General Beaure-
gard and upon enquiry made at headquarters of the Army of
312 Stories of the Confederacy
Northern Virginia, before aiDprovmg the detail, the brigade com-
mander was distinctly informed that Captain Brooks's promotion
would follow the detail. Johnson Hagood,
Late Brig. Gen. C. S. A.
New Orleans, March 28, 1891.
I certify that, to the best of my recollection, the within state-
ments of Captain Brooks and General Hagood are correct, and
that the captain was entitled to the rank and commission of
lieutenant-colonel in the Confederate States Army.
G. T. Beauregard,
Ex-General C. S. A.
Snell's Farm, Near Richmond, Va.,
May 19th, 1862.
Captain Brooks is a gentleman of high character and position,
highly educated and of fine talent. He has established his char-
acter as an accomplished and gallant officer by efficient services
in the field in command of a company for the last year. He is a
brother of the late Hon. Preston S. Brooks, and connected with
many distinguished families of South Carolina. I most cheer-
fully recommend his appointment to the position he seeks.
J. B. Kershaw,
Brig. Gen., etc.
I cordially recommend Captain Brooks for appointment â€” or
promotion in reference to his former grades â€” and the privilege of
raising such troops for the war as he can.
J. E. Johnston,
Headquarters Hoke's Division,
March 30, 1865.
Special Order No. 29.
Captain J. H. Brooks, Seventh Battalion, Hagood's Brigade,
will proceed with Brigadier-General Hagood to South Carolina
on duty upon which he has instructions. At the expiration of
forty days he will return to his command unless otherw^ise
ordered. R. L. Hoke, Maj. Gen.
Capt. J. H. Brooks, through Col. Rion.
Brooks's Battalion 313
STORY OF BROOKS'S BATTALION
To the Editor of The Sunday News :
The officers of "Brooks's Battalion of Regulars" have requested
me to Avrite an account of (lint short-lived battalion. In a recent
letter to me Colonel Brooks wrote: "The disclosure of the plot
at Savannah (published in The Sunday News, August 22d), is
ascribed by Judge Thomas to a boy named Seymour, etc." * * *
"His information did not come from me." * * * "Of course, I
remember that Sergeant Sinner betrayed the conspiracy, and that
he stated that he did so in your interest alone." A personal wit-
ness of, and actor in, these scenes, I can only describe them as
photographed on my memory. A few of the incidents are sup-
plied by the other officers.
Today, as "memory, like a tomb-searcher, runs through the
vista of the years that are past, 'lifting each shroud which time
has cast o*er buried hopes,' " it is difficult to realize that the young
senior captain of this battalion, full of hope, joy and ambition,
is the same as he who, almost hopeless, is pursuing the rugged
path of dut}', and who, lonely and sad on this festive occasion,
apart from the jo3'ous throng, is writing this narrative, wdiich
proves that "truth is stranger than fiction." I w^ill, therefore,
speak of this officer with the others in the third person.
Origin of the Battalion.
In 1864, when the Northern armies had the world from which
to recruit their ranks, and even our slaves had been armed
against us; while the Southern armies w^ere being rapidly
depleted, and perhaps four-sixths of tho.se wdio were fighting
had been wounded, the authorities in Richmond conceived the
idea of enlisting in our ranks foreigners among the Federal pris-
oners, hoping that, like the redoubtable Dougal Dalgetty, they
would care very little on wliich side they fought. To command
such an organization no ordinary officer was needed. Courage
was a sine qua non, and he should have military knowledge,
experience and judgment. Covered with wounds and with honor,
Capt. J. Hampden Brooks, w^ho, in his own person, had illus-
314 Stories of the Confederacy
trated the courage of the Brookses and Butlers on many a bloody
battlefield, was selected to command one of them. On his visits
to Sullivan's Island to see his brother-in-law. Lieut-Col. Warren
Adams, of the First South Carolina Regiment Infantry, Captain
Brooks's attention had been attracted to the officers of that regi-
ment, and he offered the three highest ranking captaincies in his
line to first lieutenants of that command. Major Black, of Gen-
eral Hardee's staff, kindly assisted in selecting the men from
prison, but a serious mistake was made in allowing a large num-
ber of Northern men to enlist,. many pretending to be English-
Among those selected were Irishmen, Germans, Spaniards and
one Italian, who could scarcely speak English.
