On October 21, 1862, a Union Force of 4,200 men, under the command of General John M. Brannan marched on the village of Pocotaligo with the intent to destroy the Charleston and Savannah Railroad. If the lines of supply between these two cities could be cut, it would severely hinder the Confederate War effort.
Confederate Colonel, W. S. Walker of Georgia learned of the Federal advance through Confederate pickets. He immediately telegraphed Charleston to General Beauregard for reinforcements. As it turned out, he wouldn’t need them. Eight Confederate artillery pieces, two companies of cavalry along with three companies of the 11th South Carolina Volunteers, and the First South Carolina Sharpshooters, a force of no more than 450 men, help to stem the Yankee advance.
General Robert E. Lee was assigned to the Department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida in late 1861. Lee designed a series of trench-works in the lowcountry to protect the bridges and causeways. He ordered so many trenches dug that he temporarily earned the nickname, ‘the King of Spades’. A portion of these works can be seen behind the Frampton Plantation House
These works help the Confederates defeat the Federal advance. Captain Stephen Elliot of Beaufort wrote, “I will confess, it is no joke to use two batteries in a narrow road while pulling back in retreat during some confusion, but I am glad they felt the force of it. Some halves of heads and legs bear faithful testimony to the accuracy of our fire.” The Federals lost 45 killed, 299 wounded, while the Confederates reported 21 killed and 124 wounded.
Late in the afternoon, Col. Walker ordered in the Charleston Dragoons, a cavalry unit, with orders to shout when they came online. The Federals assumed that they were being over-run and the action hastened their retreat. Joseph Eggleston, with an Artillery unit from Virginia, described the nature of the fight, “We soon found that the guns were so hot that they would fire without pricking the cartridge. Shrapnel being exhausted, we changed to canister and were cutting great gaps through a line of infantry in double ranks and for a time those gallant men closed ranks and fought on.”
We hope you enjoy our reenactment of the Battle of Pocotaligo as we pay tribute to the gallant men of both armies!
The Battle of Pocotaligo is sponsored by the Frampton Plantation, the Col. Charles Colcock Sons of the Confederate Veterans, Camp 2100 and the South Carolina Palmetto Battalion, celebrating 29 years of reenacting the War Between the States.