The battalion was organized at Summerville, S. C, during the
fall of 1864, with the following officers, to wit: J. Hampden
Brooks, Edgefield, lieutenant-colonel; Charles T. Goodwyn, Rich-
land, adjutant; Vincent F. Martin, Charleston, captain Company
"A"; John C. Minott, Charleston, captain Company "B"; J.
Lewis Wardlaw, Abbeville, captain Company "C"; Eldred Sim-
kins, Beaufort (formerly of Edgefield), first lieutenant command-
ing Company "D"; B. G. Pinckney, Charleston, captain of Com-
pany "E"; â€” Toutant (nephew of General Beauregard) and
U. R. Brooks (who had not reported for duty), lieutenants.
The battalion was soon well organized and drilled, and the
officers were anxious to be sent to Virginia, where the men, sand-
wiched in between Southern regiments, would fight to more
advantage and be in less danger of being captured. In December
four companies, about 250 men, were ordered to Honey Hill, and
arriving too late for that fight, were sent on to Savamiah â€” a per-
fect trap, the city being nearly invested by the enemy, and its
capture a certainty. Here they were placed under officers, mostly
militiamen, who did not appreciate the peculiar position of the
officers, as a few instances will show.
Service Near Savannah.
Wardlaw was placed, at one time, in command of a portion of
the picket line, with his company and some other troo^DS. They
Bkooks's Battalion 315
were much annoyed by a sliai'pshootcr who wounded one man,
but could not be located. Finally Wardlaw discovered him and
ordered several of the men to fire on him, and he soon tumbled
out of a tree.
Martin Avas anxious to conuuit his company as soon as possi-
ble, and was granted permission to go into an earthwork on which
an attack was expected. As the men marched into the foi't, with
head erect and steady step, they presented a fine appearance.
Captain Martin was soon notified that at dark he must go out
and "feel the enemy,'' that is, march on in the darkness until shot
into. It was brought to the colonel's attention that the men
would most probably kill the officer and desert to their former
friends. With the obstinacy of one unaccustomed to authority,
he repeated the order. Captain Martin determined to obey, Avell
knowing that ere the morrow's sun arose he would be numbered
among the slain, for, as the sequel will show, these officers
accepted these positions with the firm determination to die rather
than dishonor themselves by surrendering to the men under their
command. xVt sundown the enemy discovered themselves by mak-
ing a demonstration on the earthwork. These officers have been
called foolish by some for accepting these positions, but the expe-
riment had to be tried by some one, the compliment was appre-
ciated and the promotion great. They knew the danger, but what
was that to men who lived constantly under fire and had learned
that ''speedy death was quick promotion?" What difference did
it make whether death came from the bullet of the mutineer or
the shell of the enemy, so that it was in the path of duty and
honor and in defense of home and fireside ?
Desertion of Sixty Men.
One night Captain Martin was sent with his company to work
on some entrenchments so near to the enemy that the men were
compelled to talk in whispers. About 3 or 4 o'clock in the morn-
ing the company was marched back to camp, several miles
through the forest. Several times men dropped out with the
evident intention of deserting. Each time the company was
halted and the officer went back and compelled them to "fall in."
At this time the battalion was encamped on one side of a rice
pond and the enemy on the other. On each side of the camp
316 Stories or the Confederacy
there was a causeway leading across the pond, on each of which
two militia pickets were stationed. At the head of the causeway,
on the left, Lieutenant Simkins was stationed in charge of one
field piece. One night sixty men crossed over the causeway on
the right, and pushing the pickets aside, all except two. who were
captured, deserted to the enemy. On the next day these two were
tried by a drumhead courtmartial composed of Captains Martin,
Minott and Wardlaw. Being desertion in face of the enemy, the
penalty was death, and there being no guardhouse, they were
confined to a log until the sentence could be carried out. On that
afternoon permission was received from General Mercer to move
the battalion nearer to Savannah, and just after dark the men
were notified to be ready to moA^e at 8 o'clock p. m.
A Conspiracy to Mutiny.
Just after this announcement Sergeant Sinner told Captain
Martin that he wished to see him alone. They went into the
officer's tent, and Sinner then said that the men had determined
to desert in a body at half-past 7 o'clock, and that they intended
to buck and gag the officers and take them with them, and if they
resisted, which they expected them to do, intended to kill them
and take them anyhow. Captain Martin asked him if he was
certain, and remarked that when in the earthwork a few days
before the men acted like men who intended to fight. Sinner
replied: "They would have stood to you to a man on that day,
but General Sherman has sent an emissary among them and told
them if ihej will come over to him he will spare them, but if they
do not, when he captures the city he will shoot every one of
them." He then said: "For God's sake do something quickly,
for if they find me here they will murder me at once." Sinner
was a splendid specimen of the Teuton, about six feet three inches
in height, well proportioned, and with a handsome face, with
blue eyes and golden hair. On account of his courage and
strength he was feared by the men.
As he looked on this splendid specimen of manhood, shaking
like an aspen, with excitement. Captain Martin was convinced
that he told the truth. At Sinner's request Captain Martin called
the ordnance sergeant to bring several bayonets, as Sergeant Sin-
ner wanted one. In presence of the men he selected one and
Brooks's Battalion 317
returned to his company â€” "A." Up to this time everything was
quiet and the men and servants were busy with their prepara-
tions to move.
Pluck of the Officers.
Brooks was fallod into the tent, and after a caution to speak in
a low voice and express no surprise, the terrible secret was com-
municated to him. He said : "Martin, if any other officer had
told me this I would be in doubt, but you have been so sanguine
that I am convinced," and then and there they planned the cap-
ture which was afterwards so successfully carried out. It w^as
necessary to communicate with the other officers without attract-
ing attention, and they walked until they came about to the left
of the second company, where they met several. Here Colonel
Brooks sat down, and about that time Orderly Sergeant Foraker,
of Company "B," passed by on his Avay into the encampment. He
was a Northern man, but had been very active in organizing the
battalion, and Colonel Brooks always spoke kindly to him.
Colonel Brooks said to him in a natural, pleasant voice, "How do
you feel tonight, Sergeant?" To which Foraker, without stop-
ping or saluting, replied, "Bully." Colonel Brooks said to Cap-
tain Martin: "If I had any doubts, that would convince me,"
By this time evidences of insubordination were seen on every
hand. Some of the men broke the stacks and took their guns,
others threw cartridges in the fires, which exploded with a loud
noise, and loud and boisterous laughter was heard â€” Company
"A" was the most quiet. Company "B" the most boisterous.
Wardlaw was officer of the day, and when a yell would be
sounded or a cartridge thrown into the fire he would sing out:
"Who in the did that ? I Avill severely punish such conduct
if it is not stopped," Then a roar of laughter would follow and a
few more cartridges would be thrown in ; then a call from Ward-
law : "Sergeant of the guard, arrest those men," to which there
would be no response. Once he became excited, drew his sword
and threatened instant decapitation if any more cartridges were
exploded. Matters soon became too grave and serious for
318 Stories of the Confederacy
Assistance Sent For.
Minott and Goodwyn had been sent for assistance, but it
occnrred to Captain Martin that the troops would be slow to
leave their positions without the most positive orders, and he
urged Colonel Brooks to go in person, as he would have more
influence and could do no good in the camp, and would only add
one to the sacrifice.
The urgencj^ of the necessity fo^" assistance was so apparent that
after some hesitation Colonel Brooks went. Lieutenant Toutant
was then sent out of the camp by Captain Martin as an unneces-
sary sacrifice, and Martin and Wardlaw stationed themselves by
a huge oak in front of the tent. Wallace took a seat on a camp
chest and Martin stood up, but sometimes walked to and fro,
always keeping near the tree. Between the preparations for mov-
ing and the mutinous conduct of the men, the camp was now in
an uproar. Scouts had been thrown in rear of the officers to pre-
vent their retreat. One man refused to return a rope which he
had borrowed from Minott's servant, saying that he wished it to
tie Captain Martin w^th. Simkins, at the head of the causeway,
had turned* his gun on the encampment, and several times came
into the encampment to see how his friends were getting on.
When he heard of this he said : "Why did you not shoot him ? "
Standing the Men Oif.
Numerous questions were asked by the men, but understanding
their motive, Captain Martin answered them in such a way as to
lead them to suppose that they would "fall in" in a few moments.
One question repeatedly asked was whether they would have
time to boil some rice. From the confessions it was afterwards
ascertained that as the battalion w^as to move at 8 o'clock the men
concluded to wait until the officers stepped in front of their com-
panies and then capture them or shoot them. This change of
plan was the main reason why the officers were not killed, for it
practically placed in their hands the signal for the uprising. On
one of Simkins' visits he insisted on seeing whether the men con-
fined to the log had been turned loose, and Captain Martin could
not dissuade him. It was a trying position for the young officer,
under such peculiar circumstances, but to go would probably be
Brooks's Battalion 319
the signal for the (k-ath of the officers. As he walked off Captain
Martin said: "Simkins, I am in command of this camp and I
order you not to go." Spoken in the (inick, firm, decided tone of
the regular officer on duty, Simkins stopped instantly, turned, and
slowly retraced his steps, but his countenance was clouded and his
feelings deeply hurt. Captain Martin then said: "Simkins, if
the men have been turned loose and we say anything it will pre-
cipitate the rising, and if we say nothing they will know of the
conspiracy and are afraid to say anything, and they will rise any-
how." He said: "I did not think of that. How did you happen
to?" Instantly his countenance cleared and the genial, hearty
Awaiting the Signal.
The camp had now sunk into sullen silence. All parties were
awaiting the signal. Captain Martin remembered his new coat,
the making and trimming of wdiich had cost $500, exclusive of
the material, and he said: "Wardlaw, if I am saved I intend to
save my new coat, and if I am killed, I intend to die, like Lord
Nelson, in full feather." Although not thought of by him the
sudden appearance of this officer in a brilliant, handsome uniform
helped to convince the men that the hour was at hand. All
expedients to delay the uprising had now been exhausted.
Strange, weird, unreal scene being enacted in the heart of the
forest ! Two officers opposed to nearly two hundred well-armed
mutineers I Wardlaw had only a sword, Martin had a sword
and ]nstol. As Captain Martin thought of the man with the rope
ready to tie him, the treachery and perfidy of these men. who,
not content with desertion, were willing to commit murder in
order, as they thought, to ingratiate themselves with General
Sherman, everj faculty was concentrated into the desire to kill
at least two of them as they approached. He also knew that by
this act his friends, and especially his father, would understand
the end. The men of Company B nearest the officers, took their
guns and commenced to advance. Captain Martin said : "Ward-
law, our time has come; let us sell our lives as dearl}' as possible,"
and drawing his pistol, he placed his back against the oak.
Wardlaw drew his sword and took his position on his left. The
conflict could be but for a moment. Xo earthly aid can help them
320 Stories of the Confederacy
now ! In bold relief the officers stood, plainly visible to the men.
All sense of danger had long since been lost, and death now
seemed a matter of course, but two of the mutineers must die
with them. Their lips were firmly compressed, their eyes looked
steadily on the advancing foe and the hands which grasped sword
and pistol were firm and steady.
The Mutineers Falter.
Unexpectedly the mutineers stopped, consulted together, dis-
banded, still, however, holding their guns, or having them close
to them. From the confessions it afterwards transpired that the
absence of so many officers from the camp and the coolness of
those who remained caused the mutineers to suspect that assist-
ance was at hand and an ambuscade prepared for them. The
heart of Foraker, the leader, failed him, and he no longer felt
"bully." A German barber, who had often shaved the officers,
told him that if he was afraid he (the barber) was not, and called
on Company B to follow him, but suspicion and distrust had
been aroused, and they only went a few steps. Of course this
was not known to the two officers at the time. Hope began to
revive in their breasts, however, and life again appeared of value,,
but their position was still most precarious, for the general signal
might be given at any moment, or a bullet sent through brain or
heart. Wearily and in great suspense about a half hour passed.
The sentinels had deserted their j)osts and the fires burned low,
when a body of armed men were plainly seen moving in the direc-
tion of Company A. This was the company most to be dreaded,
being composed of about two-thirds Irish and one-third Germans.
Succor Arrives at Last.
Captain Martin said: "Wardlaw, our time has come at last;
Company A has risen," and again the two officers prepared for
defence, or rather to sell their lives as dearly as possible, when
the voice of Colonel Brooks rang out on the silent air command-
ing the rescuers to disarm Company A. A few minutes later
Minott was seen stepping high, with head erect and a stern coun-
tenance, entering the camp and walking in the direction of Com-
pany B. When in front of the company he tuiTied and, with a
Brooks's Battalion . 321
comniandiniT flourish of his hand, ordered the Georfjians with
him tt) capture and disarm Company B, His countenance was a
picture when he found that he stood alone. The Georgia reserves
liad st(>i)ped outside of the encampment, and afterwards explained
that they knew that they were no match for the well-armed and
well drilled regulars. The delay was only momentary, however.
Goodwyn had also entered the camp with a portion of the troops.
Coolness of a Mutineer.
No resistance was made, but when Colonel Brooks approached
Orderly Sergeant AVilson, of Company A, who was lying on his
back reading, and said to him : "Sergeant, I am sorry to see you
engaged in this conspiracy." He sprang to his feet and said
fiercely: "AVhat conspiracy? I have been engaged in no con-
spiracy.'' The evidence and his own conduct, hoAvever, were
against him. He was a cool, brave, determined man, with a good
mind and some education. Had he been the active leader this tale
would not now be told. Natural curiosity would have prompted
an innocent man to exhibit some interest when strange armed
men entered the camp. He over-acted his part, and did not raise
liis eyes from the book until spoken to by Colonel Brooks. Too
brave to commit murder himself, he held his company well in
hand, and was willing, when consummated by others, to profit by
the assassination of the officers with whom he had always been a
favorite. Simkins was much disappointed that he could not open
fire on the insurgents from his one-gun batteiy.
The troops who came to the rescue were Georgia reserves.
Duration of the Meeting.
The time occupied by these proceedings may be differently
estimated by the officers. The impression made on Captain Mar-
tin's mind at the time was that it was about two hours from the
time the secret was divulged until the men Avere captured, and
that he and Wardlaw were left alone in the camp about one and a
half hours, and he has now no reason to change his opinion. The
disclosure was made b}^ Sergeant Sinner, just after dark, which is
early at this season, and it was after 8 o'clock when the German
barlier took the leadership of Company B, and it was at least a
half hour after that, therefore, the rescuers arrived.
21â€” &. c.
322 Stories of the Confederacy
After All Was Over.
Colonel Brown, adjutant general on General Mercer's staff,
rode into the camp after the mutineers were captured, and Tou-
tant also returned. The prisoners, with the exception of five
ringleaders, the two men who had been captured in the act of